Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mountains & Sea of Anawangin

One time I saw a photo of a white beach with a shoreline filled with pine trees. I was stunned,  I am used to seeing tropical beaches with coconut palms. It was very unusual, so I told myself I had to see it one day. When Ma'am Cinch told me that Siena & her friends are going to Anawangin, I didn’t pass the chance.
It was a Thursday night when we all met up at Victory Liner bus station with big bags, and camping gears. We boarded a bus going to Iba, Zambales. We reached San Antonio town at 4am. The tricycles drove fast through the narrow streets to Pundaquit. We rested for a few minutes, left our baggage in the hut which is facing the sea. I saw one of the most beautiful serene night skies there. The moon has a pink and yellow aura, the silhouettes of the mountains as background with the sound of soft waves of the sea; truly nice.

 On the second leg of the trek, everyone was anticipating for sunrise. We were near the peak when the sun slowly peaked behind the mountain. On our hike up, the mountain is bare almost without trees. It is full of rocks and short grass. We had to stop several times to rest. When the morning sun came up, the magnificent views greeted us. I felt so free and light at that moment. This may even start my "calling" for hiking.  But it was not all fun, everyone was getting tired and some had difficulties. Ma'am Cinch injured both her feet. Well, it's a part of hiking, to conjure our own strengths. We guided her during our descent to the cove. The sun's heat was getting unfriendly, so we had to rush to the camp site.

When we reached the foot of the mountain, we crossed several rivers. There is also a hill which looked like a pyramid from afar.  On the path, there are rocks stacked on top of each other as markers, but there were so many rocks so sometimes it's difficult to spot them. Our guide brought us to the "Bermuda".  To our awe, the forest opened to a wide clearing of Carabao Grass, with pine trees in the far horizon. It reminded me of Lord of the Rings for some reason. It also reminded me of where they played baseball in the "Twilight" movie, the only difference is their's place is gloomy. On our way to the beach, we passed by rows of Eucalyptus trees and one Golden Shower tree, with beautiful yellow blossoms.

When we reached the camp site, it wasn't the way I imagined it to be. It was crowded. When we reached the beach, I noticed it was not white at all.  It was almost pure silica with bits of black sand. They say it's "lahar" from the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. But the sand really glistens under the sun, it's like bits of diamonds, maybe that's why it looked white in the photos. I read somewhere that they call it Crystal Beach. The sand is too hot to walk barefoot on.
For lunch, we feasted on delicious Fish Sinigang and fried chicken, afterwards we pitched our tents. It was my first time to do it. That noon, everyone found their spot on the beach for siesta. I ended up sleeping under the shade of the pine tree. It was truly hot that afternoon, so we waited for a long time before we had a swim.  While waiting for the heat to subside, we were at our “dining table” a branch of a pine tree fell, on top of a guy resting on the sand.  Everyday you learn new things… pine tree branches are brittle. Poor guy, he was shaken up, good thing that he was positioned exactly between the branches of the part that fell.   
The water isn't that salty. After swimming, we went to the end of the beach, where the pine trees are greener and a river runs parallel to the sea. It's not a tropical scene, more western. That afternoon, it was windy and it made an eerie whistling sound. That night it was humid.

It's my first time for a real camp out. That night the guys grilled tuna and pork for dinner. Afterwards, they created a small bonfire and had something to drink. I strolled at the shore alone, staring at the sea and sky for awhile.  I had my God time, to speak and thank Him. The experience was so comforting. The sea breeze made me feel sleepy. I went to sleep inside our cozy tent. I woke up at some point, looking up at the sky, through the branches of pine tree. I always wondered what it felt like to sleep under the stars.
I woke up early at 4:30am. I was waiting for the sunrise. The beach is facing west so the closest thing I can get was the sun rays striking the hills. When I was walking at the beach, I even met a lady from Quezon City.  She said she and her family always go there. 

 I saw several problems arising in Anawangin.  One of which is, some travelers are not mindful of their own garbage. Careless people threw small plastic bags anywhere. I've noticed that the caretakers collect trash but it's a scary thought that they dump it somewhere or burn them. Imagine that tragedy. One more thing, the boats are all scattered on the shore. It's not good for the beach, the swimmers and the water. I asked the boatman to consider docking their boats in one area far away. They don't want the place to be like Alona Beach in Panglao, where the water smells like gasoline. Tourists and locals alike must be responsible of their actions. Yes, the place is truly beautiful but we must take care of it so others can also appreciate it in its natural state.

We prepared the breakfast. It was eons when I cooked rice but good enough it turned out OK. Ivy fried  spam & dried fish. 
We boarded a boat to take us to Capones Island. We opted for the shorter hike to the Light house, but then again we didn’t go to the light house. The beach is made up of white bleached corals and black solid rocks. We hiked up a few steps to the foot of the hill with the view of the light house. We have an almost 360 deg view of the sea, amidst that grassy cliff. The shore seemed like a sanctuary for slippers, I don't have an idea why there are so many slippers there.

On our way home, we passed through Pundaquit, then boarded a bus to  Olongapo Subic, where we took a bus to Manila. It was a very short weekend trip but it felt like we have done so much. A good thing Zambales is only a few hours from Manila. And I'm glad I was able to spent it with Ma'am Cinch, Siena and her friends namely, Bob, Mark, Ivy, Sonny, Josef, Wilay, and Mardy. They are a really cool bunch, I had fun with them. 

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