Ateneo De Naga high school 1980

Those who do not remember history are bound to live through it again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Calling of Caramoan

It was around four in the morning back in February 15, 2008 when I woke up and filled my backpack with clothes and other essential items good for a 5 day trip. I boarded a small van at a dimly lighted bus stop near Saint Joseph School. Initially, I thought that the van would depart once 10 passengers had boarded the van. I was wrong! The van owner packed about 15 to 18 people inside that cramped van and squeezed our luggage on every available space! We were all packed inside that van worse than sardines that I can’t even move my legs. For the next 1 ½ hours, the only body part I was able to move was my head. Fortunately, I was still able to breathe!

Our sardine ride arrived at a small coastal town named San Jose. Ferry boats were waiting at the pier and I almost fell off a shaky plank trying to get to the boat. First class seats consist of a hard wooden board without back rests. I was a bit amused when the cargo crew struggled to load on the boat a large squealing pig plus a dozen well behaved chickens which seemed to have accepted their ultimate fate of becoming the main course of a family dinner.

To my surprise, our boat departed from the San Jose pier exactly 7:30AM. “These guys are more punctual than the Airlines”, I said to myself. The boat ride took about an hour and when we arrived at the Caramoan pier, the ocean was beginning to be choppy. As we stepped out of the boat, a heavy rain poured down on us and so all the passengers had to hurry to the passenger jeeps bound for Caramoan. The jeepney ride was bumpy but it only took us about 20 minutes to get to the town. When we arrived at the town of Caramoan, the first thing that I did was to search for a hotel called Casa De Roa. When I got to the hotel, I was told that every room was already taken. I walked around the town and found a vacant room at a nearby hotel called Rex hotel.

I think most of you guys know that Casa De Roa is owned by the late Dr. & Mrs. Nilo Roa. They have a daughter named Rosie Jenny Roa who graduated from Colegio de Santa Isabel back in 1980. Back in high school, Rosie always stood out in a crowd of blue uniformed Colegialas. A large number of Ateneans were enthralled by Rosie’s lovely looks and friendly smile. Sadly, only a handful of Ateneans possess a brave heart and a fuel of confidence to visit Rosie at her residence. Yours truly did not have any of these traits.

I found Caramoan to be a clean and peaceful town with very accommodating residents. There is only one restaurant there that vacationers seem to trust and that is the Camalig Grill. You can buy yourself a decent meal with a soda drink for about 65 pesos. There are two internet cafés that are opened until 11PM. Stores starts closing at around 6pm and majority of them would close shop at around 8PM. A leisure walk along the main street would be the only option to pass the time until it is time to hit the sack at 10 or 11PM.

I went to Gota beach during my first day at Caramoan. Near the beach were a bunch of newly built cottages which were constructed for the film crew and staff of the French reality show “Survivor”. I rented a boat along with three other vacationers and we went to Matukad island. In the middle of Matukad island is a lake and in that lake lives one large fish. I don’t know how that fish is able to survive on that lake since it is isolated. From Matukad, we transferred to another island located just across a small beach with a few cottages near Gota beach. Rocky mountains tower beside Gota beach like majestic giants. The place is a rock climber’s paradise.

The following day, I went to Caramoan pier and rented a boat which took me to several white sand beaches including two beaches owned by the Roa family. The beaches were astonishingly clean and its waters crystal clear. The limestone rock along the coastline in Caramoan is amazing.

On my third day, I rented another boat and we went to an island called Sabitang Laya. Except for a small family that lives on the Sabitang Laya island, the two boat crew and myself were the only ones in the island.

The fourth day, I hired the same boat crew that brought me to Sabitan Laya the previous day and we went to three other islands, one of which is close to the open ocean of the Pacific. The boat owner told me that we cannot travel beyond that island because just ahead of the island are huge Pacific Ocean waves that could flip his boat over. Our last stop was the Virgin Mary grotto located at Caglago, Tabgon and I had a workout just climbing up the 530-step stairs that led up to the grotto. The view on top of that hill is just spectacular.

I wanted to visit other islands on my fifth day but the weather was beginning to turn bad with stormy clouds rolling in. During my 5-day visit to Caramoan, I was able to visit 5 islands and slightly more than a dozen white sand beaches. What amazed me was during my beach and island hopping, almost all of the beaches I visited were deserted. I had the whole beach to myself! I never had this experience in my life.

I felt sad leaving the remote paradise of Bicol but I vowed to return to Caramoan in the future. I hope to hop on a boat again and visit other islands and beaches that are not commonly visited by tourists. The clear blue waters of Caramoan is so inviting that I regret not bring a snorkel gear with me.

To those of you who have a heart for adventure, visit Caramoan because it is one of the last least visited paradise in the Philippines. Its worth visiting.

Discover Caramoan before the world discovers it!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Superb photos! Not only Caramoan,but other spots in Camarines Sur are pushing the province as a top tourist attraction the Philippines has to offer. We hope and pray such economic success does not make the area diminish its strong family and spiritual values.

6:37 AM  

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