Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dampalitan Beach, Puting Buhangin & Kwebang Lampas and BORAWAN Island

The BACKPACKERS' Huling Hirit sa Tag-init 2014 BORAWAN ISLAND

By: Nickson Garcia

This may have been the longest summer series for The BACKPACKERS (aka BP) when as early as the month of February we started with our yearly "TheBackpackers  - Hirit Sa Tag-Init" series. 

On February, five (5) Backpackers and friends went to the beautiful Residencia De Riego, Sampaguita Beach in Anilao, Batangas where a supposed Tingloy Island escape turned out to be a weekend turnaround that resulted to a must read story. On March, BPs went on a series of cave expeditions in Biak na Bato National Park at San Miguel Bulacan and Nueva Ecija's Hidden Gem, the Minalungao National Park where we had a memorable socials courtesy of "JunJun moves" and "Jen's breakdance". Also in this month, six (6) BPs went on the long awaited Sagada, Mountain Province adventures. The month of April, featured the Season 2 of the much anticipated Survivor (Backpackers vs Loved Ones) and BP's Nickson and Isabel's legendary Mt. Guiting-Guiting Traverse in the Island of Romblon. And just last month of May, The Backpackers participated in a nationwide "Clean Up Drive" at Mt. Romelo.

To close the "The Backpackers' Hirit Sa Tag-Init 2014", we chose the beautiful and alluring island in the south popularly knows as BORAWAN!

Eight (8) BPs and Fourteen (14) friends participated in this event and they are: 


York A., Ralph F., Nick G. and Heinz A.
Isabel F., Ghei A., Marion M. and April B.


1. Sheryl D.
2. Faith N.
3. Lanie M.
4. Jensen A.
5. Jon C.
6. Shari P.
7. Aiza A.
8. "Poms" J.
9. Chipper C.
10. Marlon P.
11. Lav N.
12. Ivy DP.
13. Alvin P.
14. Mau P.

Organized by yours truly, everyone met at JAC Liner Bus Terminal located at Kamuning area at around 7:30am.  At exactly 9:00am,  we left the bus terminal to embark on a journey to the Province of Quezon. After almost four (4) hours or at around 12:30pm, we arrived at Lucena Grand Terminal, where we had our lunch.  

The province of Quezon is one place I enjoy going back to. I personally find the province as a place that is rich with tourist destinations like beaches and islands - one of the reasons why I keep on coming back even if I am a proud Rizaleno (from the province of Rizal). When we arrived at Lucena Grand Terminal, i remembered certain memories, and it was not only me who did. BP Marion approached me and said "Dito tayo naligaw Nick?", referring to our misadventures at Real Quezon.

After taking our lunch, we continued our adventure and took a minibus to Barangay Basiao that is in the Municipality of Padre Burgos, Quezon. It is the jump off point going to the three islands we were targeting. While still in Basiao proper, we has our last minute run to stores to buy  supplies that we would be needing in the island. From there, we rode on tricycles which brought us to the port where Ate Vanessa (09151067594), our contact person for this adventure, waited for us.


Dampalitan Beach
Prior to that weekend, I reserved three (3) boats good for twenty-two (22) persons. Originally, we were twenty-eight (28) to thirty-two (32) participants, but back outs kept on coming even on the actual day of the event. It was not a good feeling and it was very stressful. And because of that, I was able to appreciate more of Ivan's leadership in organizing and handling every part of our Group's monthly event. 

After settling to an agreement that was to lower the price of the boat we were renting (courtesy of forever guest Sheryl),  I discussed our itinerary to our "bangkeros". Our plan was to stay overnight at Dampalitan beach, then we would go island hopping to explore Puting Buhangin/Kwebang Lampas and Borawan on the next day. We were divided into three (3) groups and my group were assigned to the boat of Kuya Noynoy Aquino (09122056993). Yes, he is the "katukayo" of our President.

Boat rental prices

Before the boat ride
Borawan Island view from the port
BP York and BP Ghei
A thirty (30) minute ride from the port brought us to Dampalitan beach. BPs, together with Sheryl, immediately convened to negotiate with the caretakers of the place. We did somehow was able to lower our expenses for this beach courtesy again by Sheryl. The reason why we kept on negotiating for the rates was because I overspent on the food and supplies. As mentioned above, we were originally about thirty-two (32) participants but back outs happened so the expenses for food and supplies became not proportion with the final headcount that was twenty (22) persons! (I guess I won't be doing the groceries anymore). 

Upon our arrival, the first story I heard was that a person just recently died due to a jellyfish attack. According to the caretakers, Jellyfish are everywhere around this season and he advised us that we were only allowed to swim on that area enclosed by a net which they prepared for the visitors to this island. Funny! I thought it was a fish pen so the net's purpose was supposedly to catch fish, until it occurred to me that it actually was the swimming area for people away from the sting from unforgiving jellyfish. 

Dampalitan's front stretch is composed of almost fine white sand and clear blue waters. If you walk continuously towards the side of the beach, a different set of sceneries can be seen and experienced. Beach is not always about the sand and the clear waters; it is also about different rock formations. These formations are ideal for photo enthusiasts. Here are some of the pictures taken by Jon Lakwatsero:

Way towards the side of the beach
Side of Dampalitan
At the side
Rocks scattered
Other side beach picture
The other side of Dampalitan
While some of the guests were enjoying the beach, either by taking some pictures or mingling with fellow guests, the BPs were busy doing their usual tasks and preparing food for dinner. And, while accomplishing those tasks, an unfortunate event happened - BP Heinz was stung by a jellyfish on his arm when he was washing our eating utensils. Good thing other BPs ran to his rescue! All was well and was taken care of in no time.

BP April and friends Lanie and Ivy

Getting ready for dinner
Faith, Shari, Lav and Isabel

G2 399 semi-reunion (BP Isabel, BP Nick and Lav)
Picture at Dampalitan


Dinner was served at around 7:00pm courtesy of the resident BP chef and my fellow batch mate, Resty. He was not able to join the event but we appreciated his assistance in cooking "adobo" for that dinner. Thank you brother Resty!

Ghei, York and I (also known as the "COOL BATCH 5"), decided to prepare a unique socials for this event. Our goal was to make the socials as entertaining and funny for the guests to remember. For the ice-breaker, I introduced them to the game I call - "Hi I'M".

The mechanics of the game is simple. One person will introduce himself to the circle in this order: "Hi I'M..." (unique body movement) then "name". The person to his/her left must imitate what the first person did and must do his own as well. The third person must then imitate what the first and second person did and create his own as well. This will go on up to the final (in our case, the 22nd) person who completes the circle.

For example:

1st person : Hi I'm (body movement) (name)
2nd person: Hi I'm (1st person's body movement) (1st person's name) + Hi I'm (own body movement) (own name)
3rd person: Hi I'm (1st person's body movement) (1st's person name) + Hi I'm (2nd person's body movement) (2nd person's name) + Hi I'm (own body movement) (own name) 

and so on...

It is a nerve-wrecking ice-breaker because a person must memorize one's name and his/her movement and if a certain person forgets the name and/or movement, he/she must perform a talent (that we forgot to impose).

In our case, Alvin, Ralph, Heinz and April were the last people in the circle and they have no choice but to remember all the names and movements of the people ahead of them. Through this game, guest Mau introduced her unique movement known as the "JUMPAK!". Apparently, she was a part of her school's cheer leading team and this was where the movement originated. Aside from the "Jumpak", one thing is for sure - we can never forget the name "Marlon" as he was the first person to introduce himself to the circle.

The socials circle
BP Heinz' turn to show his moves
That ice-breaker marked the start of the socials. The next happenings were equally fun and revealing at the same time!  Ghei spearheaded the next activity which she called - Statement 1 and Statement 2

The mechanics of the game is simple. Everyone must give two (2) statements, one of which is true and the other is false. The other person (chosen by spin-the-bottle) must guess which is the false statement. If the person fails to guess the FALSE statement then he/she must drink two (2) shots of the alcoholic drink prepared. If he/she is correct then the person who gave the statement must be the one to drink the two (2) shots. Through this game, we got the chance to know some personal details about every one. Notable statements would be that of Shari and BP Ghei.

After the activities, some went back to their tents while some remained and mingled with the rest. Those who stayed talked about travels; the places we've been to and dream places we want to reach. I decided to call it a night but instead of going to our tent, I went straight to BP York's hammock and enjoyed swinging. And just so when everyone thought that the night was over, the people who remained in the circle started singing songs. From the hammock, I can hear their voices and I was even humming to their beat but my position made me feel comfortable that I didn't want to stand and re-join them. Suddenly, BP Ralph shouted "Mangaroling tayo!". Everyone on the circle went to every tent and sang different Christmas songs. Luckily, the stretch of Dampalitan beach was long and the other visitors were far from our group (but with their loud voices, I doubt it if the distance really mattered). They were all over the place and disturbing everyone who were sleeping in their tents while I was praying that they won't notice me in the hammock. I stopped swinging in the hammock for them not to notice me but BP Ralph suddenly jump right in front of me then the rest circled me with flashing lights. BP Ralph was swinging the hammock so fast that I was holding on to it so tightly. I even thought I will be thrown out from the hammock to the tree beside me and just die (Kidding). I was just thinking during the swing "Why did they drink JD and Antonov, whyyyyyyy?! "

They did return to the socials circle after mentally abusing my peaceful sleep in the hammock. But again, I thought it would be over then the girls belted their lungs out by singing different OPM medley songs from Aegis to Sexbomb to other 90s or 2000's classics with inclusion of the theme song of VOLTES V (which they did sang from start to finish). All the boys were stunned as we saw the girls singing and having a "wild" night.  

Lanie, Ivy, Marlon BP April and BP Nick
Group shot at Dampalitan
Words can't describe what happened to the girls that night but I believe that when people from different walks of life join together with one thing in mind, and that is to enjoy and live life, then epic things will happen. In short, thank you Jack Daniels for bringing the crazy side of people.


Puting Buhangin
Kwebang Lampas
Our island hopping for Day 2 started at around 9:00am. First on our itinerary was a forty-five (45) minute ride to an island named Puting Buhangin. Located at Pagbilao Quezon, Puting Buhangin is another island with almost the same sand feature as that of Dampalitan's (white and almost fine sand). However, during that time, the beach was filled with tourists so I didn't get the chance to appreciate the place like how i would have. I somehow thought that we'd better have stayed at Dampalitan because it was not that crowded that time.

(Friends) Jon, Alvin, Mau, Jensen and Poms
Entering the Kwebang Lampas
The Kwebang Lampas
Cousins/Siblings BP Heinz and Aiza
Sheryl, Faith and Mau
Jon Lakwatsero
Another feature of the island would be the Kwebang Lampas. It was just a small cave structure beside the Puting Buhangin beach. This was the first time we actually had a chance to plunge ourselves in the water due to fear of jellyfish attack.


Mag-asawang Bato Rock formation
We continued with our island hopping activity by going to the "finale" of this weekend trip.  But before it happened,  we were given a chance to swim… in the MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN! Since we were not allowed to freely swim (or rather afraid to swim because of those jellyfish) in all the beaches we have been to, I told the bangkero that we wanted to swim in a deep area where no jellyfish can be found. In front of the rock formation called “Mag-asawang Bato”, almost all of us jumped from our boat and swam in the ocean surface!

Swimming at last!
BP Ralph, Aiza, BP Heinz and Sheryl
The brave swimmers
It was a memorable experience for some of us who are non-swimmers. As for me, it was something I love and used to enjoy doing whenever I do island hopping. 


The BORAWAN Island
As others would say, it has the sand of BORacay and the limestone formations of palaWAN; hence, the famous name BORAWAN. It was our final island during this adventure. It was, in my opinion, the most beautiful and the most luxurious among all the islands we have visited in that part of Quezon Province. It has a toilet & shower area. A volleyball court is also available! What distinguishes Borawan from Dampalitan and Puting Buhangin would be the different rock structures that were formed.

We again negotiated for a lower rates in this island, and this time, through the help of our guest, the “Jumpak Queen”, Mau. While everyone was taking some pictures, behind them were the rock formations in the island, BPs were busy preparing the lunch.  Here are some of the pictures:

Borawan Island Price Board
Volleyball area
Lav wearing LOVE 
Marlon jumps for joy
BP Ralph
BP Marion and Nick
Jon Lakwatsero
The Bangkeras (Lav and BP Isabel)

Couple (Sheryl and BP Ralph)
BP's Marion and Ghei
BP York, Nick and Ralph
BP Marion
Although some changes were made internally amongst the BP, overall, it was another successful BP event for the month of June 2014. Present BPs (special mention to BP Resty who prepared the adobo) contributed in every aspect of the event and made the guests feel special (hopefully, we did and were able to). 

I personally would like to thank the guests who joined us in this event. Every positive feedback we received melted our hearts and they inspire us to travel more, and to explore and to meet new people more. Like what our motto says - "IT'S ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE AND THE ADVENTURES".  In behalf of The BACKPACKERS, we THANK YOU and we hope that it is not the last time, and we hope to see every one again.

(From Left to Right) Marlon, Lav, Ivy, Chipper, Lanie, Shari, Faith, Mau, Aiza, Sheryl, Poms, Jensen, Jon and Alvin
(From Left to Right) York, Heinz, Isabel, Marion, April, Ghei, Nick and Ralph

Before I finally end this write up, I would like to present to everyone the new Set of Officers of The BACKPACKERS. Trying to manage the pressure and future stresses, we call ourselves “BibbOfficers”. Here we are:

HENRY LOPEZ ALVAREZ– President (click here for profile)

YORK GARRETTE ADVENTO – Vice President (click here for profile)

GI-ANNE MARIE AGONCILLO – Secretary (click here for profile)

LEAH NOGOY – Treasurer (click here for profile)

MARK NICKSON GARCIA – P.R.O. (click here for profile)

And with that I leave you with a wonderful quote from one of the Friends who participated in this event. 

LIKE her on facebook - POETIC TRAVELER
We officially close "TheBACKPACKERS Hirit sa Tag-Init 2014" see you again next year.

Photo courtesy (c) of:
Jon Lakwatsero
Lav Nazarrea
Marion Macapagal
Marlon Podot
Lanie Mercado

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