Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Palaui Island Trek

We were optimistic about having a pleasant weather on our third day in Cagayan, but it was not. The bluster of the wind and rain kept holding us back in the car and we can't do anything but to wait for the weather to pacify. Our guide accompanied us to the tourist registration office in Port San Vicente and ate breakfast while waiting for the rain to stop, until someone called me and showed me something very promising!

Somewhere behind the rainbow.

Our prayers were heard and the sky gave us a sign of hope and I grabbed my camera and ran as fast as I could just to get a good shot of the rainbow for I know this phenomenon wouldn't last long. Suddenly, I thought the island already gave us permission to come and visit it. And so we didn't hesitate and get on the boat and sailed!

Sail on. 

It would only take 30 minutes before we arrive in Palaui Island, the sea was rough,  the waves were big but we put our trust to the boat operator and in just a while we landed in the island safely! Palaui Island by the way is located in the northern part of Luzon, it was declared as a National Marine Reserve in 1994 and a home to a variety of flora and a sanctuary for migratory birds. Small vessels going to the lighthouse can anchor directly to Engaño Cove but due to bad weather the tourism officer didn't allow us to dock on the cove but instructed us instead to Punta Verde and hike if we are really sure of going to the lighthouse.

Read carefully for safety.

Since we saved our third day for our trip to Palaui Island we decided to take the trail from Punta Verde to the lighthouse and it is approximately a 4-hour hike. It was an effortless hike in the beginning but as we went into the rainforest we noticed that the trail was getting muddy and that our footwears were getting stuck deep in the mud and sometimes we couldn't get our feet off! That was when we decided to take our slippers off and just walk on foot! I've never experienced trekking without anything on my feet, I've always been scared of hiking without it, but that moment the feeling was different, and I imagined myself as one of those primitives who inhabited the island many years ago, (you know just to divert my anxiousness).

Our dog guide seems like an old soul. 

We passed by the beach, walked across the weeds, crossed streams and two bridges, went over a barbed fence, walked along the rice paddies and pasture lands, met some cows, water buffalos, then went back to the forest again. All of these scenarios gave more color to our adventure, it's a different kind of experience, a kind that wouldn't happen always in my lifetime! So I made the most of it!


Hours had passed and we didn't noticed that we had reached the end of the trail, at last! I saw the lighthouse peeking through that verdant hill and I know it will only take a couple of minutes before getting to the summit. We had to rush to seek shelter in the lighthouse because the rain starts to pour again. The 229-step concrete stairs and a short trail lead us to the lighthouse and the breathtaking view of the Engaño Cove was exposed to my view!

Hold on!

Just a few more minutes and we will be at the most awaited part of the journey, the lighthouse. The Cape Engaño lighthouse was designed by Engineer Magin Pers y Pers, the construction was started on September 21, 1888 was finished on December 31, 1892. It guides ships coming from the Pacific and marks the eastern entrance to the Babuyan Channel which provides the shortest route around the northern tip of Luzon.


It is amazing to see magnificent structures that stood the test of time, knowing that the island has always been the favorite path of strong typhoons, I can't imagine that it's still standing proudly and could attract a lot of people even though some parts of it has fallen off and its location is not easily accessible.

I believe this was the kitchen where the lighthouse keeper cooked during the time when the lighthouse was at its splendidness or it could be where they burn coal to generate electricity. The old bricks blends well with the smell and color of the mosses which had grown and almost covered the walls of the lighthouse that added texture to it and made it more charming and picturesque


The breathtaking view of the island from the lighthouse.

Magnificent work of nature!

The majestic view of Dos Hermanas islands as seen from the foot of the hill was so captivating and I can't take my eyes off it, if only these places could only be reached for a short time you would probably see me on the edge of the hill enjoying the view of the Pacific Ocean while eating ice cream. 

We sought shelter in the corridors of the lighthouse, and took a last glance on each of its corners. The brick flooring looks worn-out but has a lot of stories to tell, the walls which has been vandalized stood as the beholder to the episodes of its existence, the brick kitchen which I thought where the lighthouse keepers gather and spend most of their time was now in its stage of desolation. There is an inscription in front of the main entrance but because it was neglected I had a hard time reading what's on it and even thought it was on braille. I think the lighthouse needs total rehabilitation. It is a national historical treasure and should be given full respect and dignity, a monument dedicated to  the Filipino people who worked hard during its establishment for their commitment to the country. It's late in the afternoon and we need to walk back to the beach where our boat is waiting. And at that moment, we left the lighthouse alone and lonely again awaiting for another traveler who would come and give comfort to its deteriorating body. And if you would ask me if I would go back there again...yes I would.

If you are planning to go to Palaui Island I recommend Edwin Tabucol, a Palaui resident as your tour guide, mobile #+639269064657.

Thank you for reading. 

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