Thursday, April 20, 2017

Calayan Island Dream


I became interested about Calayan Island after my Palaui Island trip 3 years ago, but its location in Luzon Strait made me think that it would be impossible for me to get there, for I know it would be a very long and risky route. It was unexpected that someone invited us to come, I was like...uuhh? And answered "yes" with conviction. Calayan Island is one of the major islands of the Babuyan Islands in Aparri, Cagayan. The Calayanos speaks Ibanag and from my observations they're one of the most diligent and honest people I've met.





Lampitaw ready to rakenrol!
You know, as the D (departure) day comes, I was getting scared. I read blogs about the place and that 5 hour sea travel makes me shrink. There were many stories about how dangerous it was to be there and I am not a good swimmer. Oh well, I'll be crossing the bridge when I get there. But there's no bridge!

The only way to get there is through the local boats called "lampitaw" (lam-pee-taw) which braves the rough and unpredicatable waters of the Philippine Sea. Oh my God, this boat is not for the gutless! Sailing across the jagged surges of water for five hours will make you call all the saints and angels. Prepare to get wet, apply thick layers of sunblock lotions or be like dried tomatoes in the end. Bring raincoat and your own life vest because some of these boats doesn't have enough to provide for their passengers, and seal off everything! The "lampitaws" leaves the port at 6 AM everyday depending on the weather or wind conditions with the guidance of the Philippine Coast Guard who decides if they can sail or not. They say the best time to go to Calayan is during the months of March and April where rainfall is less. Although it is still not an assurance, there is a possibility of getting stranded in the island for days due to wind and wave conditions. You know like little wind and waves will surge? Clusters of clouds and the ocean will be violent? But no rain? Things like that!

We arrived safely but soaking wet past noon in Calayan Island and greeted by some tourism officers, a "kuliglig" (a rural vehicle with two-wheeled trailer pulled by a hand tractor) brought us to the resort where we would stay. It was my first time to ride in a "kuliglig" and it was fun! This vehicle can take 8-10 passengers to their destinations slowly but surely.

kuh-leeg-leeg

Anyway, let's get on to the some of the interesting places I've seen in the island. Sibang Cove is one of my favorite. Its pristine water and soft sands makes this place a perfect place to unwind and talk  and thank Mother Earth for this wonderful gift of nature.

Don't blink!


You can get to Sibang Cove by hiking or by boat. Just ask the locals and they would be glad to help!




Goats: Can you please stop following us? Meeeeee!
We went to Bangaan Hills on our first day, it's just a few minutes hike from the town. Bangaan hills has a wide area of grassland which is enjoyed by trip of wild goats and from its edges is an overlooking view of the heaven and sea.


Immense!

The next day we explored Lussok Cave, it was an hour boat ride, located on the other side of the island. The cave which looks like a mouth of a whale ready to swallow all of us has some chambers and a home to bats and birds, there are sharp and slippery rocks on the way to the mouth of the cave so it's advisable to wear the proper water shoes so you wont get hurt. There are natural pools in the cave where tourists can dive or simply take a dip.



Nagudungan Hills and and the lighthouse are also included in our itinerary and it shouldn't be missed. They're just walking distance from Sibang Cove, you can see the lighthouse from the cove but it is not operational anymore because it was destroyed by a strong typhoon. 


The Nagudungan Hills looks so mystical, it's enchanting. The pine trees on top of the hills goes with the wind which makes them uniformly stands in the same position, there's a cliff in the middle of the hill where caves are visible below during low tide.



Honestly speaking, I was so scared taking a photo of this cliff, the wind blows so hard as if it can carry me towards the big hole!

On the third day, we were planning to leave the island but due to weather conditions, well I meant the wind and waves situations, the coast guard didn't allow anyone to leave the island for safety, and everyone must abide!

Since there are still a lot of places to go to, we might as well take advantage and just enjoy the days being stranded. Now let's go to...tappuaken reef (jump site) and jump!

Are you ready to get wet?
I think the easiest access to go is through Bangaan Hills, where there is a rocky trail going down. People jumps from those boulders below and straight into the clear water! Stranded Day 1 was fun!

We made another attempt to go out of the island the next day but still negative so how do we make use of the day again?


Go to the forest and trek, find something beautiful and promising. Blend in with the flora and fauna, take pictures and listen to what the forest is saying! Find waterfalls and take a dip! Watch the damselfly hover from one stone to another, do some things that we don't usually do everyday! That's how we spend stranded day 2!

Cabudadan Falls
The Calayan town proper or "Centro" as they call it, gives an impression of how industrious the Calayanos are. It shows in the way they maintain their environment. It has zero crime rate so they can leave their house doors open at night. Townsfolk are amiable.

My favorite house in the island. 


Calayan Municipal Hall

Calayan Island Port

Catholic Church

School.

Calayan Island is a paradise. The beauty of if doesn't only show in the elements of their natural world but also in the hearts of the natives thus they deserve to coexists with one another.

So to those who are planning to go to the island, let us be respectful to locals after all we are only strangers in their paradise.

Lastly, I would like to thank those people who made us part of this trip and if you will ask me if I am going back there...yes! When the airport is done. By the way, there is an ongoing construction of airport but it will take time.

Note: Photo of Calayan Island map is courtesy of Wikipedia.

HOW TO GET THERE?
1. Take a bus  or car going to Aparri or Claveria, it will be a 12 hour travel so be patient.
2. The ports going to Calayan Island are in Aparri, Claveria and Sta. Ana. The shortest travel is via Claveria which is 5 hours.
3. The boats leaves as early as 5 AM everyday depending on the weather condition, if it is not permitted to go you have to wait for the coast guard's advisory about the departure.
4. Upon arrival, go to the tourist center and register.

REMINDERS:
1. Expect to get wet in the boat, bring raincoat, sunblock or wear long sleeved shirts, hat and snacks for the 5 hour sea travel.
2. Bring cash, there are no ATMs in the island.
3. There are homestays and resorts where you can stay during your vacation, just ask the locals and they are  willing to help.
4. Grocery stores and eateries can easily be found in the town proper.
5. There is always the possibility of getting stranded in the island due to weather condition so be patient and make the most and enjoy the island.
6. No electricity from 12 MN until 12 noon.
7. Don't forget your cameras! My gosh!
8. It is advisable to bring or wear dri fit clothes so it's lighter and easy to wash in case you get stranded.
9. No Globe signal, Smart only.
10. Respect the locals, DO NOT LITTER!

DREAMS DO COME TRUE.

ENJOY!!

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