Saturday, September 8, 2012

Exploring the Amazing Anawangin Cove

"Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job 42:6

Pines trees in an island - in the Philippines?

I must see this.

So I did further research about a cove that is called Anawangin. A beach that is just a few hours away from Manila. According to my research, the best time to go there would be on a weekday just before summertime to avoid the crowd.

Perfecto! It was the last week of March. I packed my usual beach essentials, this time with my pillow - you'll know why.

I drove like an F1 racer in my excitement and left Manila around 10:00PM. I drove so fast that I reached San Antonio, Zambales within 3 hours. I know that the small town will be sleeping by the time I got there. So instead of knocking on each door like Joseph the Carpenter to look for an accommodation, I reclined my seat, opened the window a little, placed my pillow above my head and snuggled with Cindy for the night. Yes, with Cindy - my car. I woke up at around 3:30AM with sweat and insect bites. This is not a good idea I thought. I got up, bought coffee and bread at 711, went back to Cindy and ate breakfast with her.

At 4:00AM, I started proceeding to Pundaquit. It was still dark and the place is unfamiliar. I followed my boatman's instruction on how to get there but I took a wrong turn and I got a little lost. I activated my GPS and went around. I passed by the same funeral parlor twice and ended up in a dead end. Scary! So much for trusting my GPS. I went back to where I started, restarted the GPS and texted kuya boatman for more directions. At 5:00, I was already boarding the boat and on my way to Anawangin Cove.

There wasn't a lot of people then on the cove, just a few campers still sleeping and probably drunk from the night before. The sand was off-white and the forest on the beach's backdrop is lusciously green and abundant with pine trees.

A rewarding view after a 10 minute hike.

This is another cove on the right side of Anawangin that is yet to be explored.

An early morning sight on top of Anawangin.

Kuya Joven - my guide savoring his first look of Anawangin Cove from atop.

Beach at the end, river in the middle and pine trees along the island.

Anawangin Cove's beach front.

This is where the beach ends and the hike up the mountain starts.

"The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you."

The river. Lucky for me it hasn't dried up yet.

The only connection from the beach to the forest passing along the river.

A comfortable camper found a spot for camping.

Zohan my dog? If you noticed, the sand here in Anawangin cove is white. The reason behind this is the ashes of Pinatubo eruption that was blown through this way.

"The Lord is my Shepherd" had brought me here to capture the beauty of this cove.

I took a quick dip. The water was surprisingly warm this early morning and it’s not that salty. Yes, I taste tested the water. I didn't stay long at Anawangin Cove. After hiking, dipping and eating pancit canton worth 100 pesos, I went back to Pundaquit. I was already on the road back to Manila around 11:30AM.

What sets Anawangin Cove to other beach destination in our country? That would be the Pine trees that thrive on the island; the water itself and the back-to-basics experience of staying in an island. If you ask me now if I will go back to Anawangin, I'd say yes in one condition, the caretaker of the island retain its beauty and stop dividing the island for profit.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Conquering Mt.Pulag

"All you winds, bless the Lord.
Dew and rain, bless the Lord.
Frost and chill, bless the Lord.
Mountains and hills, bless the Lord.
Praise and exalt Him above all forever."

Daniel 3:65,68,69,75

Mt.Pulag is the second highest mountain in the Philippines.

So what?

I am not a mountain climber, and I don't want to be one. However, when I saw pictures of Mt.Pulag, I made a note to myself to become a onetime mountain climber - a Mission Impossible!

Mt.Pulag stands at 2922 meters above sea level. It has the highest peak in Luzon. I am afraid of heights. I've never reached the peak of Albay's famous perfect-cone Mt. Mayon which is only 2462 meters above sea level.

Across the Philippines it is the 2nd highest which makes it the top destination of experienced mountaineers. I am never a mountaineer. In fact, I've never even camped out when I was a Boy Scout.

Mt.Pulag can be reached through Benguet. I hate zig zag!

The temperature can drop down below zero. I have weak lungs.

Disregarding the impossibilities, I set out to conquer Mt.Pulag. With God, nothing is impossible, I said to myself. I will do my best and my best will be good enough. Do I sound like the boxer-preacher Manny Pacquiao? YOU KNOW... I am Tom Cruise anyway.

Guides gathered on one of the hills as they wait for their groups for decent on day 2.

The Breaking Dawn imagination. Edward Cullen? Jacob Black?  Errr... one of the three German nationalities on my group checking out the campsite on day 1.

More people setting up camps.

Bahay Kubo? Nope. It's the makeshift comfort room.

Bushes that seems like broccoli.

Even the sun sets in paradise.

But when the sun rises, it would bring the sea of clouds.

Sunrise at the camp site.

Alas! Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar found their way to me - "I am Jesus."

At one of the peaks.

Here comes the sea of clouds.

Out of the four peak at the summit of Mt. Pulag, I got to go up to two.

The scene that made me want to conquer the impossible.

Climbers enjoy their descent from the peak.

A loner? Maybe just discerning. Who wouldn't? When you're up there, it feels like you are in Heaven.

Colors on the mountain canvas.

Leisurely descent from the summit even if it’s too cold.

Descending from one of the peaks.

"Lord, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three tents; one for you, one for me, and... who else?"
God has created this heaven on earth for us to appreciate His greatness!

With a heavy heart and a lighter bag (food supply has been consumed), we descended back to the rangers station. While we were walking, my thoughts flew back to how I begun this trip. Questions float by; how did I survive without joining a mountaineer's club and trek packages? How did I climbed up the camp site 2 within only two hours? How did I survive the rain during the night? How did I sleep in the ice cold night? How did I move my legs to up to the peaks in the morning when my legs were shivering from the cold?


I got my tent, 2 sleeping bags, a winter jacket, a headlight, oil and lotion, 2 bottles of coke, a bunch of chocolates, bread, tuna, some fruits, my trash bags (that also became my raincoat and my tent protection against the rain), water bottle and my faith.

This mission ain't impossible after all.