Saturday, May 28, 2011

Padre Burgos & Pagbilao Quezon: Borawan, Dampalitan, Kwebang Lampas

meter's set....let's GO!
Since it has only been lately that I have really found interest in seeing the rest of the countryside, I have basically 0 knowledge about quezon except about the coconuts and the rebel groups.

smooth road within the bondoc peninsula towards padre burgos

It has only been last year, while researching for our trip to camsur, that I have known about the beaches in quezon.

I've come across the beaches in burgos, pagbilao, pollilo. Further looking on google maps, there's such places as alibajaban, cagbalete, balesin, etc; I am in envy of how much great sand they have in the vast beaches of this province.

breakfast in vista playa

Perhaps, I'd say, even with only 2 hours time per beach in this province, it will still very hard to fit all the beaches in a 2day weekend itinerary, or even another 2 days extension I guess. Almost every town has a share of a great beach.

overlooking borawan from vista playa
off to borawan

For the past weekend, as it may close soon for massive renovation, we have initially planned visiting only burrot beach in calatagan, batangas; But then again, no matter how much I think about it, I don't have much activities in mind that beach for the whole 2 days. Thankfully, quezon has come to mind. I immediately told my fellow travellers about the beaches and that it's just next to Batangas.

one of the rock formations en route to borawan

We left 12:37 am of friday, just right after everyone's friday affairs. Several toll gates aheads, 3 driver shifts, and 6 and a half hours after, we reached vista playa...our chosen drop off point for borawan and dampalitan.
just shoot me

some more fooling around with the rock formation
on the extreme right side of the beach
let's go by the rules

Vista Playa is located in the shores of barangay marao, which has, in itself, fine brown sand. We've seen some cottages along the shore, and indeed, just like what one man we asked along the way, it is a picnic destination for the locals.

the group in one of the huts

At this point, while we had a bagful of minute burgers along the way, everybody was just too hungry for some real food. It was a good time for breakfast as Vista Playa has just started serving their freshly cooked offering for the day.

Three saucersfull of viands, 2 fried eggs, and 2 serving lomi (which I think was even good for as much as 6 people) and  coffee after coffee, the boat was ready. The price for the boat to borawan and dampalitan tour was P800. Then, since there were only five of us in a boat that could fit 10, and as we are on a tight
budget, we haggled for P700 for the boat, for a half day tour of Borawan and Dampalitan. Along with the P700 boat, we also paid the borawan (P30) and Dampalalitan (P15) entrance charges at vista playa.

The waters were so calm,  you'll think you're just in a lake. The island is also visible from vista playa so, with this distance and calm waters, it should not take more than 20 minutes to reach.

It was still low tide when we reached the island, we thought about setting up on the leftmost part where there's a shade down a rock boulder. As soon as we've laid all our stuff, while everybody else was swimming, I did not waste any time to get my pictures.

dahil makati ang tubig, umidlip nalang

or pwede rin magtalon talon

siguraduhin lang na matibay ang shorts

0 waves to dampalitan

After a number of pictures with the distinct rock formation, I went back to the group. They have already moved our camp to a higher location as the water has risen and some of our clothes gone wet. They have been complaining of stings, and when I approached the water, I spotted some jelly fish myself one after
another. We told the boatman about the jelly fishes and he has attested to it. Kuya Amer, the kind boatman, suggested we might choose to swim in the waters of dampalitan instead where they have setup a net to get rid of these villains.

Since we couldn't swim anyway, and we have toured the cove, we thought about moving to our next destination, dampalitan beach. Dampalitan beach is around 15mins boating from Borawan. Unlike Borawan, dampalitan has no rock formation but simply a brown sand beach with lots of pine trees. A bit more like the anawangin cove experience (though not as thick pine tress).

Indeed, there was that net but the water was still itchy i think (and on both beaches, I find the water warm; not so favorable for me). I think the smaller jelly fishes still manage to get through the smaller holes of the net. Besides, I thought it was hilarious; I feel like I was a bangus fingerling.

On both beaches, there were stores where you could get softdrinks, water, chips and cigarettes. Prices were comparably fair; The 1.5L softdrink was P45 and Marlboro lights was P3.00 per stick. So, if ever you need to fetch softdrinks on a store along the way, you might want to get it in the beach itself instead. It will ease you up on your luggage too.

some words from Mr. Villena

veranda of their ancestral house

calculator in circa 50s


After only about half an hour, we thought about moving ahead to Puting Buhangin in Pagbilao. By 10:13AM we were back in Vista Playa, had some more coffee, bought a meal for our boatman, and had a mucho red horse while waiting for my friend to finish rinsing (Before everybody even finished rinsing, having been
sleepless and tired, I could feel the alcohol spell. I was kinda drunk and tipsy at 10 in the morning! Perfect!) Vista Playa allows guests to rinse for a P10 fee. We thought about having an early lunch but it was too early, to think that we just had breakfast at 7. So, the plan was to leap ahead to puting buhangin, and go to Silangang Nayon for lunchtime, right after.

Puting buhangin may be reached from vista playa via boat, but it will cost P1500 more on top of the rate for the borawan+dampalitan. That is why, we thought about driving it instead to pagbilao.

Just on our way out, the group was introduced to ex Mayor Villena who, upon knowing we've driven all the way from Pampanga, invited us to go with him to his firing range where their ancestral house is and where he has all his vintage collection.

With 2 out of the 5 attempts (not bad), I Was the sharpest shooter in the group (weeehhhh...). After firing, he walked us through around the house; It was like touring the National Museum. He showed us a manual calculator said to have been used in circa 50s for simple arithmetic, addition to division; And I
thought, considering it's weight, I don't know why anyone won't opt to do manual computation instead; We spent a good 40 minutes all in all, and then asked the host that we leave.

entry point for puting buhangin

quipot bridge ahead

From there, at the middle of the trail in bondoc peninsula, as I have been too sleepy, I made my calculations, and told my friend, who's on duty on the wheels, to be on the lookout after some 10 kilometers, where she'd find the entry point for puting buhangin/power plant.

When I woke up, after only about 15-20 mins, we were nearing the Caltex Station in pagbilao. And, if I remember it right, Caltex station was just right after the Pagbilao town proper, and I had a feeling we, rather my friend, missed the entry point. We decided to stop, for pee, and to ask for directions.

In fact, yes, we were already 8.8 kilometers past the entry point. So we took a U turn. Coming from the Bondoc Peninsula, the mark/sign showing Brgy POLO/power plant will actually be on the left side, and on about face from the driver side, which was why my friend had a hard time locating that part.

Besides, everybody in the car was asleep so I suppose her attention level was quite low and she must have been intensely focused on the traffic on her view.

So, having taken the U-turn, 18 minutes driving afterwards, we reached the entry point for Brgy POLO.

And, according to some blogs, its another 15 kilometers ahead passing through the quipot bridge and the power plants.

the P10/head boat cross

the beach at the drop off point; I could be swimming right here

the thick forestry of the treck

the harder course

The kilometer readings I have read from one blog were so accurate. Indeed, there were land markings on the kilometer counts that were there only for that narrow road to pagbilao power plant. It's a winding road, curves left-right, right-left, and slopes up-down, down-up. There are neighborhoods and discrete
housings along the way, and lot's of domesticated husbandry every now and then for you to be in lookout.
Fast track to our trip, we reached the parking by 1:57, took the P10/head boat to cross us over the mangroves. From there, you could already view the sea.

From there, we trecked for about 20 minutes of thick forest, dry soil, to sharp stones, and through shallow waters of another mangrove. We finally saw the sign showing PRIVATE PROPERTY OF LUKANG FAMILY and the caretaker was just right there at the entry. The narrow path opens to a stretch of white sand, coconuts, and a bunch of beachgoers.")

informal settlers...

the cove

the cave

the comfort

It was getting late and we don't have much time to waste on this beach. I immediately tied my hammock on a tree and everyone changed for their swimwear; Right after, I went to the waters and walked towards the cave. The water goes sudden deep; Roughly 2 meters from the shore, the water will be up my height
(5'6"), I had to walk through the borders of the cave, through the sharp stones to get to it. When I get to the cave, everybody was literally crawling. It was very hard to walk within the cave because of the sharp stones. It hurts well on the feet. On the other opening of the cave is the horizon of the south
china sea. With nothing much to see there, I went back out and stood for a good 15 minutes in the warm water. Afterwards, I indulged in the comfort of my hammock.

We didn't like the temperature of the water, so, just after an hour and half there on that beach, we agreed to leave. Went through the same trail, and waited for the boatman at that same point where we were dropped.
We realized, had we known kwebang lampas better, we'd rather go swimming on the shores of this drop off/pick up point, than having to go through all that treck and paying all those entrance charges, etc in the LUKANG BEACH. The sand was just the same, and the slopes of the beach was more gradual than in
kwebang lampas.

While waiting, I climbed a barrier, which from up, you'll see is a paved roadpath for those with permits to eenter and drive within the power plant. You can also see high current of water flowing from within the power plant out to the sea (not sure if the water is coming from the rivers or what, but it was just
as clear as the sea).

The boatman came and just about another 5 minutes boating, we were at the parking area already.
Since we had to treck back, my group thought we might as well rinse in the parking area than in the beach itself. As soon as we alight the boat, we asked for where we could find a pump. To our surprise, the boatman said there is no pump in that vicinity and water is fetched elsewhere. The boatman referred us to a
family who sell us the water, and we were told it's going to be P25/pail. Whoof! The price is probably fair after considering what they have to go through to get water, but then, I myself won't get done in just one pail. And, just imagine how much additional expenses it will be counting all 5 of us. The brighter
suggestion was to use our 5Gallons drinking water for rinsing, just enough to get rid of seawater on our skin. So, we pulled our our huge towels, and took roughly 2Liters each. We'll be taking a full shower instead on our next destination...batangas city.

Two beaches past and we haven't taken lunch. It was time for Silangang Nayon. So, we drove again out to the national highway, and the radio plays ads of silangang nayon, saying it's 6.5 kilometers, 10minutes away from the national highway. At that point, we were so hungry and we knew that that 10 minutes will
surely be more. And, to drive an extra 6.5kilometers of perhaps, again, winding and rough road, is unnecessary. So, everybody agreed we'll be taking lunch on the carinderia's along the way. In front of a mall, La Suerte, there were a number lined up. We took the one right next a bakery and for 5 viands, 7 rice, 2
coffee, 1.5L sprite, and a kilo mango, the bill was at P320. I think we got done eating in only about 10 minutes...we were that hungry.

*We did fill our water container as it will just be an added weight in our travel. Since we were travelling at night, we could not find a refilling station open, from pampanga, to Batangas. Within Quezon, pagbilao and forward, the only water refilling station I've seen was the one in front of Caltex (around 5-10
minutes drive from the Welcome to Pagbilao arc in the town proper, next to the church/town plaza).



Our kilometer reading in Vista Playa counts 306.5 kilometers, which is all the way from Pampanga (Take roughly 100kilometers off if you'd like to count from Manila). From SLEX to STAR, we took the Ibaan Exit, and drove all the way to San Juan Batangas, passing through Garcia-Rosario-San Juan-Candelaria Rd. Then from San Juan will be a junction (left towards Tiaong and Right towards Candelaria) to Quezon province. (There will be a candelaria bypass road visible on google maps but we see that it is still under construction; besides, it wasn't much savings on the travel and time really) On the national highway, from candelaria, then to Sariaya. In Sariaya, again along the national highway, turn right towards Lucena City (Turning left takes you to Tayabas). This will be 15.2 kilometers from the San Juan-Candelaria Junction. Then, just 2.4 kilometers after, will be another junction; Towards left is the Pan-Pacific/Maharlika hiway, and towards right is the Lucena Town Proper. Instead of taking the route to lucena town prover, we bypassed Lucena city through the Maharlika Highway which is a faster way to Pagbilao and Padre Burgos. On the national highway, after the KM 146 on the national highway, on the right side will be an arc to Bondoc Peninsula. From there will be a winding road with smooth pavement. There are occassional vans, tricycle, trucks, households, along with sharp turns, so be alert in the driving. After 11.4 kilometers from the the Bondoc Peninsula marking, you will see the arc for Padre Burgos.  After 1.8 kilometers, you'll find cottages, boats, and Vista Playa on your right, with parking areas on your left.

Meantime, A few meters before reaching the ARC will be some signs showing "TO BORAWAN Island," The sign will tell you to go left towards Barangay Campo. Barangay Campo is actually another jump off point to the island but it will be a longer boating and boat rentals are higher here. Just in case you prefer
this route, we got a contact for a boatman, Name's OTE, Number's 09184177567. The port is 850meters away from the highter, after turning down right to this

On the National Highway in Pagbilao, You'd see a a huge sign showing the Quipont-Mirant Plant. There is also a sign showing BRGY POLO. Turn right on this entrance and be mindful of the railway just right after it. From there, drive ahead passing through, from junction, Brgy Kanlurang Malicboy (6.8kms),  Ilayang Pulo (8.8kms), Polo South Elementary School (13.4kms). After 15.4kms from the National Highway will be a barrier of a private vicinity, where you'll pay P50 per vehicle, and P5/head. After paying, drive forward getting closer to the Power plant tower and turn right to a road sitting next to the power plant fence (The fence is actually breaking and about to give up. A passenger might have to get off the car at some point to move away huge stones, tree branches every so often); Then, you'll be led to a barb wired estate that says private property of LUKANG Family. That's where you'll pay the P100 parking (P20 for single motorcycles, and P30 for tricycles), and take the P10/head boat to cross you over the mangroves.

We had asked for the route where we won't have to take any boat, but they said this is no longer accessible. After crossing the mangroves, you have the option of transferring to another boat to drop you to Kwebang lampas (by then, you won't have to treck to the beach; The second boat will be P40/head. The blogs I have read said it's P25, but since it is probably summer and a weekend, they might have hiked it).

*full documentation of the distances, travel times, and expenses of this trip on my previous blog


  1. ang cool!!! thanks for visiting my site... pag may trips din kayu, invite me.. hehehe!!! thanks thanks!!!

  2. likewise dude. thanks for reading at all. hehe :-) we're hiking Mt. Tarak on july 2-3...lemme know if you'd like to come. we'd love to have u in.

  3. I just visited Borawan days ago and it looks nice. Your stay was better coz there were fewer people at that time.


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