extreme weekends: zambales edition, 2011

"Ano, next year ulit?"
"Dun na lang ako sa pleasant walks."
"Bakit, ano ba yung ginawa natin?"
"Agaw-buhay yun e."
-conversation sa likuran habang pauwi, tm val (david)

Summary: What started as an invite which sounded like, "Tara, punta tayo sa Anawangin, beach tayo" turned out to be, "Tara, punta tayo sa Anawangin, beach tayo sa Nagsasa pero AAKYAT TAYO NG BUNDOK MUNA FOR FIVE HOURS."


Touchdown Pundaquit, 6 a.m. Andrea and me before the hike.
Shit-ton of photos under cut (last count: 30)
5/3 EDIT: Andrea's account of this trip is here. =)

Found myself on my way to Zambales midnight of Saturday with the Ates (same guys I went to Pinatubo with in 2009, plus two other friends). Andrea and Nay Chona started shopping for food Friday night, and then Val drove us to Ate Maricar's house after my shift ended at 9, and then by 12:20 a.m. (kelangan may 20 minutes na butal; mahalaga kay Val, haha) we were at Val's house picking her up again. Met Mercy at Jea's place and we transferred all of our stuff to her SUV, which was what we brought to Pundaquit.

What started as an invite which sounded like, "Tara, punta tayo sa Anawangin, beach tayo" turned out to be, "Tara, punta tayo sa Anawangin, beach tayo sa Nagsasa pero AAKYAT TAYO NG BUNDOK MUNA FOR FIVE HOURS."

Seriously, a five-hour trek -- by my recollection, it took two hours to reach the summit, and three more hours from there before we reached the shores of Anawangin. Turns out they weren't kidding about that (and I was praying so hard they were haha). We arrived in Pundaquit before 6 -- after leaving Manila sometime before 1 a.m., we stopped by NLEX to carboload around 3 a.m.; caught some intermittent snooze time on the way over, got a bit lost in Subic, and then met our guides in Pundaquit.

Portions of the climb looked like this.
The more horrible ones (LOL) don't have photos as we were probably busy trying not to die. Haha.

On the way up we saw a natural pool. Took this opportunity to sit down and apologize to my legs.
On the way to the summit, the terrain changed periodically -- there were rocks, there were trees, there were burnt grass patches, and then portions with loose brown soil. I felt like I was in a Survivor-version of Mario (only I did not have power mushrooms haha). I was wearing sneakers as I had no hiking shoes. Mistake, mostly, but I survived. Thanks to Ate Maricar's monopod (that's what it's called, I don't really know what it is haha) I made it even with one bad knee! Hurray!
Mountain view

Summit reached at around 8 a.m. That's Anawangin right there.
First thought: WHOO DAGAT!
Second thought: Pucha ang layo pa ng dagat.

Here be the crazy crew: (L-R) Maricar, Mercy, Andrea, Chona, Val, Me.
We totally could have just taken a boat. Really. It would have only taken an hour.
BUT NOOOOOO. Extreme sports kung extreme sports! Oh the insanity!
Look at how damned pleased I look here. Hahahah.
Torturous descent commencing in 3...2..
The climb was challenging to the lungs -- oh man, lugging around all this weight is stressful -- but the way down was more frightening, in retrospect. In some portions I had to practically crawl down huge rocks to keep from falling down the side of the mountain/breaking my leg/etc. Such a newbie haha. At one point, I passed by this guy who had apparently slipped somewhere and twisted his ankle; I remember feeling horribly mortified at the sight of his swollen ankle. What was he to do, right? Pababa ka na e, wala nang atrasan. Oh man, I wonder how he fared.

Anyway. Photo ops while resting!
We're going down, down, down:
L-R: Mercy, Andrea, Me, Chona, Val, Maricar
Welcome to our mountain! Hahaha.
After the two-hour hike down past boulders and trees and giant carabao dung (no kidding), we entered that forest below and walked to the beach for an hour through what seemed to me to be dried riverbeds. Which meant the path was littered with giant rocks. At 10 in the morning. Which meant the soil was already hot as hell. I should have bought hiking shoes. Oh well. I wanted to rest but whenever I stopped, the ground felt like it was burning through my shoe soles haha. Come to think of it, I was luckier because Andrea's shoe gave up on her before we entered the forest :( She had to change to mountain slippers, but even then she made it to the beach way ahead of me. 

Touchdown Anawangin! 11-ish. I think I may have just revised my personal definition of pain.
Anawangin was crowded. On the way over, we passed what seemed like a garbage dump; I was horribly disappointed. =( But as it was, we weren't really planning to stay here. As originally planned, we were to pitch our tents and spend the night in Nagsasa, which is a 45-minute boat ride from Anawangin. So after taking a couple of mandatory attendance shots on Anawangin shore (LOL) we headed to our boat and set off for the island.
Whoo boat time! Dugyot kung dugyot hahaha.
Touchdown Nagsasa! Oh man, look at that shore!
The sand was already scorching when we reached Nagsasa's shores, so despite our achy limbs we tried to run to an available cottage after alighting from our boat. We ate our lunch -- must have been past-12 already. We had rice and adobo, which we had asked our Pundaquit contact to cook for us beforehand and which we took with us to the island on the boat. Also, we bought Coke from the nearby sari-sari store. Times like these totally call for sugar-loaded carbonated drinks haha.

Nagsasa had no cell phone signal and it was a pleasant respite from city living. We noted how time seemed to crawl in the place; I guess that's how it really is when you're not able to look at your cell phone haha. Needless to say, we took a lot of photos. The shore was quieter than Anawangin's. We loved it so hard.

Empty cottages by Nagsasa's shore
Where the mountains meet the sea and the skies
Look, we have a tent! This was where we slept.
I loved the fact that there was a SARI-SARI STORE.
Here: Me with spicy Marty's and Pop Cola. Oh the nostalgia.
We set up a hammock beside our cottage. Mmm the life.
Also in this picture: Those children from the next cottage.
Hahaha oo memorable daw sila.

Camwhoring in the Golden Hour!
Andrea, Me (with Maricar's awesome camera), Val, Maricar, Mercy

Up to our necks c/o our cam, timered by the shore haha
Love the color on this one!
Cannot be explained. May stunt dapat dito e.

LOl si kuya o nanakaw pa ng shot ng babes na nakadapa sa shore!
Not cool kuya! Huli ka! Hahaha.
This shot in our camera c/o Maricar.
Which only goes to show, wala talaga sa pana -- nasa Indian. Haha.
This sunset photo taken by Andrea. Love, love, love.
That night, dinner was leftover rice and adobo plus salted eggs, chopped tomatoes and instant noodles. It was dark, but luckily Mercy bought her awesome lamp, plus Nay Chona's discotheque-themed LED lights hehe. They tided us over dinner.

It was so dark you could see the stars again -- which was nice, but then, my body was saying it was time to get some decent sleep (having had none the previous night, remember.) And so, without the fanfare of alcohol and horror stories and bonfires, we slept. Thankfully, the place was mosquito-free, for some reason. The wind blew so hard that night that it actually made a sound. Around 1 a.m. I actually woke up and promptly remembered our bathing suits that we had hung to dry, and I got out of our tent with a flashlight to get them before they were blown away haha. Paranoid Capricorns for the win.
Woke the following morning before 6 a.m. The ates were already up and making coffee (Hot water, by the way, courtesy of a whistling kettle and Maricar's dad's awesome butane-powered stove. For serious!) Coffee by the beach -- what an astounding experience.

By morning our camera's battery had already died on us, but I do remember taking and posing for a lot of photos of the Temptation Island variety (and one that had a pyramid on it. A PYRAMID BY THE BEACH. I feel so accomplished.)

Anyway, going by our schedule, we were supposed to go to Capones before returning to Pundaquit, and then have lunch at SBMA. We had asked our boatman to fetch us at 9; they arrived at 10:30 a.m. and we were already quite hungry (again). We reached Capones past 11, and we found out that we were GOING ON ANOTHER HIKE. Oh my God hahahaha. Surprise!

Touchdown Capones!

Hike up Capones to reach the lighthouse. Harder than it should be.
Photo in the lighthouse ruins.
We were stuck in Capones for god knows how long. Apparently, the boats had too many people to ferry from here to there etc etc. We were hungry, and because we had not expected the hike, we sorely lacked water and we were so thirsty. We were this close to some quality Temptation Island dancing, but we were too hungry to even bother. Haha.

Finally, the boatman arrived. Ganun pala yung feeling ng narerescue hahaha. We reached Pundaquit around 2 p.m. already, and there were two 1.5-L bottles of Coke waiting for us. Haha. Changed into dry clothes so as not to ruin Mercy's car seats. Headed to Subic where we dined at Xpresso Xpress Cafe. We shared a GIANT burger, a fourteen-inch pizza and some quality desserts -- banana split, italian gelato and blueberry crepe. In all, that meal just turned out to be worth P260/head for 6 pax. NOT BAD. (Food photos coming as soon as we are able to snag them from the other cams hehe)

The drive home was fairly uneventful, save for that time we totally did a counterflow somewhere on the Subic-Tipo expressway (LOLLL in times of trouble, Act Stupid! Lets you get away with everything.) And oh, Val wanted Pleasant Walks (tm) next time, and we thereafter christened ourselves Team Agaw-Buhay. Hahaha.

Technical notes on this trip: P2,000/head for 6 pax all-in: transpo from Manila-Zamba-Manila with gas and toll, food, drinks, tent rental, resort fees, boat rental, etc etc. We have fantastic budget officers haha. Thank you to the ates for letting us tag along! Maraming salamat po! =) Sa sunod, wala nang hiking ha! Utang na loob. Hahahaha. Agaw-buhay FTW!