Friday, March 20, 2015

Ramblers In Calatagan/Burot Beach

Sometimes unfortunate matters leads to something propitious. It started when we planned to meet at the bus terminal at 5:30 in the morning but it didn't happen. There was a little delay on someone else's part until buses bound for Calatagan starts to depart one by one. It's already 9 AM and at last, we finally left for Calatagan. Calatagan by the way, is a municipality in the province of Batangas. It is approximately 125 kilometers southeast of Manila or a 3-hour travel by land from Manila. According to its history, the municipality was acquired by Don Domingo Roxas from the Spanish Crown in 1829 and was later on called Hacienda de Calatagan. Calatagan is an upcoming tourist destination for it has been identified with an expanse of white sand coast and the famous Spanish lighthouse.

It was already 12 noon when we arrived in Calatagan, the thoroughfare from Manila to Calatagan is well paved which makes the travel smooth and easy. The bus stopped at the terminal where the market is also situated so we went shopping for food and other things that we need. First destination...Burot beach! I've heard a lot about this beach, I've read blogs and I have to see it for myself so I can evaluate it. We were so lucky that the bus driver who resides in the place has a son who takes tourists to Burot beach with his tricyle, he gave the mobile number and quickly we sent him a message and took us to the said beach! How nice!

We were informed by the tricycle driver that the last trip bound for Manila was at 4 in the afternoon, well that was disappointing, knowing that we haven't started anything yet and we have a lot of things to finish! How can we make all things happen in a matter of three hours? Until we decided to stay overnight even if I only brought things enough for a whole day trip. Good thing I brought my toothbrush and a small towel and my ever dependable scarf! How can you resist a visually pleasing place like this? White sands, clear water, sand bars, wonderful! We ate lunch on our humble mat which has become our kitchen and dining table, we shared food that we brought for this trip and I ate a lot due to starvation.

Burot beach has a long stretch of beach with off white sands and rock formations and mangroves. The place is located in a remote village in Calatagan, and as from my research it was formerly known as Elizalde beach. The road going to the beach is still the usual country road, with vegetations and fishing boats. There are tables for rent and tents for those who opted to stay overnight. One thing I don't like about the resort is the "discomfort room". Well maybe, the structure was already there and was only meant for people who lives nearby and now that Burot has been recognized, it has become one of the negative remarks from people who went there, aside from the over charging of the utilities which are not really worth the amount paid for. And if you're not really comfortable with the restrooms which I wasn't, you can go to the town proper for their public toilet which is cleaner than the latter or wait for it to be developed because this beach has already been privatized and bought by a shopping mall magnate. And the charges won't be as cheap as it is.

Anyway there no cottages around the area at present, only tents are allowed for tourists who likes to stay overnight. So it is best to bring your own to avoid the rent. Bring food too. But don't worry the locals are very nice they can help with what you want.

Mangroves occupies the farthest part of the beach which is not usually occupied by tourists or it is just being protected by the locals.

Sunset is the most awaited moment of tourists here in Burot, people have set their places as to where to get a good look of it because its view is so perfect that you can't take your eyes off it and all you can do is watch it or take a continuous shot of it!

And then comes the pleasure of  the atmospheric phenomenon. Isn't that great?
Well, the next day we packed our things and prepare for our next destination...the Calatagan Lighthouse!
Yes, this will be the fifth Spanish lighthouse that I'm going to visit and I can't wait! It took half an hour before we reached the lighthouse, unfortunately the lighthouse keeper was away but the good thing is I have his mobile number and told us to wait for a while. And so he came and let us be the first to come in the building!

Punta Santiago was built in December 15, 1890 by Magin Pers y Pers  and then continued by Guillermo Brockman. It serves as a beacon to all vessels passing by Verde Island and Mindoro. It is one of the oldest structure in Calatagan and is now attracting tourists. One will have a feeling of nostalgia as you enter the premises. A feeling which brings back to the old days when the country was still under the authority of the Spaniards. What a splendid and classic architecture.

The original arch entrance leading to the stairs is still intact as well as with the inscriptions posted on the facade. There is a small box at the side for donations probably to help maintain the lighthouse. The caretaker is Antonio Coz Jr., third generation of keepers from his grandfather and father has a lot of stories to tell, it is just too sad that we have to leave soon. It is nice to hear stories from this old structures which withstood catastrophes and wars.

The thick iron spiral staircases still hold onto and keeps the caretaker safe whenever he goes up and down to perform his tasks, as well as with the number of tourists who visits the lighthouse. Those thick antique iron are really sturdy that it can still withstand a lot people big or small.

And this is how the corridor looks like from the stairs. It was creepy especially if it is an old structure, you can almost feel the wandering of old souls. Anyway, the lighthouse will undergo rehabilitation as told by the keeper, the railings on the tower has to be replaced and so as with other parts of the building because they're starting to fall apart.
We have to leave Calatagan and we must catch up with the 11 am bus going to Manila. You know, we are lucky enough to know the bus driver's son who drives the tricyle, what he did was he called his father who at the time will be the driver of that bus and asked to wait for us and the bus really waited for us even if its time for them to depart. So nice of them.

How to get there?
1. If you're commuting, take a bus bound for Calatagan in Coastal Mall Metro Bus Station. The name of the bus is Celyrosa.
2. When you are in Calatagan terminal, take a tricycle going to Burot beach, they know the place, just tell them where you're going. Or you can call Jester (the bus driver's son) at mobile number 09478480171. They are charging 50 pesos per head for the ride. If  you're staying overnight just ask him to fetch you the next day. He can also take you to the lighthouse for a negotiated fee.
3. If you will drive your own vehicle, take the road going to Tagaytay City and follow the signage going to Batangas. When in Calatagan town proper just ask the locals for the directions and they will help you.

If you're planning to visit the lighthouse, send a message to the keeper with this mobile number: 09198416486, just call him Kuya Junior. You can't just get in the vicinity of the building without his assistance.

1. Bring food.
2. Bring tent.
3. Bring your own cooking and dining utensils if you're going to cook.
4. Comfort rooms are not convenient so think of other options, like going to the town proper to wash or take a bath if you need to.
5. There is a small store near the beach but it only sells items in retail, so it's best to buy food in the market in the town proper.

Entrance fee- 130 pesos for overnight stay
Tent rental (in case you didn't bring tent)-400 pesos
Picnic table-200 pesos
Bonfire-200 pesos(they will provide the firewood)
Torch-75 pesos (until the kerosene runs out)

Thank you for reading. I hope this information would help in case you want a quick weekend getaway.

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