Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tambobong, Pangasinan! 4 months later!

(photo: clear waters of Tambobong, Dasol, Pangasinan April 11, 2008)
We decided to go back and revisit Tambobong 4 months after our first foray into these parts. I'm really glad we did because we weren't disappointed. Our gracious host Mr.Leon Bobis, a local fisherman/mechanic, really took time to take us around the nearby islands and beaches.

We left Manila at 11pm and arrived in the town of Osmena, beside Tambobong, at 5:30am. For those who worry about road conditions, the last 18km or so is partly rough road but manageable even with our small rear-wheel drive, 600cc suzuki carry van.

(photo: hermana mayor island map, prime beach and airstrip images courtesy of TONET)

(photo below: hermana mayor island, NNE tip resort area)
Our host, Mr.Bobis, arranged our bangka and we were able to leave for Hermana Mayor Island at around 7am. I still know little about this so-called "private" island. A lot of rumors but little facts. What I do know is that there are deer and livestock injected into the island as well as leisure facilities constructed within it. When viewed via google earth, the island resembles a foot(and probably stinks as bad as its owners). Their lapdogs, literally stinky old men and obviously uneducated, were very rude and practically told us to just get lost.

To cut the story short, we decided to visit the nearby Balaki Island near Infanta and spend the day there, then go back to Osmena to setup camp in the evening. It was a true blessing in disguise as we would not have been able to fully enjoy Tambobong, Osmena and Burgos otherwise!

(photos: on the way to balaki island, aerial shot of balaki island courtesy of TONET)

Balaki Island is about 6.5 kilometers away from Hermana Mayor Island and about 4 kilometers away from the Infanta port. There is a new facility built there which the locals call a "Resort". I was so tired from driving all night that I immediately fell asleep when my back hit the folding bed. My companions and some of the local fisherfolk went ahead and caught some fish for our lunch and BOY did they catch a bounty! The beach water was BEAUTIFUL and there was plenty of fish here. One of the students, Deo, was able to catch fish enough to feed all of us by himself. The rest of the fish was brought back to their respective families for dinner that evening.
We drank mangganog (lambanog+mangga) that evening while we feasted on a delicious moray eel and octopus we caught earlier.

(photos: nipa hut houses in burgos, strange coral beach, cool resting place, friendly folk in burgos)


The next day we went to Timapog-na-bato which is a huge rock on a beach in Sitio Iliw-Iliw, Burgos. It is a barangay beside tambobong. The beach was a solid rock of coral or lime... The locals say that the sand comes and goes with the season. We brought only some mangoes and mangganog. We met a very friendly group there who shared their lunch with us and we shared our mangganog with them as well. Some in our group caught some more fish to add to lunch and we had a great time! There was a crisis when one of our boats ran out of gas and since nobody brought any money, we exchanged some lambanog for gasoline - to which the locals were just so happy to oblige! (siempre!)

(photos: on the way to balinmanok, balinmanok wreck, fresh fish for lunch!)

On our last day in Osmena, we visited the Balinmanok Wreck which, according to the stories, was a chinese smuggling vessel shipwrecked during the Estrada Presidency in 2000 carrying 600 kilos of shabu. The chinese were apprehended but somehow the shabu caught amounted to a mere 250kilos.

The wreck has been stripped of valuables and metals. It now acts as an artificial reef for small fish. According to our guide, the locals even dynamite this from time to time in desperation.

(photo: seagull in the eye of the crocodile!)

The surrounding waters around the wreck was cool and clear and we all enjoyed jumping from the bow of the ship into the crystal clear waters below. Our companions again caught some fish for us to lunch on and we all enjoyed our freetime after lunch just sleeping or playing frisbee and boomerang. The kids played in the waters all afternoon and got severe sunburns as a result.

(photo: waters around crocodile island, kabakungan cave, cave pool)

We then proceeded to go to one of the secret hiding places in tambobong. The Kabakungan cave! At low tide the waters in this cave is a clear ,chest deep swimming pool ! PERFECT for spending hot summer days!

The unspoiled beauty of tambobong is there for those who know where to look. There is nothing so beautiful as lying on its beaches while you let the sound of the waves lull you to sleep. Eating freshly caught fish with a sip of cold mangganog or an ice cold beer in your hand. Ah! Philippine summer is simply THE BEST!

PLEASE Visit the blog of my friend Allan !
(he posted fantastic images of our trip)
>> balaki island
>> balinmanok wreck
>> timapog na bato
>> kabakungan cave

VISIT the blog of one of the locals >> TAMBOBONGBOY

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Anawangin Cove, Zambales

Anawangin Cove, Zambales Jan, 2008

Its been a while since I updated this travel blog. Not that I've stopped travelling but because I just can't find the time to organize both my thoughts and the images I took. Besides, things have been really crazy lately especially with my moving to a new house and the usual year-end schedules. I've been to a number of interesting places but I'll start with the most recent one since its what is most fresh in my mind. Anawangin cove.

(photo: Capones Island and Pundaquit shore)

I noticed this cove back in 2005 while looking for places to go. The cove looked promising even at low res then. It looked even better when they upgraded the image to hi-res! One could clearly see a couple of lakes and what clearly were not coconut trees.

Google Earth lists a different name for the cove, something like Galaguagin Cove?... but I can't recall it right now. The cove lies just a bit south of Pundaquit, Zambales.

(photo: Pundaquit resort tables where we slept while waiting for dawn. The boatman, Mang Vic, let us use it for free. Call him at +639297170739 to reserve. Also, there's parking available! see rightmost image, you can see a car parked at the back)

Unsure about parking, we decided to go there by bus. To get the most out of the weekend, we left manila on the 11pm Victory liner bus from Caloocan.

Our itinerary looked like this...

開始: 2008/01/12
終了: 2008/01/13
場所: Bgy. Pundaquit, San Antonio, Zambales

Day 1 - January 11 Friday

1030 PM Assembly Victory Liner Caloocan
1130 PM ETD San Antonio, Zambales via Iba-bound Bus

Day 2 - January 12 Saturday

0230 ETA San Antonio, Zambales/ board trike to Bgy. Pundaquit
- eat some goto sa gotohan dun sa kanto
0330 ETA Pundaquit, Zambales, makitulog sa resort ni manong
0730 Board banca to Anawangin, side trip to Capones Island
- can't get to the lighthouse kasi low tide, balik ulit bukas
0900 Arrived at Anawangin Cove/ Set Camp, tulog ulit?
1230 LUNCH
1900 DINNER and Socials

Day 3 - January 13 Sunday

0630 Wake Up/ Prepare Breakfast
0800 Swimming Swimming Explore Explore
1300 Break Camp
1400 Board boat for Capones Island
- took pics of lighthouse
1530 Leave Capones for Bgy. Pundaquit
- get a tricyle to SanAntonio
1630 Get regular bus to Olongapo Victory Liner
1800 Depart for Manila (victory liner olongapo)
2130 Arrived at Balintawak


1) Bring goggles and/or your snorkel set!
2) Bring a hammock, if you have one
3) Secure provisions before the trip. Remember, there's no electricity in
the area :)
4) There's a water source at the campsite that's good for cooking and
washing. Bring drinking water though.
5) The last bus at Victory Caloocan leaves at 11:30PM so DON'T BE LATE!!!
6) bring a thin blanket. VERY USEFUL sa bus and in the tent


P219.00 x 2 = Bus from Pasay to San Antonio, Zambales and back
P40.00 x 2 = Tricycle from Bgy Pundaquit and back
P1800.00/5 people = Round trip boat fare plus 2 side trips to Capones
P300.00 = Food and Provisions

Estimated Budget: 438 + 80 + 360 + 300 = P 1,178 pesos@pax

We arrived at San Antonio before 3am. Tricycle drivers IMMEDIATELY approached us and offered a ride to Pundaquit. DO NOT agree to their 100@tricycle offer and insist on 80pesos only. We were a group of 5 so we had to get two tricycles.

BUT FIRST... kain muna tayo ng GOTO!

Hindi masyadong malasa yung goto pero mainit naman. And remember, this was at 3am. Meron din fried rice and sisig so chibog muna kami lahat.

While eating, I found out that the market does not open until 7am. I was surprised and asked why since I am used to Balintawak Market which opens at 4am - ang sagot? "Eh wala ka naman sa Maynila eh!" - fine... mga tamad ang tao sa probinsiya. And I always thought these people woke up early... baka napupuyat din kaka DOTA? not...

Anyway, in a pinch, I agreed to giving the tricycle driver some money to get supplies for us while we take a little nap in pundaquit. I gave the guy 700 pesos to get a few kilos of pork, a 5 gallon mineral water, some rekados, charcoal, ice and kerosene. The chap was nice enough to lend us his icebox!

He brought us to Pundaquit and introduced us to our boatman Mang Vic(+639297170739). The regular small boats(1.2k balikan) could probably hold 4 small people with a few gear but not 5 huge guys with 2days worth of supplies and equipment. We settled on 1.8k for rental of his big boat with a trip to Capones Island on the side. Pretty good deal I think. It's certainly a lot cheaper than what those bancas in Anilao would charge.

As expected, the tricycle driver ran late and arrived past 7am already. We visited Capones Island but was not able to go the farside because of the low tide. We just walked around the shore and took some pictures before traversing the 6kilometers or so trip to Anawangin cove from there.

(photo: Capones Island, east side. Notice the strange rock formations, leftmost photo)

I was stunned by the beauty and tranquility of Anawangin cove.
Not only was it cool because of the pine tree forest, the scenery was fantastic. The water, although painfully lacking in marine life and corals, was calm, clear and comfortable. PLUS your eyes are treated to this wonderful encompassing view of the hills and tree forrest.

(photo: setting up camp, checking supplies)

I setup my hammock, mixed a cold alcoholic drink and relaxed. No sound but the wind and the sea - THIS IS THE LIFE!

The next day we decided to go and find the water source at the base of the mountains. I thought it was about half a kilometer from the camp but in reality it was about 3 kilometers east of the campsite. Needless to say we gave up before we found this water source. The local Aeta we met, mang danny, was friendly enough to guide one of our lost companions to safety and confirm its existence. He also helped avert danger by bringing our attention to the numerous snakes that came across our way.

(photo: river ran through this, careful! Watch out for snakes ! -rightmost image)

(photo: nice toilet, friendly native, poso!)

Anawangin cove is unique in that it has both fresh water lake river and saltwater shore side by side. The small hills that surround are safe and ideal for climbing. The scenery it offers after the climb is often too much a reward for the effort.

We packed our stuff and headed to the lighthouse at Capones island for some quick pics. Then off we went back to our insignificant lives in Manila. All in all another excellent vacation!

(photo: capones island light house, gate and final farewell to pundaquit shores)

More images of Anawangin here ALLAN'S FLICKR
and more stories here ALLAN'S BLOG

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Tambobong and Osmena beaches in Pangasinan

UPDATE Jan, 2013:

sunset at Tambobong, Pangasinan Dec, 2007

The town of Tambobong lies in the western tip of Pangasinan. A quiet and sleepy town for the most part, it has beautiful powdery white sand and very clear waters. As is expected from fishing communities, overfishing has destroyed most of the corals. One can still see a few fishes and marine life here and there. In fact one of the kids, Christian, was able to catch a "pugita" (octopus).
(photo:rough road from Dasol, convoy, more rough roads ahead)

This town, small as it is, was divided further into two towns, namely, the town of Tambobong and Osmena. There is not much trade in this town and we even found it hard to get a couple of beers, if possible, bring enough supplies to last your stay.
(photo: Ui town, stop over, horsing around)

The current kapitana, Mrs. Arroyo, was really gracious and kind. She dispatched some barangay tanods to watch over our camp and keep us from probable harm. I suspect it was also partly to keep us from getting rowdy.
(photo: Tambobong at last, beach with powdery sand, local kids during dinner)

We setup camp on the beach and one of the locals was kind enough to lend us their poso(hand pump) and toilet. The locals are very friendly and their children often come to our camp to listen to our stories and tell us stories of their own.
(photo:breakfast the next day, camp wakes up, tranquil beach shore)

We hired a boat to take us to a nearby island called "Collabra Island" or otherwise called snake island. This island supposedly has lots of snakes which mostly come out at night. We made sure to visit early in the day so we did not see a single snake on the island or around in its waters. It was a beautiful island and we ate lunch and swam in its shores. I noticed that the waters in tambobong had better visibility than in this island though.
(photo: collabra island, snake island beach)

From the shores of snake island, one can see another bigger island. It was only later that I found out this was the famous Hermana Mayor Island.
I think we'll visit her next.
(photo: tambobong town, local kids playing)

Our route to tambobong took us up Subic base, then traversing the Zambales National Road, we slowly crept up to Pangasinan. When we reached Dasol, we took a left turn towards Tambobong by way of UI town(strange name for a town)

By public: Ride a bus from Manila to Sta.Cruz. You must arrive in the morning so take the 11pm bus in any of the Victory liner stations. The Caloocan Victory liner has the best schedule. Their last bus leaves at 12midnight (Php 384.00 one way)

CLICK HERE for VictoryLinerSchedules

From Sta.Cruz, ride a jeep or minibus going to Dasol (Php 35pesos approx.)

Then from Dasol market, ride a jeep going to Tambobong (Php 30pesos approx.)
The jeeps leave when they fill up with passengers so there is no particular schedule. However, you will get more chances of riding it in the morning rather than in the afternoon. Evening departures are rare.

A two way trip for 1 person will cost approximately Php 900 pesos.

VISIT the blog of one of the locals >> TAMBOBONGBOY