We are celebrating our 25th year of existence and our girlfriend set a trip to Puerto Galera for that. It was quite an odd choice. Beaches are full of people. We hate people. But since it’s November and quite off-season we thought it would be just fine. She knew we prefer a bit of isolation after all so she booked us on a relatively less crowded resort.
We rode a bus to Batangas Pier and then a ferry (of Minolo Shipping Lines) to White Beach and then a tricycle to our resort.
Tamaraw Beach Resort is okay. It has its own share of fail moments but tolerable. We saw the effort (and budget) they put on the resort’s facade. It’s not grand but beautiful. The staff are accommodating but a little forgetful. We ordered a soup with our meal; we always do. It never came. But since we were exceptionally calm, we let it go. It is a quiet place. If the season has something to do with it, we’ll never know. But we definitely enjoyed it.
We rented a cottage near the beach as we like it. We particularly grew up in the rice fields of Bulacan; the sea excites us more than anything else despite the fact that we never learned how to swim. We rely on that joke we once uttered that swimming is perhaps a talent and not a skill and we may develop such talent when we badly need it like say, we fell in a 14-foot deep pool. We got two beds with lamps, an air conditioning unit, a closet, chairs, table, a mirror to evaluate your look in your swimming attire in case you were just extra confident when you bought it, a fridge, a television, and a spacious comfort room where you can do a cartwheel or two. Yes, that spacious.
Our first conversation.
“Does the fridge work? It doesn’t have its light on.”
“It’s plugged beside the TV. Try checking the TV.”
“Nope. It won’t open.”
“Let’s tell them then. Don’t unpack yet in case we need to move to a different room.”
It turned out that both appliances work. They are just a bit odd. The fridge’s light is busted and the TV’s control is a bit unfriendly to unsuspecting guests.
We had our late lunch and went straight to our first destination, Aninuan Falls. The opening of the trail is about a ten-minute walk said the receptionist. She was right. But we chose to ride a tricycle instead ’cause we were feeling lazy. The tricycle ride costed us P100. Yep, that is like the minimum fare there. Tourists are encouraged to walk.
It was quite a long walk to the falls. We expected it. We were halfway the trail when we met a local who said that the gate to the falls was closed that afternoon. We decided we’d continue so we could at least peek. We were halfway! We didn’t want to waste the effort. Luckily a boy named Frank who’s also a local could accompany us and let us in. Problem solved. After several river crossing and “Oh! Water strider!” we finally got to the falls.
Traveling carrying a 5 days worth of clothing in a 3-day trip is tiring. We waded in the beach awhile, took a hot bath, had dinner, brush our teeth, and slept immediately.
We chose the inland tour. Yes, you got it, we were avoiding as much human contact as possible. An island tour will get us exposed to humanity and we might wither. The inland tour is equally “watery”. Wait, this is the Philippines. It is an archipelago. Every destination must involve some water.
Our first destination was Tukuran Falls. It took a long tricycle ride to get to the trail. Then we had to ride on a cart pulled by a carabao. The place is beautiful if you’re into the province life. Fresh air, grassy grounds, the ever present muddy roads, forested lands, streams, and countless coconut trees. It’s the laid back simple life we love to experience at least once in a while.
The carabao is a lovely creature. A female pulled our cart. The moment we saw her, we had to fight the urge to scratch the side of her tummy. The ride was not as lovely though. We’d get shaken at every little rut on the road that we feared bone dislocation. But it was our first time and we were unreasonably happy so that evened out things.
We alighted at the spot of cottages and souvenir shops and had to walk-climb the rest of the way to the falls. The beauty of the place is a bit overwhelming. We don’t travel a lot, can you blame us? We thought we were in some adventure movie. We couldn’t go Indiana Jones though ’cause well… water… swim… can’t. Our guide pointed the spot where we can dive. The water, she said, is 10-14 feet deep. “But none of us can dive,” we said. We could have added, “We’ll die. Don’t be silly.”
Tukuran Hanging Bridge
Before we left Tukuran, we dropped by the hanging bridge, a functional one. This bridge connects the road to the land across the river. Three little boys tried to talk to us when were at the middle trying to get good shots. We couldn’t understand them. They also appear to be a bit shy. “Is there some sort of fee?” we asked our girlfriend. She had no idea. We somehow figured out that they were asking for loose change and we gave them some.
While there, we witnessed a ritual of the Iraya tribe, a subgroup of the Mangyans. Their justice system, as a local woman told us, involves asking the suspects to retrieve a rock or a piece of metal submerged in boiling water while saying curses. Whoever fails to hold and show it to the tribe members is the culprit and will be vulnerable to the curses uttered by the innocent members who were tried similarly. How can that possibly happen? The innocent ones are protected by the spirits they believe. The curses, the same woman said, tend to be a bit harsh and are usually directed not just to a person but to his/her family as well. We knew that such a system exists in the Philippines; we were quite into history and anthropology as a student. We just forgot that it was the Iraya tribe and that they reside in this part of the archipelago. One more word about it, hardcore!
Our next stop was Tamaraw Falls. If you don’t know what a Tamaraw is, google it. We didn’t have to be in much physical stress to get there. It’s beside the road which may not be a very good thing as far as preservation is concerned. There is also a plan of using it to produce power. Something tells us it is not a very good thing. Piece of advice, enjoy the view while it lasts.
We had our lunch there. The place is not as decent as the other stops but since we were hungry we didn’t have time to complain. Also, the people were very accommodating. Filipinos! What else would you expect?
There is this part of the road where the view is nice. Too bad our camera cannot perfectly capture it. We stopped awhile nevertheless and attempted to take good shots.
The last stop of our inland tour was Aplayang Munti. The word aplaya stands for “seaside” while munti stands for “little”. We’re not sure how the place got its name though. Perhaps the little pebbles on the shore? Maybe. There is no sand only pebbles. And for us who don’t get to walk barefoot very often, the pain was too real.
We stayed just long enough to take pictures. We were on the verge of another cold episode and couldn’t stay in the water for long. It’s a nice place though. It’s like somebody opened their backyard to tourists. Nothing fancy at all. Just a handful of cottages, a store, a makeshift comfort room, and folks who have kayaks for rent. If the place is for sale and we have the money, we’d buy it. We could have an exclusive resort there as the shoreline is short and bound by large rocks on both sides. Or maybe we can build a vacation house.
Day 2 was extra tiring we almost asked ourself if we were indeed there to relax. Surprisingly, we had energy left that lasted till midnight. We even got to walk by the beach and gather glowing plankton (thanks to our superhuman eyes) and enjoy the volleyball game on TV.
We didn’t have that much time to roam on our last day but we realized we haven’t made the most of our stay in the resort yet so we woke up early and walked at the beach. We didn’t know it was that stunning and we took a number of good shots despite our unprofessional hands. With a view that good, it takes little effort. We occasionally had to avoid getting some tourists on our lens’ view though; they are quick to assume that you’re taking a photo of them when they actually tend to hurt your eyes a bit. Yes, we tend to be mean at times. But they tend to assume a little too much so.
Large rocks separate Tamaraw Beach from White Beach and the view is especially good atop those rocks. Only we’re not fond of getting our picture taken; we’re born awkward. So we simply took pictures of the waves and our lovely companion who made the trip possible.
We are now officially a quarter of a century old. Enjoy the view. Till our next trip. -aB