Okay, first things first. I never go out on Holy Week. My parents raised us with the belief that you can’t have fun on Holy Week because “Patay ang Diyos magsasaya ka? Ano ka? Hudyo?” kind of thinking. That stuck through me; along with growing up in a Catholic school, you can’t blame me if I feel guilty to even have fun when Christ is dead. So up until I was 26, I never really go out and have fun during this time because of that. Not to mention everyone has the same grand idea of beach bumming/ going on a trip that staying in a decongested Manila seemed like a grander idea. Plus it’s free. Also because I hate people in general. So instead, I contented myself with catching up on sleep, TV series/movies and go with my family on the yearly Good Friday procession. Twice or thrice, I did Visita Iglesia, too.
This year was different though. It all started when Cat, my sister saw this sponsored ad on Facebook looking for joiners for a tour to Jomalig Island. Jomalig, what? Never really knew about the place up until a few weeks back, until she showed this (almost) remote island with golden shores you’d think they’re Photoshopped. I actually thought they were so I wasn’t hyped up. Not everything you see in the internet is true after all. I didn’t know though why I decided to change it (going on a trip on Holy Week) up. The only problem was telling our father we’re going out. Cat said she told him it’s a vacation/outreach program, stressing on the outreach and we’re helping less fortunate kids in a far flung area LELZ – which is the truth, BTW.
Anyway, to cut the story short, we went on our first Holy Week vacay and enjoyed it. End of story. Joke!
On any normal vacation, I wouldn’t really engage in tour groups as I know I can pretty much do the planning on my own. Actually no, I don’t plan, almost all my vacations are done spontaneously and I liked it like that. Part of the reason is if you have spent years as a program researcher, planning becomes a daunting task and I really wouldn’t want to do that on vacations – still feels like I’m still at work. So we joined a tour group and from here on out, I’d tell you it was a pretty good decision on our part.
There was nothing, nothing, nothing (but water)
Pretty scary seeing nothing but water for hours on end
Meet up point was at EDSA Buendia – Shell Station at 2:30 AM. We arrived at around 1AM hoping to get good seats on the van because the organizer, Ate Jelai, (who’s super pretty and sexy sobrang swerte ni Kuya Marvin) said choosing seats is on a first come, first serve basis. So we got the good seats and by 3:30 we were off to Real, Quezon in a zigzag-gy road. No time for sleep!
Balagbag Falls (c) Kezia
We arrived at around 7 or 8am in Real and went on a side trip in Balagbag Falls. The rest of the group went, but Cat and I decided to forego the falls because we were just so sleepy and thought all falls look the same, unless it’s Niagara, or something really special, then sleep, here I come!
After an hour or so, the group came back and we’re off to Long Beach Resort – our jump off point to Jomalig Island. However, our vessel got blocked by another ferry so it couldn’t leave the port on time. Talk about double parking, sea-style. The good thing though was Ate Jelai hired van drivers slash comedians who entertained us while we’re waiting for the ferry to arrive. Seriously, give these guys a stage and a microphone and I’m so there. HAHA!
We left Long Beach by 11:30, we were 2 or maybe 3 hours delayed, but no worries, shit happens all the time. We settled in and prepared ourselves for the longest boat ride I’ve ever been to, a few more hours and I’d call it a poor man’s cruise LOL. Jomalig, you better be damn worth it!
Jomalig Island is 75 kilometers away from Real, Quezon. It’s part of the Polilio Group of Islands and I think it’s the farthest island on the west. Don’t take my word for it, though I didn’t Google. Haha! Because it’s a far-flung area, electricity is scarce and only runs from 5pm-12mn, at that point, all I could think of was, “OMG. Hindi sila nakakanood ng AlDub?” Lol ang jej mo Carmina, sabi ng mga elitista.
Kuya Jet, the group’s photographer/videographer said we were traveling at 14-18 kilometers per hour which makes our trip from 6 hours to 5 and a half hour. I don’t know anything about what I just said. Math, bitches!
We had lunch at the boat by 2pm, everyone was starving by then and we all thought, “wow, this feels like we’re refugees running away from the war zone” (not trying to discount what the Syrians refugees have gone through though).
After around 3 hours of seeing nothing but the ocean, as in there was nothing but water, and clouds and sometimes a school of flying fish, we finally saw a speck of something that resembles an island. At around this time, I was pretty pumped at how fast the boat was, they said 4-6 hours! But wow, only three hours and we’re here! Only to find out seconds later that that was a different island. Lol. Wow, mali. At one point, I got a bit scared because there was nothing there, like what if this boat tips or sinks and God is punishing us for having fun while His son’s dead? Haha.
bored na kami, kailangan namin ng isang boat selfie (c) Kuya Marvin
At around that time while I was having pessimistic thoughts, Cat started having a chat with the other groups. One of the joiners includes his high school classmate Erwin, his
boyfriend friend Andy LOL, and Andy’s sister, Ariane. The boys were a good comic relief and were even saying things like, “Kapag dito ka nag-soul searching, sa sobrang layo, nahanap mo na sarili mo wala ka pa sa Jomalig.” and “Tagalog pa rin kaya salita nila dun?” Walangya, ano ‘to, China?! Hahahaha! That led me to asking the locals when we arrived 2 and a half hours later with: “Ano pong salita ninyo dito?” To which he retorted me with: “Tagalog po.” Lol. I’m such a funnywalain girl.
Jomalig from afar, those trees are called agoho and resemble pine trees. Weird, wala masyado coconut trees (c) Kezia
almost a remote island (c) Kezia
We arrived just as the sun started setting and it was freaking beautiful. It was almost a remote island. There are several tents set up, but they are far and few in between. The kids look excited at the arrival of guests, a clear indication that they don’t have a lot of visitors in the area.
golden sand up close!
As my feet landed on the golden sand (yes, the pictures weren’t lying, they’re golden, especially with the sun casting its light on it) I realized they weren’t as fine as Boracay’s. They’re bigger, reminiscent of sesame seeds. I looked up at the sky and I could see hints of oranges and blues and pinks romantically coming together. Combined with the salty air, the sound of the waves crashing, the water sparkling from the last remnants of the sunlight and the sand on my feet, it was glorious. Jomalig, you are damn well worth it. Why am I writing about this? Take me back.
So we started building our tents and oh my God, I didn’t know it was that easy! Konting suksok ng pinaka-backbone or kung anumang tawag dun sa skeleton ng tent, konting ayos, voila! You can also opt to put in pegs if you want, though I would highly suggest not to because I lost one peg, huhubels. Sadness. But still, setting up our own tent with a little help from Erwin, #achievementunlocked
After dinner was served by Ate Jelai and Kuya Marvin’s team, I decided to lay down on the sand and when I looked up at the sky, harujusko ang stars! It was a full moon that night so they weren’t as many, but I’m telling you, I haven’t seen as many stars like that in Manila. It was overwhelming for a city girl like me. I tried counting them like I used to when I was a kid, but I stopped at twenty. I decided to wash up and sleep. It’s a long day ahead.
Stuck In Paradise
definitely one of the best mornings I’ve had. Waking up to the sound of the waves and this view.
The next day, I decided to wake up early to catch the sunrise/get a timelapse video, only to realize that we we’re on the west side of the beach and our view is only limited for sunsets. Lol tanga. So I slept a little more and woke up when the sun was finally up, just in time for tuyo and scrambled egg. Yum!
on the way to Kanaway Group of Islands! (c) Kuya Marvin
ganito maglagay ng sunblock, ganyan din dapat facial reaction (c) Kuya Marvin
nung maputi pa kami (c) Kuya Marvin
arteng-arte e. Sige boys, push niyo yan, para may pang-tour tayo sa susunod (c) Kuya Marvin
By 8am, we were back on the boat to go to Kanaway Group of Islands for a little island hopping. They’re little islands that you can basically go around in 10 minutes. Like little kids, we jumped from the boat and explore the area. We also took lots of photos to maintain our social media presence. Because ye know, pics or it didn’t happen. Haha!
na-stuck kami, mga beh. (c) Brian
What we didn’t know though about this part of the world is that when they said there’s going to be low tide, it means the seas turn to land (sandy) mass leaving ripples on the sand and boats get stuck until the water comes back. We were supposed to be back in base camp by 1pm as per our itinerary but it seemed like Kanaway wouldn’t want us leave just yet. So we had our lunch on board for the second time in this trip and swam. And then sleep and then swam again. The water came back by 3:30-ish and we were back in the island by 6pm. The sun has set. I have no sunset timelapse. What a bummer.
I have never been part of a perfect #jumpshot. Until Erwin’s Sony came along. Haha!
the only girl I allow to wear clothes the same as mine on the same day. LOL. #twinning (c) Kuya Marvin
California garls we’re unforgettable LOL (c) Kuya Marvin
women’s BFF edition
men’s BFF edition
BTS pa ng kaartehan mga mars (c) Kuya Marvin
Marian Barrera LOL (c) Kuya Marvin
What really happens behind the pang-Instagram/social media persona we’re trying to curate LOL (c) Kuya Marvin
Travel With A Purpose: Proyekto Humalig
Side note: Ang bongga nung travel with a purpose lakas maka-Ms. Universe, confident with a beautiful heart, linsyak hahaha!
By nightfall, the organizers decided to push through with the gift giving of school supplies and teaching kids about Jesus despite the lack of light source. Elmer was kind of enough to hold up a flashlight over the kids the entire freakin’ time. What a hero. Hope your kilikili’s fine, dude! Hahaha!
I wasn’t really paying attention at this point as I was chatting with the other joiners lol. After the teaching part, the gift giving started and because I hate chaotic kids and agawan sa bigas, char walang bigas, I decided to help with distributing the goods. Also to feel good about myself. Charot! Urat lang ako sa kaguluhan ng mga nag-iiyakang bagets waiting to get their school supplies, some toys and slippers. Also because part of my work is coordinating, I tried helping out.
I’ll leave these photos right here so if and when I want to run for public office, I already have these “Naks, she has a beautiful heart” photo LOL
(c) Andy, Kuya Marvin
It was okay, I didn’t become a changed woman after, LOL, but it’s good to help out kids who weren’t born with the same opportunities like us. You’d see their faces light up after receiving new things and you’d realize how lucky you are to even complain about things that are superficial and futile and at the same time value the things that you take for granted, like electricity for instance.
Hello, Goodbye, Paradiso!
#TeamTaraLakwatsaBagoKumain L-R above: Carl, Riz, Elmer L-R below: Erwin, Cat, Mina, Andy, Ariane
huli ka balbon! Selfie pa! (c) Andy
sun burnt from Kanaway. I’m picking my back as I type this. As in binabalatan ko ng buhay ang sarili ko. #truestorybro
BTS ng kaartehan pa! (c) Erwin
finished product hahaha!
On our third and last day, we decided to have a long walk on the beach (mahirap pala mga beh kapag malayuang lakad, nakakahingal, tatanggalin ko na sa favorite things to do ko ang long walks on the beach leche) to reach the tip of the island. There were almost no people in there and it’s a pretty good place to take some snaps that will up your Instagram feed haha!
We returned to the camp, had breakfast and took a dip in the nice, cold Jomalig water. It was so refreshing. Because Jomalig sand is not as fine as other island’s, the water is still as clear when the waves came crashing in. Ooh, we also took videos jumping from the nearby ferry’s balance beam, tidied up and finally bid our goodbye to the lost island haven that is Jomalig.
Boat ride going home was not as good as the first one, it rained and we get a bit wet, but that’s Mother Nature for you. Erratic as hell, but we love it all the same. We got home safe and sound, obviously, if not, who’s blogging? Lol.
Okay, if you’re still reading up until this point, wow! Sipag mo beh, pa-kiss nga! Haha! I’m guessing you’re looking for tips on how to get there and tips in general. Here are some:
This tour is not for maaarte sheltered people who wouldn’t want to lift a finger during vacations. If you’re one, stop reading, go back to Snapchatting. You have to be responsible for yourself, except for the food, if you’re part of the tour, you don’t need to worry about this, just bring some snacks with you kung gutumin ka. Honestly, when I read the ad on this that says this tour does not offer luxury, comfort or beach party, I thought it meant we’re living a Survivor-esque life for three days. Haha! But nooo, you’d be called when the food is ready and you can just beach bum all you want the rest of the day if you want. Guess I’m not maarte after all. Walang kokontra!
The best parts? You’d take a swim in the deep, blue sea (I was listening to Sugar Ray sareee), be away from the usual beaches filled with annoying tourists so if you hate people like I do, perfect sa ‘yo to! Haha! The best part is if you just want to be in awe at nature and try to collect your thoughts and “soul search” nga raw sabi ng dalawang kumag, then this one’s great! Also, sleeping under the stars and waking up to the sound of waves crashing through the shores? Pa-order nga ng gantiong ambiance!
The downside? Walang banyo, makikiligo ka for 10 pesos sa locals, 10 ang dumi, 5 ang ihi. Charging is at 10 per phone/powerbank/item. Pila minsan sa banyo so be patient.
Bring a book, a good playlist or a video/movie/series to watch in that 6 hours boat ride, you’d need it. How we survive? We slept on the boat for the most part haha! Ay wala pa tayo? Tulog ulit attitude. You’ll survive.
Jomalig boys (c) Kezia
Last tip I’d suggest is to talk to the locals. Maybe it’s just me, or I’ve just been so used with my job thatrequires interviewing people, but it’s good. I highly suggest it, it enriches you and gives you an idea at how locals live. I immediately struck a conversation with one and it’s nice to know what’s going in their heads. I talked to a fisherman and he said it’s pretty much their livelihood, nothing else. When asked what do you do when you’re waiting for the fish to take the bait, he said, “Wala ma’am, maghintay ka lang.” Plenty of time to think about things and soul search? “Ganun na nga ma’am” So anong mga iniisip mo kuya? “Buhay dito ma;am, hanapbuhay ganyan.” Jusko, kabaliw mga mars. Ang simple ng buhay, kung ako yun, I wouldn’t have a lot of thoughts siguro. Dala ko libro sa gitna ng dagat. Haha! Cat talked to an old lady, ang funny she said “Si Grace Poe iboboto ko kasi maka-mahirap daw. E mahirap kami, so siya na lang.” Guys, we really need to up our voters’ education program. The reasons people are coming up as to why they are voting for a candidate is becoming more and more ridiculous. On the fun side, one other lady said she names all her pigs even if they’re all for slaughter. “Okay, Darla, it’s your time to die. Say your goodbyes.” Bakit? Huhu.
The number of unspoiled pristine and “undiscovered” islands in the Philippines is dwindling, so it’s nice to finally be in one that is far from being commercialized. Seriously, I hope this place does not turn into the next Anawangin. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love for people to get more jobs, but if it means destroying the beauty of their place, is it even worth it? I heard Anawangin’s getting crowded and stupid tourists who don’t have any idea what LNT stands for is ruining the place. That’s leave no trace, by the way. Some tourists can be pigs. Ano mga the, you have a designated butler who has to clean up after you? Pick up your own trash, goddamnit. That’s not your house, you filthy animal.
Jomalig group! (c) Ate Jelai
Should you DIY or join a group? Up to you, if you’d ask me, I’d rather be a joiner, a far-flung area like this? Haha. Hell, no. Just a reminder: 3 hours land trip from Manila to Quezon. From Real to Jomalig – 4-6 hours by boat. The travel time alone is taxing, and that’s coming from someone who claims to love long drives. Now, wouldn’t you want to have a little breather and have someone just call you when it’s time to eat? I’d take that any day. But if you want to live the whole backpacker shizz, then by all means, do a DIY! #AskAllan Haha!
What’s the upside of joining a tour group? Well, sometimes you’d be lucky enough to meet a lot of people who are equally as crazy as you! Case in point: The Jomalig Group! The tour is over and done, but the FB group chat is still active it’s crazy! I actually thought we’d stop talking to each other after the trip, but I was wrong. Or you know, there’s also a fifty percent chance you’d end up with a psycho killer on the loose, and share a tent with him, too. Char.
All photos are here if you want to take a look.
Much thanks sa lahat ng ninakawan ko ng pics, I suck at taking photos haha!
Thanks Ate Jelai and Kuya Marvin for being so patient and accommodating and fun, syempre dapat lang! Hahaha! See you sa Mt. Ulap!
Check out their page here: My Happy Feet Travel and Tours