Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Cagbalete: The DIY Paradise

Life is what you make it. If you want to be happy, then smile and do whatever it is that makes you happy. If you let anything or anyone stop you from achieving your bliss, it is not their fault. 

As cliche as it is, Cagbalete is no different. This place is what you make it, you could either make it heaven or hell. 

Even if there are resorts in Cagbalete, the accommodation offered is very basic. Most resorts don't serve rice meals during weekdays. Camping is very popular here and that is why this getaway is popular for families and budget travelers.

How To Get There 

1. Ride a bus bound to Lucena Grand Terminal. There is one in LRT Gil Puyat Station and Starmall in Alabang (Metropolis Mall). If you are traveling in a small group and have no plans of hiring a private boat to get to Cagbalete, it is best to be in Lucena Grand Terminal as early as 7:00 AM.

2. Ride an NCR-Lienton bus to Mauban (Php 43). Alight at Mauban terminal and take a tricycle to Mauban port (Php 10).

3. Pay the environmental fee (Php 50) at Mauban port and board the boat bound to Cagbalete (Php 50). This boat leaves Mauban at 10:00 AM and another boat leaves at 4:00 PM.

4. Hire a local guide to assist in reaching your resort of choice. This is not compulsory but it is a great way to help the kids of the island.



3:00 AM
 ETD Metropolis Alabang
6:30 AM
ETA Lucena Grand Terminal

7:30 AM
ETD Lucena Grand Terminal
8:30 AM
ETA Mauban NCR-Rienton Lines Bus Terminal
8:45 AM
ETA Mauban Port via tricycle, buy

Buy water, food, cooking essentials at Mauban Port
9:15 AM
Register an pay environmental fee at Mauban Port
10:00 AM
ETD Mauban Port
11:00 AM
ETA Cagbalete

Hire a local guide, Walk to Villa Cleofas or any resort of your choice
11:30 AM
ETA Villa Cleofas

Breathe, enjoy the beauty of Cagbalete, set camp, cook lunch
12:30 PM
Eat lunch

4:30 PM
High tide, swimming
6:30 PM
Cook Dinner
7:30 PM
Eat Dinner, Socials, Videoke, Charge electronics
9:00 PM
Lights Out


5:00 AM
6:00 AM
7:00 AM
Swimming, walk around the shores of Cagbalete, Bonsai Island
10:00 AM
Cook Lunch
10:30 AM
Eat Lunch
11:00 AM
Break Camp
12:00 PM
Travel back to Cagbalete port
1:00 PM
ETD Cagbalete
2:00 PM
ETA Mauban Port
2:30 PM
ETD Mauban
3:30 PM
ETA Lucena Grand Terminal

4:30 PM
ETD Lucena Grand Terminal
9:30 PM
ETA Alabang

Villa Cleofas Camping Resort

This resort is one of the farthest resort from the Cagbalete port. To get here, it requires a 20 - 30 minute walk under the scorching heat during summer or on muddy trails during the rainy season. 

If you have your own tent, the camping fee is Php 250 + Php 50 entrance fee per person. This resort encourages visitors to cook their own food. They have utensils, cooking equipment, and some basic ingredients (i.e. cooking oil, salt, pepper) available. If you failed to buy fish, chicken, vegetables in Mauban, you can pay the local kids wandering around the island to buy them for you in the more populated part of Cagbalete.

Inihaw na Talong + Itlog na Pula + Kamatis + Sibuyas + Balaw + Inihaw na Okra + Hinog na Mangga

I personally recommend this resort. First reason is that it is the cheapest place I ever stayed in. Another reason is because the staff is very accommodating. However, this part of Cagbalete might not be the best place to swim. The water in front of this resort extremely recedes during mid-day and once the water sets in during high tide in the afternoon, it can be too hot. The only good time to swim is early in the morning.

Beach front of Villa Cleofas during low tide
Zen moment at Villa Cleofas
River mouth at MV Sto. Nino Resort
MV Sto. Nino resort is beside Villa Cleofas, it is near the river mouth and this is the area where I enjoyed bathing more.

Things to Remember:

1. There are two markets in Mauban. I think it is better to buy your supplies at the Mauban main market and then have the tricycle bring you to the port. If you opted for the Mauban port market, you will have to walk from the market to the port. The distance is not too far but if you are walking under the scorching heat of the sun, it may take its toll.

2. Bring insect repellent lotion or spray and apply it liberally. I was bitten by what they call an electric bug and it left a painful swollen wound at the back of my knee.

3. Bring proper sun protection and stay hydrated. Getting to, staying in and leaving Cagbalete requires one to be exposed a lot in the summer sun. I know it is summer and you are at the beach but when you find yourself in the middle of a shadeless field at 11AM with a backpack, tent and two days worth of food supplies in tow, an umbrella makes all the difference.

The Do-It-Yourself Paradise 

Sunrise at Cagbalete
This place taught me that singing in a videoke on a cloudy night is not a good idea. It started raining as soon as I sang the song Your Love by Alamid. In this place I learned how to properly cook okra. And most importantly, this place taught me that, pardon the banality, life is really what we make it. If you want to be in a paradise-like place, it will not come to you just by liking all the travel photos you see in your Facebook timeline. We have to realize that we do not have forever and we need to start pursuing our bliss.

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