Friday, September 16, 2011

Calatagan Batangas: Sojourn in the Rain

August 29, 2011

Foreword: Due to typhoon Mina which devastated our original Palaui- Cape Engano itinerary (and without any plan B secured), this haphazardly done trip was decided hours before the actual outing… Thus our itinerary is a product of rushed research and phone interviews with friends residing in the area. 

The centuries old Sto. Domingo de Silos Church in the town proper of Calatagan

Brief History:

Many people visit Calatagan for its beaches (although majority of it are exclusive for stockholders), but aside from this reason, the place also played a historical role as an active trading port even before the Spanish conquest. There were several artefacts and relics (like ancient jars) excavated in some grave sites during the historical Calatagan Excavation in 1950s.

The place was known as Hacienda de Calatagan during the Spanish era and was possibly owned by a certain Roxas de Ayala family. In 1912, it became an independent municipality and larhe part of the hacienda was sold to Familia Zobel. At present, the family still owns a vast majority of the land, but some parts have already been apportioned to the people due to the Land Tenure Administration in 1957.

   Bamboo trail to Ang Pulo Mangrove Forest 
Park in Brgy Quilitisan  
 Ang Pulo

This place is an island of mangroves… a thriving area that has been turned into a lush protected themed park designed to uplift eco-tourism area. This project was initiated last January 2010 through the joint efforts of Conservation International, Sangguniang Barangay, and the Calatagan LGU’s. 

The place is said to be home to certain mangrove species like Avicennia, Rhizophora, Bruguiera, and Ceriops.

Going there, we you would pass a very narrow and undeveloped road (a tricyle for public commuters or else bring a pick-up designed for rough terrain) . You would have to ride a “balsa” for us to be able to go to the main site.

The tricycle ride to the area was gruelling. The road (or the lack of it) is a pain in the ass! (literally and figuratively).hahhaha. We have to make "tulak" for several times!

And there was this welcome party of mad dogs everywhere!!! (hey hey, who let the dogs out ba kasi?!!!) Dogs that were very ready (and so nanggigigil) to snatch and tear our legs apart. Define ride of your life! I never knew, I'd practiced screaming (as in screaming) early that day! wheew! aaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!! hahahaha.

Sadly, when we arrive at the area , the waves were in a riot, so we decided not to ride the frail looking balsa, that was constantly being tossed... (and besides, the manong's are also hesistant to board us)... So we opted to content ourselves with the view from the mam-made bamboo shaft.

On the way back, the dogs were ready to give us a goodbye menace. Kuyaaaaaa!!!!!!

  Vibrant mangrove leaves in the eco-park area  

   "BEnd with the Wind" : The little forest area in Burot Beach    

Burot Beach
 / Elizalde Beach

So if you're planning to go here, never mind. We are among the last people who had the privilege of enjoying the area, because the property has already been sold to a wealthy businessman. We were almost denied entrance if not for the secret word and of course a little bit you know, raw acting skills. (I'm serious with the secret word ha? hehehe).

This is my second time in Burot beach. The first time I went here, Marian and Dingdong were busy taping their San Marino commercial. It was typically sunny then…peaceful, clear water, gentle winds…very different from what I saw during my return trip. 

Due to typhoon Mina, which casted havoc in Northern Luzon, the waves were particularly mad, wind was in a riot, sea grasses amassed the shoreline, and we had no shelter but a nipa hut (na butas-butas... walang wala sa bagsik ni Mina... ). Thank goodnes, I've had the company of friends who never run out of stories to tell. They made up much of the lost fun.

So to Burot beach.... May we meet again. (kapag isa na ako sa mga stockholder mo...)


  The peaceful sands of Burot Beach  in Brgy Elizalde

The first time I went here, the caretaker proudly boasted that Burot beach is the secret taping location of GMA 7's series like "Stairway to Heaven" and "Illumina"... It wasn't a very ferfetched idea since the place has its own cinematic appeal.

  The Cold Habagat : The seaside frolick at the rocky part of Burot beach.    

   Piggy-Backride: Cut from a romantic primetime drama scene with real lovers K & W   

Cape Santiago
    / Faro de Cabo Santiago
          / Santiago Lighthouse

The Parola, as most locals call it, is about 8kms (20mins car drive/ 30mins by tricycle) from town proper and is pegged to be the oldest working lighthouse in the country. It sits atop a cliff and provides a solar powered illumination to vessels coming from Manila bay, passing Verde Islands, and the San Bernardino straight. In December 15, 1980 the structure including the 51 feet tower whose interior is made up of brick and hardwood panels was put up by Magin Pers y Pers. It's design is very similar to other Spanish lighthouses like the one in Capones.The view on top offers 360 degree views of Balayan Bay (and West Philippine Sea), Calatagan shoreline, and a few sea-side villages and resorts. The place used to be an inn for backpackers during the 90’s but was short lived due to poor maintenance. In the yard, you find a purported hundred year old mango tree whose branches have almost touched the ground.

If you plan to visit this place you need to contact the caretaker Antonio C. Coz Jr a.k.a. Mang Jun (his grandfather is the original caretaker) because the place is abandoned and locked (otherwise you’d have to go over the fence). Luckily when we went here, the town mayor was also visiting with her family (luck smiled on us). Earlier, we almost lost hope that we would be able to enter the place and just spent the first hour in the breakwater below the cliff which also happen to be nice place for some soul searching. I guess, patience has its own merit.

   Red Plants : the wild grasses near the breakwater below the cliff of the lighthouse   

        The Rocks and the Girls           

It is actually possible to go down the cliff towards the breakwater. During lowtide, the area becomes a source of food for locals who scout for shells, crabs, fishes and other crusteceans. The water is so clear you'd actually see the fishes hidding in the thick grass foliage.

On route, you'd have to pass several pointed rocks and cling to grasses to be able to get to the breakwater, but you'd survive. Just be extra careful.

   The limestone rocks near the breakwater. I believe this  area is submerged in water during high tide.   

The breakwater gives you a place to reunite with yourself. The place is actually idyllic for a little soulful frolic since you have the lighthouse at your backdrop silhouetted by dense vegetation, the waves in your front rushing incessantly like some small tsunami, and of course the salty wind greeting you with mild touch. 

Perfect set-up for a bit of the edge dramatics (that is caught in cam). Great site for a photo-ops. Great site for emo-moments.

And of course wed didn't missed doing all of that. 

     The weird looking century-old Mango tree     
Well, the oldest lighthouse probably is also the scariest one I’ve seen. Scariest because when you’re atop the tower you’d almost feel it swaying with the wind (Opo! Umaalog talaga!).

There were prominent cracks all over the wall and floor. It is as if the whole place will collapse any minute. Being at the top will surely give you the creeps.
There have been silent talks and plans to renovate the area, but whatever improvement made is barely discernable. Since its the oldest working lighthouse in the country, I hope they renovate the place to its former glory and give it an honor of distinction.

When we signed the visitor's logbook (which looks to be as old the lighouse), we saw some prominent names there (like Joyce Bernal, Rio Locsin...). Apparently, the place have also been the taping location for TV5's primetime series "The Sisters". I suddenly recalled that the area near Parola is also the taping location of ABS-CBN's series "Marina" years ago. Wow, Calatagan is proving to be an idylic place for commercials and teleseryes.


              Parola: The Silent Eyes of History           

    Atop the age old tower you'd realize what power means    

“Ang Parola ay kakikitaan ng kakaibang alindog. Tulad ng mga makalumang kagamitan, ang alindog nito ay nagmumula sa mga kwentong nais nitong ipahiwatig, sa bawat markang ginuhit ng panahon, at sa bawat basag na capis, maalikabok na dingding at sira-sirang pader. Isang patunay na kahit ang matatayog na tore, ay unti-unti ding maglalaho sa mundo...”

We ended our Calatagan trip in the cold Tagaytay terrain amidst the familiar smell of brewed coffee and Stabucks latte. The place is bustling with night trades like gabing Ukay-ukay and small tiangge that provides a variety of souvenir items. Just be ready with your scarf because the place could be so cold you'd find yourself freezing to death.   

Well, actually the trip did not end in Tagaytay but in Dasma but I'll just skip that part. I would need another full post to give justice with what happen there. hehehehe.

Note: the last trip of bus going outside Calatagan is 4pm. If you missed this, you may hire a van/jeep to Lian and catch the last bus trip there that leaves at 9pm.


0600H: Meeting time at Crossing Calamba
0600H – 0700H: ETD Calamba (Via Van Fare: Php60) – ETA Robinsons Pala-pala, Cavite
0700H – 0730H: Wait for the van or Bus
                            Bus Schedule: (0800H, 1000H, 1300H, 1600H, and 0700H)
                            Van Schedule: (pagnapuno, go na! Fare: Php130 )
                            Bring/ Buy Packed Lunch

0730H – 1000H: ETD Cavite – ETA Brgy. Quilitisan (jump-off for Ang Pulo) Calatagan, Batangas (Eat              lunch on the way).
                           Hire a tricycle: Php 50 back and forth (Php250/ 5pax).
                           Going there, we would pass a very narrow and undeveloped road. We would have to ride a “balsa” for us to be able to go to the main site.

1000H – 1030H: Sightseeing/ Picture Taking
1030H – 1100H: ETD Brgy Quilitisan – ETA Town proper (Jeep fare: Php12)
1100H – 1130H: ETD town proper – ETA Brgy Elizalde: Burot Beach (Tricycle Fare: Php 30)
1130H – 1500H: Swim/ Picture Taking/ Explore (Entrance fee: Php60)
1500H – 1530H: ETD Burot Beach – ETA Brgy Bagong Silang, Parola/ Lighthouse (Fare 40)1530H – 

1730H: Explore the lighthouse/ Picture taking/ Concept shots/ sunset
1730H – 1800H: ETD Parola – ETA town Proper (tricycle Fare: Php40)
1800H – 1815H: ETD Town Proper – ETA Brgy Balibago (Stop over/ wash up/ dinner) (Jeep Fare Php 25)
1800H – 1930H: Dinner (courtesy of Claire, Ate Fe, and Eric)
1930H – 2000H: ETD Brgy Bagong Silang – ETA Lian (Car Fare: Php 300/ 5 pax)
2000H – 2030H: Wait for Bus last trip
2030H – 2200H: ETD Lian – ETA Tagaytay (Bus Fare: Php77)
2200H – 2300H: Starbucks Coffee/ Emo mode
2300H – 0030H: Tagaytay – Dasma: Volets (Jeep Fare: Php 30)
0030H – 0200H: Deliberations/ walk through the highways in search for inn
0200H – 02300H: Wash Up/ Ready for sleep
0300H: Official Sleeping Time

Day 2: August 30, 2011

0730H: wake up time
0730H: - 0830H: Wash up/ fix things
0830H – 0900H: ETD Dasma – ETA Tagaytay (Fare Php 30)
0900H – 0930H: Explore the area/ sight-seeing
0930H – 1100H: Brunch/ Breakfast at Pancake House
1100H – 1230H: ETD Tagaytay – ETA Crossing Calamba (Bus fare to terminal: Php 25/ Van Fare to Calamba: Ph 70)


Day 1

Breakfast (Jolibee) – 70
Jeep to Calamba – 12
Van to Pala-pala – 60
Van to Calatagan – 130
Tric to Ang Pulo – 250/ 5 pax = 50
Jeep to Town proper – 12
Tric to Burot – 30
Entrance Fee Burot – 60
Tric to Parola – 40
Tric to Town Proper – 40
Jeep to Brgy Balibago – 25
Contri to food – 40
Water (1.5 li) – 38
Vehicle fare to Lian – 300/ 5pax = 60
Bus Fare to Tagaytay = 77
Tric to Olivarez = 15
Jeep to Dasma = 30
Strabucks: 160

Total = 949

Day 2:

Bus to Tagaytay from Dasma – 30 
Breakfast – 220
Fare to Olivarez Terminal – 25 
Van fare to Calamba – 70
Total = 345

Overall = 1294 -->1350

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