Friday, September 23, 2016

Borawan, Puting Buhangin & Dampalitan 2016: Quenching That Pinch of Wanderlust & The Best Thing About Travelling

show me your eyes
all your inside lies
come undone
get gone
nothing to be scared of
there's only the beach to strip you off
no one's here to judge
maybe you just need a little nudge
it's just the bitchy waves and whistly air
with you here, all is fair
It had been three months since the last time sand graced my feet. It felt too long, and I was missing the breeze. I was actually supposed to go someplace else, not the beach but a relaxing one too. Long story short, things got in the way; it got cancelled. I was already feeling blue until this escape plan came into being. Ah, thank God I live just a few hours from some really pretty beaches.

Puting Buhangin Island and Kwebang Lampas

Puting Buhangin (White Sand) was the first island we visited as per the advice from our boatmen that we start from the farthest island to save time and be more efficient with the tour. This little paradise may be found after boating for 45 minutes from the drop-off point in Padre Burgos.
Personally, I would say Puting Buhangin is the nicest of all the three islands we visited. It’s best to go swimming here. It has the clearest water, that which is a play between the green and green blue gradient, so fresh to the eyes on a sunlit weekend. Its sand, as its name suggests, is fine white but that which becomes compact, the kind that doesn’t break or loosen under the feet.
Locals warn swimmers about the risk of salabay (jellyfish) in the area. Actually, all the islands have this. Good thing it is off season this month, so we got to swim quite freely while still being watchful. No one wanted to get stung.   
This is how you shower island-style!
It’s not that huge, though. Okay, it is actually huge, but there’s this Kwebang Lampas, a small cave/tunnel that divides the island in two. One needs to go through it and out to make it to the other side. I think it’s passable when tides aren’t that high, but I didn’t even consider trying when we were there. To me, the cave was already a treat in itself.
Kwebang Lampas consists of rocks and stalactites that add mystery and subtle beauty to it. More than anything there, though, is the fact that it has the beach inside and outside; water goes through it. From inside it, one can watch the beach through a huge opening with uneven borders and edges which form a dark silhouette that makes the water outside of it stand out more – dramatic and picturesque.  I’d say it’s the best spot to sightsee and take it all in, everything while swimming. Aaah, yes.  

If anything though, I wish we could’ve stayed here longer.

Dampalitan Island

After more or less 25 minutes onboard the boat, we caught ourselves in yet another pretty island, Dampalitan.
Setup-wise, Dampalitan is obviously the rawest among the three. What you see is what you get in this island. Everything looks as is, as though there’s not much effort to maintain and make it look inviting to tourists.
Based on observation, this has the best sand quality. It is white, soft and loose. So yeah, the best sans some natural trash found. There are dry leaves and seaweeds scattered ashore. Well, I guess it comes with being a raw island.
Dampalitan is filled with shrubs and trees, some of which resembling the ones in Anawangin Cove, Zambales. They provide natural shade and comfort since there aren’t much shaded portions near the water.
Lunch time was apparently not a good time to get here, as this is when it’s low tide. Also, the heat was insane at 12 noon, so we decided against swimming even for a bit. Our time spent here had been divided into strolling around, stopping here and there for some picture-worthy shots, resting on torn down logs, and eating lunch before we left again for our last destination for that day.

Borawan Island

Based on what I’ve read from other blogs, people who come here in Borawan often end up feeling disappointed because they make this crazy expectation about the place. I mean, I guess I get it because what else is anyone supposed to think when the island’s named from Boracay and Palawan, the two arguably most beautiful beaches here in the Philippines? (Sadly, I haven’t been to any of both beaches yet. Someday soon maybe!)
Borawan’s name is such because people compare its sand with Boracay’s and its rock formations with Palawan’s. I’d say this is bad advertisement, and people should give it credit for its own beauty. Its sand is of the color cream and in fine, loose form while the huge rocks are such a sight to behold from near and far. Strolling around is a great idea because of the island’s long stretch of greens, creams and green blues. People are not going to run out of scenic views to ogle at.
Our boatmen told us that people couldn’t land ashore this island in the past, as the water was always really high that its sandy shores were buried deep under it. Looking at the rock formations, some still have lined marks that tell just up to how high the water used to get. Time and again, the sand would disappear and appear until it stayed visible making the island visitable.   
Of the three islands, this has got to be the most developed, but that’s still not saying much about it. There are a few kubo-style cottages that can be rented if tents are not preferred, but I’d say it’s not really fit for sleeping for big groups. There’s a table and built-in seats inside each, but it’s not a closed unit. The shower and comfort rooms are decent and clean for an island. There’s even a protective net around a small portion of the beach to prevent swimmers from getting stung by the jellyfish. Some say water can sometimes get murky inside this part, though.
We spent our time here swimming within the net’s limits, sunbathing, snacking, exploring other parts of the beach, and people watching different sorts of other guests.

It was a rather short trip but a good one.

Was the money worth it? Considering that we didn’t actually spend a lot but still got to check out three nice islands, it’s safe to say that it was!

We were happy campers!

There are a lot of bests about travelling. The most fundamental of which is discovering oneself. People often think travelling means discovering new places, but subtly and actually it is a revelation of oneself. It is a chance for us to re-create or, better yet, modify ourselves. Travelling is adventuring. Adventuring is surprising ourselves because we get to surpass our own limited estimate of what we are capable of because finally we get to jump off cliffs, chase waterfalls, dive from the sky, swim with whale sharks, rough-ride 4x4’s, free fall, and so on. And none of these things we thought we could do. Until that moment we let our feet take us somewhere. Travelling is proof that we can
Borawan Island
One can be a whole new being out there - free and unafraid. He/she is not scared of acting silly. I know this is something I take advantage of many times because how often are you given the chance to be someone else you want to be? Or at least try to tweak something about you? Without judgment? It’s not pretending. Maybe some people just find this to be a way to completely detach themselves from everything.

Or you know, if you happen to fall on the other side of the coin, you can be just you, the real you.
Puting Buhangin Island
Because many days, for some of us, we have to put on a face of strength, determination, control, power, of whatever it is that our daily life requires us. Travelling lets us let our hair down. And where else is the best place to do that but when you’re away, where no one, again, is there to judge or exploit you.

Travelling is a lesson in motion.

Don’t do it because it’s the “in” thing; do it because it naturally occurs to you.

Extending my thank you to: a) Ate Vanessa for quickly attending to all our concerns and arranging the tour for us and to b) Tatay Omeng and Kuya Dino who had been such accommodating boatmen.

Should you wish to visit the mentioned places, feel free to hit her up at 0915-106-7594. I’m sure she’ll be more than happy to assist you. :)

Fees and fares:
two-way fare Turbina-Lucena Grand Terminal
two-way fare Lucena Grand Terminal-Padre Burgos
P1500-P1800 (1-8 pax)
island hopping fee for Puting Buhangin, Dampalitan and Borawan
P800 (1-8 pax)
island hopping fee for Borawan only
entrance fee in Puting Buhangin for day tour/overnight stay
entrance fee in Dampalitan for day tour/overnight stay
entrance fee in Borawan for day tour/overnight stay (with unlimited use of shower and CR) (discounts for senior citizens and students also apply)
tent rent in Borawan/Dampalitan
tent space fee in Borawan/Dampalitan
cost of water per container in Dampalitan

*All photos by me!

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Ever since their childhood, Lochan and Maya had always been the closest among the five siblings, for they had gone through all the ups and downs of their lives together. The moment their dad left and their mom slowly lost interest in them, Maya and Lochan took it upon themselves to raise and look after their younger siblings which led the two to become even closer. This closeness would turn into something more intimate revealing a deeper feeling, that which was beyond fraternal love, that they had for each other all along.
Seeing you, being with you every day but not being able to do anything – it’s like cancer, it’s like this cancer growing inside my body, inside my mind! – Lochan Whitely

Upon reading Forbidden, not to brag or reduce my impression of this book, first thing I realized was how this book was mainly intended for a much younger audience. One could easily tell this by way of the themes, the characters and the writing. This caught me a little off in the beginning, but it’s worth pointing out that this was also why it became such a breeze for me to read. I may have thought this was a little too young a writing for me, but it eventually got me wanting to sink deep in Lochan and Maya’s lives.

It’s always nice being fancied. It’s always nice being wanted. Even if it’s by the wrong person. – Maya Whitely

Finding out what the story was really about made me feel uncomfortable and unsure because incestuous relationships don’t particularly make for an appealing topic. It was sometimes harsh, sensitive and complicated reading this story. I would even catch myself frowning. It didn’t quite feel all right. Of course, it didn’t. As the story progressed though, I became a more open-minded and accepting reader until the awkwardness paled and paled while other emotions broaden and prevailed. 

More than love or equally, Forbidden is also about family. This aspect made the story a whole lot more interesting, relatable and complicated. It got me boring a deep sympathy for Lochan and Maya. Anything and everything in it that has an effect to the familial aspect surely had a great impact and was really heavy.

It’s horrible, being ashamed of someone you care about; it eats away at you. – Lochan Whitely

The buildup until the climax was really nice. It had gotten to the point of all good things, and bam – a major heartbreak. It had been progressive. And when it finally peaked, the emotions stayed for a while longer. It had been a long-enduring pain, as the details and events unfolded. And as with the mentioned heart-wrenching scenes, they absolutely were! Some pages of agony never failed to give me that pinch while bigger scenes effectively showed the incomprehensibility of the situation.  

I couldn't come up with my own theory as to how the story was going to end for both characters. It was too complicated a situation. But when it ended the way it did, I was taken aback. I wasn’t expecting it to take that path for a conclusion. But the more I think about it, what other possible ending could there have been?

There are no laws, no boundaries on feelings. We can love each other as much and as deeply as we want. No one, Maya, no one can ever take that away from us. – Lochan Whitely

Forbidden is a balance between an easy read and a serious page-turner. It leaves something to the readers – an invitation to put themselves in the shoes of the characters and be lost and confused there.   

Are you done reading this book? What are your thoughts? I’d like to know them! Feel free to share them below!

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