My family had not been camping for many months now – I mean, really “camping”, that is pitching a tent, setting up the picnic table, setting firewood or charcoal to cook. I personally missed this kind of activity.
Until one day, we stumbled upon on the internet a beach in Calatagan, Batangas which is solely devoted for camping. No resort facilities like restaurant nor coffee shop, not even a decent bathroom nor toilet. Haha! After reading a number of pertinent blogs, comments and reviews on the internet, my family agreed to try this out.
And so one Saturday, we headed for Manuel Uy Beach in Calatagan, Batangas. It is located between two well-developed resorts – Aquaria Beach Resort on the left, and Stilts Resort on the right. My family had been to these two resorts where we had wonderful family moments. I have separate blogs on these 2 resorts.
We left the city at 4:30am, with the objective of arriving at the beach at about 7 in the morning. Yeah, that early, as we planned to have our breakfast on the beach! Our estimate didn’t fail us; we arrived at the beach at about 6:50am.
It was a 2 1/2-hour drive passing through Tagaytay, going down to Nasugbu, left turn to Lian, and finally reaching the Calatagan town proper. From the town, it was just about a 10-minute drive.
At the road corner heading to the beach, there was a Tourism desk that asked us to pay the 30-peso per person “Environmental Fee”, which is quite normal in Batangas. This is supposed to be for the upkeep of the environment.
The beach camp entrance is just a very short distance from the main road. We paid 50 pesos per person as entrance fee. Parking fee was Php100.
We were not expecting facilities which are common in the more developed resorts. We were really ready for camping!
As we drove to the beach, we found a good spot where only few people camped, and we pulled our vehicle. It was good location: away from the crowd, we had a lone tree cover, a space for our car and a good flat area to pitch our tent and set-up our camping table and chair, and just the right beach front! We are indeed blessed!
As soon as we settled down, we prepared our packed breakfast, and set it up on our portable folding table with bench. Oh, it was really an amazing experience. Our table was just about 5 meters from the shore where the sea and the sand meets. It was quite windy too! Really relaxing and refreshing environment for breakfast! Haha!
Soon, we just enjoyed the beach and the sea! My son explored the seabed for his usual search for sea creatures he can use for his saltwater aquarium. I also had a good swim on the almost flat seabed – very safe for families with kids.
The beach has fine, light-brown sand. Since the sea was quite rough because of a weather disturbance, the water was not very clear. We couldn’t see the underwater view. But it was very safe, because it was almost flat up to a good distance from the shore. During the low tide, I observed that there was not much live sea weeds nor sea urchins which could be annoying when you swim when the water is deep enough.
The wind and rough seas washed plenty of dead sea weeds and assorted debris onto the shore while the tide was rising. The good thing is that every 30-45 minutes, beach cleaners rakes the debris on the beach and dump it into a pit.
It was a “beach camping site”. We were not expecting nice facilities. We were ready for a true outdoor experience. We took “shower” in a make-shift bathroom, with a water supply that is manually pumped by the house-owner. We used a reasonably clean rural toilet to respond to the call of nature. We have no complain.
We thank the very hospitable homeowners who opened their house for campers. I befriended them, and when we are about to leave, we were given 2 bunches of cooking banana direct from their backyard! A bonus treat indeed!
Truly a relaxing and refreshing beach camping experience for the family!
Mt Pulag is the Philippines’ second highest peak and Luzon Island’s highest with an elevation of 2,922 meters above sea level. Located in the boundaries of Benguet, Mt Province, and Isabela, climbing this mountain is quite a daunting adventure.
As early as January, my family had planned to scale the heights of this tallest mountain in Luzon. This will be my and my wife’s, first long trek, after trekking Mt Pinatubo about 2 years ago. My 2 children had gone trekking to “smaller” mountains in-between.
We did some research. We are aware that the air at the top is very thin, to which some people are not comfortable. We know that the temperature at the top drops to below zero during cold months.
But the most exciting info we got is the awesome, breathtaking view of the sun rising above the clouds. At the top, you will be literally be above a sea clouds. If there is only one thing that excites me, this is it!
After weighing the pros-and-cons, we decided to take a trek organizer to simplify our trip planning and organizing. And we are taking public transport.
We boarded a Victory Liner bus in Pasay City, leaving the bus terminal at 9pm. We encountered heavy traffic along EDSA. From Pasay City all the way to the Balintawak interchange, it took us an agonizing 2-hours. Finally we arrived Baguio City at 4:30 very early in the morning. It was still dark.
From the bus terminal in Baguio, we transferred to a jeep which will take us to the drop off point in Kabayan, Benguet.
After traveling from Baguio for 2 hours We first had a pit stop at Country Road, a local restaurant where we had a hefty eat-all-you-can breakfast. I had been controlling my diet for quite some time, but this time, I thought I had to have a “cheat diet” so that I will have enough energy to trek the mountain.
After breakfast, we registered and then attended a briefing-orientation at the Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR) local office, as a requirement to scale the mountain. We learned that there are 3 trails to the top – an easy trail, a more difficult for the “pros”, and a much more difficult passing through forest infested by leaches (oh my!). We took the “easy trail”, which is still a 4-6 hours trek!
After the briefing, we boarded again our jeep to the starting point of the trek – the Ranger Station in Kabayan, Benguet. It was another hour ride. After the registration process, and some arrangements – getting a trek lead/guide, a porter for our extra baggage, adding-on of clothes for the colder weather – we started our trek.
Mt Pulag here we come!
We started the trek at about 10:30am starting at the Rangers’ Station. We were led by our guide “Jane”. We passed by a less-than-a-kilometer cemented road, then walked on a dirt road, and finally the single-line trek.
From the village-community, you will be greeted by a scenery of mountains with vegetables terraces planted with potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and lettuce.
The first forest we passed is the “pine forest” where mountains are covered by tall pine trees. As we trekked further, the forest transitions into a “mossy forest” where tropical trees are covered with moss. At this point, the pine trees are no longer visible.
We reached Camp-1 at about 11:45. We had our lunch at this camp and also our “pee break”. Many trekkers rest and eat in this area.
After eating our packed lunch and a few minutes of rest, we continued our trek to Mt Pulag. We passed through the mountain trail, appreciating the various vegetation that gets our attention. We also had some “selfie” and “groufie” photos taken, and had some brief stops to catch our breath.
Mt Pulag, here we are!
We arrived at Camp-2 at about 2:30 in the afternoon, after hiking for about 4 hours – rest and picture taking included. I had a great feeling that finally we arrived at our camp. We will be spending the night in this camp and we have the entire remainder of the afternoon to roam around and view the surroundings.
We had 2 tents for my family – 1 tent for the girls and another tent for the boys.
Oh yes, I have to say that the natural spring water is so sweet and refreshing! We had to fetch and refill our bottles a number of times. The water comes from the mountain spring. Caution: if your tummy is not used for this type of “raw” water, don’t take this; just use your bottled water from the city. I suggest you bring at least 2 liters of bottled water for each person.
After taking some rest and light snacks, my children went to the nearby hills and explored the place. They reported that the view is very beautiful and awesome!
I and my wife took some time too to walk. But as we are a bit tired, we just went to the middle of the hill and took some photos.
We had an early dinner at 5pm. I think we had to eat early so we can clean and keep our cooking and eating utensils before it gets dark.
After the meals, I started adding on 2 more layers of clothing, and my gloves to keep me warm. The temperature is getting lower as darkness sets in. By night time before I slept, I was wearing 4 layers on top (2 shirts, a sweater, and a jacket) and 2 layers for bottoms (a trouser and a jogging pants). It was really very cold! Plus, I had gloves to cover my hands, bonnet to cover my head, and a scarf (which I borrowed from my wife) to cover my neck.
I had a ‘shallow’ sleep, although my family I sense, had a good one. At about 12:30, I was awakened by a bright light outside our tent. I thought someone was walking around. As I opened the tent window, I was surprised by the wonderful view of stars and an almost full moon in a very clear blue night sky. I wanted to wake up the boys with me but I restrained because I might disturb their sleep. The moonlight was an amazing experience, indeed! It is something I haven’t seen for many years since I moved to the city.
Mt Pulag, to the Peak
We woke up at 3:00am for our final trek to the top. We boiled water for our coffee and chocolate drink to warm our bodies before the hike. We prepared some trail food and water for the climb. Everything else, we left at our tents.
We left the camp at 4:05 in the morning. We had our LED torches and LED head lamps “on” to light the trail to the top. At this point, no more trees and forest to pass; just the dwarf bamboo grass covering the mountains.
After one-and-a-half hour hike, passing through sometime rocky trail, we finally reached the summit at 5:30am! Just in time to view the sunrise which was just a few minutes after we reached the top.
What a wonderful feat! Scaling the mountain and getting to the top at 2,922 meters above sea level!
In few minutes, the sun started to peep-in from the horizon of clouds. It was really an amazing, breathtaking view! Really an experience for my entire family!
The temperature too is very low at about 7 degrees Celsius (forecast temperature). I couldn’t take out my gloves for more than 3 minutes. [I had to remove it for my picture taking as my phone screen would not sense my finger with my gloves on.]
Back to Camp
We left the peak at about 6:30 in the morning. Still enduring the biting cold temperature with our layered clothes on.
As we trek down the mountain, we take out our ‘body warmers’, 1 piece at a time. Finally reaching the camp, I had only 3 layers of clothes on top.
We reached our camp at about 7:30 after almost 1 hour hike.
We had a cooked breakfast inside our camp. Our trek organizer cooked for us while we were at the peak of the mountain.
By 8am we started to break our camp, fixing our backpacks, and a bit of housekeeping. By 9:30 we were ready to the final trek back to Rangers Station.
I was a bit tired by this time. I can feel the fatigue of trekking for about 6 ½ hours for the past day. I told my wife that we will get a porter to carry my backpack going down the mountain. We did.
We started our descend at about 9:30am. It was a bit easy hike this time, except for the few climbs along the trail. We had a few rest stops too, arriving Camp-1 by about 10:30! Wow, it took us now just about an hour. Our guide/trek-lead noticed our faster pace. We had a 15 minute rest at Camp-1 too, to regain strength.
Finally, we trekked back to the village-community. This time, as sun was at its highest, we were easily tired by the noonday heat. We arrived Rangers Station at about 11:30.
Wow, a truly wonderful experience! An awesome, breathtaking view from the top!
We praise God for the good weather, for the strength He has given me and my family, and for the provisions for this expedition. This is indeed an answered prayer. Thank You LORD!
The Rustic Beauty of Anawangin Cove
by Danny Tariman
My family will always remember the beautiful camp-out experience in this secluded cove in Zambales — the Anawangin Cove. Tall pine trees in the beachfront, fine sand beach, and charming moonlight at night: truly perfect for camping.
Anawangin Cove is accessible via Pundaquit, Zambales. Pundaquit village is about 1 hour drive from Subic, Olongapo. We left Manila early in the morning to maximize our time for touring. We had a good breakfast in Subic Bay Freeport.
We arrived Subic at about 6 in the morning. At that time, most of establishments were still closed. The good thing is we have packed food with us. We stopped at Total Gas station along Subic’s main road, took-out our sandwiches and just bought some drinks. Beside the patio is a man-made lagoon which offered a very refreshing welcome for my traveling family.
We took a 25-minute boat ride from Pundaquit. According to locals, another option is to walk a 4-hour trek to the mountain and down to the cove. We had the easier option — by boat. We had Ate Fe’s boat (mobile phone 0917-667-5374). She was very kind and accommodating, even updating us of the weather situation in Pundaquit, as it was rainy in Metro Manila.
The boat ride to Anawangin was a bit wavy, but not much compared to other boat rides we had in the past. While still a distance from the shores, I have noted that in other coves, the trees were usual ones which make Anawangin truly unique with its pine trees.
Anawangin has no concrete structure, except for the basic toilet and baths. This cove is really meant for camping.
After we had surveyed the surroundings and settled down, we setup our camping gear: we raised our tents, setup of table, prepare the firewood. It was really a good time for family bonding. My son helping me set the wood on fire, the mother-and-daughter preparing the table, and the sausages for cooking. Indeed, a wonderful experience.
After our dinner, we walked to the beach and had star gazing on a clear sky while sharing stories, dreams, and experiences. We hadn’t this kind of experience in the city. My son was able to get a good shot of
the moon with a silhouette of a boat parked on the beach as a background.
We had a good sleep — had even an extended sleep — despite the 1-hour rain in the evening. Hahaha! Perhaps we were tired.
We hit once again the beach. It was low tide and the waves were quite big. We enjoyed the shallow swim while being tossed by big waves.