Philippines · Sorsogon · Travel Tales

Travel Tales: The long and winding road to Subic Beach

Three Days in Albay and SorsogonΒ (an overview)

From Bacacay, we took a van back to Legaspi. There, we bought supplies at Savemore near the terminal, then took another van to Sorsogon City.

Here’s where we had the first of many unexpected mini-adventures: originally we’d planned on going to Paguriran Island, then to Barcelona, spend the night in Bulusan, and then go to Matnog the following day to see the pink sand of Subic Beach. But when we asked around for directions, one driver told us that Paguriran Island (near the town of Sawanga) was out of the way if we wanted to visit all of those places. He suggested that we go to Matnog that afternoon, and then to Bulusan and Barcelona the next day.

We were going to Matnog for Subic Beach, which had pinkish sand and an impression of being almost deserted. “Punta na tayong Matnog ngayon?” I asked.

And my companions, go-getters all, said, “Game!” (Though I wasn’t sure everyone knew what we were in for.)

“Dun na tayo matutulog?” someone else asked.

“Oo?”

“Okay, game!”

We were surprised with the P90 fare, though — in comparison, P90 could bring us from Alabang to Tagaytay! So in the unexpected two-hour ride, we ate the remainder of what we’d shopped from Savemore, gazed at Mt. Bulusan (shrouded in clouds, like the Mayon) from a distance, caught glimpses of Spanish-era houses as we passed through the town of Juban, and jumped in surprise whenever someone on topload knocked on the roof as if to say, “Para po!”

At the port of the town of Matnog, we hired a boat to take us to Subic Beach. A local had told us on the jeep that the boat hire is P1500 but the boatmen may charge us P2500 because we were tourists (and truly, we looked like it). We were able to get a boat for P2000* .

Oh, this is just your typical Philippine scenery.

It took us about 30 minutes to get to Calintaan Island. We had splendid views of islands and small settlements that strongly reminded me of Caramoan. Our first stop was “Subic na Maliit”. You know what they say about a long, rough road to paradise? That’s exactly how I felt when we got there.

Subic na Maliit, Calintaan Island, Matnog, Sorsogon. Save for the caretaker and the boatmen, we were the only people there. It was perfect.

I ran around, lugging my camera like a maniac once we alighted the boat. The sand beneath my feet was powdery, like Boracay’s, but better because the sand here really was pinkish.

No words, just “Thank You, God, for this!”
Found this while traipsing about. This is where the pink sand came from.

We ate our leftovers from breakfast, took videos, and (Edison was adamant about this) shot a music video. We swam later on. One has to walk through a line of coral stones before getting to the sandier part of the water, though we had to be cautious for the shoreline quickly drops.

Timer shot! Finally, a picture of us five.

A while later, as the sun was about to set, we took the boat to another part of the island, the one they called “Subic na Malaki.” Here’s where we were to spend the night. A large family had set up camp nearby. We got to rent a bungalow for P800.

Kuya Jesse, the caretaker, had to bring out all the beddings from the cabinets as visitors to the island were rare those days. In the summer, he told us, the water would be so calm that everything, including lights from the town on another island, would be reflected on the water, and people would flock to Subic and the beach would be awash with tents.

It drizzled once in a while in the evening, but soon, we were able to get out and see the full moon reflected on the waters like a bridge to nowhere. Kuya Jesse helped us build a fire and cook our noodles and hard-boiled eggs as he talked about not having been in Manila since 2004.

Why is the island called Subic if there’s already a more famous Subic somewhere else? we asked.

He said that growing up, he had already known it as Subic. Even the elder ones remembered it only as such.

Trying to capture the moon’s reflection on the sea.

I love those rare solitary walks by the beach at night, when there is virtually no sound but the waves lapping on the shore and the wind shaking the leaves of coconut trees. You smell the salty sea and feel the fine sand on your feet. There’s no party music and drunken strangers here — just nature in its silent beauty. Maybe blogging about Subic Beach in Sorsogon is counter-intuitive, but I still hope it remains shadowed by its more famous namesake.

#

The Practical Stuff

*Long story short: when hiring a boat to Calintaan Island, don’t accept an offer of more than P1500.

On expenses and how to get there: Please check out my overview of our Bicolandia 2012 trip: Three Days in Albay and Sorsogon.

For accommodations on Subic Beach:

Calintaan Subic Resort Corporation
Calintaan, Matnog, Sorsogon
150 Caloocan, Matnog, Sorsogon
CP#: 09176186561
Email: echua60[at]yahoo[dot]com

We would also like to thank Claire of Lakwatsera de Primera for the very helpful blog posts about Subic Beach. What can I say, she convinced us that we must go. πŸ™‚

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