Time stops in Tinaga Island

Izah Morales
Tinaga Island is a quiet paradise perfect for a summer retreat

Photo by Izah Morales

CAMARINES NORTE, Philippines – Time stood still as soon as the boatman threw the anchor into the sea. The shimmering aquamarine waters stunned me. It was like a dream.

I jumped into the waters and felt the powdery cream sand with my feet. Finally, I’ve set foot at Mahabang Buhangin, Tinaga Island after braving the rough waves coming from the Pacific Ocean for two hours. Tinaga Island is part of the Calaguas Group of Islands in Camarines Norte.

The 8-hour roadtrip from Manila to Camarines Norte paid off because the moment my companions and I arrived at the island, time stopped. We were back to basics. There were no hotels, no electricity, and even cellular signal. 

While my companions started setting up the tents, I held my camera (www.tripadora.com) and walked to the northern side of the beach where waves wash away huge rocks. From this point of view, I captured the 1.2 kilometer-stretch of the shoreline of Mahabang Buhangin. It was an astonishing sight.

Photo by Izah Morales

The sun embraced the island with its warmth. Despite the scorching heat, I walked to the southern part to compare the views. In the middle of my wandering, I met Regine and her brothers playing in the sand. Regine shared that she and her 6 siblings were born on the island. It’s their playground.

The Bicol region is frequented with typhoons and so I asked her, “What if, there’s a typhoon, where do you go?” She said, “Nasa loob lang po kami ng bahay pero minsan pumpunta kami sa evacuation center (We stay inside our house but sometimes we go to the evacuation center).”

I could not see any establishment on the island though. Later, I learned from Mang Danilo Magallano, one of the caretakers of the island, that whenver needed, they take refuge at the evacuation center in Barangay Mangcawayan, which is a 20-30 minute walk from Mahabang Buhangin.

Simple joys

Only 6 families live in the stretch of Mahabang Buhangin while most residents of the island reside at the other side of Barangay Mangcawayan. Curious about Barangay  Mangcawayan, we decided to explore the other side of Tinaga Island.

Amid tall wild grass and coconut trees, we strolled to Mangcawayan where fun for kids means basketball and pleasure for adults is a cockfight.

We walked until we reached the shoreline. It was not as breathtaking as Mahabang Buhangin. Nonetheless, we chanced upon one of the fishermen who caught a tanigue fish. We didn’t let it pass and bought it for dinner.

The orange and indigo hues painted the sky. The sun was about to bid farewell. We tried to chase the sunset but it was gone by the time we arrived at Mahabang Buhangin.

Over dinner, the moon and the twinkling stars served as our light. We happily feasted on grilled Tanigue, ginataang Tanigue, grilled pork chops and hot and spicy sisig.

We called it a night and slept in our tents. The waves kissing the shore were like melodies that put me to sleep. Hours later, a sound woke me up. It was not a rooster crowing. I listened closely. It’s more like a cry of another animal. I tried to close my eyes again and erased my fears.

When the sun stretched its rays into the sky, I went out of the tent and asked Mang Danilo about it. He said the sound came from the crows cawing. Aside from the crows, carabaos which are domesticated by the other families can be seen on the island.

I took my morning walk on the sand, stared at the waters and prayed. Mahabang Buhangin is paradise at its best where you can enjoy God’s gifts in its purest state.

No matter how long the journey was, it was worth experiencing.  Indeed, only those who dare cross the ocean are rewarded. – Rappler.com

Here’s how to get to Mahabang Buhangin:
-Ride a bus going to Daet. Tell the driver to drop you off at Barangay Talobatid, where you can hail another bus going to Paracale. Paracale is the shorter way to go to Calaguas Islands. It would take you two hours to reach Tinaga Island, where Mahabang Buhangin is. The other way is via Vinzons but it would take 3 hours if you take this route.
-Best time to go : March-May
-Boat rides can be rough so prepare to get wet. Renting a boat would cost you around Php 8,000- Php 10,000 (good for 20-30 pax)
-Each camper is required to pay an environmental fee of Php 100.00.

(Want to share your summer adventures with Rappler? Send stories and photos to desk@rappler.com. We thank Izah Morales for this summer story. Follow Izah Morales’ travels at www.tripadora.com.)

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