Subic 2017 || My best friend’s birthday!

I was supposed to post this once I was done with 15 Days of Writing True, but I unexpectedly hit a road block from writing every day. It usually takes me more than one sitting to work on something I’d be proud of because my process is usually – write while I’m emotional/whenever the ideas are there and just hack out all the content I can squeeze out of me (the best example of what I can come up with whenever I use my emotions as a writing guide). Then I take a couple of days to reread and polish whatever it is I made because I tend to forget whatever I’ve written down while I’m in the zone. Two weeks of churning out material daily have gotten me so frustrated and I made the decision to overcome the last five writing assignments on my own timing. Unfortunately, I cannot always be emotional. It’s a double-edged sword as I am never lukewarm when I emotions come into play. I am either detached or I dive into head first. It’s also how I curate my relationship to everything – I try to only surround myself with people I can look up to and people whose feelings are mutual with mine. You can only imagine what it means when I call someone my best friend. My non-athletic self will literally try outdoor activities for them. Which is exactly what I did when Gin wanted to celebrate her birthday by heading to Inflatable Island.

Since my work week ends on a Friday morning, I just needed to finish up before we made the long drive to Subic. The roads were surprisingly not clogged, and we arrived in Mansion Garden Hotel in Subic Bay Freeport Zone two hours early. The hotel’s location was central and it was easy to walk everywhere (if you’re a big fan of the sun, that is). I’ve never spent time in Subic before, and would usually end up on less crowded parts of Zambales, so this was a new experience for me. Our first order of business was to eat brunch in the hotel’s quaint cafe, Garden Cafe.

We didn’t have high expectations for our meal. It was affordable (we spent less than Php 300 each) and the pictures on the menu weren’t appetizing. However, the serving was huge. It doesn’t look like it but we really took a while to finish everything and we’re fast eaters. There wasn’t a need for a dip for my pork chop, and chicken boy sang praised for the gravy that came with his chicken. We were so excited for the hotel’s free breakfast, thinking the cafe would be the one catering it (they were not) and was disappointed when we had lackluster food the next day.

The hotel interior adhered to its’ garden theme and incorporated as much wood and plants into their decor. I personally like this color palette as it is very calming. I’m a fan of unconventional lighting and want their ceiling lights for my own home.

I believe that Subic has a building regulation where structures can only have a specific number of stories which is why the hotel has expanded by adding another building connected by a bridge. Nonetheless, the nature theme carried over to the newer building.

We had the Standard Deluxe Room which was the smallest room available. It wasn’t too cramped, but the bed was not for made for tall people. At all. I’m of average height and if I wiggle a little, my feet will enter that damned territory of ‘within-reach-when-a-monster-under-the-bed-decides-to-say-hello’.

When I stay in hotels, I rarely bring my own soap and shampoo and work on the assumption that the hotel will already have it. They did have a few available but we had to ask housekeeping for more shampoo because of ~*my hair*~.

All their rooms had a veranda and ours faced another hotel annex in the making. Even with the ongoing construction, it was surprisingly quiet inside our room until you open the veranda door. It was not bad at all.

Once the birthday girl arrived, we headed to Inflatable Island for some body pain. Going in to write about this, I imagined myself writing about how unprepared I was for this activity in a sarcastic manner, only to sit here and just write it as it is. I am so not fit.

We only bought two-hour passes for 4-6 in the afternoon which was not enough to go through all the obstacles, but enough for me to go home bruised and scratched up. We deposited our things in paid lockers which were brilliant for whoever owned this because everyone is bound to place their things in lockers. 😛

I think aside from the obstacles, the hardest part is actually going back on the inflatables via the styrofoam board. People tend to sit on it and it takes time for everyone to get up.

Once we were done, we relaxed on one of the beach bags while sipping fruit shakes. The downside is that the food stalls close early at almost the same time the inflatable island stops operation (6 PM). Therefore, if you end up hanging out here too late and have the need to ingest something, you need to bring your own.

There was a queue for the shower so we utilized the outdoor shower, and laid out a waterproof mat on the car so we can just bathe in our own hotel rooms. Although instead of showering, we went and had drinks while taking a dip in the pool. Once we all felt hungry, we walked to 1925 Gastropub. As usual, we had low expectations for the food but EVERYTHING WE ORDERED TASTED GREAT. I cannot remember what we ordered but we were super happy with everything. Both our boyfriends had beers while Gin and I had an entire bottle of champagne to ourselves. We did some math and came to the conclusion that if we drink at least three glasses each, it would cost about the same if we get the bottle. We’re far from being alcoholics, but we have an affinity for the bubbly. That we did not finish and had to take back to the hotel. 🙂

Overall, bruises aside, it was such a fun getaway. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have been part of Gin’s life for the past decade. We’ve gone through so much from being a couple of naive teenagers from the province. We’ve weathered fights, bad haircuts, a long distance friendship, really weird fashion choices, family problems, weight gain and weight loss (and we’re currently in weight gain again), messy breakups, health scares, spilling alcohol on bedsheets, and, times when our kilays were so not on fleek. She’s not just my best friend because she’s family. For her birthday, and the remaining 364 days of the year, all I wish for her is a life filled with so much love and happiness. ❤

Mansion Garden HotelDewey Avenue corner Bonifacio Street, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales, Philippines

Anawangin Cove, Nagsasa Cove, and Capones Light House

I have been wanting to go to Anawangin ever since that Bea-Sam movie And I Love You So, but I have never really planned anything. It was mid-February when I suddenly came to researching about Anawangin when I overheard a conversation about it in the office. After finding out more about the place, I convinced my mother to go! 🙂

Anawangin-Nagsasa-Capones-Camara Islands Contact: Mang Johnny (0920-222-4687)

The day before our trip, I had Carlo sleep over at our house since we had to leave very early. Also, so that we all will get to the bus terminal at the same time.

We woke up at 3 AM since we had to leave by 3:30 AM to get to Victory Liner Pasay. By 4:30 AM, the line to buy tickets to Iba, Zambales was longer than I expected and we were informed that we’ll be leaving for the next trip which was in 5 hours.

I was starting to get pissed but fortunately for us, a group of nine who already had their tickets were still missing a companion, so we got to go instead of them. Yay! 🙂

We arrived at San Antonio, Zambales by 9 AM. Mang Johnny told us to look for Mang Nick and he will bring us to the beach. While waiting, we were talking very loudly about Mang Johnny, when a man approached us and introduced himself as Mang Nick. We boarded two tricycles and we were brought to Mang Johnny’s house. His wife greeted us and on we went to the shoreline. Also, we asked Mang Johnny if we could order our rice from him, so we already had our rice cooked even before we arrived.

Turns out that Mang Johnny won’t be our boatman since he had lots of visitors coming. We had Mang Eddie and Mang Eddie (yes, they shared a name! Hahaha) as our boatmen. We had to rent two boats because the capacity of the boat cannot go beyond five people (inclusive of the boatman). Some groups of people can rent one big boat but you have to travel 5 more kilometers to Pundaquit beach (also in San Antonio).

And.. our first stop was Anawangin Cove. Finally! The Bea-Sam movie was shot here! Hihihi. We only went there to eat lunch and take some pictures. It was only lunch time but the number of campers there made the cove crowded. The only thing I hated about Anawangin was the manang (caretaker?) who kept on making people move. We were already starting to eat when she forced us to move on to another table which was formerly occupied by another group who moved to another table and so on, you get the picture. So annoying.

Anawangin Cove had a lagoon/lake (they call it lagoon, but I’m sticking to the thing I learned in elementary where bodies of water enclosed in lands are lakes. But then again, Sibika was my weakest subject. Hahaha!). You could wade in it but we used the bridge to cross the lagoon to the other side. Hence, I don’t know how deep it is.

I was happily taking photos with my brand new Canon IXUS 1000 HS when BOOM! it fell. Ugh. This photo was right before my camera slipped my hands and fell into the sand. I wasn’t able to use it for the rest of the trip. Thankfully, though, with the use of a concealer brush, I got to make it work again at home. But I still am getting it internally cleaned in just to be sure. Sand got inside so I can’t open the lens. Everything else was functioning but the lens cover. I had my dad buy it in Singapore so I have to get it repaired in Singapore. I will miss you, still unnamed camera.

Due to my camera malfunction, I was in a bad mood during the boat ride to Nagsasa Cove. Thank goodness that the picturesque view got to uplift my spirit and my excitement was back. Yay! I loved the view. The beach was at the mountain’s foot and the sea was crystal clear. The seabed wasn’t rocky and to top it off, you could go very far from the shoreline because the water wasn’t deep. I’m not good with explanations, but even kids can swim far from the shoreline. That’s how shallow the water is.

Mang Johnny met us in Nagsasa and that time, he gave us wood for the bonfire. He also told us how the island wasn’t even around until Mt. Pinatubo erupted and the ash falls paved way to Nagsasa beach. Yes, the stand we were standing on, sleeping on etc. came from a volcano. Also, people were in awe how pine trees suddenly sprouted from the sand. Instead of normal trees, the beach was full of pine trees. The weird thing too is whenever someone tries to plant a pine tree on the beach, it doesn’t grow unlike the pine trees already there. Nature’s mysteries.

We went on to explore the island more, and the view of the lagoon/lake (sorry!) with the mountains is breathtaking. Postcard material, I tell you. I kind of forgot I’m still in the Philippines. There were rock formations near the shoreline and you may cross to that portion through the sea. However, utmost care should be taken while stepping on the rocks since I felt like slipping and hitting my head while doing so. Hahaha!

The island didn’t have any electricity nor signal, so when night time came, we had to rush eating dinner as it will be dark soon. We started a bonfire, roasted marshmallows and they had a few shots of alcohol. I found it hard to sleep inside a tent (it was my first time to go camping) so C and I talked the night away (actually, I made him my pillow and slept on his arm the whole time).

We sat on the beach facing the lagoon and the mountains and then waited for the sunrise. Oh God. I wish my eyes could take a picture. It was awesome.

We started the day early and then traveled to Capones Island. To get to the lighthouse, you have to go trekking. Gah. It was scorching. It wasn’t that steep compared to the hike we had in Sagada but still, I was physically challenged.

When we reached the lighthouse, we had to wait for our turn to climb. And for good reasons. To get to the top of the lighthouse, you have to climb a rusty spiral staircase without rails to hold on to which actually shakes. It wasn’t even the scary part. You have to climb more ladders to get to the top. Trust me, though. The view is worth it. I’d love to have that view outside my bedroom window, although I’d hate having to climb that high to sleep. Hahaha!

After Capones Island, we were too tired to get off at Camara Island since it’s just a white beach. We went back to San Antonio and Mang Johnny’s wife let us use their bathroom so we could take a bath and change. She also gave us ice cold water. 🙂

We went back to the city hall and looked for a canteen. We found one, ate lunch and then waited for a bus to Manila. Sadly, the first bus that came was to Caloocan but we had no choice since so many people are waiting and we had the chance to board the bus first.

Forgive me for all my typo and grammar errors, rushed blogging because I have a birthday party to attend. 🙂

Travel Cost

Bus fare (Pasay-San Antonio) – Php 2200 || Php 275/person

Tricycle (City Hall-Mang Johnny’s) – Php 160 || Php 20/person

Boat Rental (for all the islands) – Php 4000 || Php 2000/boat (4 person/boat) || Php 500/person

Rice – Php 100 (2 kilos)

Icecream – Php 160 || Php 20/person

Anawangin Cove Day Tour Maintenance Fee – Php 400 || Php 50/person

Nagsasa Cove Overnight Maintenance Fee – Php 800 || Php 100/person

Tricycle (Mang Johnny’s-City Hall) – Php 160 || Php 20/person

Lunch – Php 500

Bus Fare (Pasay-Caloocan) – Php 2080 || Php 260/person

Total Cost: Php 10560 (minus our viands and transportation to and from the bus terminals)

Cost per person: Php 1320 (minus our viands and transportation to and from the bus terminals)