As we grow older, we realize the importance not only of our friends and loved ones but also of collecting memories with them. After all, nothing beats the feeling of reminiscing the good times.
Just two days after the new year, my highschool friends and I packed our bags and headed to Puerto Galera off the island of Mindoro for some unforgettable time of our lives. The trip was something we had anticipated for a long time not just because of the place’s rumored beauty, but also because with more than a decade of friendship, it was our first ever bonding experience in such a far away place. And mind you, it wasn’t easy to find the perfect date for our little adventure what with our busy schedules and one was even going back to the US in just a couple of days.
Puerto Galera is a municipal in the province of Oriental Mindoro and is one of the beautiful tourist spots and developed beach resort communities in the Philippines’ biggest island, Luzon. It is 130 kilometers or 81 miles away from Manila and going there requires travelling by sea.
With its location and the fact that none of us has a car, five of us decided to meet at 3am in Shaw Blvd, then the other three outside the Kabayan Hotel in Pasay City so we could ride the bus to Batangas port early, then to the boat that would bring us to Oriental Mindoro. But the time didn’t go as planned as our friend, Jocelyn, arrived at around 3:45am.
Everything was still cool though, as we’re not a bunch of hot-headed individuals. We just laughed the matter off ’cause something like that does happen all the time. And besides, we reached the bus terminal in Buendia, Pasay and rode a Jam Liner bus to Batangas still quite early at around 4:05am. The bus left at 5am where people like me who didn’t get the chance to sleep–as in I wasn’t able to close my eyes even just for a bit. It was still a weekday so I had to finish a task for work to avoid anything else to think about while on vacation–to take some nap.
At 7am, it was time for some stretching at the Batangas port. As obvious tourists, a couple of agents came to us convincing us to choose their ferries over the others. In the end, we chose Father and Son Shipping Line (FSL), which we thought had the best price and would drop us at a Puerto Galera port nearer to our accommodation. The round trip fare each was 450 pesos, plus 50 pesos terminal fee, 30 pesos Environmental fee, and 10 pesos for the Terminal fee going back. The ferry was to leave at 7:30am, just a few minutes after we arrived. Not bad. Or so that’s what we think.
The one-hour ferry ride was quite smooth according to my adventurous and dare-devil standards.
Hello, Puerto Galera!
We arrived at the Muelle Pier in Puerto Galera at around 10 am, where FSL gave us a free service to our resort at Palangan Bay View Beach Resort, which is about 30 minutes away from the go-to places in the area. It was Yuko and me who chose the resort from the two options we found at the group-buying site TCAT. It was valued at only 599 pesos for a two-day-and-one-night stay each person so both of us were very much elated and proud when we saw the place and it was actually very beautiful. And since it wasn’t peak season, we had the whole place all to ourselves like it was a private resort.
Because we only had two days in Puerto Galera, we made sure no time was wasted. So after some picture-taking, we started changing into our swimwears so we could immediately head to the white beach. The resort was far from it so the resort personnel offered its round trip transportation service that costs 600 pesos. There was no other way we could get to our destination so we agreed with the price.
We were starving when we got to the place so the first thing we did was look for the perfect place to eat at. Which led us to the White Beach Resort Bar and Restaurant. I can’t remember the food we ordered there, except for the sweet shrimp dish that I totally disliked (I love shrimps but I don’t have sweet tooth), so I guess nothing’s remarkable in that restaurant. Yikes. hehe
After the lunch meal, we finally headed to the beach that was just in front the restaurant. The weather was a bit rainy since the week before we went to Puerto Galera so it was cold, but of course, it didn’t stop us from having fun!
Remember that part when I had my girl friends wear red lipstick? Well, Yuko and I still had it on our lips when we went into the water, and at first, we were so proud that it didn’t get erased while we ate until… until the worst happened. The tube I lent everyone–that which I also used on my lips–is a red matte lipstick with a good staying power despite it affordable price. So what happened was maybe because of the saltiness of the water, the lipstick smeared, but it made sure to stay on the outer part of our lips no matter how hard we tried to rub it off. It was an embarrassment and was the cause of our endless laughter! Especially on my part since I have sensitive skin, all those brushing with my hands left the lower part of my face red even after I have finally removed the lipstick stain. Lesson learned: Never wear lipstick when going to the beach. hehehe.
Anyway, a little later after we decided to rest, a group of guys came to us, offering their adventure package for eight people for only 1,500 pesos. Covering the activities snorkeling and island hopping, we thought it would be great so we agreed and Magie decided to pay for the whole package.
Because of the weather, the boat ride to the snorkeling area wasn’t peaceful. But then again, the adventure-seeker in me enjoyed the experience and in fact, I wish there was more. hehe
Then while we were finally having fun at the snorkeling area, the boat men kept on suggesting that we ride the smaller boats that went there with us so they could take us to those places with more corals and fish. The price per small boat, which can accommodate only two passengers, is 200 pesos. The love birds readily grabbed it, leaving us people with no enough resources. hehe
We also rented an underwater camera to capture our moments while in the water. But since no one knows how to swim and we had life vests on, none of us dared getting photographed underwater. Pffftt. haha. We still had nice shots above water, though.
“Na-Sea Urchin Ka na Baaaaa?”
(“Have You Been Stung By A Sea Urchin?”)
It was extremely fun, being able to laugh and bond with close friends that already treat each other like siblings. In fact, it was really fun ever after the slight horror that happened.
The boat men finally persuaded us on taking the smaller boats since they promised to take us to a beautiful island where there’s this little underground cave that once became part of ABS-CBN’s TV Series Marina. But while I was on my way to the boat, Jocelyn grabbed my right shoulder telling me with a panicky voice, “Kapatid, sandali lang! (Sister, wait!)” and she held her right foot close to my face.
I was in shock when I saw not just one but many sea urchin spines on the sole of her biggest foot finger. And it was really close to my face that I couldn’t help but laugh and be worried at the same time for her. I didn’t know what to do, it could be fatal and there were too many spines!
Good thing one of the boatmen volunteered on removing those needle-like stuff on my friend’s foot all while I was holding her ankle. Whew. And apparently, sea urchin’s spines are really soft that’s why they break easily leaving those parts that pierced Jocelyn’s foot still planted under her skin. Relax, though, relax. Medical help wasn’t needed. According to the boatman, the spines eventually dissolve with the help of nothing else but… Urine. Ewww, but yes, or so they said.
I find it really disgusting to take a pee on the sea so I never do it no matter how hard people tell me it’s perfectly okay. So even if I really, really needed to and my kidneys are about to explode, and take note, I had to do it for a friend, they couldn’t force me to take a leak even behind a rock on the island. But thank goodness Yuko needed to take a pee, too, so the issue was solved immediately. Another Whew! for that.
The Adventure Continues
Anyway, so we were taken to an island with a small underground cave. It is literally small, as in we could go in and out in just a few minutes if not for the picture-taking we did–with one of boatmen as the director of photography–inside.
We got inside by entering a small hole in a wall of rock. Then after this little obstacle, we were then welcomed in the marvel that is the cave. It’s rocky and the clear water keeps waving inside creating that peaceful seashore sound or whatever that is called. A boatman borrowed our rented camera and we were surprised when he called us from above for a photo and there’s this hole where he was peeping. It’s really beautiful!
The view outside the cave is also fine that’s why we took advantage and had our photos taken there as well.
Then it was time for the island hopping! … Which didn’t turn out good. It was on the next island when Magie and Yuko realized why we had to pay 200 pesos each for the smaller boats when those who came to us earlier said the 1,500 payment already comprised every activity we would be doing. And Meynard also said that we didn’t need those smaller boats, anyway, so why? No one raged since we’re all not that type but we decided not to continue with the island hopping anymore and to just go back to the resort instead.
We still had great photos there, anyway.
Back to the resort, we took baths immediately as we were already starving. The resort’s food servings are good for two so we divided ourselves into four and ordered two viands each pair. In all fairness, the food are all scrumptious and Rajiv and Jocelyn’s Sinigang na Hipon were unbelievable because it seemed bottomless and it is true to its name, it had a lot of shrimps unlike those in Metro Manila where there are more vegetables than the shrimps!
After dinner time came what else but Filipino’s favorite past time: Videoke! But the night was still young when a resort personnel told us it was time’s up at 10:30pm since a government official is a neighbor. Pffft.
The Second and Last Day
Our vouchers were good for a two-days-and-one-night stay, so the next day, we had to get ready to go back to Metro Manila. For breakfast–which were complimentary–we had fried rice, egg, hotdog, and coffee. Not bad for the start of the day.
Then it was time to go…
We were supposed to buy souvenirs when we get to the Muelle Pier, but the ferry would be leaving in a few minutes. The FSL crew promised that we could go shopping at Sabang pier, though, and we were relieved. Until we reached the said pier and we had to run and buy fast for we were only given about 15 minutes to buy stuff. I felt like we were contestants of Amazing Race.
Anyway, at least we were able to buy some Puerto Galera souvenirs, and mind you, I loved the adrenalin rush.
Our little adventure didn’t end at the Batangas port. For lunch, we ate at Jorjhane’s House of Special Bulalo, which is kind of famous in Batangas City and we understood why. Its Bulalo, a Filipino beef stew made mainly of beef bone marrows, was really delicious starting from the soup which can be refilled whenever we wanted to! YUM!
Then it was time to really, really face the metropolis again in a few hours.
This Puerto Galera trip with my high school friends, though really short, definitely deserves a special place in my heart and memory. It was a time when I had the ultimate fun with my dearest friends, in fact, I didn’t care even if I burned my wallet with this getaway. Every money I spent was worth it.
I’m looking forward for more out-of-town trip with them! 😉
Jan Meynard Nualla
Photo collage by me:P