WANDERLOST IN MASASA2:12 AM
About a week ago, I went on my first ever beach camp out to celebrate my 23rd birthday. And as much as I try to avoid creating my own hashtag for photos, I ended coming up with one to properly label the experience: #WanderLostInMasasa (I wandered and got lost.)
So here's the story.:
Last summer, I stumbled upon this article on Facebook. Of all the beaches listed, Masasa Beach in Tingloy, Batangas was the most intriguing and interesting for me. So I googled pictures and found a few decent ones from a blog. Reading and seeing pictures from someone else's experience added fuel to my firing interest to visit this beach. I even asked my mom to consider this place for our family vacation (but ended up in Hundred Islands anyway.) but she declined because family camping won't be practical and it might be dangerous since it's kind of a remote place. Fine. I told myself I'll visit Masasa beach on my birthday instead with my boyfriend.
The planning process for the camp out wasn't easy considering we have to limit the things we have to bring along with us because there will be a trekking part before we reach the beach. I did a lot of research on where to stay, what to do, who to call for for help in case everything screws up if we camp out. I even contacted 2 persons (which I don't personally know. I found them on google) who recently went there to ask a few questions about camping in Masasa Beach. They were both nice to give me a lot of tips other than answering my questions.
So here's the plan: We leave at July 24 (Friday) at 6 in the morning. Stay there 'till Saturday and head back to Manila by Sunday morning. First night will be spent camping by the beach (watch the stars, make a camp fire, watch the sunrise the next morning.) 2nd day will be spent on exploring and enjoying the beach and by after lunch or afternoon, we pack up and stay for a night to a home-stay accommodation I booked. It was a rainy week for my birthday, so I really prayed a lot for the weather to be a bit sunny by the weekend or else this camp out will be pointless.
₱ 1,000 - Food
1,000 - Transportation
500 - Accommodation
1,000 - Extra Cash
Total: ₱ 3, 500.00
How to get to Masasa Beach and a few tips:
1. Go to Taft-Buendia/LRT Gil Puyat Bus Terminal and ride either a DLTB/CERES TRANSPORT bus bound to Batangas Grand Terminal. Fare is around 157-167 pesos. Just tell the conductor to drop you off at the grand terminal. Extra Tip: Leave Manila as early as you possibly can because the travel time will consume most of your day.
2. Arriving at the Grand Terminal, ride a jeep bound to Mabini/Anilao Port. Tell the driver to drop you off at Talaga Port. Jeepney fare is 35 pesos and travel time would be around 30 minutes.
3. Once you've reached Talaga Port, just ask out which boat you shall board bound to Tingloy Island. You will have to register first before entering the boat. There will be a conductor who will roam around to collect fees once you're inside. Boat fare is around 35 pesos and travel time is 45 minutes. Extra Tip: Stick to the boat's schedule: (going to Tingloy) 10:30a.m., 12:00p.m., 2:30 p.m. and last trip is 4:30pm. (leaving Tingloy) 6:00 a.m. and last trip is 9:00 a.m. If you missed the sched, you'll have to rent your own boat which will cost you extra. Based on what I mostly read, the boat rental is around 2,5k.
4. Upon reaching Tingloy Island, ride a tricycle bound to Masasa Beach. I think the fare is around 40-60 pesos. It still depends on how many person will ride the vehicle. The driver will then drop you off at the entrance of the beach. But don't expect this to be an easy walk, it's a challenging one really. You have to carefully walk/trekk your way down pass the rice fields and palm trees before reaching the beach. It's a 10-20 minute walk if you ask me. Extra Tip: Try to minimize your carry load so you won't have a hard time trekking your way down and up. I nearly fainted trekking my way up because I was carrying a lot of stuff and we were walking under the scorching hot of the sun. So do yourself a favor and minimize your carry load!
5. There are no nearby washrooms or comfort room around the beach. You will have to walk a few meters away to reach a nearby resident area. You can look for Nanay Rosie (I lost her contact number) She provides wash rooms and toilets for visitors. You just have to pay 20-25 pesos per person.
6. In case you stumble upon the brown spotted dog--which you surely will--please don't shoo him away. It's in his nature to befriend Masasa Beach visitors so just let him stay with you. Just be kind enough to spare water and food to feed him. :)
We arrived at Batangas Grand Terminal at around 8:30 and rode a jeep that'll drop us off to Anilao Port. It was a 30-45 minute jeep ride actually. Upon reaching Anilao Port, the Marina (help desk for visitors) told us that all boats bound to Tingloy are in Talaga Port due to high tide. I kind of freaked out! What if Talaga Port is far from here? Will we catch the 10:30 schedule? and thankfully, we did. We rode a tricycle bound to Talaga port and arrived there after 10-15 minutes.
Upon reaching Talaga Port, I couldn't contain myself to take pictures, it was a beautiful day after all. We were already seated inside the boat an hour before it departs. There's a flea market near Talaga Port where you can buy goods before you set off sail to Tingloy Island. The biggest mistake we did was to disregard the flea market. We opted to buy goods in Tingloy Island because I thought there was a wet market there. But there was none. So we had no choice but to buy food in Talipapas and stores instead. The goods are a bit expensive though, lesson learned.
The boat ride was around 45 minutes. Arriving there at lunch time means a hungry stomach. The home-stay accommodation where I booked a room is at Konsehal Florencio Mandanas' residence. We plan to leave behind some things in our room that won't be necessary for the camp out. It was the Konsehal's wife, Nanay Mina, who welcomed us when we found the house. She told us where we can buy food, asked her maid as well to accompany us to the stores and offered her kitchen so we can cook and use some of her utensils. The room she got for us was really nice and very satisfying as well. If you plan to stay at Tingloy Island, I recommend you stay at Nanay Mina's. She charges 200/ head & per night for large groups and because there were only 2 of us staying, she charged us 250 each. But that's reasonable already on our part because we can use her kitchen for cooking, the room is satisfying, we can borrow cooking utensils as well that we can bring along the beach and the way she took care of us was really very motherly. Like, you're just staying at your grandmother's house. You can contact her at: 09178414715
After having lunch, we started unpacking our stuff, segregated everything we'll leave behind and made sure that everything we'll need for the camp out are all set before we took a siesta. By the time my boyfriend and I woke up, it was already 4pm! We rushed in preparing our packed dinner and double checked everything before we proceeded to Masasa Beach which is a 10-15 minute tricycle ride away from our home-stay.
From the drop off point, you have to walk your way down to the beach. It's a very long walk actually. Even going down is not easy most especially if you carry a lot of stuff with you. Once I saw the rice fields and the palm trees while walking down, I stopped to adore the view for a minute. Then proceeded to the beach, I was saying WOW the entire time while walking in the sand. I can't believe I'm seeing everything with my own eyes. Everything was too beautiful!
After setting our camp, we proceeded to a nearby neighborhood and looked for Nanay Rosie's house. That's where we're gonna have a quick night shower before having dinner in our camp. There are adequate shower rooms with clean water provided in which we paid 20 pesos each for use. Not bad!
When I did my research, I've read something about a friendly dog who loves to accompany visitors by the beach and I'm so stoked to finally meet him! When I greeted him, he was wagging it's tail and begun kissing me when I sat next to him. Such a sweetheart! I called him Patrash by the way 'cause he reminded me so much of Heidi's dog. (I love naming dogs) He stayed with us the entire time and of course, we are more than pleased to share our packed dinner with him! He even slept outside our tent and growled over at residents who pass by. Later on, I found out his name was AMPON.
I tried to sleep as early as possible to catch the morning sunrise. I had a hard time sleeping because the waves were kind of scary and the sand where we set camp isn't elevated. It was high tide by the way and even Nanay Mina was worried, she called that night to check on us if we're doing good. I was able to catch a few hours of sleep before my alarm rung at 6 a.m. and this is what I saw:
It's so beautiful!
Before exploring, my boyfriend and I had breakfast first, changed into our swimming/exploring outfits, applied sun block and brought along all our important stuff in one small bag. This the view from the right side of our camp. We'll be exploring the whole stretch though but first, we'll head over at the left side. Besides we have the whole beach to ourselves as the only visitors present during that time.
There isn't much to see on the left side of the island. Well except for the awesome rock formations present on the walk path we passed through. The beach were mostly rocky. It's not advisable to swim in this part. We just adored everything and took pictures.
We dropped off by the camp first, rehydrated and ate snacks before heading off to the right side of the island.
There's obviously a lot more to see in this side. Big rock formations that you can walk over and hop on. The water below the rocks aren't that deep though so it's better to just jump with your feet first to be safe and not totally dive into it. The whole view is very picturesque, you won't get tired of taking pictures.
After exploring this side, Louis and I decided to swim. The water was really cold in spite of how high the sun has already set. When we got back to the top, our fury tour guide was taking a nap. Maybe he got tired from all the walking we did the entire time.
Walking our way back to the camp means another application of sun block and another round of swimming. We just made the most out of that day. We didn't mind the sun at all, we just kept on swimming, beach bumming, eating snacks and simply just relaxing. How can you not relax with this kind of view from your tent?!
At around 2pm, we packed our stuff and headed back to the home-stay. Nanay Mina even offered us another night to stay (which was already included in what we paid for), I wish I could say YES but I had to decline because it's already my first day at work on Monday. So we really have to travel back to Manila first thing on a Sunday Morning.
Sunday Morning view. Headed back to Talaga Port from Tingloy Island.
This was a very memorable birthday celebration. I mean, being able to live in an island with very limited food choices (No meat and seafood and even the vegetables are quite limited), with no Starbucks around or 7eleven. Even the power supply is limited as well. (The power shuts down at 12 midnight and comes back at 12 mid day) It was definitely something. It's like going back to a much simpler life. Just by staying there for 2 days, I learned to appreciate the simplest things which I don't normally appreciate here at home like eating salted egg w/ tomatoes and canned goods. The power supply we have 24/7. Not all the comforts we have and enjoy here in Manila, are present in Tingloy. I felt like those "comforts" we call are just unnecessary to satisfy our lives. It is true that once something is taken away from you, you'll only know the true value of it once it's gone. And I guess I realized that myself when I lived in Tingloy, where all the residents are very kind, simple and happy with what they have. I couldn't help but smile to myself when I saw children playing with their friends, laughing. Children, walking down the streets holding their Grandmother's hand. Just that. Compared to what I normally see: children playing apps and internet games, taking selfies, taking 'pabebe' into a whole different level.
I came to a decision to plan out my birthday and celebrate it differently every year. I want to travel. I want to conquer non-cliché places not everyone had been to. I want to share every piece of experience and realization that I've had during those travels. I just really want to wander and be lost in a different place on that one day I celebrate my existence.