Forgive me that for my first post I feel that it’s goin to get a bit cheesy. I am after all going to write about the place where our unexpected love story began – that is according to me. Never mind when after a year of getting married, Jep, my husband still claims he doesn’t know anything about it. I can only roll my eyes.
Anyway, the place is called Anawangin Cove — I’m sure you’ve heard of it; even in isolation it has earned a big following especially among campers and simply anyone game for adventures. It’s situated in the province of Zambales (Philippines), facing the South China Sea. It’s about a half-hour boat ride from Pundaquit, San Antonio, a fishing village that is roughly 4 hours away from Manila by car (depending greatly on traffic). Travel time is greatly reduced via the new SCTEX highway after the Dau exit at NLEX.
I would say it was ‘the’ road trip that changed the course of our lives. Hehe. I should mention that it was the first time we (my husband and I) were introduced by our common best friend and the thought that I would be spending the night on a tent, alone with a complete stranger was beyond me. Interesting yes, but in reality I was in absolute panic.
So it took us a 3-hour early morning drive from Manila, a speedy and bumpy one they say (I was dreaming in my sleep to even take notice!) to reach Pundaquit. On one of our stops, we went wild with our Parokya ni Edgar encounter. These are the kind of smiles I’m talking about!
In Pundaquit we met up with our guide, the ever-reliable Manong Jay whom we’ve commissioned to take us to Anawangin Cove with the smallest boat I’ve ever seen in my life and before me, the biggest waves (think water spinning in the washing machine). You can imagine how terrorized I was, that I had to close my eyes and sleep and pray that I wouldn’t wake up with a white light calling me – which wasn’t very smart, as I missed the grandeur of the Zambales mountain ranges – unique rock formations due to volcanic activities and the great blue waters that’s attracting more and more tourists each year.
On the way to Anawangin, a side trip to “Islas de Punta Capones” or simply Capones Island is a must (I just thought it sounded more ‘Alta’ when said in Spanish hehe). It’s a charming island which is actually a big chunk of rock formation with little soil. The rocky shoreline doesn’t make it a favourite among swimmers.
Walking along the nasty rocks and up the hill isn’t exactly what you will call a walk in the park.
This beautiful Spanish lighthouse standing on top of a cliff against a picturesque backdrop of turquoise blue sea and a beckoning horizon is said to have been built in the 1800s to serve as a beacon for sea vessels. No exaggeration, it was a picture-perfect setting, which made us linger for a while and indulge in some camwhoring. I can’t remember though that for some reason, we didn’t climb all the way to the top. Booo. What a lousy mistake.
Finally, after another torture that was the scary boat ride, we set foot in Anawangin Cove and boy I was smitten. So it’s worth the terror after all. It’s a jewel of a beach, pristine white sand and an unusual abundance of tall, pine trees flourishing around the area. On one side it’s the beach & white sand. Next, it’s pine trees and a lake. Boracay meets New Zealand? It’s been written that the pine tree seeds were brought there by the ash fall during Mount Pinatubo eruption.
What came as a sort of disappointment to me though was to see that the cove was swamped with people. And there was I looking for a little serenity. I knew it was like a camper’s haven but I wished they picked another day. Well who can blame them? For a fee of P50 per head for a day trip and P150 for an overnight stay, no wonder it’s a hit. It’s really a small fee for the use of their manual freshwater pump and makeshift restroom which I frankly wouldn’t call hygienic at all.
Seeing Mei-mei our hyper-crazy friend made the day more interesting. It only meant one thing. Camwhoring!
We set up our tents (one for the first couple and the other one for me & my future husband) or so i feared hehe. We pigged out on Jep’s mom’s superb adobo & fried chicken. We talked (I thought he was something ,wink, wink). We enjoyed the cool, clear waters and giant waves (though I felt like I screamed eternally, while the waves have repeatedly thrown me off the sea, like I was some kind of unwanted substance. It was fun though.
Unfortunately it rained cats and dogs, almost like an ill-tempered storm, and it completely got our tents drenched. Good thing we found this open hut where we sought refuge for the night and drank tequila until Dads, our good friend started saying, meron pa, meron pa, when she obviously has thrown up the world.
The sky was clearer the next morning, but the waves were still mad. I can only imagine the boat ride back to Pundaquit. Shivers. While waiting for our boat, my future husband then and my husband now asked if I wanted to take a stroll to the lake. It honestly made my heart blush. So we took a walk, took some photos, basked in the calm beauty of the place, enjoyed the moment, shared some silence. Weird, but nice. The lake with its wonderful backdrop made me think about the pictures in the milk cartons.
What a paradise.
Then it was time to go. Next stop: Punta De Uian.