The Rough Ride to the Paradise called Caramoan

We have all heard about raves about the hidden paradise of Caramoan Islands in Camarines Sur. We also heard about the hassle associated with travelling to this place, but of really, some of the loveliest places are indeed hidden well away from bustling metros and are accessible only via the hardest routes to dissuade the curious onlookers.

After several months of laying-low, my boys had become even more restless at the onset of summer. Little did they know, I’ve been secretly planning a trip to these islands for several weeks already. I disclosed my plans to them 2 days before our scheduled trip. Baba was adamant and was very much concerned with our budget. Still we pushed through despite Baba’s worries and unyeilding self.

The six-hour rough ride to Caramoan from our home base in Daraga, Albay did not do much to appease Baba’s attitude. We took the van plying the Daraga – Naga (vv) and alighted at Anayan, Pili. There we waited for the Naga – Sabang jeepney that will take us directly to Sabang port. I noticed Baba’s hesitations start to vanish. We are enjoying the wonderful vista offered by Mt Isarog as our jeepney traversed the road to Partido area onwards to San Jose.

Arriving at the port, we hurriedly got inside a canteen (forgot the name) located just beside the passenger’s waiting area. We ordered some brekkie and took our time with it seeing the long queue of passengers waiting to board the boat. After breakfast, we went down to check the boat schedule and alas – the next boat is already full and we have to wait for the following one which they don’t know what time will arrive. We should have our names listed on the manifesto soon as we arrived, but our tummies directed us to the delicious smell coming from the canteen first!

Luckily two boats arrived instead of one and we were accommodated soon enough. Many “bangkero” will tell you to reserve seats by taking your bags to boat and you have to pay them P20 or P50, but we declined them. Also, since there is no “port,” bangkeros have made a “make-shift” port and asks P10 for each passenger. The boat ride took about two hours, traversing along the coast of Presentacion, Camarines Sur.  We arrived at Guijalo port at around 1pm and took a tricyle to sentro. I asked the driver to take us to Villa Juliana for our accommodations.

After resting a bit, we went out to look for a place to eat and found ourselves at a small native restaurant along the highway for our late lunch. We went back to our inn and slept a bit. It was already four in the afternoon when we decided to check out Paniman Beach.

Paniman Beach is the pick up point for island hopping activities in Caramoan. It is well away from the town proper Tawog so we took a motorcycle to get there. The beach is lined with resorts and restaurants as well as souvenir shops. The water is very calm and the beach itself has fine brown sand. It was very soothing to sit and watch my boys play at this beach. We walked to explore the resorts at the far end and back. I think a lot of foreigners have already settled here and have opened their own resorts too.

I wondered how marvelous the sunrise would be in this beach. I faces some enchanting limestone karsts. Baba though still irritable from the lengthy trip, gave me unsolicited advise and said that if I only discussed this trip with him, we could have prepared a better itinerary. And maybe we could have booked our first night in Paniman and watched the sunrise from there too!

Cheers to the New Year! What’s Up 2014?

Year 2013 had been a challenging year for a newly-hand-ons career mom me. After almost seven years of living the fast-life in the Metro, I was met with a more laid-back way of life here in Albay. I lived on my own for the first three months pining away my desires for exploration and focused more on my career adjustment.

The year provided plenty of first experiences for the three of us. Baba and I scaled Southeast Asia’s highest despite the ongoing Sabah siege. The following months opened doors for bonding and closer relationship with my son as I officially became a hands-on career mom. July was full of torrential surprises as Baba decided to come home and completed our family. We basically lived a simple, pretty stationary yet sweet life as started home-making. But of course, occasional sojourns and escapades sated our thirst for wandering. Still we are adjusting through changes and challenges that is associated with coming together and starting off as a dysfunctional, misadventuring family. Whatever the coming year holds for us, we’d be ready, we’ll be welcoming 2014 with open arms, high hopes and excitement for more wander-ful experiences.

Day Trip to Masbate City (Revisiting After 10 years)

Both parents are from Masbate, specifically Batuan in Ticao Island – one of the two larger islands of Masbate lying in Ticao pass. During my growing up years, our parents take us there to spend vacation time with the olds. My college research was conducted in Masbate City in 2002. It was my first time to stay in the city and roam around searching for graduates from my school (we had a tracer study of Political Science graduates in Masbate).

So, 10 years after I was again able to trace back my route – Batuan to Lagundi via motorbike, then Lagundi to Masbate port via an outrigger boat. This time though I wasn’t alone, I had Teloy with me to share a happy hot hot day trip with the Mom and the Tita. We left Batuan at 5 in the morning with a anxious Lolo Dad fussing and repeatedly cautioning the motorcycle driver to drive slowly and carefully. The wind was really cold and it was creepy passing on some of the areas that’s not populated.

We transferred to the outrigger boat just before the sun peeped in the horizon. Teloyskie enjoyed looking out of the water and excitedly pointing out fishes that flies out of the water.

The ride took around 45 minutes, and we reached the city just before 7AM. We walked around port area while Mom showed me and Teloy where she buys bread and stuff during her high school years.

She took us to the church and showed us the school next to it, Liceo de Masbate and said that was where she and Tita attended high school.

After that we had breakfast at Jolibee and headed to Mobo, Masbate to visit Tita’s home.

Bontod beach, a strip of beach with bright white sand was just 15-20 minutes away boat ride from Tita’s kitchen.  I really wanted to go there but due to time constraint I just longingly viewed it from their back yard kubo while the Mom collected plants from Tita’s garden.

We headed back to city and asked the tricycle driver to take us to the Social Center because Mom wants to check out what she can buy from there.

 It was a street near the park where vendors abound with their vegetable produce and dried fish products. After buying these and those, we headed downtown to do groceries. I find the improvements around the city quite impressive and there were a lot of banks around too. Teloy asked another round of Jolibee before we catch the 12noon trip back to Lagundi. 

It was a long, hot and tiring trip, but seeing the wonder and amazement in Teloyskie’s eyes on everything that’s happening around him made the trip all worth it. He was particularly interested in seeing fishes, jellyfish, sea horse and other sea creatures while we’re at sea so I promised him a visit to Manila Ocean Park this coming December. 

Albay Parks and Wildlife: Visit to the Zoo and A Bit of Bonding

If someone would ask me what’s the sweetest deed that Baba has done for me, there would be too many – but most of it were his efforts at bonding with my son and family. I feel his genuine sincerity in caring for Teloy and even for my sister and baby Enzo. I know that even without me around, he would treat my son like his own, and that he would do it not because me, but simply because he wants to. 

Our visit to the nearby zoo was no different. It was a Sunday and for quite a time, my sister wasn’t able to go out much so we took her and baby Enzo with us. We heard Sunday mass first and headed for the zoo. Despite the heat, the boys, Baba, Teloy and Enzo enjoyed looking at the animals. There were other families in the zoo, they were prepared with packed lunch and picnic baskets. Teloy was hungry soon and so we left and dropped by Palamigan in Daraga Market for our lunch.

All this time, Baba carried Enzo, called out to Teloy while he played, took them to check out the birds and monkeys. It was a smooth, easy and fun trip for the kids. I always claim to be independent and able to do things without guys around, but Baba has made himself an irreplaceable part of my life, and he’s making his way into Teloy’s and my family’s life.

On Babies and Blessings: The Miracle of Life-Giving

Just a few days ago, my pregnant sister suddenly experienced labor pains. For others, this may be normal and easily turn surprise into excitement. However, on her case, it cause us a lot of worries!

Ten months ago, she gave birth by Cesarean section. She had a big baby back then and couldn’t go through natural delivery. We had a heavy bouncy baby boy, but just a few months after, she was once again pregnant! She soon grew big along with her first born. And because she had C-section just 10 months ago, it only follows that she go through another C-section this time, considering the short gap in the pregnancy. So she was scheduled to be operated on the last week of September.

When I got an sms from her that she’s experiencing labor pains I was really worried. I know that some cases like this turn into an emergency and hoped that everything will be alright. I call her up 6 hours or so after, and wow I heard a wonderful surprise – she delivered via vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC) procedure. I consider this a huge miracle because not every woman who had undergone C-section can do this just after 10 months.

She signed some papers with the encouragement of the doctors to try delivering via natural method and they assured her that everything will be alright. We are so happy and thankful for the safe and successful delivery of our newest family member. I named her Ysabelle Kate.