While everyone else was attentively watching the Pope make his rounds in the Philippines, I took the opportunity to finally visit one of the places I’ve been wanting to go to since I could remember: Nagsasa Cove. The Nagsasa Cove is one of Iba, Zambales’ no-longer secluded coves, the other one being Anawangin, that is becoming more and more popular every year because of its proximity to Manila and its beauty.
Special thanks to Ate Rose who patiently imparted us wisdom regarding this last-minute trip.
My vacation at Nagsasa Cove started with Victory Liner’s first bus trip to Iba, Zambales. It was a five-hour trip that deposited us to San Antonio, Zambales. We immediately took a tricycle to see the Barangay Captain of Pundaquit: Kap. Erwell Sadernas. He welcomed us to Pundaquit and asked one of his constituents to fetch a boatman for us. He explained to us about the standardized boat rates going to Nagsasa Cove – P1,800 round trip. Then he said that the rate for going island hopping would now depend on how much we’d negotiate with the boatman. Our boatman, Arsing, agreed to the rate of P2000 to go to the Capones Island, Camara Island and then to the Nagsasa Cove.
Our first stop was Capones Island, which is famous for its light house. Unfortunately, tourists were advised against going there for safety reasons, because of the recent earthquake that rocked Zambales. So, we just contented ourselves with taking photos of the beach and the surrounding rock formations.
After Capones, I was surprised that we headed immediately to the Nagsasa Cove. Later on, Arsing would explain that it was too choppy around Camara Island and it would not be safe to go there. Oh, well.
The 50-minute boat ride to Nagsasa Cove was spent on a small roofless boat, under the hot noonday sun. As such, we got baked to perfection. Good thing we took the time to put on some sunblock while Arsing was preparing the boat. Otherwise, it would’ve been another episode of panda in the city come Tuesday.
When we got to Nagsasa, our contact person was Ate Nita of Dare to Dream, a neglected resort. We spent the day on one of the cottages but would later sleep on the more comfortable stone house.
Anyway, it was already time to eat but we didn’t have any rice with us. So, we asked Ate Nita to cook for us – P150 for 1kg of rice. We were only three (me, Moche and Juvy) so the rice lasted us until dinner. Then, we had the adobo, brought by Moche from home and canned Vienna sausages from Juvy. After eating, we rested a bit and finally had our fun at the beach.
The beach of Nagsasa Cove was great! The sand was fine, the water sparkling but very cool during our stay there. It was also very shallow, still around our waistline even if we already ventured almost half-way to the sea.
After a bit of a swim, we asked the local sari-sari store to cook us some Lucky Me pancit canton, each pack + paluto cost us P25. Everything was expensive on that island.
After that snack, we walked along the beach and discovered the “Toblerone Mountains” (as baptized by Juvy).
And the sun finally set.
With the setting of the sun came the true camping part of our trip. It was time for the tricky showering part. We were a bit underprepared on lighting so we had to buy a couple of candles from the store to light ourselves while we washed off the beach. You see, electricity in Nagsasa is only from 2pm to 6pm. But in fairness to the shower stalls, each had a proper door with lock, a basic but functioning toilet and good water. Save for the dim candle-lit affair, it wasn’t that difficult (compared with my time at Calaguas).
After washing up, we had dinner where we ate the Spanish sardines I brought. After that, we spent the next 3 hours before bedtime, talking about the childhood games we used to play, back before technology overpowered our lives.
The next day, we got up a bit past 6am and got ready for our trek up one of the surrounding mountains. We initially couldn’t find the start of the trail so we spent a good time taking photos of the scenery around us.
When we did finally find the trail, we spent about an hour hiking up the mountain to get some top view of the beautiful Nagsasa Cove.
By the time we got down, I was already super hungry. We had another round of pancit canton cooked for us then we polished off some of the bread leftover from the previous day, some canned tuna and crackers. After breakfast, more sightseeing and beach bumming.
The end of our trip was drawing near but first we had to have some lunch. We asked Ate Nita to cook us half a kilo of rice (P100), which we ate with some of the leftover adobo. After lunch, it was time for us to go back. Arsing fetched us around 2pm and we headed back to Pundaquit on a very wet boat ride.
After that, we took a tricycle back to San Antonio where we had another snack at the 711. Then, so as not to wait too long for a bus to Manila, we boarded an ordinary Victory bus going to the terminal in Olongapo. It was a really good move for us since we got there before the 6pm Pasay bus was full. We had seats on the bus and slept our way back to Manila.
My trip to Nagsasa Cove was a really good one. Talking with the locals, we found out about plans to make roads on the mountains going to the Iba coves. It would definitely make Nagsasa and its beauty accessible to more people. But at the same time, it would make it even more prone to abuse. I’m afraid that the beauty of the Toblerone mountains would be destroyed with the roads and that the locals would start neglecting the environment for the sake of business. I can only hope that this would not be the case and that I could return to Nagsasa and still be mesmerized by its unspoilt beauty.
***All photos were taken using iPhone 5
January 16-17, 2015