The day of our most-awaited adventure which is to finally set foot on Mahabang Buhangin in Calaguas Island is slowly unraveling before us. We’d been toiling ourselves in formulating the best itinerary to reach this unspoiled location without any glitches at all. Today is that day.
This piece is being written in the present tense because everything is unfolding in real time. This cheap cellphone I’m holding is even moist now from the sea-water falling on us as our boat glides on the raging current of the open sea, wiping the wetness off every now and then and saving these words instantly to document this very moment. There seems to be no network signal, so writing this right now seems like a good idea. This is better than just waiting for us to arrive, mind you, it really hurts in the southern regions. The total time consumed is now approaching to 2 hours.
Looking to my right and I find my wife smiling like a child that was given a gift, behind me are two of my new friends – boatman “Mang Boy” and his sidekick Melvin. We’re riding on a pump boat en route to Calaguas island.
I promise to write some more later, but for now, do enjoy these few pictures of the many islands/islets of Calaguas as we make our approach to Mahabang Buhangin.
We could already see a long strip of white sandy beach called “Mahabang Buhangin”. Melvin is already preparing to drop the anchor. It’s so beautiful – the sand is very white, the sea is more like transparent glass, the mountain terrains look very unusual as well. We are now approaching what seems to be a house with a line of open cottages on both sides. Out comes the caretaker, her name is “Manang Eli”, wife of “Mang Ramon”, the head caretaker. According to “Mang Boy”, our boatman, this place is the cheapest in Calaguas – only P75 per head for the entrance fee. The water pump we are now being informed is P10 per bathing. They could cook your rice for you, just give them a tip. Since it’s an island away from the mainland, they add P20 pesos to every item in their small grocery stall or “tindahan” in the vernacular. It seems to be very convenient, something that we didn’t expect. “Mang Boy” and Melvin are also staying with us overnight on the island. It’s also a nice thing to share our foods with them, the more the merrier! So, yes, if you plan to stay for more days, then you’ll have to pay “Mang Boy” some more.
We have now finished assembling our tent for the first time and it’s looking good. Now, all we can do is to immerse ourselves in the beauty of Calaguas island; explore the island some more and experience our first night of camping at the same time.
After a few hours of enjoying the beach, we hit the rocky parts towards the other end of Mahabang Buhangin. Black, towering rocks are very prominent in the area. Good for taking pictures, and to our delight, snorkeling. We’ve never tried wall diving before, but they have that here – corals attached to big rocks, fish of all sizes, squids shying away, sea urchins and more – a very unique underwater setting! This is in contrast to the featureless sea-floor at Mahabang Buhangin, you will only see empty shells there and coral stones being scattered all over its vast whiteness below the sea.
It’s now starting to get dim as night approaches. We couldn’t wait to spend the night here in Calaguas island. We are about to take our dinner of rice, corned beef and bread with margarine plus 6 liters worth of mineral water. We only plan to stay overnight here, so panic buying is not advisable for us or any other visitor to the island wanting to do the same. The view is really amazing, it’s like we’re in heaven or some secret paradise.
We are inside our tent right now. It’s very cool, we could also hear the sound of the waves like lulling music to our ears. Mang Boy and Melvin are in the “Barrio”, a small community some 15-20 minutes walk away from the beach. He has a kid living there and it’s where he hangs out when he has guests coming over to Mahabang Buhangin in Calaguas island.
How to Go to Calaguas Island from Naga
1. Ride a tricycle going to Naga bus terminal located nearby SM Naga. Ride on a bus going to Daet, fare is P110 (transit time is over 2 hours). If you’re in a hurry then take a van going to Daet, fare is P180 (travel time is over 1 hour).
2. Upon reaching Daet, ride a tricycle going to the bus terminal. Ride on a bus bound for Paracale. Fare is p45/head. Travel time is over 1 hour.
3. When in Paracale, tell the bus driver or conductor to drop you off at Petron station. That’s where we met “Mang Boy”. He will lead you to his home to get some rest, introduce you to his family and ask what you need like rice, food and water. Do not hesitate to borrow other belongings like kitchen utensils, pillows and blankets. He even has a couple of tents at your disposal.
4. Board the pump boat of “Mang Boy” going to Calaguas islands. Travel time depends on the weather. It only took us 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach Calaguas Islands.
5. After docking in Mahabang Buhangin of Calaguas islands, approach the caretakers, either “Manang Eli” or “Manong Ramon”. The entrance fee is P75 per head. Use of their water pump for bathing is P10. Barangay fee is P20 (although we don’t recall paying them for it).
Enjoy your stay in Calaguas islands!
Mang Boy’s Boatman Profile
Cellphone #: 09085460683
Boat rate: (usually P2,500 but tell him “Konsehal” sent you and he’ll give you a big discount for sure!)
“Mang Boy” is a born again Christian, his wife’s name is “Manang Martha” and they live in Paracale. “Mang Boy” owns his own pump boat and specializes in Paracale-Calaguas transfers. We met up with “Mang Boy” at the Petron gasoline station in Paracale. He’s very easy to negotiate with. If ever you have plans of going to Calaguas islands, be sure to contact him. We will never forget “Mang Boy” and “Manang Martha” both very caring and hospitable. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts for welcoming us into their home, letting us borrow some cooking utensils and also use their bathroom.
“Mang Boy” can lend you a spot light, pillows and blanket, kitchen utensils and they even have a small store within their house. We bought canned goods from them. Also spent lunch with them before we left for Calaguas islands.
Thank you “Mang Boy” and “Manang Martha”!