In the search for a less than a thousand peso per pax 2 day weekend destination, and having nowhere more to go in zambales and pangasinan, I thought we might give Bataan a try.
I must admit I've heard a lot about the waves in bataan, and I've seen a lot about it's not so appealing sand and water, but for this weekend, i've thought about giving in to whatever it has to offer.
Through some research, again, with my bestfriend GOOGLE, maps and search :-), I've come acccross a Talaga Beach in Mariveles where the Marcoses had put up a rest house that did not really complete. That beach, as well as the nearby coves Kawayan and Nagbayog plus the Balon Anito hot spring were the places of interest for this itinerary.
Then came the bad news. The site has been guarded from public and it has been long time closed for visit. Dang!!! why hadn't any post mentioned that. Then again, I thought we can manage to slide an appeal when we get there. This is not my very first encounter of such sort.
At the town proper, we got off to have lunch and to buy some goods for dinner and the meals and snacks thereafter. It felt odd that there weren't as much eateries around at the town proper. Apart from jollibee which we chose to ignore, we spotted 4 diners; 1 seemed close; Another, on the ground floor of a lodge, serves burgers, pastas etc which are unappetizing on a trip; Another had no rice; And, finally, the last had it all; local variants of our native dishes... and, they have rice :-).
Whenever I get to these coastal areas, I crave for fish in coconut milk. I took the "Tulingan" where a slice was only at P20.
Right after the meal, walking back to the barangay hall, we stopped by a grocery to get some stuff for the meals thereafter. And since we our car is right next to the hall, I took the time to ask some of the officials in the hall about the Talaga Beach.
Unfortunately, they have confirmed that the beach, upon private ownership, has been closed to public; The officials said that even them couldn't get permission to get to the beach.
We still didn't lose hope. What I had been holding to was that probably, when we get there, upon knowing that we've driven all the way from pampanga to that beach, we'll somehow allowed for a few hours or so. And, there's just no way im giving it up.
From the IPAG barangay hall itself, the roads go even narrower and the elevation becomes steeper; not to mention the fact the the pavement is totally damaged. Moving forward is a trail of several junkshops and we got confused whether what we're getting to is a nature escape or hell of trash. Coming further beyond the junk shops, it's paradise. The mossy greenery highlights the sculpture of the mountains; Yet, too bad, the mountain next to Nagbayog had a dump site for some rubbish. It's was a blemish for the view.
Few pictures after, we moved ahead and got to the gate and fence for the property. It was a tall and wide gate where you can't see anything beyond unless you come close and peep from the gaps. There were some residents herding their goats and we asked about what we've been told regarding entry. Again, unfortunately, they said, the guards won't allow so. After these several consultations, and looking at how well the property has been bordered, I was kind of getting pessimistic.
From the gaps, we could see a man sleeping with his head over a table. He seems drunk. We had to yell and keeping it louder for about 20 mins before we got him to wake up and notice us. He signalled for us to come in, and I glided my fingers through the gap to get the gate opened. There were a number of dogs (whoofff!). There was a cabin next to the table and another man stood up and spoke to us. I told him about our plans. He asked us as to where we've come to know about the beach, and we've told them it was through the internet.
Well, he said nothing but "No, we don't allow visits" yada yada (and in a sarcastic tone). There was no sign he was going to allow us in any way, so we gave it up. We went out and took some time to think of where to head next. That point itself starts the disaster.
The itinerary was for that beach and the nearby coves. However, my friend who owns the car won't want to leave the car just anywhere (though we've asked everyone if it'll be safe to leave it on the roadside and they said yes). Had it been my car, I wouldn't really mind just leaving it there; But then again, it's not mine, and it's my friend's first investment. Also, almost all the locals we've spoken to had this tone of voice that seemed arrogant. We were not so sure about their hospitality; Also, it was a sunday, and this day is an alcohol day for the provinces; Someone might just play tripping on anything; There were a lot of drunk men along. Also, the place was a junk shop central. There's just too many reason not to trust to leave the car on the roadside.
We had to run back to the town proper and seek some alternative camp site. We asked for what other beaches are great and the people kept pointing to Porto, which is also the jump off point to Camaya coast and Lusong beach. When we got there, I couldn't find any sign of a beach -- it's a Port. I asked for how much is the boat ride to Wain Beach (some say it's now part of Camaya Coast) and/or Lusong Beach, and the boatman said P600. The charge was ok, but looking at the 4foot waves and his boat, and considering that there'll be no lifevest, I'd rather not risk it.
Meantime, while I was making talks and arrangement about the boatride, my friends whom we left in the car took the time to ask the locals. Since our aim was a white (or close to white) sand beach, a local was pointing us to Bagac, where her brother grows cashews. She said it's white sand. Since Porto, Anvaya, and Lusong aren't viable options, we had no choice but to move away.
Along the way, just next to the Balon Anito barangay hall is the hot spring, so we checked it out. There were 2 ladies having their feet soaked while chatting, so...we did the same thing :-) . From the surface, I couldn't see anything but green due to the molds that has grown around its mouth. Some more people came and I asked about the water. Just like what is said on the other blogs, they claim that the tub is a crater. It's quite deep and nobody knows how exactly deep it is.
Few minutes after, we took the roads again; driving all the way back to Balanga city. In the car, we were having a discussion of where exactly to go. I was having some doubts about going to Bagac as it will be close to 50kilometers away. So, since it'll be along the way, we agreed to first check out the Sisiman Bay and the Aguawan Beach also in Mariveles.
The entry point to these bays is actually right next to the Mariveles viewdeck. Inward, we come close again to the great landscape of the mountains ruined by mining. Closer to the coast, we see the fishing community. The smell of the air could tell how great fishing (and not swimming) will be. From a kilometer distance, you could also see aguawan beach, and it's just not our taste. So, we took a U turn. I pleaded that we check out the other side of the sisiman bay so I can take a picture of the lighthouse. My friends humbly agreed.
On the other side there are hut's (on rental) that they've put up for tourists. Unfortunately, rubbish was everywhere and again, I got disgusted - simply by how lack of interest the people have about promoting and protecting their naturally gifted community. The idea would have been nice; like spending overnight on a bay, with a backdrop of the mountains; But with a carpet of trash...??? urrrggghhh... not really.
So, back to the original plan: Drive to Bagac. It was already dark when we got back to the viewdeck on the highway.
Since we were thinking that by the time we reach Bagac, all stores would have closed, we stopped to get ice on a store along Gov J J National highway. We took the chance again to ask about the beaches and they confirmed some (none specifically) in Bagac, but, as they say, more in Morong (Oh well, that's further to the borders).
Nearing Bagac, I asked my friend about the details of the beach we are going to. To my surprise, she has nothing but a name, and some cues like it's next to a La Salle School. I asked her how we could possibly get to the place with just a name. She said that she was told to ask around for the person when we get to Banawang in Bagac. I got totally disappointed. But since we didn't have a choice, and I felt awkward if i'd be brag my ass, so we went ahead.
When we got to barangay Banawang, as suggested, we asked for the person. To my total astonishment, the guy said "He won't be there now. He is in the beachside on the daytime, but at nightime, they stay in Brgy Pagasa." Huwoooowwww! I wondered what the population size in the area was. Not only do they know the person, but also his whereabouts on a specific time: How about that?
Anyhow, we asked for how to get to the highly anticipated beach and he said drive further until we see the sign for the school. Several kilometers away and several people asked and told to drive further, we realized we've might have gone too far. (Oh yes, and I recall, one local we asked for about the La Salle school, had asked: "U mean the school in Manila?" Hello sir,,,what could be a reason we'll ask for a school in Manila when we are a few hundred kilometers away in Bataan?????). The next person we asked, he said we're several kilometers past. That time we got sick of directions and instructions and we called it off. "Let's head elsewhere". Everybody was tired at that time, we just basically asked for what's the next beach we could camp at.. and again, the greatest advice "drive further"
The closest beach from there on is that where the Pawikan Center is. We drove in and when we got there, the air was just too warm, I don't think I could afford the heat. We got back in the car and drove again. By this time we were already in Nagbalayong in Morong. From the entry point, a lady stopped us and asked for P10 per head entry fee. It was obviously nothing official, but for that amount, we didn't bother to interrogate.
Forward, the resorts are one after another. We asked for the rates and no one would take us for anything less than a thousand bucks just to camp. And, I was in no way going to pay that considering we'll just be camping and only for the few hours of the night. We scouted further and I noticed one resort that seemed to have been abandoned. There's a group partying within, and I asked them where we could park, camp and spend the night. They called us in and were charging us P400 all in all; I closed at P200.
My friends were kind of scared, but I told them, we're cool. Frantically speaking, I'm an avid drinker before and I knew how to roll the dice with such people. So we settled, cooked, bathed, took a few shots of gin, and slept. It rained at the middle of the night, but everyone was just too tired and deeply asleep to bother. Good thing we had all our stuff settled in the car for a swift fly the morning after.
By the time I woke up, my friends would have already done cooking and taken all the nasty pictures of me asleep. And, darn it, I couldn't imagine the beach. The waves were too strong, the water was so diluted. I couldn't find an answer as to why there are even resorts there (and charging that much). After the meal, we cleaned, packed up real quick and set on the roads again. It was endless driving. By this time, we have already accepted the fact that the trip was a bluff and we would just be taking chances of whatever is on the way ahead.
We checked out the other beaches in Poblacion, but it was the same. Then, we stopped by Sabang, where the waves are a little calmer and water is a bit clearer. We would have been better off camping there, but it's still not my type of beach. After a few pictures, we hit the roads again. Passed by Anvaya cove and took some pictures of the landmark.
Looking at my google maps, we wanted to see the bay in Mabayo but a passer by said it was just a fishing community. By then, we were pointed to Minanga, and checked out directions on my maps. The beach in Minanga was the best so far. The water was clear, the rock formation were great, the sand was lighter in color and it was rather a small cove that's more tranquil; But again, the trash is everywhere. Again, a few good pictures, and we walked back towards the car. The final target we have in mind this time are those ones in Subic, which on google maps, appear to have the brightest color in terms of sand.
The vicinity is already within the bataan side of the SBMA zone. The road is towards Ocean and Treetop Adventure and we had to get in the Subic Forest Adventure Park. We drove all the way to an abandoned amusement park (It was creepy being there, like I was in a horror movie). We tried leaving the car at the park entry, but it was way too long walk. After about 500m of walking, we decided to get the car in.
It would have been our perfect campsite; Trees around and bay next to them. No other people or any sort. I had the idea that the beach was actually a part of the amusement business. There was a wide sandbar and the shore was perhaps about 100 more meters away. I wasn't perfectly sure whether it was the beach I was wanting to see but at that time, my phone was empty and I couldn't check. After touring the place, we decided to get back to the car. I have insisted that we roam further and check out the other beaches, but we were just too tired, stinking, and it was just time to get home. Besides, all our devices are battery empty and we won't have any pictures anyway. In the end, I had to wipe my skin with the water that has melted out of the ice to clean up a bit. We couldn't help laughing at the fact that out of the 9 beaches we've gone too, this is how we end up just to get wet.
On the way back, we took some meals in SBMA and drove home. We may have not gotten what we wanted, but having toured around bataan, taken all that much pictures of any beach we can possibly get, and considering we each spent only P700 for all that, it was still worth the fun. I'd certainly get back to that last beach we went to (and certainly including the other beaches next to it). But, of course, this time, we'll take the SBMA route :-)...Straight! direct! no Dinalupihan, Orani, Balanga, Mariveles, Bagac thing of a bitch. :-)