Pagbilao a progressive town in the province of Quezon situated between Lucena (the capital of the province) and Quezon National Forest Park (a scenic forest reserve near the town of Atimonan). It is easily accessible by private and public transport being strategically located along the national highway.
Our first day in Quezon was spent at the quaint town of Padre Burgos frolicking on its beautiful beaches, bouldering on its rock formations and feasting on fresh seafood at Tamarind Tree Resort. Although we spent most of the day traveling to get here, we were able to maximize our time exploring the place. It revealed picturesque seascapes that are yet to be discovered and are mostly known to backpackers and adventurers only.
After checking out from the resort, I had a last glimpse of the gorgeous scenery and wondered whether the nearby town of Pagbilao (our next destination) would be equally scenic if not more. Good thing the place was only around 20-30 minute drive from Padre Burgos proper so we were able to make up lot of time in organizing an impromptu itinerary and finding a boat for our island-hopping in the area.
Kwebang Lampas is one of the most noteworthy places to visit in the area so we based our itinerary on how to get there and made the rest of the destinations a side-trip. The beach could either be reached by land or by boat. The land route however, still requires around an hour’s walk after commuting to the jump-off point. After getting some tips from one of the locals on how to get around the area, we headed to the tricycle terminal at Barangay Pinagbayanan and decided to access the beach by boat ride. The terminal is located in a vacant area just after crossing the bridge in Sitio Kalawit where many boats are docked at Pagbilao Wharf locally known as Daungan.
From here I was able to haggle for the boat rental from Php1500 to Php1000 which would take us to Patayan Island, Kwebang Lampas, and Biliran Sand Bar in Bantigue. You can also park for free near the terminal if you have brought your own transport. The boat we rented was the smallest one available and was actually good for 20 persons. I thought it was a good bargain considering the boat ride to Kwebang Lampas is around an hour and a half. We paid Php800 for our island-hopping at Padre Burgos and it was only 10-15 minute travel to get to the beaches.
We started our journey cruising down a river surrounded with thick patches of mangroves before we finally sailed into the sweeping waters of Pagbilao Bay. It was more out of curiosity that we visited a small island called Patayan – a Tagalog word which literally means “killing”. It was on our way to Pagbilao Grande Island so I thought we could visit one of its shores. It was already high tide when we docked in front of a private beach house so most of its shoreline was submerged already underwater. It was pointless then to go to “Tulay Buhangin”, a sandbar in the northwest end of the island, as it was underwater already.
Surprisingly, a caretaker came out of the fenced beach house and let us in. The place is open for public to rent. We were almost tempted to stay there for the night since we didn’t have a place to stay yet in Pagbilao. Unfortunately the caretaker still needed to get the key from the owner who lives at Barangay Bantigue for us to see the room. The good thing about this island is its privacy and you can have the whole island to yourself with a cozy beach house. Its shoreline however, is pebbly and filled with broken shells and coral. You would also have to arrange with your boat man a time to be picked up from the island the next day.
There is nothing much to do on the island so after awhile, we set off to the island of Pagbilao Grande to visit the famed beach of Kwebang Lampas. On the way to the island, we passed by a huge cargo ship unloading some coal at Pagbilao Power Plant which is also the landmark if you take the land route to the beach. As we turned the corner past the power plant, we were greeted by beautiful rock formations. And after another turn a beautiful cove revealed itself, a loud gasp of “wow” was all I could utter. If Borawan Beach was Charlie’s paradise, Kwebang Lampas was my kind of beach. It boasts white sand, clear emerald water, palm- trees, native huts and a small cave that can be explored easily.
For a change, I actually wanted to stay longer here but we still needed to go to Bantigue and to find a place to stay for the night. After a few hours of swimming, exploring the cave and a lot of picture taking, we were off to Bantigue. We didn’t really have anything in mind to visit there but I just got curious about the long stretch of shores and colorful houses (which we thought were strips of resorts) that we saw in the distance while were on our way to Kwebang Lampas. It was also at the tip of the map bordering Pagbilao Bay so I thought there might be some nice beaches there or probably waterfalls.
Unfortunately the waves that day were a bit rough so we just headed back to the wharf and traveled to Barangay Bantigue by land. We didn’t expect to find such an extensive posh resort in this seemingly remote location – unfortunately it was exclusive for members only. The Pueblo por la Playa occupies almost half of the coast line along Barangay Bantigue. It wasn’t a strip of resorts and hotels after all, so we drove further, all the way to the end of the road looking for a place to stay. At the end of the road, we discovered a small coastal village, Silangang Nayon (a cozy park and restaurant) and Carlo’s Beach (a small picnic area in front of a well- maintained beach with a nice fishpond in the backdrop).
PUEBLO POR PLAYA
In the end we drove all the way back to Padre Burgos to find accommodation at Villa Anita where we spent a relaxing and comfortable night.
HOW TO GET TO PAGBILAO QUEZON
By Public Transport
Ride a bus en route to Lucena ( Buendia, Kamias or Cubao) and get off at Lucena Grand Central Terminal. From the terminal there are vans and jeepneys en route to Pagbilao. All buses en route to Bicol will also pass the town of Pagbilao.
By Private Transport
From Manila take SLEX to its end at Calamba and follow the signs towards Batangas.You will see a fork road on the right a short distance after passing the entrance to the STAR expressway. The right fork goes to Lipa City and the left goes to San Pablo – take the left fork towards San Pablo.
You will pass the town of Alaminos and then San Pablo. Take the diversion road of San Pablo towards Tiaong. Just before Tiaong there is a left turn onto a road that goes through Candelaria and Sariaya. After Sariaya you turn right towards Lucena City and take a left turn onto the Lucena Diversion Rd a few km outside the city. Once the diversion road rejoins the main highway, it’s only a short distance to Pagbilao town. If in doubt, just follow the signs to Bicol.
(This is part of our 2 nights adventure at Padre Burgos and Pagbilao Quezon in 2010.)
Day 1: We checked-in at Tamarind Tree Resort in Padre Burgos around noontime and arranged an impromptu beach-hopping at Padre Burgos late in the afternoon. We were fetched by our boatman around 3pm. We first visited Dampalitan Beach and explored the rocky beach from its other end. We dropped by at Lipata Beach and mingled with the locals before heading to Borawan Beach.
Day 2: We drove back to Pagbilao and went to the wharf to arrange another impromptu island-hopping in Pagbilao. We haggled with some boatmen and found one who agreed to take us to Patayan Island and Kwebang Lampas and back to the wharf for 1000 pesos. After returning to Pagbilao town, we drove all the way to the end of Barangay Bantigue and visited the coastal village at the tip of the mainland. We also dropped by at Silangang Nayon and Pueblo Por Playa. Silangang Nayon was fully-booked while Pueblo Por Playa is a member-only resort so we drove all the way back to Padre Burgos to look for Villa Anita Butterfly Garden and Resort to stay for the night.