San Antonio, Zambales
Beaches: Nagsasa Cove, Silanguin Cove, Anawangin Cove, Talisayin Cove. Their coasts are blanketed with volcanic ash straight from the guts of Mt. Pinatubo. It’s a Baguio-meets-Boracay world out there; thanks to the agoho trees rising from the ashes (literally).
Don’t miss: Fishing! The waters of San Antonio are rich. If you have the skill and the patience (or you just want to give it a try), ask your boatman about fishing tours.
How to get there: Travel by bus to Iba or Sta. Cruz, Zambales and get off at San Antonio Public Market (P250-P270). Take a tricycle to Pundaquit (P30). From here, boat tours cost P1000 for Anawangin, P1500 for Nagsasa, and P2000 for Silanguin. Add P500 if you want to make a stop at Capones and Camara Islands.
Tour package? Contact Harry Balais of 7107 Islands Tours at +639176274945.
Beaches: Cape Santiago Beach, Burot Beach
Don’t miss: Cape Santiago Lighthouse. Built in 1890, it is one of the oldest lighthouses in the Philippines that continue to function. The construction began on December 15, 1890, led by Engineer Magin Pers y Pers, and was completed by Guillermo Brockman.
How to get there: At EDSA-Taft, there are vans and buses that carry passengers straight to Calatagan (P200). From the town center, take a tricycle to the lighthouse (P150-P200).
Malabrigo, Lobo, Batangas
Beaches: Malabrigo Point. No white sand here, either, but its beaches are strewn with smooth medium-size pebbles.
Don’t miss: Submarine Garden, where the water is so crystal clear, you can see live corals and other life forms even without goggles. Also, the Malabrigo Lighthouse can be easily accessed from Malabrigo!
How to get there: Board the bus to Batangas City and alight at Balagtas or Diversion (P150-180). From here, ride a jeepney or tricycle to SM Batangas and get off at the Batangas-Lobo terminal. Board a jeepney to Lobo (P53), then a tricycle to Malabrigo (P100).
Beaches: The sand at Bamboo Beach and Tali Beach in mainland Nasugbu isn’t sparkling white (not white at all), but it doesn’t make it any less relaxing. It is also home to Olive Ridley turtles that visit to nest each year.
Don’t miss: Fortune Island, a short boat ride away. It is surrounded by shipwreck diving sites including the Dutch warship Mauritius, which sank on December 14, 1600. Also, the Greek-style ruins are perfect beach selfie setting. (We got you at selfie, yes?)
How to get there: From EDSA-Taft, take the BLTB bus to Nasugbu (P155-170). All the beaches are accessible by jeepney or tricycle. If going to Matabungkay, take the bus or van to Calatagan and tell the conductor to drop you off at the junction to Matabungkay.
Laiya, San Juan, Batangas
Beaches: Laiya Aplaya, laced with White sand spread over a long stretch!
Don’t miss: Batangueno dishes. You’re in Batangas, dig in to a bowl of sticky lomi and sinaing na tulingan!
How to get there: Take the bus to Lipa City and get off at the bus terminal. Ride a jeepney bound for San Juan, and when you reach the town market, take another jeepney to Laiya.
And here I am again, finding myself in the midst of people whom I barely knew. Keeping me company are two of my best of friends sharing a laugh from a back story which happened in the party where we came in and then it happened, I snapped.
Snapped from the reality of things. What am I doing with my life?
Suddenly I came to know about keen control of my senses. I feel, hear and see things no one appreciates. I became something else, something invincible. Then everyone in that moment became a blur. The world shifted and I notice too many things at once zooming each moment and saving them in memory by choice.
I noticed the stone road that we’re walking on. It’s like an old marble mountain which was carved and paved to be in its current state right now. It’s rough but not quite. I can see the veins of the rock being lined on its white to yellowish surface. Veins that looked like blood actually flowed through it. Crevices can also be seen as this path was taken by several million, no trillion if not billion steps from people passing this tourism hot spot. I suddenly realized that this rocky road, is way too literal. There’s rocks everywhere like I’m in freaking Great Wall of China! And another realization, I didn’t know where the fuck I am!
I started to panic. My heart rapidly beating like never before. I can feel it race in my chest which felt like I am running a marathon which I’m not at the moment. I’m just here, standing still watching the blur of people pass by taking notice every once in a while certain features of this place, And then I started questioning the situation, and at the same time throwing questions at myself which I can’t seem to answer.
Where am I?
Who are those two friends I’m laughing with earlier?
And where the fuck am I going?
Two things I know at the moment: one, I’m confused as hell and two, I just need to trust my instincts and keep moving forward.
As I take those steps, more blurry people came opposite of where I’m going. It almost suffocated me. I doubted for a moment that I’m going the wrong way but I noticed two things.
Further towards my direction, on the right of staircase, there’s a big old tree which doesn’t have much leaves on it except on the top part. I wanted to take a photograph, and I felt the eagerness, the need to look at this majestic sight up close. I wanted to touch the old tree and feel the air in that area. Now I felt like I’m in Baguio with the chilly wind but at the same time in California, with the bright setting of this area.
Every step I took towards that area seemed forever to take. My legs are too heavy to lift and my feet are like being electrocuted by small needles every time it touches the ground. It’s that awkward sensation I feel yet I chose to continue on this weird path. Once again, still being creeped out by this moment and by this situation I’m in.
The first open space that we came about together with my two friends which became part of the blurry background started to narrow as I go closer to the stairs silhouette I’m seeing just below the tree I wanted to go to.
Little by little, my steps as crumbly as they may be and as hard as to take them, pushed my way to the stairs. It would seem like I have a fascination with rocks because apparently the stairs which I’m going to take is also a stone one. Am I in stone era or something? But sure so I’m not.
As I take the first step on the stairs, if felt like I lost control of gravity, which I realized no one have in the first place. If felt like I’m experiencing normal pull of gravity times 10. That’s damn-shit 10G’s.
You know the feeling of riding in a top-speed rollercoaster, if it’s one hell of a ride for you, it’s almost 2G compared to regular Earth’s 1G or gravity per say. It’s like the ground is pulling you twice as much but now, one this stairs, multiply the rollercoaster ride by 5 or the regular Earth’s gravity by 10. It’s so hard to take a step, but I’m eager to finish this stairs and get to that tree.
Step after step, I would curse and say I couldn’t go on anymore and yet I continue, occasionally bumping my shin to the corner of each step up feeling every sensation of it. Sweat dripping on my face as my surrounding swish and swirl around me. It seem impossible for me to continue on and so I prayed that I could somehow manage to be on the top most part of it. I rested for bit. Closed my eyes and started to feel my strength being restored for me. Gravity being back to its normal pull once again. Sweat dripping no more. And then I opened my eyes and there I was, taking the last step of the staircase. The tree almost in my grasp.
The air here surely feels fine, fresh and definitely relaxing. It’s not that cold nor hot to handle. It’s the typical let’s-go-to-a-picnic kind of vibe. And I’m also fascinated as to why am I still on the last step. I haven’t finished the stairs yet.
I felt scared that this moment wouldn’t last. Or that I couldn’t feel the way I feel after I took that final step. I’m weary that when I get there, to the majestic scene I noticed when I was down there in the blur, everything would change. That the beauty I once saw, wouldn’t be there anymore. I’m afraid that I was fooled and foolish enough to undergo all these hardships just to see a bad ending.
Even with all these hesitations and apprehensions, I took the last and final step. At that moment I felt victorious like I’m invincible. And then there was this bright blinding light and that was it.
After a few months of not having a dream or should I say, not remembering one, I had one again for a brief moment. At this time.
I am walking on a crowded place of busy business minded people. Everyone’s minding their own thing as if no one else’s existence matters. Sad to say I’m part of this group.
So there I was pondering on things I could do to make my life better when a young boy suddenly hugged my thighs from behind.
He’s about 5 to 7 years old but really quite small and frail for his age. His hair is a little bit skimpy and is dirty as if pollution stuck to it. He got a perfect set of teeth if you remove the tartar and the discoloration that made it so stained. And his face is angelic, you could call him pretty handsome even if you would bathe him and take time to scrub off those dirt that seemed part of his skin all ready. This kind of boy with flowing tears in his eyes hugged me and said “Daddy, nakita din kita. Bakit mo ko iniwan dito?”.
Dumbfounded and shocked to what the kid said, I replied, “Sorry, di ako yung Daddy mo eh. Nasaan ba yung mga magulang mo?”. The kid, teary-eyed, examined my face once more with his hazel brown eyes. After a few minutes, he looked down and said “Sorry po. Kamukha mo kasi yung Daddy ko e.”
Every once in a while, I find myself wanting something out of my life. Graduation. Seems in order. New gadgets. Can be attained. Christmas presents, at this time and age, yes. But nothing beats the feeling of contentment in your heart. It’s not wrong to want more in your life as you go along with it. But you should take notice of what you have and enjoy life as He always wanted you to.
Life is like an empty box, doesn’t matter what you get out of it. What really matters is what you put into it.
While sleeping, I suddenly turned around facing my left which weirdly woke me up.
The room is cold because of the open electric fan plus the cool breeze of Christmas season. What’s weird at that chilly moment is that I felt colder moving my body to face left as if there’s an ac working on that spot.
Even weirder, from the ample ambient light that the currenty on-standby tv, I vividly saw a silhoutte. A girl or woman, with short bob cropped hair, length like Dora’s, straightly looking at me.
Her (it’s) features are not that visible but another thing I noticed is that she’s (it’s) kneeling.
I stared at the entity for 5 heart-pumping seconds until it dawned on me all of the possibilities.
I quickly pulled the sheet over my head and slowly grabbed my phone from a small opening while I have my eyes shut. When I got my phone, I turned the flashlight app on and directed light at her (it).
She (it) disappeared. I’ve checked my door and it’s still shut as it was even before I slept.