A day after my Calaguas Island jaunt in Camarines Norte, I found myself on the road again to another off-the-beaten-track sort of spot in the province of Sorsogon. I had been roughing it out for a week or so, either sleeping in tent or in the most Spartan accommodation I could find, so I was somewhat longing for a break from my two-week backpacking trip while at my hometown in Albay. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of time for any sort of breather because I be would be leaving the country in a week and the opportunity to explore the secluded beaches around Matnog, the southern most part of Sorsogon was just too hard to pass up.
I stuffed my backpack with a week’s worth of clothes just in case I ended up traversing to the province of Masbate later on, and in the name of traveling light, I left my borrowed tent and took my well-travelled tripod instead, which I reckoned was a perfectly rational choice at that time. Never mind if I ended up squeezing myself in someone else’s tent or sleeping on a hammock in someone’s balcony – my tripod and camera are like my ATM and ID; they come with me wherever I go.
Somewhat invigorated from one night of semi-decent sleep, off I went on another exciting adventure, this time with my college friend Karen, her family and her friends. Originally planned as a solo sojourn, I was glad friends and family came tagging along on each leg of my trips, making it easier on the pocket and even more enjoyable.
On a dreary Saturday morning matching my still sluggish bearing, I took a regular bus from Ligao City to meet up with my travel mates at the bus terminal in Daraga, Albay, about half an hour away from my hometown. We then took another bus heading to Bulan, Sorsogon after missing the bus plying the route directly to Matnog, which left surprisingly on time. It was an uneventful two-hour bus ride through idyllic countryside and along scenic coastlines, and after a quick stopover at Sorsogon City, we finally alighted at the fork in the road at Barangay Trece.
The fork was marked by a monument of Bulan Lions’ Club International and was quite hard to miss. We waited at the nearby waiting shed for some time, dodging the pricey offers of the persistent tricycle drivers who wanted to take us to Matnog Ferry Terminal on a special trip. Good thing it didn’t take long before a jeepney brimming with passengers and baggage pulled up and let us hitch a ride. Karen and her daughter Reese sat at the entrance of the jeepney while the rest of us clambered up to the top load of the jeepney, which turned out to be a rather enjoyable ride for me.
It was only past 10:00 a.m when we arrived at the port of Matnog so we took the time to stock up on food and water in addition to the groceries each of us had brought with us. We decided to eat our packed lunch here while waiting for our boatman who was recommended by Karen’s friend. Apparently they were very satisfied with his service and he happened to own one of the fish sanctuaries at Juag Lagoon, which was part of our itinerary.
After agreeing on a price (P1500 for the six of us) and our itinerary for two days, we finally sailed through the rough waters fronting the Philippine Sea. Now if I hadn’t braved the turbulent waves to Calaguas Island recently, I would be holding on for dear life with this kind of boat ride. Good thing the surrounding islands were near and before we knew it, we were swiftly cruising through the calmer part of the sea towards the marine sanctuary. We spent a great deal of time at our boatman’s very own fish sanctuary and probably the most popular one in Juag Lagoon. We had so much fun that we went back again the next day, had our lunch here and whiled away our time getting cozy with Kuya Alex’s interesting collection of marine species before going to our last destination.
We continued our island tour at the unique pink sandy shores of Subic Beach. There were actually two stretches of beach at Calintaan Island but we camped at the smaller one as recommended by out boatman. He said a few families live on the bigger island while the smaller one is quieter with only the caretaker and his family around. There were two big groups of tourists who were on a day tour there when we arrived, but we had the whole beach for ourselves later in the afternoon when they left.
I didn’t expect that Subic Beach would surpass my expectations and impress me as much as it did, especially since memories of Calaguas Island were still fresh and vivid in in my mind. I simply wanted to see what this side of the province had to offer and yet it turned out to be another very memorable trip. Interesting conversations over The Bar, firefly watching at night, star gazing and beach strolls were some of the highlights of our overnight camping at Subic Beach.
The next day was no less interesting as we got to see the beautiful coconut laden shores of Tikling Island after another side trip at Juag Lagoon. I was glad we didn’t skip visiting the beach despite of the huge rambling waves that seemed to dissuade us from pursuing it. Its clear azure water and sugary pinkish sand somehow reminded me of Potipot Island in Zambales, only less known.
A few hours after lunch time, we were all back at the shores of Matnog all pleased with how our weekend turned out, in fact too pleased that the rest of group planned to return the following week this time with their kids and relatives.
Boatman: Alex Genablazo
Contact Number: 0918-3045437
Shout out to my friend Karen and to the rest of the group for making this trip possible.