Tuesday, January 19, 2010


SHE's back! Yes, Ms. Ianne Borillo, my favorite guest blogger (actually, she's my only guest blogger right now) returns to Radio Clash with another one of her great outdoors adventures. This one is about her Holy Week trek to Anawangin Island in Zambales.

As travel stories with an attitude go, it really doesn't get any better than Ianne's adventures. Read 'em and weep!

May 10, 2009
Ianne Borillo

My friend, AJ and I decided that Lighthouse Marina was too crammed with those sardonic merrymakers of Holy Week. We packed our bags and hit the road to take up a standing invitation to visit Anawangin Island in Zambales.

The one hour and thirty minute drive was fairly okay albeit the masochists doing their annual penitensya and in effect agitating the living shit out of AJ.  More than the sight of blood and gore, it was the thought of being splashed by it that bothered my friend more as I insisted on opening the windows to get a close-up shot of the “sinners” whipping their asses sorry. It was both an entertaining and educational sight as we made our way to Pundaquit in San Antonio, the jump-off point to Anawangin Island.

After the bloody show, we passed the time by singing anything from The Corrs’ “Don’t Say You Love Me” to the Pointer Sisters’ “Jump”. Not exactly an ideal soundtrack but when you start noticing the spectacular landscapes and the perfect beach weather, it doesn’t really matter. Then, we passed by a toll gate that issues a day pass for P40 as our moving concert is abruptly interrupted. The toll gate operator who offered us a boat ride to the island gladly left his toll booth to escort us to the parking area.

He advices to bring all necessities that we can especially drinking water. I already have a plastic bag full of bottled water, packed lunch for two and a bottle of Tanduay Rum so I'm all set. For his part, AJ's trolley is packed with his own version of necessities namely his laptop, his iPod and an SLR camera.

A two-way boat ride to Anawangin costs P1200 that is usually paid after pick-up from the island The boatmen’s unwritten rule is simple: whoever brings you to the Island must also take you out of the Island. The rule prevents them from stealing each other’s clients and ensures a harmonious working environment.

The 20-minute boat ride was pleasant enough. The water was calm, the sky was blue and the view was a breathtaking sight to behold. Finally, we reached a cove decked unexpectedly with pine trees. My first impression as I planted my feet on the fine sand and clear water was this has got to be where Palawan meets Bukidnon (Or Boracay meets Baguio…whichever gives you the better visuals). Simply beautiful.

We then weaved through hundreds of happy campers frolicking without a care on the scorching hot sand looking for our host, Dada. We suddenty realized that there were absolutely no available rooms to rent much less a permanent fixture other than a line of toilets. Fortunately, our only hope for survival was not all that hard to find. I was overjoyed to see Dada along his trademark long hair and sleeved out tattoo.

The sincere welcome from Dada’s friends were probably more out of pity as AJ and I looked desperately unprepared for camping. One candid comment came from a near by group directed towards AJ’s hard case trolley “Ano yan kapatid? Refrigerator?”

I nudged AJ and told him to pretend to be a Japanese tourist so he can get away with his luggage faux pas. The group vacated one tent offering it to be our accommodation for our stay in Anawangin. We quickly adjusted to the environment and start socializing with Dada’s friends including the neighboring group who continuously made a joke out of AJ’s “refrigerator”.

Dada, AJ and I went for a stroll and came across a lone skim boarder who gladly offered us free lessons. As Dada and I learned about timing and balance, AJ snapped away to document our very first experience with a skim board. (To skim boarders all over the world, I salute you. Your choice of sport looks so damn easy but certainly isn’t. ) Eating and drinking is by far the only staple activity we can do at this time of the day. It was too hot to be out in the sun and the sand was just too “unfriendly.”

I brought out my bottle of Tanduay and got the drinking spree started. The rowdy tattooed all-male group who turned out to be an all gay group of seasoned climbers came over to drink with us. I noticed Rasta Jay, with his waist long dreads, listening intently to Kundiman music. His peculiar penchant for very old Filipino love songs was quite a revelation as my Metrosexual friend AJ and the rowdy gangster-looking gay group started singing every single line along with him. Apparently this particular musical genre transcends all stereotypes especially when people are already under the influence of rum.

Soon as the sun went down a little bit we decided to play frisbee. Let me tell you that playing a mean game of frisbee in between drinking and smoking is not at all a good idea. Some just collapsed on the sand complaining of stitches in their stomachs, Dada just started puking. Rasta Jay, …well…he was just really sitting pretty and moving at glacial pace on a corner playing with sand the whole time. The all-gay ensemble was desperately gasping for air and just gave up in the middle of the game. Yours truly got a knee injury. Everyone eventually gave up on whatever athletic aspirations they might have and just retired wading on the cool clear water and the now sizzled-out sand.

The absence of a decent shower room is compensated by a couple of old school “poso” (artesian wells) situated in a spot where everyone might as well be eating peanuts and drinking scotch. It is pretty much a free show so yeah, it is advisable to be wary of wiggling your behind too much. You might just get a well deserved but unsolicited applause.

After dinner we grabbed the necessities (read: bottles of Grand Matador and water for chaser) for another drinking spree before we headed out for the beach:. This is by far the provincial venue that sells the most expensive bottle of Grand Matador (P120 a pop!)  and pack of cigarettes (P100!). I should’ve taken a hint when my evil conscience rolled her eyes at me when I asked for JUST one bottle of rum. The ambience though is incomparable and to quote Mastercard, “priceless”.

We drank by the beach sitting on the cool, fine sand under a full moon lit sky. I certainly didn’t mind paying for a couple more of those ridiculously priced “Granmas”.

For some bizarre reason, camping holds no place for hostility. At the back of your mind there’s a nagging feeling that sooner or later MAYBE you will need something, no matter how small from somebody else. Call it survival instinct. The activity leaves you vulnerable and stripped of whatever you have and whatever you do for a living. In a place like this, who you are does not really matter.

Tired and tipsy, some headed to their respective tents to sleep. I, on the other hand, stretched out on the beach, listening to Sting’s “Why Should I Cry For You” on my iPod under the full moon until I fell asleep. Of course, everything in between sound tripping and falling asleep is as pleasant as pleasant could be. I have to say, my accommodation for the night was literally and figuratively a million stars.

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