Calaguas Do-Over: Wet and Wild Weekend

When I say wet, I mean rain and  when I say wild I mean wind.  Yup, my Calaguas do-over had mostly been composed of raging rains and winds, with approximately 8 hours of sunshine.

The rain started to torment us the moment we changed into our shorts and stepped out of the office building.  As it was a rainy Friday night in Makati, getting a taxi ride had been a real test of patience.  Cab drivers had the power to choose whomever they deemed fit to be transported to their destination.  After three tries, we were finally able to get a ride to the bus pick up point.

Day 1.  Sunny Then Rainy Calaguas

After a scary bus ride of tilting zigzag turns, we arrived at the Amihan bus station in Daet.  There was an initial confusion because during my first trip, the bus dropped us off directly in front of Jollibee for breakfast.  This time, we had to transfer to a van to get there.  Apparently, the joiners were so few that we could fit in just one van, whereas during my first visit there were about two buses and two vans.

After breakfast, we traveled to Vinzons for the boat ride.  The sun started to sneak a peek at what we, wanderlusty mortals were up to in Cam Norte.  Apparently, it liked what it saw for it stayed with us until the clouds bullied it out of the sky and rained down upon us late in the afternoon.  The two-hour long boat ride had been generally uneventful, except that the bangkero recognized me from the first time I went there. Cool, huh?

Read more: Calaguas during the summer.

The gleaming sand of Calaguas greeted us on our arrival and I had the chance to take a closer look at everyone on the trip.  Our co-trippers was a healthy mix of Filipinos, French, Ivorian (from Ivory Coast), coñosjologs, etc.  They were friendly enough but we were feeling anti-social, so we mostly kept to ourselves.  Added to that was my new-travel-partner’s (NTP for short) bathing suit had been exactly the same as that of another girl’s.  We swam a bit before lunch and NTP took the time to marvel over the beauty of the island.  At the same time, we lamented the unfortunate timing of another travel buddy’s business trip.  We were missing her a lot the whole time and we kept imagining that we wouldn’t have minded our outcast-ness as much had she been there.

Calaguas by chasing jayce

Exhaustion finally overcame us and due to the long bus and boat ride, plus the heat, we had some siesta under a coconut tree.  After the refreshing nap, we went back to the cool waters of Calaguas where I attempted to do some threading.  After a while, one of the organizers went over to give some skimboarding lessons.  Skimboarding is this thing you do on the shore with a short, thin piece of wooden board.  You let the wave wash over to the shore and before all the water recedes, you drop your board and attempt to get on it with both feet so you could slide parallel to the shore.  My explanation might seem too parsimonious but the activity is definitely more complicated, particularly for a coordination-challenged individual such as me.  Once the board was dropped, it started sliding forward (parallel to the shore), and I must run after it, jump in with my left foot first, followed immediately by my right then get into a crouching position to maintain balance and a non-fatal inertia.  It was really difficult for me to sustain forward motion because I could not position my front (left) leg into the middle of board.  This is in the event that I managed to get my other foot on board (which had been seldom).  Skimboarding seems easier than surfing but I have to focus on one sport for the meantime.  Besides, I wouldn’t need to use my new rashguard while skimboarding, and that really lessens the attraction.

Read more: Camping at the Nagsasa Cove

I would like to think that had I had more time with the skimboard, I would have made real progress.  However, as I was practicing (without the instructor as he had to leave and cook our dinner), the sky opened up and sent a torrential downpour.  The pain of having a raindrop land on my shoulder had been equivalent to having a pebble thrown at you by your mortal enemy.  It hurt!  Everyone rushed into the sea to wait out the rain.  That had also been my first time to go swimming while it’s raining and I had tremendous fun.  It had just been so cold that I had to make sure that I was submerged from the neck down.

After the rain clouds passed, we were given a few minutes to regroup and enjoy more swimming.  But more rain was on the way and looking out into the sea had been like how I imagined Stephen King’s The Mist would have been:  all gray and never-ending-like.  After that second batch of rain, we decided to check our tent and stuff and we were devastated to find that our tent had crumpled into the ground.  No worries though as they had some spare tents and we were built one immediately.  Unfortunately again, the third rain session had been twice as horrible (even if you’d combine the first two together).  There was lightning.  There was thunder.  And the wind had been merciless.  Our newly-built tent bulked again under the canvas cover they put over it and one side caved in.  Everyone had been busy holding on to the tarps to keep them from flying away and completely devastating our campsite.

Calaguas by chasing jayce

Respite had been given after about a half hour and NTP and I decided that it was time to rinse off.  Again, rinsing off entailed having to splash water on ourselves, out in the open, in full view of anyone who cared to look and watch.  Plus, we also had to pay the guy who pumped water for us.  I really did not mind anymore, it being my second time in Calaguas, but everyone else got a wee bit stressed about it.  I mean, who wouldn’t?

Read more: Burot Beach: another camper’s haven.

During dinner, I found out that one of the guys spoke Spanish!  I was glad to have been able to practice a bit.  He is currently at nivel 13 in Instituto Cervantes but he complimented my Spanish as well.  How I envy him!  I could not progress with my Spanish because Instituto could not amass enough students for my level with the schedule I like.  It’s really pathetic how lazy and profit-oriented they have become.

Anyway, after dinner, we took a walk down the beach and discussed again how we were missing our other friend.  We saw one of the organizers creating this bonfire (that we would never see lighted) and that they have already brought out the booze.  We mixed some vodka with grapefruit juice.  We drank it down and mixed another round.  After that, NTP already needed to sleep.  Since I was basically feeling anti-social, I went inside the tent and laid down as well, intending to re-read My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler.  Again, I had been surprised at how hard the ground was.  And unlike in my first Calaguas trip, there had been great lumps that poked me in the wrong places.  There had been a sand dune right where I was supposed to place my hips.  I had to spend about five minutes, trying to even out the ground.  The activity + the vodka worked well to lull me to sleep after about only thirty minutes of reading.

Day 2.  Gloomy Calaguas, Rocky Boat Ride and Flat Bagasbas

I had been mostly in and out of it during the night.  There were times when it rained and I always got up to check if any rain got inside the tent.  Thankfully we stayed dry the entire night.

A gloomy Calaguas morning greeted us and we decided to stroll the length of the beach and do some photo op.  We were not able to take lots of pictures because of the rain (hence, no skimboard documentation) and because there was only the two of us.  We went back to the campsite to find our breakfast waiting for us, as well as the rumor that we would be staying on the island until 7 o’clock.  I was flabbergasted and I just had to ask what time we really were leaving and if we would still go surfing in Bagasbas.  After all, surfing had been the primary reason why I went back.  So the boatman confirmed that we won’t be going to Bagasbas soon as the water is not deep enough for the boat.  We accepted our fate and wandered a bit before NTP decided to go for a swim again.

Calaguas by chasing jayce

Since the news truly bothered me, I did not join her and just stayed inside the tent to mope and read more of Chelsea.  After a while I felt NTP enter the tent and also slept.  All in all, we slept most of the vacation away:  on the bus rides, siesta, early lights out and more naps – it was actually truly abnormal for me.

Read more: Surfing Baby Waves in Baler


Two o’clock came and we boarded the boat to head back to civilization.  We were really missing all the modern conveniences of our age, like cellphone signal, wi-fi and a decent shower.  But the road, or the sea rather, had not been smooth.  We wore jackets against the rain and life vests against the constant shower of waves and the threat of doom.  It was definitely the longest boat ride of my life.

Calaguas by chasing jayce

flat Bagasbas beach

We got to Bagasbas and my hopes of wetting my newly-bought rash guard vanished into thin air.  The beach had been as calm as Boracay at 5pm, low tide; the waves were low and lapped gently into the shore.  It was a heartbreaking sight.  We checked in at the Surfer’s Dine-Inn where we were assigned to room A2.  The room had been booked so that we could have a more or less decent shower and a chance to chill before the bus ride home.  During this time, I was finally able to stretch my French speaking muscles.  I was so behind in exercise that I stumbled plenty of times.

The conversation started when I asked one of the French girls regarding the nature of galette bretonne.  It is one of the grocery items that I have to translate for work and there had been some verdict that this food item is a sort of cake or pastry.  However, photos of the actual items for shipment showed that it is actually a shortbread cookie.  I had made tons of prior research concerning this product but hearing it from the French is the best test.  So I asked.  And yes, c’est un biscuit!  It is a shortbread cookie to be specific.

And because of this highly weird question, I piqued the interest of the French girl and so she proceeded to ask me how I learned about their national treasure.  I told her about what I do for a living and so commenced our French chit chat.  It was très fantastique!  They were amazed that I speak well for someone who “only studied at  Alliance” and it was really heartwarming that they went out of their way to blow smoke up my ass.

The rest of the afternoon had been uneventful and we were not able to go to town to get pasalubongs.  We did a bit of exploring and more talking.  For dinner, I was finally able to eat the tinola that I missed during my first visit.  I was bundat after that so we went for a walk and then it was time to go.

I would not consider my return to Calaguas as an epic fail, but it really could have been better.  An hour on the surfboard could have made all our misadventures worth-while.  However, this is not to say that it had been all bad.  I treasure every moment we spent on the island  and I look forward to returning next year.  I heard that there is another side to the island that is more welcoming of technology-dependent tourists.  And that, is something to look forward to.  ^__^

July 9-10, 2011

Jayce Cairo

Jayce is a linguaphile who speaks four languages and currently works as a translator to finance her various interests. Scoring very high on “Openness to Experience” on the Big Five Personality Test, she is an avid globetrotter who aspires to retire at 35 and travel for the rest of her life.

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