Friday, January 20, 2012

Nagsasa Cove, Zambales: Time in a Bottle

November 6-7, 2010 (Celebrating 25th year of Existence) 

Nagsasa Cove, Zambales: Time in a Bottle

I resorted to scheming and plotting for my company leave to be granted (exaggerations of course, but I was almost on the verge of doing it out of desperation). I couldn’t miss this Zambales trip and I wouldn’t want to be stuck in the bottling plant on my birthday. I guess a few acting skills and guilt-trip are all it takes to inch an approval. I was unbelievably happy as I saw familiar smiling faces in Pasay Terminal of Victory Bus line.

The Dark Metro

Since we failed to reserve tickets beforehand for the 10pm schedule, we opted for first trip the next day. Wanting to have restful sleep for tomorrow’s adventure, we searched the whole area for a decent but cheap inn. The memory of our little misadventures in the sinfully dark streets of metro made me grin. I confessed to being brutally innocent to the trade of flesh, but I choked at the blatant display of such in the dark streets and alleys we traversed. Prostitutes were everywhere. Clad in scantly thought-provoking outfit, bathe in nauseous fragrance, and staging faces covered in thick cosmetics… quite very stereotypical. Any minute, I feared my clutch bag would be whisked away.

We entered some decent looking buildings but most of them were quite deceiving. Inside you be swayed to an area you’d never dream existed in inns. The look of aghast and disbelief were plainly painted on the face of my friends. I can’t help but laugh. I’m not very particular. I have once slept in streets of Recto. But my friends unfortunately are, picky. I guess, everything has its own price. Decent rooms in this part of the country spell money.

We ended up in Sogu Hotel. In all fairness, the place is being true to its word in terms of cleanliness. But we had to wait for an hour and weird thing was, the rooms were only good for two people, non-negotiable =). And take note, every corner of the room was embellished with mirrors… on all sides of the wall, including the ceiling! Mirror, mirror on the wall… ahhaha. 

En Route 

The next day, we arrived 5 am on the terminal. It wasn’t long before the bus was moving and threading the path north. We arrived at around 9.30 am in Subic. 

I remember there was even a commotion in the streets when we stopped there. The people though seemed indifferent. After awhile, the bus moved and headed farther to distant towns.

The town of San Antonio was the jump-off area and we got off at the town plaza. We bought all our food items in the adjacent wet market. Practically everything we need for a night. Meat, drinks, charcoal, rice, seasonings… It was fun doing it on a time pressure basis. I imagined myself doing a challenge in Amazing Race.

We boarded a tricycle and set off for the fishing village where the motorized bancas were located. I’m not very good with my haggling skills so I let the perennial Haggler in the group, Tina, to do most of the talking. We opted for a big banca for 3K with a Capones Island sidetrip (Later I found out that we could still haggle down to 2-2.5K). 

En route to Nagsasa Cove was a colourful display of grassy landscapes and picturesque seaside views. It was perhaps the smoothest ride I’ve had. The water was unusually peaceful while the sun high up in the afternoon sky was scorching hot. For one and half hour, I was treated to a liberal vista of blue sea, jagged rocks, caves, meandering grasslands, and gleaming shorelines. I was wow-ing and ohh-ing all throughout. Most of the people just head to the more famous Anawangin Cove, which is but a 30 mins boat ride. Nagsasa Cove seemed forever for someone like me.

Meet the Shores

We arrived at the cove past 1pm. My stomach was growling but my appetite appears to be the last of my concerns. The minute I my feet touched the grounds, I ran through the shoreline towards the camping site. We chose the right side of the cove. I was expecting a deluge of beach excursionists but I was surprise to find out that there was almost none, save for one group and a few locals. Perhaps November is not really the season for beach camping… and I was feeling happier every minute. 

I was not surprised to see pine-like trees (Agoho trees) amassing in the beach. I have extensively read about them in most blogs and that’s the very reason why the place is quite unique. 


The greyish white volcanic sand that paints the shorelines and the dramatic mountains of prairies, all but add to the thespian atmosphere. 

You’d imagine yourself lost in an exotic island somewhere way above the equator. The waves were calm and the water was so inviting. There was a small stream that empties in a small lake. The seclusion also gave me comfort. There was no cellphone signal in the area. Practically what you need if you’re into soul-searching. 

We immediately pitched our tents in the farthest side where a mini dirty kitchen made of bamboo was set up. On a distant is a makeshift comfort room with clean running water for washing. We’ve talked to the caretaker who was kind enough to offer us a styro cooler and some ice cubes (which surprisingly lasted until the next day) for a very meagre fee. In this place, a cold bottle of softdrink is such luxury you’d want to indulge yourself in.

Swept Ashore
We skipped lunch and contented ourselves with a hearty snack. After awhile, we did not waste any more minute to enjoy the place. We cam-whored all the way to the beach… Everyone has his/her own concept, his/her own profile picture. 

The place was almost empty and we thought of it as our own private coastline. I can’t remember how many times I’ve laugh at each soft banter or each punch-line. It was effortless to enjoy the place in the company of such frisky friends.

 The seawater was warm when we dipped our bodies. It was good immersing in the water’s placid warmness while having meaningful conversations with friends. As the sun was slowly setting, we recollected some funny stories about our college days as dorm-mates. 

It was nice sharing thoughts, nice reminiscing our innocence, and talking about future plans… who’d have guessed how fast time sweeps. Nothing is constant but the humming of waves which gently sways to rhythm of the wind. Nothing is constant for long...

Night Out


Later that night, we treated ourselves for a fiesta of grilled pork and hotdogs. I know I wasn’t a good help when it came to preparing, so I kind of feel guilty to Christian and Tina who were all out in their tasks. Hahahha. I just sat in a corner, watch them quietly, and waited for them to finish. Yes, that’s the Selfish me.

Bonfires and mallows were of course the clich√©, but we love it anyway. Besides, what else is there to do? Aside from talking incessantly which is what we have done since we arrived, one can only sit around the fire and watch it consume the night. Plus, a little alcohol won’t hurt a bit. Just enough to dull your senses and heighten your sense of euphoria.


 I can’t remember what time I crept inside the tent. Mat was already in dreamland. I looked outside and scanned the neighbouring tents. Everyone was already camped inside their own shelters. What remained outside was the strong flare coming from my lamplight and the dying flame of our little bonfire. Not long, my head was falling down the hard tent mattress. I closed my eyes as the raindrops started falling down our flimsy cover.

Morning Delights

We woke early to catch the sunrise (a hobby that turned out to be somehow a requirement when you’re in such place). We weren’t given bravura of orange hues, no. There was no display of such type in the morning sky. It was all ordinary cloudless morning. 

But I found serenity in it. Mat surely did! He rushed straight from the tent into the shore and stayed there for a couple of minutes, silent. I remember his words “Feeling the moment”. And I think, those words fit right in.

Later, we were treated with a luxurious breakfast care of Adam and Tina (our ever so dependable companions). I can’t remember our conversations but I remember feeling so happy that time. Light hearted conversations but so genuinely nice to have. 

Perhaps, it’s one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in my life: the company, the food, the place, the mood… all so perfectly matched. I couldn’t ask for a more birthday treat than this.

Hidden Falls

It was around 9am when we walked our way to the waterfalls hidden in the upper outskirts of the grassy hill. We were guided by two children as we followed the path created by a small stream. 

The trail itself was a good retreat: Browning grasses, small boulders, cold stream, bended trees… I feel like I was venturing into an immersion exercise.

After around 15 minutes, we heard the splashing of running water. The falls was not as imposing, nor did I expect it to be. But somehow, it became double rewarding because no other group was there to share with us. Selfish me again. 

And it was extra comforting to dip yourself in a nice cold spring after being exposed several hours to saltwater (no that I’m complaining). Hell yeah, It was just perfect for the six of us!



We stayed at the place for about 2 hours. We could have stayed longer but we have to be out of Nagsasa before lunch time. Around 12 pm (after FINALLY devouring that Bday-Cake, which was supposed to be eaten last night), we started packing our things. 

30 minutes later, we were bidding adieu to the silvery black shores of the cove. It’s hard not to look back and stare as the place slowly diminished from sight. Unnerving silence followed. It looked as if we suddenly run out of words.

En route amidst the placid sea, the motorized banca stopped. A floating plastic wrapper was caught by the torpedo. I was shaking my head when I heard the cause of our little stopover. For a few minutes there, I imagined the possibility of being stranded in the middle of the sea. Terrifying! Terrifying for someone who doesn’t know how to swim.

" The sea, the sea is everything! Its sovereign mass brings to me atoms of a myriad faraway lands;Its bright smile animates me in the limpid mornings. And when at the end of day my faith has failed me, My heart echoes the sound of its sorrow in the sands..."
(Mi Retiro) Dr. Jose Rizal

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