Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Castaways in Burot Beach, Calatagan Batangas

Last month, our trip to CDO was cancelled due to a series of unfortunate events. It was really disappointing, especially for me, but thankfully, this Burot Trip came along or else I would have cried myself a river.

Originally, we were going to be big group --maybe around 10 or more. But more than half of our expected party backed out last minute due to work (not allowed to take a leave) or a KJ significant other (didnt want to come and would neither allow the partner to join, how stupid right). It was just the 5 of us: Joven, Marky, Chino, Adrian and Myself --all half boys-half girls. Fun!

It was a really beautiful and exciting experience starting from the highly stuck up guards, the super beautiful place, the feeling of being a castaway in a deserted island to being burgled by fishermen. Read on!

We arrived at the new (is it new?) Bus Terminal at Uniwide Reclamation Area in Alabang , which was pretty far I admit, at exactly 4am --the bus was just about to leave.

Ordinary bus going to Calatagan Batangas

The fare was Php150 per head, which was not bad at all. The seats were really hard though and our butts were cramping halfway through the ride, but I was able to get some sleep till Tagaytay. I was awoken by Joven so I could check out the heavy fog that wrapped around us. Who needed air conditioning when it was this cold?

Heavy fog in Tagaytay
The only drawback with travelling by ordinary bus are the various nasty smells that you would encounter along the way --other than of course the cramped butt situation, but save for those, it was pretty okay. Plus, you don't have much choice anyway because according to the dispatcher, there is no set schedule for aircon or non-aircon buses leaving Manila to Calatagan, you just have to get lucky.

We arrived in Calatagan at around 7am and we went to the public market first to buy our food. We had Tinolang Manok on the menu but they didnt sell Moringa (malunggay) --they told us that in Calatagan, stuff like malunggay were not for sale, just find a tree along the road and you are free to pick as much as you need. There was a Malunggay tree just beside the market so I kinda climbed a bit to pick a few branches. The vendor commended me for my climbing skills too. harhar

I think we were pretty lucky that day because we decided to buy our water from this really nice lady instead of the place where the tricycle driver suggested --turns out, her son who now lived in Manila with his family, was on vacation in Calatagan and they were on their way home to Manila Sunday night, they had a big van so she offered us if we wanted to carpool with them instead of taking the bus.

After our purchases, we took a tricycle from Calatagan Market to Burot Beach, which was more or less 20 minutes. It was php150 to rent a tricycle since the place was indeed pretty far and the roads were undeveloped.

Upon arriving in Burot Beach, we were greeted by these SM guards (the beach is owned by Henry Sy) who looked and acted like they accidentally shoved their batons up their assses. Man, were they super uptight and rude. Especially this one guard who I really really despised. Everything cost gold too.


Shitty Picnic Table:

Shitty Picnic Table with Shitty Roof:

Ice (which normally cost php3.00 in Manila):

Cooking Pot Rent:

Barbecue Grid Rent:

Sulo (gas lamp):

We asked them if we can possibly get a discount on the table (its normal for us to haggle but we don't do it rude, were really very sweet about it to be honest), and he said:

"Kaya nyo nga pumunta dito impossibleng wala kayong mga pera"

(if you can afford to come here its impossible that you dont have money)


The Main beach was not really crowded but there were a few campers there already and we didn't fancy sharing since we came here for the castaway experience. Joven and I searched the place for a better camping spot and we found....

Beach 3

Beach 3
This is Beach 3 as they called it and its all the way to the back, about 350 meters from the yucky toilets, mini-store and guards. 

It was pretty far and we had a lot of stuff between us including our water jugs and cooler so I asked one of the guards (the one I least liked because he was the one who left his post to ogle at us, ogle since he wasnt really helping) if he could maybe help us so we can all transfer our stuff in one trip. He said:

"Madami ako ginagawa"

(I'm doing a lot of things)


maybe you can see some of the garbage left behind my insonsiderate tourists and locals alike --garbage ranged from plastic bags to slippers

The site, although very beautiful, was littered with garbage. Being a neat freak and OC when it comes to environmental cleanliness, this really got my blood boiling abit. i mean, how can people be so inconsiderate! 

Short rant: I don't understand how people can just leave their garbage, do they think that trash will just magically disappear? ugh! /end of rant  

I asked the same guard if I can borrow a broom to clean up the area, he pointed me to the direction of the caretaker who lent me his broom but did not offer to help.

The place was really beautiful though so it helped to take our mind off the snooty guards and the less than accommodating staff.

This is right behind our campsite. SO PRETTY!

Our tents set up. View from the "main road"
View from the hilltop overlooking our campsite
Upon arriving, we immediately set up our stuff and got started cleaning the area and then preparing our breakfast, it was only about 730 am.

Shrimp for breakfast!

Right before eating breakfast, we cleaned the fish right by the rocky area when 3 fishermen (or squid men since they were catching squid), who had their boat anchored near our campsite, offered to help us. We ended up bartering one of our cocktails for 5 pieces of freshly caught squid! 

Posing with squidward tentacles!

they were still kinda alive! so fresh!

The reluctant fisherman. We literally grabbed him and held him in place so he'd take a picture with us.
After our meal, it was rest for a few minutes and we were off to explore. Instead of going to the main beach, we decided to walk to the other side and see what was there.

On our way to the other other side "the land beyond the cow". Paranoid Android me always have my pink bag, it contains all my essentials like sunblock as well as my valuables -- phone, wallet, ipad and also Chino's stuff. :D everytime we leave the campsite, Id be like, "give me your valuable stuff we cant just leave them here!"
thats Adrian and Marky. Those rockies was where the fishermen were taking a nap earlier.

We dubbed the area "yung lagpas sa cow" (beyond the cow)

Trail going to the "secret beach"

had to pass by mangroves. Notice the garbage, ugh!

There were a lot of mudskippers in this area

And behold! The Beach Beyond the Cow! It was virgin beach pure as the morning dew.

Marky fixing her unwanted family jewels LMAO

Playing Frisbee in the shallow crystal clear water

The weather was perfect too. We were a bit worried about the weather since it was raining when we left Manila.
the waters were really calm and so pristine

And then we found about a million starfish just scattered in the shallow water. Don't worry we put them back and they were still alive. 

My starfish collection complete!

Some of the funnier starfish fanpics:

Starfish Nipples

I forgot who Marky was trying to imitate here. Some singer.. maybe Rihanna or Lady Gaga.

We played frisbee till about 2pm and because of all the excitement I neglected to retouch my sunscreen. Which resulted to:

The Party Lobsters. We were sun baked so baaaad!

When we were to cook our lunch, we learned that, for some reason, we somehow consumed 1 whole can of butane gas already --so we only had one left. We had to be frugal with our one remaining can of butane. We did have one plastic bag of charcoal because we initially planned on having pork belly barbecue but since we didn't want to spend php70 for the barbecue grid (yeah, were pretty stingy that way) we decided to just use the charcoal to cook the rice. Around this time, Darling, one of the staff, asked us if we'd like to go to Puting Buhangin (an island) for 45 per head. We had other plans for the day so we asked him to return the next day.

Starting the fire was pretty much an achievement for me and Chino. We gathered dried up coconut husks and some dried up seaweed, added that to the charcoal plus we also used the used oil from the fish we fried earlier and after a couple of minutes, we had a roaring fire going. 

We had adobo for lunch and that yummy fish that we cleaned earlier in the morning.

After lunch, Joven and I went to check out the other areas and the others stayed in our campsite to take a million photos of themselves. The beach was pretty shallow everywhere and a couple of meters from the shore, the part thats already underwater, the sand is muddy, just like in Laiya. I wonder if this is a "man-manipulated" beach? or maybe beaches in Batangas are naturally like this, I don't know. I did go for a quick snorkel and and the beach in our camp had lots of seaweed, the type that are like cogon grass and on the seabed are either spotted worm sea cucumbers or feather mouth sea cucumbers, either way, they were longer than 1 meter. It was a bit creepy swimming around surrounded by all the tall grass and on the floor are slimy, wriggling worm looking things as big as snakes. I like snakes but these sea cucumbers are just creepily squishy looking, like they are made of disgusting jelly.

We didnt have any light save for the one flashlight I brought and the one gas lamp we rented, so we decided to cook dinner early. Dinner consisted of Chicken Tinola and Roasted Cheese and Onion Stuffed Squid.

While we were preparing dinner, Darling, one of the staff, accompanied by the snooty guard, asked us if we wanted to start a bonfire because they sold bundles of wood for php250. We told them that one sulu (gas lamp) was fine with us.  Ashort time after that, another fisherman came by to ask us if we wanted to go to Starfish Island for only php20 per head, way cheaper than Darling's offer, to which we said we'd like that very much. We asked him to come back at 8am the next day.

Our super fresh squid stuffed and roasted

We had dinner by the beach because it was still a bit light out and we wanted to save our source of light.

Our yummy dinner seasoned with seawater and sand
After dinner we all talked about hanging a shit but the toilets were not nice and it was off putting doing your business while other people lined up outside. I told Chino that he might want to consider doing his business behind the bushes not far from our site, since I myself dont mind doing it there, I've been doing number one behind the rocks just off the beach haha. Just when I was pointing a place for him, there was a guy standing behind the flora and we had eye contact and he hurriedly sat down so he was out of sight. I gigled and said, well there you go, there's a guy there already. I'm telling you this part because it's crucial to the burglary that happened the next day.

After dinner we all washed up in the public showers but Joven, Chino and I took showers together outside the super tiny cubicle because going inside that cramp space made us really squeamish.

It was around 730pm when we were all done taking a shower and there was nothing much to do. It was super dark in our area and the whole beach was pitch black. I think the people who were there earlier already left --they might have been locals on a daytrip. We packed up everything in the cooler so the dogs wont get it and all the knives Joven hid, because he said he feels like if he left it out somebody would murder us in our sleep haha.

It started to drizzle so we went inside our respective tents. It was really quiet as Chino already dozed of to sleep and we were talking in whispers for some reason. The only sound was the music I was playing on the iPad and the various night sounds. Then there was light everywhere and it looks like somebody is shining a spotlight all around so I went out and asked who it was, the person asked us if we wanted to light a bonfire.

Joven quipped that we were okay with our one gas lamp and I added that it was raining so how can we have a bonfire. It was a little fishy why he asked us to light a bonfire when Darling and Snooty guard already asked us earlier but we put it out of our minds. The drizzle stopped thankfully so Joven, Marky, Adrian and I came out of our tents and we had a few drinks, a few chats --mostly me and Joven boasting that we had everything in our tent how our tent is like a mansion because we had a TV (iPad), mattress (mat), comforter and pillows (blanket and bags), we had vitamins, fruits and drinks in our tent. haha braggarts. Joven brought some vegetables so in no time at all we were all pretty sleepy and in dreamland. I had a very good sleep save for the time we woke up at 1:30am and a few times after that to shout "shhhht!!!" because we thought we heard the dog/s going through the garbage bag. 

Joven, Marky and I woke up bright and early the next day to go for a walk, wait for the sunrise and take photos of the place.We weren't able to take photos of the sunrise because its on the other side of the island and by the time we got there the sun was already up in the sky.

The walk going to the main beach and mini store

Rockies in the secluded beach 2. There were campers there yesterday that's why we looked somewhere else, but this area is very nice and secluded too.

Aquarium looking rock formation in beach 2

looks like a pier of some sort. We swam here in the afternoon and in this rocky area are lots of fishes, sea urchins and a really deep drop off.

the main beach
View of the main beach from the pier looking area

We went back to the campsite to prepare breakfast which took us a good 2 hours since we also cooked our lunch so we dont have to do anything when we got back.

Below is a picture I took of Chino washing rice in the sea. I'd have to say this is one of my most favorite picture of the trip. The lighting, the candidness of it --it's just really beautiful. I'd like to add that since we were really far from the water source, we washed everything in the sea --rice, meat, our hands etc. Everything we ate had a hint of salt water. It was awesome! :D
My favorite picture

our breakfast of scrambled egg (inside the halved mountain dew bottle), adobo rice and fried liempo.

This photo truly captures Joven's battle with the pork belly and the hissing oil
After breakfast, we tidied up everything, cleaned up our area and washed all that needed to be washed so we were chore free the rest of the day. The fisherman as well as Darling did not come back so we thought that we were better off looking for them at the main beach. We didn't find them so we played frisbee instead since most of the other campers were already gone anyway. We also went to the pier looking area to see if the water is deep enough for jumps and dives. We decided that we could go to Puting Buhanging or Starfish island after lunch.

Main beach area. The orange block are the toilets 

swimming at the main beach. Towards the afternoon it got a bit wavy because of the strong winds.

the curve of the main beach is really pretty, I think

This was at the pier looking thing where the waters were deeper and in fact there was a deep drop off  that was super deep it was too dark to see the bottom. Since this area had lots of rocks, the marine life was really very colorful. Lots of colorful fishes, starfish and ugh, long spined black sea urchins. I know that long spined sea urchins are important to the balance of marine ecology but they give me the creeps. 

Here's one video of us jumping at the pier looking area with some local kids.

We had a blast playing frisbee, jumping at the pier and snorkeling. Chino and Adrian went back to the campsite at half past 10, I would assume, and Joven, Marky and I followed at around 11. I remember accurately because when we arrived, Joven and I were starving so we decided to eat leftover tinola and Adrian remarked that it was too early for lunch as it was only 11am. After eating, Joven went to get his backpack and he found that it was missing. The first culprit was Adrian since he likes to play practical jokes a lot. But after a thorough search, it was nowhere to be found. The butane gas stove was also missing as well as the remaining liquor and even my bag of apples and lemons. Why didn't he just take the Tinola so he'd have pulutan too, hmm?

I went to check and saw that my belongings were also scattered all over the tent but I can clearly remember putting away all my things before leaving. It dawned on us that we were burgled and it was such a disaster because Joven had all our fare money, although Chino and I still have cash on us, what Joven had was our budget for this trip.

Notice the pink bag I always have with me? All my valuables are there and I always remind the others to just have me bring their stuff --for the life of me I don't understand why Joven left his phone and wallet in the tent. Lucky I have my pink bag or the thief'd have a fiesta because I had all the other phones, the ipad, wallets and camera.

So now Joven had nothing except the clothes on his back, well actually he didnt have clothes on his back, just his boardshorts and his slippers. We went to report the incident and the staff as well sa the caretaker Kuya Ramon, this time, were pretty helpful. 

They were all pretty upset with what happened since they have always been lenient with the fishermen or whoever who would sometimes stop by the beach to rest, even though they really weren't allowed to.

The guard on duty then was Kuya Dilaw, and he was way, way nicer than that Snooty Guard from yesterday. Dilaw's wife was really helpful too, she accompanied me to go around the area to see if maybe the thief disposed of Joven's things, the stuff he doesn't need and couldn't sell. We walked about a kilometer and we reached a private beach cared for by a Kuya Dante but we found nothing except for fresh footprints in the land beyond the cow, maybe the theif took that route. Kuya DAnte's beach by the way, was smaller but much more virgin.. there was a fish farm behind the beach, some goats and some cows. So anyway, when we didn't find anything the guard for that beach offered us a ride back. 

If you read the whole blog, here are the possible suspects:

  1. The 3 fishermen we traded squid with
  2. The man I thought was pooping behind the bushes near our campsite
  3. The second fisherman who offered php20 per head island hopping
  4. The man who came late at night to offer bonfire (they said they dont know of such a man and he was most probably a fisherman judging by the foglight on his head --why was he offering a bonfire he was not an employee)

Before going to the police precint. Luckily Joven's jacket was not taken so he had that to wear. (It gets cold in Burot late afternoon to early morning hence the wet suit and jacket)

We reported the incident to the local police, and it was pretty funny because the SPo1 was also gay --as in openly so. 
The police report had a lot of typos like Results WORLD Manila and the cost of the gas stove was on 700 not 7000 jeez! haha

We were pretty bummed after what happened but we got over it fast. Joven is such a cool guy that he didnt bitch about it and he took everything lightly. It's just stuff afterall.

After countless retelling as well as theories as of who could be the suspects, we decided that there was nothing left to do. Stuff like this do not get solved in the Philippines --and we could search the sea if we must but who'd give a shit? Kuya Ramon was really very accommodating after the incident and he took out a few bottles of Empi Light, cooked a lot of "pulutan"like freshly caught Tuna sisig and chicken feet --for consolation, paconsuelo de bobo as we would call it. 

But what happened happened. They were accountable because it was under their jurisdiction and admittedly their security was not very good --for the duration of our stay only once did the guard check on us and the staff was really not very accommodating to be honest. But we are at fault too because we were too relaxed. Joven should have brought his valuables with him at all times --you know, just like in any place, the gym for example, management will not be accountable for loss of valuable stuff. 

It was the first time this happened in Burot Beach, even the police said so. It's a shame how it is in the nature of people to abuse privilege given to them, I'm referring to the caretakers leniency towards the fishermen because he is sympathetic towards them and don't want to be a dictator and disallow them to rest on the beach or rockies. They were to have a meeting the following day and they will tighten security --this includes not allowing fishermen to dock there anymore.

We're just thankful that nothing worse happened --like the thief taking ALL our stuff. We were laughing about it over drinks asking ourselves what we'd do if ALL our things were taken? we'd have nothing except our swim clothes. LOL We also had a theory that maybe the guy who i thought was pooping could be the same game with the foglight and maybe he stayed there for the night and he heard me and Joven boasting about our tent that's why he ransacked that instead of Chino's. LOL

It was really lucky too that yesterday we had a carpool offer so we were more comfortable going home. 

We left Burot Beach at 6pm, considerably lighter, tanner, just a little bit affected, Joven just a little bit upset but not really but all in all we had a really awesome learning experience --from learning how to stoke a fire like Bear Grylls to always being mindful of our security.

Borrowing a quote from John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids:

“It must be, I thought, one of the race's most persistent and comforting hallucinations to trust that "it can't happen here" -- that one's own time and place is beyond cataclysm.” 


I'd still recommened Burot Beach just make sure you don't make the same mistake we did. Hurry before Henry Sy turns this beautiful beach to a golf course and resort.

If you want to go to Burot Island, contact the caretaker, Kuya Ramon: