Travel Date: May 14-15, 2016

Initially, my intention was to go to Calaguas [Camarines Norte, Bicol] for the weekend because I’ve been itching to go there since 2013. Now that I have the chance to go there, I just need to have travel buddies who can be spontaneous enough to say ‘G!’ even if it’s a few days before the travel date.

So I randomly messaged my friend Mika.

A little back story: she is my first college roommate in UPLB. The first time I met her was Summer 2010 when we were looking for a dormitory to stay in because Los Banos is 3-4 hours away from our house in Marikina. My mom and I were talking to the dorm owner [Tita Easter] to finalize the rent details. She and her dad arrived and approached Tita Easter to ask if they still have vacant slots. My mom politely asked them if she is also an incoming freshman and then we found out that we’re taking up the same degree program. Fortunately, Tita Easter said that the room that I’ll be staying in still has one vacant slot, soooo… we became instant roomies yay! She was like, my first friend and we shared the same struggles as university freshies. 

Until she transferred to UP Diliman after a year to take up Tourism. *ugly crying*

I was devastated. I didn’t know what to do with my life anymore when she transferred to another campus. 😦 Just kidding. I have lots of friends kaya! Hello, ’twas no big deal. Jk again. We still kept in touch even after we both graduated and remained good friends. Hi Mika I hope you’re reading this til the end! Hahaha. πŸ™‚ 

 

Mika is now a Tourism degree holder and also a travel junkie. We’ve been having travel plans ever since we got employed but our schedules always clashed. One Monday, I messaged her on Facebook asking her if she’s G for a Calaguas weekend warrioring. She said she’s probably G, but we still have to estimate the budget and invite some of our common friends. Thursday came, and we still had no further plans nor had more people to join us. She suggested that we go to Cagbalete [Mauban, Quezon] instead and go to the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon after. I immediately said G! and we decided to push through with this trip even if it will be just the two of us. You also have to take note that that was a Thursday night and we’d leave the following night which means, I had to pack my stuff right after our decision.

Woah, how spontaneous is that? I love it! This is the most spontaneous trip ever! This is gonna be Legen… wait-for-it-and-I-hope-you’re-not-lactose-intolerant-because-the-next-word-is.. dary! πŸ˜€

What made me even more excited about this trip aside from traveling with my BFF is that it will be my first time camping at the beach. With two years worth of stories to catch up on, I’m pretty sure that we wouldn’t run out of things to talk about for the entire weekend. My initial thoughts in having this BFF travel were mostly negative but when Mika told me that it would be her second time going to Cagbalete for camping, I was somehow relieved  because at least she knows the place already.

And so the trip begins!

DAY 0 | Friday, 13 May

It’s Friday the 13th omg. Nah, let’s not get too superstitious.

We stayed in her condo in Vito Cruz to fully charge our gadgets, to ‘nap’, and to take a shower before going to the JAC Liner terminal in Buendia at 3AM. Since her office is just along Roxas Blvd, she asked their staff to go to JAC Liner to buy our tickets in advance. The ticket costs around P250 but we spent P300 each for the staff’s merienda. JAC Liner is the only bus company that has a direct trip to Mauban, Quezon which leaves at 4:00 and 11:00 AM for both Buendia and Cubao terminals. You can also ride any bus going to Lucena [which is 24 hours available] and ride a jeepney to Mauban. But of course, we prefer the most convenient choice. The trip is 4-5 hours and we only intend to sleep during the entire ride since we didn’t sleep anymore fearing that we might miss the schedule. We arrived at 3AM-ish which is still ahead of schedule so we had a super early breakfast in McDo to wait for the bus.

DAY 1 | Saturday, 14 May

I initially used the hashtag ‘Anyare Te Sa Cagbalete’ for this trip not only because it was rhyming but also it was full of Pinoy puns. I’m not quite sure if foreign readers can relate from this. I’ll try my best to explain the story behind the pun, though. πŸ™‚

Anyare is a Filipino, street term loosely translated as β€œwhat happened?” It is a shortened word of the phrase anong nangyari. The usual answer would have been nganga, Filipino street term to mean none.

Anyare? | The Manila Times Online

PS. I just added the ‘Te’ in ‘Anyare?’ which is short for ‘Ate’ (older sister) or usually an expression similar to ‘Giirrrrl’. Simply put, the expression ‘Anyare Te?’ can be quite similar to ‘WTF?’

Here’s the first of many Anyare? moments we’ve had during the trip:  

#AnyareTe? Number 1: When we went back to the terminal, the Mauban bus was already there and many people were crowding the bus entrance in an attempt to get to the first trip. Mika saw that there were people already entering the bus and she assumed that those were the ones with reserved seats, so we also boarded despite the crowd blocking the entrance. After we got settled in our seats, there was some sort of commotion between the bus conductor and a group because the available seats were not enough for the group. They were complaining about the people with reserved seats not lining up or something like that. Mika felt that they might be pertaining to us because we just went inside the bus without lining up. A guy from the group was slightly yelling arguing that they’ve been lining up since 2AM being chance passengers and he proposed that all the passengers, including those with reserved tickets, should get out of the bus and line up again to make things fair. WOW. Seriously, kuya? Don’t you get the point of buying tickets in advance and the risk of chance passengers having no guaranteed seats despite waiting for hours? Girrrrl. I’m too sleepy to give an F. Sorry. The group eventually left the bus and idk, maybe they took the bus to Lucena instead.

Life Lesson: Buying bus tickets in advance will definitely save your ass especially during peak season or weekends. There are millions of other people who also want to travel to the places you want to go. Malas mo nalang kung nagkasabay-sabay kayong lahat.

We arrived at the the Mauban bus terminal at around 9:00 AM and we rode a tricycle to the Mauban Port which is beside the public market. The port was full of weekend warriors as well. Who says you’re the only ~weekend warrior~ in this earth? We stayed there for an hour where we had to scout for other groups that we can merge with to score a private boat to Cagbalete. Luckily, we were able to form a group of 15 pax worth P3,000. We reached the island at around 12NN. Our boat wasn’t able to reach the shore because the water was so shallow that we had to transfer to a small paddle boat.

#AnyareTe? Number 2: We told the boat coordinator in the port that we prefer to leave the island the following day at 11AM because we plan to go to Lucban for the Pahiyas Festival. It was a good thing that the 13 of us are all staying in Pansacola Beach Resort so it’s easier for the boat to pick us up at the same time the next day. Upon reaching the island, we reminded the boatman to pick us up again at 11AM tomorrow. We were surprised when he told us that the boat is not available at that time. Apparently, the coordinator and the boat operators had a miscommunication. We got pissed off because our schedule will be affected by their fault. We were all complaining to the boatman which also pissed him off. The other groups were also arguing among each other because the others didn’t want to leave early and the other groups demanded to refund their fare going back to Mauban. What a great way to start the island experience! Hahaha. To cut the story short, 11 out of 15 passengers decided to leave the island at 9:00 AM while some decided to stay in the island and the others completely left the boat group. Eleven of us also had to refund for the fare of the four people who didn’t join us. We spent P300-ish for that private boat rental while the public passenger boat fare is only P50 each. Just when we thought renting a private boat is less hassle. Haha.

Pansacola Beach Resort, Cagbalete. We paid P200 for the overnight fee for campers including the use of toilet and bathrooms. They offer tents for rent at P200 as well. They do have rooms, but there were no more vacant rooms during that time because it was peak season.
It has been 9 hours since we last had a decent meal, so we were starving AF when we arrived at the beach. But first, we had to install our tent. I honestly had no idea how to mount a tent. Even though that was Mika’s second time to camp in the same island, she still didn’t fully know how to install  a tent as well. Oh, such poor helpless girls we were. So we mustered our courage to politely ask for assistance from the group we went on the boat with. That group was composed of college friends from UST, btw. The guys were happy to help us anyway. Thanks guys! πŸ™‚

 

Mika installing our tent’s roof after a little help from our friendly neighbors. Yay we can finally eat lunch! πŸ™‚

Speaking of being hungry AF, I suddenly remembered that the food we brought to the island were only 2 large and 2 small cans of tuna, one bag of Pinoy Pandesal, a 10-piece pack of Sky Flakes Fit, and one small pack of Quaker Oatmeal Bites. I know, they’re all ~diet~ food! Mika instructed me to buy them so that we won’t look bloated in our swimsuit aura photos. Girl, she was wrong. I always look bloated even if I haven’t eaten anything! So what’s the diff? Hahahahuhu. It was a good thing that I was able to take out a chicken sandwich from McDonalds earlier, so that was what I ate for lunch.

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~aura~

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Look how far the boats are! The water is always shallow in Cagbalete.
As we explored the beach, we noticed that the water was sooo shallow it’s as if we were already in the middle of the ocean but the water is still up to our ankles! Srsly, we didn’t bother to walk that far to reach the deeper [chest-high] part anymore. The beach was nice, though. The water was clear, the sand was white, and the weather was quite perfect for beach photo shoots. I am not much of a beach photo shoot person [yes, not that much haha!] and I prefer enjoying the beach by swimming or snorkeling. I even brought my goggles but it was too late when I realized that it was not necessary after all.

I also have to take note that my period started before we left Manila, which means I will be spending my second day period in Cagbalete. How nice, isn’t it? I always tend to have my period during most of my travels and I am really amazed at how my cycle does a great job at timing it perfectly. You might suggest that I consider my period calendar first before planning any trip, but I just don’t know how to. You see, my period is a bit irregular. It doesn’t arrive whenever I expect it based from the previous months, and it arrives whenever I least expect it. Amazing how the female body likes to give pleasant surprises, eh?

#AnyareTe? Number 3: It was only 3PM when we went back to our tent and we were already quite bored because we had nothing else to do. We shared a liter of Red Horse and just chilled by the beach. An hour after, we bought another Mucho and finished it like badass chicks. Haha. We felt hungry at around 5PM and we started looking for grilled stuff like BBQ or hotdog. The lady from the store advised us to go to the other side of the island to find other stores that sell ihaw-ihaw. But alas, there was none. We were already hungry AF. To our surprise, the store in Pansacola doesn’t sell meals despite being a kitchen slash sari-sari store. They said that they use the kitchen for those who pre-ordered their meals the day before their check in or for those who availed rooms that included a free breakfast. In short, we had no choice but to eat the canned tuna that we brought along with the pandesal and crackers. For God’s sake, we couldn’t even buy a cup of rice from them because their supplies were only limited! Oh well, at least we brought something to eat. That’s not so bad at all right? The only items we could buy from the store were alcohol, instant noodles, chips, and some toiletries.

We also bought a 350ml San Miguel Light to compliment our dinner and then we washed up, took a nap, and chilled by the beach again with our third Mucho. Yes, we drank a lot in this island. Don’t judge. Hahaha. We didn’t get ~tipsy~ though, we just needed something to make us fall asleep early or else it’s going to be a looooooong night.

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#AnyareTe? Number 4: As we were about to finish our third Mucho, it suddenly rained. It didn’t bother us that much until it became heavier and heavier that we had to go back to our tent for shelter. Suddenly, we realized that the minor zipper issue in our tent wasn’t minor at all when the rain came. OMG. The zipper of our tent’s main cover got broken even before we explored the beach. When we were about to leave the tent, the slider was accidentally removed from the zipper chain because it had no lock at the end so it went straight out. We tried not to worry too much of that problem earlier that day and secured our tent using hairpins instead. It was just really unfortunate that it rained so hard that we were inside the tent struggling to stay dry by holding the tent’s ‘door’. We stayed that way for 10-15 minutes waiting for the rain to stop and we were getting wet anyway. That was the point where we just wanted to go home and sleep in a decent bed. Super #hassle, my friends. 😦

A few minutes later, we decided to take everything we could and just evacuate our tent. We went to the store/kitchen and asked the staff if they still have any vacant room or tent for rent. Neither was available and we were just so desperate. The caretaker said we could just sleep on the wooden bench in the kitchen if we really wanted to stay dry, or transfer our tent to the makeshift dining area with an improvised tarpaulin roof beside his hut. We chose the latter and we were still fortunate enough because the resort’s guard dismounted, transferred, and reinstalled our soaking tent for us. He even gave us a large plastic bag while the caretaker gave us a table cloth to make sure that we lay on dry surface. Faith in humanity restored! πŸ™‚ We never got the chance to thank the guard financially, but I will be forever grateful for his kindness. Huhu.

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Goodbye, Cagbalete. It was nice meeting you. I won’t be able to forget this for a while.

Day 2 | Sunday, 15 May

The next morning, we woke up to the sound of the busy staff cooking and preparing for the day’s guests. I was just thankful that we were able to sleep for a good number of hours despite the things that happened to us last night. We had light breakfast and coffee [at least, they have hot water available for guests] while chatting with the caretaker who was kind enough to share his dining area. We strolled by the beach for a few minutes and then packed our stuff before our boat arrived.

As we reached Mauban Port, we joined the UST group in riding a van to Tayabas. The tricycle fare was P10 each and the van was P60. From the port, we rode a tricycle to the van terminal. While waiting for the van, we bought pansit habhab in a store at the corner of the street because we were really craving for real food after all the tuna that we ate in the island.

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Pancit habhab is a popular noodle dish that originated in the Quezon Province which is eaten without utensils. You have to eat it the same way as pronouncing ‘habhab’.
Upon reaching Tayabas, the jeepneys to Lucban were all full up to the top load! A lot of people in the Tayabas Market have been waiting to ride the jeep and it took us an hour before we got to ride one. Even the tricycle drivers declined to bring us to Lucban because of the super intense heavy traffic and that their machines wouldn’t make it going up there. However, one driver offered us a ride for P100 each. We were tempted to accept his offer, but it was far more expensive than riding the jeep which is only P20. Mika had this incredible idea of buying a small stool from the market so that we could get to sit in the jeepney’s aisle. The stool was only P38 each, so it’s still cheaper than the P100 tricycle ride. We are soooo brilliant! Hahaha! We were successful to hail a jeepney showing our stools. Everyone was looking at us as we entered the jeepney and sat at the middle. We felt like we were contestants for The Amazing Race who had to be very resourceful just to be ahead in the race. It was so hot inside the jeep because we were away from the windows and it was in the middle of the afternoon. It was a good thing that we brought our rechargeable fans and a trusty power bank to save us.

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These babies can save lives, my friends!

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Our haggard selves still managed to smile without knowing that this jeepney ride would take us 4 hours to get to the outskirt of Lucban.
#AnyareTe? Number 5: After feeling triumphant for scoring a jeepney that would allow us to sit in the aisle, we slowly felt the heat and the torture of the terrible traffic. According to google, the average travel time between Tayabas and Lucban is only 36 minutes. But yay, it took us FOUR FREAKING HOURS to get to the last jeepney stop to Lucban since the roads were closed for Pahiyas Festival. There were so many people! Some of our co-passengers decided to walk to Lucban instead since they believed that it’s actually faster than waiting in traffic. On the second hour, we were already starting to feel grumpy because we were feeling hot, humid, hungry AF, tired, thirsty, bored, and everything all at the same time. When will the hardships end??? Huhuhuhu. At the third hour, we decided to leave the jeepney and just walk. Note that the highway was an ascending zigzag. In short, it’s going to be a minor climb. We bravely left the jeepney and started walking. After a few minutes, we realized that our speed was just the same as the jeepney that we were in. The climb wasn’t a joke. I was already catching my breath after one minute! Rather than making ourselves more tired than we already are, we just swallowed our pride and went back to the jeepney. At least, we tried. That experience made us a little bit more patient during the ride.

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This photo somehow shows that EDSA isn’t the only highway that can make you prove that there is such a thing called forever. #MayForever
We finally arrived in Lucban at around 4:30PM. Imagine, we started heading towards Lucban at 10AM. The horror. All we want to do is to get a decent shower and a good meal. Mika has a friend who lives in Lucban, so we headed straight to their house. The roads inside the town proper are closed for vehicles which means we would all do the walking.

 

 

After so many hours of tiring travel and two days of eating preserved meals, we had the most satisfying meal in Lucban! Their embotido and pancit habhab are the best! Too bad I wasn’t able to taste the Lucban Longanisa, but still, the food trip was amazing! Also, the water there was FREEEZING which was perfect for our nanlilimahid bodies after all the stickiness and heat that we went through. Ahh, I can still feel the Lucban water against my skin. Super refreshing. It is sooo true that you really get to appreciate the little things in life when you get deprived from it for a certain time. A refreshing cold bath after a day of being stuck in the jeepney under the afternoon heat and a hefty meal after one day of not being able to eat rice. THE BEST. πŸ™‚

This might not be the first time for Mika to travel alone with a friend, but I’m sure we both agree that this trip was really unforgettable because of all the misadventures that we’ve had. I can’t believe we survived all those challenges! I’m glad that she still stuck with me despite my shortcomings as a travel buddy. This experience definitely took our friendship to the next level and I’m looking forward to travel with her again soon, if our schedule and budget allow us to hehe.

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We successfully made it to Pahiyas Festival 2016! This is definitely one for the books πŸ™‚

How was your experience traveling with your closest pal for the first time? πŸ™‚

 

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