POLLILO TOWN TO BURDEOS
It was already 10a.m. when we finally settled our transportation that would take us to the town of Burdeos from Isla Polillo Beach Resort. Charlie and I originally planned to rent a tricycle (Php200/head) from Polillo Town to Burdeos and leave around 8a.m. but we decided to rent a van when the other guests of the resort decided to join us in checking out the beaches at Burdeos. We spent a bit of time haggling for the van rental because it was quite expensive for a round-trip fare (Php2500 excluding the petrol). In the end, it was all worth it because we were able to save more by joining Aiza and her friends when we split the boat rental for the island-hopping as well.
It took us more than an hour to reach the town proper of Burdeos. The roads are quite rough and bumpy and probably would have been worse in the rainy season. The scenic rice fields and lush forest, however, as well as the adorable “bear” inside the van with us, were a pleasant diversion from the bouncy and uneventful trip. Upon reaching Barangay Poblacion, we went straight to Sabang Pier to look for a boatman. We found one who agreed to our “customized trip” for Php1500 only (standard rate is Php2000). Charlie and I would go island-hopping and would be dropped on one of the islands to camp for the night while Aiza and her friends would simply be dropped on an island of their choice where they would spend the rest of the day before going back to Isla Polillo Beach Resort.
Being Holy Friday almost all the stores were closed when we got to Burdeos, while the ones that were open weren’t selling mineral water. We still had at least a liter each but our water and food supply weren’t really enough for 2 days in the islands. Fortunately, one of the locals had been very generous to us. (He gave us his freshly-cooked rice, still in the pot and refused to be paid.) I bought some canned goods for our packed lunch and it didn’t take long before we were off to our first island in Burdeos.
CIRCUMNAVIGATING ANILON ISLAND
According to some locals, Anilon Island is the best beach in the area and a favorite place of many locals for picnic and beach excursions, so Aiza and company chose it for their beach escapade. It took us almost an hour to reach the island but the long wait was rewarded with a beautiful island surrounded by fine sugary sand and an isolated rocky arch with a cave. Fortunately it was low-tide when we reached the island so the water was shallower which made walking to Anilon Cave easier (half of the cave is submerged underwater during high tide and is only accessible by boat.) It’s about 30 minutes walk along the rocky shores and through the mangrove trees before we finally scrambled our way onto the rock boulders at the mouth of the cave.
I was a bit disappointed however, when I first saw it because I was expecting to see a real cavern with stalactites and stalagmites. I realized it was just a tunnel-like rock formation carved by years of relentless crashing waves coming from the Pacific Ocean. The place, however, has a nice view of the nearby Anawan Island and you can catch a glimpse of big and wild waves that I usually only get to see in the movies. It has also small pockets of water inside like a Jacuzzi where you can cool down. After some time, we left the rest of the group in the cave and headed back to our boat to go to the next island. This time we passed at the other side of the island, and after 45-minute walk we had circumnavigated the whole island.
BRAVING ANAWAN ISLAND
I became very keen to visit the island next to Anilon after seeing it as we were on our way to the cave. It has thicker forest cover and strips of white-sand shores that look so enticing from afar. One of the locals, however, dissuaded us to going there because the sea was too rough and the island was a breeding ground of sea snakes, according to him. Being gullible and all, I settled on visiting another island instead. Good thing Charlie is too skeptical to believe this kind of stuff so before I knew it; we were on our way to Anawan and made it safely to the shores.
The island actually looks quite near Anilon Island that I even thought one could swim towards it. Surprisingly, it took us about 30 minutes to reach Anawan maybe because of the rough waters at that time. The sand here is finer than Anilon with bits of pebbles and some large rocks. The coral however, wasn’t that spectacular according to Charlie who spent some time snorkeling around the area. But I like the remoteness of this island, the untamed waves, the thick forest with just birds, the hermit crabs that kept us company, and the clear waters.
After Anawan, we decided to visit one more island before heading back to Anilon to pick up the rest of the group. It wasn’t really in our list of islands to visit but we saw this island near Anawan that has whiter sand and bigger waves crashing near its shores. Our boatmen said it’s quite dangerous to go to this island because it’s already the Pacific Ocean behind it but we still went anyway. We only made it a few meters from the shores because the waves were too strong for the boat to be able to dock. Charlie as usual, wasn’t intimidated by the waves at all and was even keen to swim to the shores. Good thing I was able to convince him that it was getting late and we still need to pick up the others who would still be going back to Sabang Pier.
It was only after talking to the Mayor of Burdeos later on that we learned about the existence of island barangays beyond Buguitay Island. He said there are even more beautiful beaches there with bigger and wilder waves fronting the Pacific. Our boatman also suggested visiting Burdeos again in May and June because the water is so calm it is like floating on a sea of oil. It was around 5p.m when we all left Anilon Island and headed to Ikulong Island where they dropped us to camp for the night. I thought we had already seen the best of Burdeos that day but I was wrong…
(This is part of our 3 nights adventure at Pollilo Group of Islands in 2010)
Day 2: We rented a van together with the other guests of the resort and went to the quaint town of Burdeos. We went Island-hopping at Anilon Island and had a short walk to Anilon Cave at the end of the beach. We then had lunch and went swimming at Anawan Island before heading to Buguitay Island. Unfortunately the waves were too big so we weren’t able to dock near the shore so we asked the boatman to drop us at Ikulong Island where we camped for the night ala survivor.
Day 3: Our boatman fetched us the next day from Ikulong Island and took us to Puting Bato Island where we explored two of its caves. After that, we headed to the beautiful Island of Malaguinoan, which was my favorite among the beaches we had visited. We finally braved the big waves from the Pacific Ocean to get to the Minasawa Bird Sanctuary. On our way back to Burdeos Pier, we had a short stop at Binombonan Island and the Bakaw-Bakaw Island where hundreds of mangroves abound.
Fortunately, Mayor Gil allowed us to stay in his place for the night when we did a courtesy call. We then took the first and only trip of jeepney in the morning back to the pier and had a few hours of boat ride back to Real, Quezon Pier.