Survivor Hits

There was a threat of rain and we continued still.

Arriving at Agnaem Cove was indeed a surreal experience. I have been a fan of reality TV shows and that includes Survivor. Once I realized that I was there, I immediately went on Survivor mode with a little handicap. I have a tent. I have food. I have lighter.

What do Survivor players do first when they get to their camp / beach, they build shelter. That’s what I did – put up our tents. It was easy because I already practiced it at home.

While I was doing the shelter, my friends were trying to get a fire going. We had to grill pieces of pork for lunch. It took them a rather long amount of time before they were able to get a flame. But, it was all worth it because we were able to eat.

We also gathered firewood for the night’s bonfire. We found a lot of items such as dried leaves and vines. There were also bamboo poles and pieces of wood. We prepared it early so we will just try to set it on fire when the night comes.

That night, there was rain. The water entered the tents and we cleaned it up. We were drenched and decided to wait until the rain stops. It was a real Survivor moment. It was cold. It was dark and there were lightning and thunder.

I didn’t have enough sleep that night even if we were inside the tents. The hours seemed long and we couldn’t wait until the sun was up.

It was definitely an experience. If someone will ask me to do it again, I would. It was stressful and exhausting but it was fun.

The Survivor flame in me was ablaze. It is definitely a vacation worth remembering.

Aganaem Cove

I didn’t want another summer that does not have a beach in it. So, I nagged my friends to push through with a trip to one of the virgin places in our country – Anawangin Cove.

I have read and listened to reviews raving about the place. How it’s beautiful and you’d really get in touch with nature.

Anawangin Cove is part of the town of San Antonio in Zambales. It’s a 3 hour ride from Manila but it also depends on who’s driving. The easiest way is to take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and continue to the extending Tarlac-Pampanga-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) until you exit to Subic. Make your way around town towards Olongapo City and then unto the town of San Antonio. We left Marikina at 4:30 AM and arrived in Pundaquit at around 9:30 AM. It was a long drive because we stopped for breakfast and bought some items we might need.

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At the main town plaza of San Antonio, you’d see signs pointing you the way to Pundaquit. Since Anawangin is a cove, there is no way towards it by driving. It will be either by the sea or hike through the mountains.

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July is already part of the rainy season in the Philippines – that we did not take into consideration. Typhoon Egay was currently making its way through the country and it’s enhancing the Southwest Monsoon which brings about large waves.

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The locals do not recommend and are refusing to go to Anawangin. However, they are giving an option of camping at the best option at that time, Agnaem. It’s a similar cove – it’s just nearer and smaller. Since we didn’t want to spoil our own fun, we decided to continue with it.

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The sea was rough. I don’t know about my friends but I definitely enjoyed it. Agnaem Cove is a good 30 minute ride from Pundaquit. You’d see the beauty of it once you got past the big mountain separating it from the other parts of San Antonio.

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When we arrived, we set up our tents and the food we brought. As soon as everything is in place, we run towards the beach and welcomed the waves. It was really tough on your body because the waves are really big and they come in small intervals. Also, being the volleyball players we are, we brought a ball and played our own beach volleyball. It was definitely better to dive in the sand.

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Time seems to stop in Agnaem. After all the activity, we realized that it was just a little past 1 PM. And off to lunch we go. After resting from the filling lunch of adobo and rice and soda, we decided to tour the rest of the cove.

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At the far right is a cliff that is part of the mountains. We climbed it to have a better look of the whole cove. It was easy to climb because some rocks are designed to be steps and handles. Although, we almost had a mishap because my friend slipped and he fell. Good thing, though, that it’s just for a short distance and all he had are scratches.

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We continued playing volleyball and riding the waves until we were all tired from it all.

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At night, we prepared a bonfire that will hopefully last until morning. However, we got rained on. We tended first to our tents that got wet and we got wet ourselves. We waited until the rain to stop before we cleaned ourselves. The rain was from 7 PM until 9 PM. Imagine how wet and cold we were. But, we were also drinking then so it wasn’t that cold.

I wasn’t able to sleep after. The tent was too short. There were wet parts in the tent. The roof was leaking and it was falling on my face. There were so many factors. Not until 4 AM. It wasn’t that long because at around 7 AM, my friend came ‘knocking’ on our door.

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The food we have was already spoiled because of the rain. Good thing, though, that I still have bread and eggs safe in my thermal bag. That was our breakfast. We moved our tents to the front of the beach, enjoyed the wind and the waves, and waited for our boat that will bring us to Pundaquit.

We were worried that we may not be able to go back to Pundaquit. However, the boat driver said that the current strong waves aren’t dangerous at all. I wonder how they qualify dangerous.

I will definitely repeat this experience, but not during the rainy season.

The Pinatubo Experience

12 MN

Just finished playing a volleyball game. I was not supposed to play but I was there and there were only 11 people. I had to resort to playing in my slacks and leather shoes. It was a good thing that my shoes are so soft that I didn’t mind running and jumping in them. Also, the clothing didn’t stop me from doing my usual stuff except for diving and being a bit more intense in defense. I had a great time and a great offense to add to that.

I brought some of my playmates to the house because I had to get ready and leave immediately.

1:30 AM

Met with RC at the nearby 7-11 and we (Erwin, RC and I) took a taxi going to the meeting place of the tour. It was behind the Victory Liner terminal in Cubao. On our way, we picked up Aaron in Anonas. We were worried that some people may be late. I hate it when that happens. I mean, can’t people be mindful of the time especially on trips?

2 AM

We arrived at the meeting place. We are so worried about our own van because it is nowhere in sight and the person responsible for it is running late. Imagine, we arrived at the place and he was still about to leave the house. He lives in Visayas Ave and I don’t have an idea how long it will take before he arrives.

Some people are actually on the verge of being totally mad at some other people. Actually, we are being nagged by the driver of the tour. He wanted us to call our own van because we are all about to leave. That is quite irritating, actually.

3 AM

We leave for Tarlac. I tried to get some sleep because, apparently, I have none. I was at the back of the van with RC and Aaron. We were all long people so I had a hard time finding a position to sleep. When I found one, I did a lot of head banging because of the abrupt stopping and going of the van. I didn’t really sleep until we were in NLEX and people all wanted to sleep. It was just like joining the bandwagon.

4:30 AM

We arrive at McDonald’s in Capas, Tarlac. This is where we eat the free breakfast. We were given a 2-piece pancake and hot chocolate meal. I thought to myself if they were kidding that this was the free breakfast. It was. It was.

Then, people who just got off prom started filling the place. It was funny because we can’t imagine going straight to McDonald’s after the prom. We forgot to realize that our prom happened almost 8 years ago. Then, we’d want to go straight home after that tiring night.

McDonald’s, Capas, Tarlac

6 AM

We leave for the start-off point of the Mt. Pinatubo trek. It was still a long way from the McDonald’s. By the time we were on the way, the sun was on its way to rise. It was a beautiful sight to behold. I love mornings in the province especially those chilly ones.

When we arrived at the start-off point, we immediately arranged our things. We left some of the stuff in the van like our change of clothes, some toiletries and some food. If we were to trek, we needed to bring only the essential stuff because they might weigh us down. It was a chilly morning and I feel like it’s a good way to start the day. Although, the tour facilitators were really slow to accommodate all of the people. Frankly, we would leave earlier if they were telling us instructions on what to do instead of just answering our questions when we have one.

Jump-off Point, Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac

7:30 AM

We rode a 4×4 and explored the terrain on the way to the crater lake. I am overwhelmed. I was amazed at the landscape that flashed before me. I was astounded that we really have that type of landscape in the Philippines. Also, I was wondering what it looks like before the whole Mt. Pinatubo eruption happened. Is it still barren or would it be mountainous as the surrounding landscape? The terrain is so rough that we had a bumpy 4×4 ride.

On the way, we stopped for pictures. The trip was like a tour of Jurassic Park. And it was not all about the dinosaurs. There were a lot of different rock formations and sides of mountains chipped off because of what happened before.

The landscape towards the crater

9:30 AM

Yes, the trip to the crater took us 2 hours. That was how far it was. We were greeted by a poster of how far we are still from the crater itself. I was glad that we need not walk for more than hours to get to the crater.

The trek to the crater starts here.

10 AM

No, we weren’t able to get into the 15 minutes challenge. There were a lot of people before us and they were so slow! I so wanted to make it 15 minutes. It would have been nice. The view is breathtaking! It’s like we’re in a secret paradise. A paradise where you have to get through a lot so that you would really enjoy the view. You could not imagine that this is the site of the most destructive volcanic explosion in the history of Philippines? Now, it is just a peaceful abode where you can be under the stars and be really one with nature.

We ate our brunch of food that is brought by all. I was able to take a short nap. There was another lower level. You’re brought to a ‘beach’ right beside the crater where you can also do an overnight camp. Unfortunately for us, there was no lifeguard on duty so we weren’t able to swim. Then, you are free to swim and boat on your own but a sad tragedy happened that the management needed to impose a “No Lifeguard, No Swimming” rule. We played UNO cards and slept. We played a game of throwing stones. My sandals broke. I thought that I’d be walking back barefoot.

The water was cold. I thought that it would be hotter given that this is a crater of a volcano.

Mt. Pinatubo Crater Lake

2 PM

We started our descent of the crater. Also, it was only us and another group left in the area. We counted all the steps from the lower level to the upper level: 171. It was a heavy set of 171 flights of stairs. Before we left, we did a lot of photos with the lake in the background. I can’t get enough of the place and I really wanted to swim. The travel back will be such a drag because we already saw it and we are all so tired.

A final jump shot before we go.

3:30 PM

We all head for the showers. Despite not being able swim, there was still a lot of dust and volcanic ash on ourselves. My hair turned white because of all of that! On the way to the bathrooms, we saw a halo-halo stand and we ordered beforehand so that when we finish our baths, we will be able to eat it immediately. The grilled hotdog was delicious too. I guess, it was just the hunger kicking in. We play more rounds of UNO while we settle down from our trip.

4:30 PM

We leave Capas, Tarlac. I must say that I am terribly tired. I had no sleep and I came off a volleyball game. On the way home, I slept soundly on my own corner of the van.

We leave the adventure that is in Capas, Tarlac.

8 PM

We arrive at Banapple, Quezon City. I am happy for the food. People were too eager to eat and wanted something that is filling and yet a bit on the cheaper side of things. I ordered the Breaded Fillet of Cream Dory. It was different. I am not a fan of mustard so I wasn’t happy with the honey garlic mustard sauce on top. I should’ve went with my instinct of Pasta Verde or Chicken Parmiggiano. I also ordered the store’s best-seller, banoffee pie. It was a fun dinner even if everyone was a bit on the very tired side of things. They were also trying to catch the replays of the UAAP games so they wanted everyone to eat quickly.

Breaded Fillet of Cream Dory

9:30 PM

We leave for Ed’s house to watch the UAAP replays. It was great and although we know the outcomes we still had a great time watching them. Although, I was so tired already that I kept dozing off in between plays.

11 PM

I left the group and went home. I am just so tired from the day. I start post-processing pictures and said good night to the world. It has been an amazing day.