Monday, January 14, 2013

Real, Quezon Province

By: Mark Nickson Garcia

BP Marion & BP Nick @ Real Quezon
For two weeks prior to the weekend before Christmas day, Marion and I were completely decided to have a vacation in the beautiful island of Calaguas in Bicol. We both did our research but due to “time” issues and other matters, we found ourselves discovering the simple yet adventure-filled Real at Infanta, Quezon instead.

We arrived at A.H. Raymund terminal station in Cubao at around 7:00am but to our surprise, the buses of A.H. Raymund in Cubao are all bound for places in Bicol. We then had our breakfast at Chowking beside the terminal to energize our mind on what to do. After eating, a conductor of A.H. Raymund suggested that we could ride a bus bound for Lucena, then from Lucena ride a bus to Infanta. All along I knew that Lucena would be a few hours away from Infanta, maybe one or two-hour drive, but as you continue reading this you would know that I was completely wrong.

After walking for over a kilometer from A.H Raymund terminal to JAC liner terminal in Kamuning corner Kamias, we rode a bus bound for Lucena. And so our journey began…

It took us five (5) hours of travel from Manila to Lucena, which should not be the actual travel time, and this was due to the congested traffic in Laguna and somewhere in Quezon. Gladly, we were seated comfortably in the bus while to others were uneasily standing during throughout the travel.

At 1:15pm, we arrived at Lucena Grand Terminal. The place was filled with different non-airconditioned minibuses bound for places within the province of Quezon and budget friendly carinderias. That was where we had our late lunch.

The mini bus going to Infanta
The minibus bound for Infanta departed at around 2:00pm. We thought that the travel time would only take us about one to one and half (1 ½) hours but we were surprised when a conductor said "Mga four and a half po sir (4 ½ hours)”. Our jaw literally dropped upon hearing it. 

The mini driver?

The PINK tv inside the mini bus
During the trip, we were wondering why we were passing towns in Laguna which we thought should be towns in Quezon. I even convinced myself “...maybe there is a town also named Infanta in Laguna… Oh my! We are in the wrong bus!!! Nooooooooo!”  But no, it was a bus bound for Infanta, Quezon; and, it would need to pass towns of Laguna. :)

The duration of the trip reminded me of the crowded minibus we took in Bataan that had us standing for over an hour. Compared to that minibus though, we were thankful that during this travel to Infanta, we were comfortably seated.

It was already 7:00pm when we arrived at the PACIFIC RECREATIONAL KAMP or also known as “THE PaRK” in Real, Quezon. Kuya Arwin and his family is the caretaker of the place. He mentioned to us that there is an A.H. Raymund bus that passes Sampaloc, Manila going straight to Infanta. We could have avoided the longer travel we had. That time, we learned our lesson on the importance of a clear travel itinerary. 

Our tent
It was only us who occupied the whole garden of THE PARK. We pitched in our tent near the light post and ate our dinner while a few harmless dogs and a cat accompanied us. We discussed our travel and how Marion had found a blog, which was the basis of our itinerary. The place was dark and quiet so we could barely see the true beauty of the place and the beach but we felt the cool breeze of the wind and heard the rushing sound of waves from the the beach. I was very excited for the daylight to appear to appreciate the place more.

Day one (1) happened to be a day of endless travelling and lots of dismay on what happened on our journey.  Our supposed activity-filled day ended up with us circling around some parts of Laguna and I guess, all around Quezon.

The Sunrise

BP Nick ready for the day
We woke up at around 6:30am and took pictures of the place, strolled by the beach and had breakfast. Our itinerary for the day was to jump in Balagbag Falls, see if the water rafting is already operating and to learn how to surf. When we’re about to leave the Park, surfers were arriving and were getting ready to hit the big waves.

The surf boards

A mini playground

The PaRK's restroom

BP Marion strolling around

Boat parked in Tignoan river
Early morning catch of a local fisherman

BP Nick at The PaRK

The green gate of The PaRK

After a 30-minute tricycle ride from THE PARK, we arrived at Balagbag Falls. Located at Barangay Malapad, the Balagbag Falls is a two level falls with the upper portion ranging, I guess, three to four storey high while the lower portion in about 20 feet high. As for Marion, it is one of most beautiful falls she had ever seen, and I agree.

The tricycle we hired going to Balagbag falls

We were the only people when we arrived at Balagbag Falls. After enjoying the lower part of the falls, we went to its upper part. We were shouting… and shouting... as we thrusted ourselves in the raging waters going down. 

3-5 mins trek

The Beautiful Balagbag Falls

BP Nick

BP Marion

Getting to the real CHALLENGE…

The 20 ft jump challenge!
Before going to Balagbag Falls and even before going to Quezon, we knew that we could jump from the lower portion of the falls, which is about 20 feet high. At first we were so determined that WE WILL jump but as we got nearer and nearer to the edge of the falls, that determination was slowly turning into deter. I remember having flashbacks of memories I had in life, my family, the friends I have been spending times with, and the good or bad things that I have done. And, I was factually shouting “Bakit ba natin to ginagawa Marion, bakit?”

We were on the edge for over an hour just thinking, gaining some courage and praying to God for safety as we jumped. Some families arrived and we were still on the edge, standing. They were encouraging us that the basin is deep and that we would not get hurt, some even shouted “Tulak mo na yan!” (Really kuya….really?!?!?!)

I went down to double check how deep the basin was and in my estimate it is about seven to eight feet deep. There is only one specific spot in the basin where you must land or you will end up crushing yourself against big rocks. The safe spot where you should land is the middle and not even beneath the falls itself. Maybe that’s the reason why it was very hard for us to jump on the falls... because we were scared that we might end up like those who previously had an accident due to bad landing.

The Jump!

I was so determined that I came here to jump by this falls. After going on the opposite side on where we were originally standing for over an hour and after praying to God…I jumped! It was a feeling of relief that I jumped that high with no bruises or injury and at the same time shocked that I was on air for about two (2) seconds before I felt the deep water. The jumping point maybe a little lower than the original spot but it was still an accomplishment for me jumping Balagbag Falls. The funny thing was- what made me jump was the  thought that I could not crawl back up, so had nowhere else to go but jump down!

BP Marion's safe jump
When it was Marion’s turn to jump the falls, she was very hesitant knowing that there was only a specific spot where she must land and I kept on reminding her where she should land.

Families and locals were cheering and encouraging her to jump. After an hour of standing on the same spot, thinking, and getting ready… I was ready to watch her jump. Numerous counts were given for Marion to jump but, with all my batteries from the camera and my tablet already drained, she backed-out.

I saw defeat on Marion’s face but as what the locals said, most people who incurred accident in Balagbag Falls were those having hesitations; and for us, safety is more important than anything else. Overall, I appreciated the beauty and the hard pumping feeling that Balagbag Falls had given us. Marion will indeed be back to conquer this falls again and by that time, she will be totally ready to defeat this falls.

We headed back to The PaRK at around 2:00pm and had our late lunch there. We told Kuya Arwin that we will try surfing that afternoon. After a short power nap, we prepared ourselves in conquering Real’s GIANT WAVES.


The Gigantic Waves of Real, Quezon

By: Marion Erika Macapagal

Tired of doing the same thing during holiday season? Oh well, I don’t want to spend my holidays off strolling around Metro Manila especially in the malls! Holidays are perfect opportunities to unwind and go out of town. Being stressed due to work and non-work related activities (December was such a busy month huh?) I promised myself that I’ll end my year pampered and relaxed, thus “Calaguas getaway” was on top of my list.

It was heart-breaking when our original plan of going to Calaguas Island in Bicol didn’t push through. And to get rid of that disappointment, I decided to find a place near Manila where I could just lay down, relax and enjoy the beach without too much noise and without too many people.

After few hours of checking blogs online, I found this site of Biyaherong Barat and my eyes was in awe when I saw pictures of The PaRK in Real Quezon. Though the beach as described was brown sand, and initially I was looking for white sand, I found it convenient and practical. Convenient since it’s just few hours away from Manila, and practical because you don’t need to spend that much to enjoy your vacay here (expenses can be found below). And what really made me decide and choose this place was because of my obsession and eagerness to learn this sport- Surfing! Though not as popular as Siargao or Ilocos or Baler, Real Quezon I can say is a good surfing destination.

When we arrived after a sidetrip in Balagbag falls, there were some surfers (I assume they are professional surfers) were busy in preparing for their much-awaited ride in the surf boards. Because we felt like these surfers were waiting for us, after our late lunch and our intercepted siesta time, we prepared and wasted no time that afternoon.

And the Surfing lesson began…

Long Surf board
After a brief introduction on basics of surfing, our instructors were having a hard time finding the best spot in the beach where we could start our session. The long brown sand beach has variation, from fine sand to rocky shoreline. Kuya Tata & Kuya Jerome, our instructors decided to go to the other side where the sand is smoother I thought. A river (Tignoan river) separates the beach, and by that time the water was maybe 4 or 5 ft deep, and this triggered us to leave our camera in the other side. With our long surfboards, I and Nick paddled going to the other side, while our kuyas rode a mini bangka (boat).

The real deal…

I was nervous when I saw how gigantic the waves were. Looking at the (experienced) surfers while I & Nick with our instructors were still in the shoreline, I was not seeing anyone able to ride in their surfboards yet which led me to a conclusion that this must be difficult. I was in panic mode when I first attempted to stand in the surfboard, and so the first try was a fail. Because the waves were too big, there were instances when I felt like my body run out of oxygen due to the continuous & sudden gush of water. This made me realized that I should paddle fast and whenever my instructors says “ready” means “go and you’re on your own”. Haha. Good thing, I knew how to swim! But that was still too dangerous because you can drown easily. Though, it was not my first time, the surfing experience I had in La Union and Baler, was totally different because of the difficulty level which I won’t recommend to beginners like me. Talking about being a beginner, it was BP Nick’s first time to try Surfing and I honestly was worried how he’d survive the big waves while trying to learn how to stand in the surf board.

Rather than being too bothered of all the things happening around, I focused on myself and my surfboard. . . . and Ohlaaaaa! I was able to ride the surf board multiple times with and without falling too fast and I did super enjoy it! If I’m not mistaken, it was more than an hour of riding the board & catching the waves (the session should be just an hour for 500php). It really helped that my instructor was in high spirits that time. While I was standing in the surfboard, I saw Nick clapping his hands (My friend is too proud I bet. haha) but I felt like he was telling me “I’m done” and “it’s time to get off the water”. But I didn’t care about the time because I was really enjoying my dance with the big waves and my instructor would say “isa pa” (one more) numerous times, so I thought the sesh was unlimited. Hahaha. But eventually I got tired, and afterwards made a hand sign to Kuya Jerome to get off the water too. I was really happy when Kuya Jerome said “pwede na”. (yiiiieee! May pag-asang maging surfer ako!)

BP Nick and Kuya Tata were having a small talk when I was walking towards them with my long and heavy surfboard. From there, I found out that they were actually hesitant to continue the surfing lesson earlier due to these humungous waves especially that we have a first-timer in the group. “That was tolerable kuya!” I almost blurted out. But I can see how these people value safety (it must be really me who’s crazy & too impulsive). I was very thankful that nobody got hurt and got drowned. Oooops! Someone actually got hurt, which I was only able to notice when Nick was having hard time walking while carrying his surfboard.

crossing the Tignoan river

with Kuya Arwin

with Kuya Jerome and Kuya Tata
It was almost dark when we reached the other side of the beach where we came from. Though we only have some energy left, we spent the remaining time taking pictures and enjoying the view.

And about Nick’s injury? He said he’s okay, and as of this writing, he has some bruises left BUT he added, he’ll STILL try surfing next time.

What a year-ender adventure that was! Oh yeah that’s how I relax and pamper myself! Can’t wait to hit the big waves again SOON! And can’t wait for my others friends to try this out too!

Thank you to the kind-hearted people of Real Quezon: 

- the bus driver and conductor of the mini bus
- the PaRK caretaker, Kuya Arwin, his beautiful wife & cute kid
- the people we met in Balagbag falls
- and our surfing instructors, Kuya Tata and Kuya Jerome


Important note: For lesser transpo expense and as well as avoid time consuming travel, from Manila, make sure to ride a bus in Raymond Transit Sampaloc (not Cubao) or any buslines going straight to Infanta Quezon.

EXPENSES (for both)
EXPENSES (per person)
Bus to Lucena
Php 436.00
Php 218.00
Lunch (Carinderia)
Bus to Real, Infanta
Entrance at THE PARK
Paluto (Breakfast)
Tricycle to Balagbag
Entrance at Balagbag
Tricycle back to THE PARK
Surfing Lessons (with coach and surf board)
Bus to Infanta proper
Van to Manila (via Antipolo)



Anonymous said...

Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.
I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will often come back very soon.
I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great work, have a nice holiday weekend!
My blog post ... private krankenversicherung beamte vergleich

Anonymous said...

At first, I felt excited about what's going to be happen with your journey to a not sure place ?? hehe, but of-course we know that a traveler is a not easy person to get lost? hehe, I cannot even wait to read the first morning at THE PARK, of what will be your itinerary for the whole day??

I also like the part were sir nickson and Mam Marion is at the edge of the Balagbag falls thinking when to JUMP hahaha!! that is so funny..

To bad you don't have a picture of the big waves, but I really enjoy this write up,

Abot hangang dito yung enjoyment,
( enjoyed the moment ) na naranasan nyo sa adventure.

More Adventure pa!!

Mark Nickson Garcia said...

To the two anonymous:

Thank you so much for your comments and appreciation to our write up.

I'm glad you guys enjoyed our adventure at Real, Quezon.

Rest assured that more trips and adventures (specially jumping on falls) will be read at Backpackers blogsite.

Again, thank you. :)))

-BP Nickson Garcia

Anonymous said...

Do you have contact numbers of the caretakers of the park?

Ycee Sorreda said...

It would be really helpful if there were Contact Numbers that I could use to call ahead at the Park to make reservations for my family. :D

Mark Nickson Garcia said...

Hi anonymous and ycee sorreda. You can call Arwin (caretaker of ThePark) at 09292660532. He is also the contact person for the surfers.

Thank you for visiting the blog. Godbless!

-BP Nick