The boat left Capul Island to Matnog at exactly seven in the morning. I was seated on a sack of copra with other passengers going to mainland, and I jumped out of my seat when I saw the lighthouse. She is beautiful, even from afar. I grabbed my camera and hit a click or two, all eyes were on me as I set my eyes on the lighthouse. It was just yesterday when I was racing with time and circumstances just to see her, and now I am going home.
The series of unfortunate events that transpired on my way to Capul Island brought back the memory of my quests to the lighthouses of Capones, Cape Engaño and Cape Bojeador. For reasons unknown to me, all my journeys to these old lighthouses were all epic stories of difficulties, adventure and survival, and once more, I struggled to defy the negativity that tried to prevent me from seeing the lonely sentinel of Capul Island.
The long road to the this place became even longer with the series of bad lucks that piled-up one after the other: the tiring 15-hours of land travel from Manila to Matnog, Sorsogon aboard a slow, cramped and uncomfortably cold bus that charged me P900 for a direct trip to Allen, Samar; my late arrival in Matnog, thus missing the lone boat to Capul Island from Allen that departs at 12 noon; and my missing pouch with my cash, ATM card and other important documents in it. What else could go wrong?
The thought of ending the trip and returning home crossed my mind, but I managed to quickly abort the idea and pursued my journey. Once more, as if I heard the Little Prince murmur in his soft voice , “when mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey.”
I found my self on a ferry, crossing San Bernardino Strait, on a journey to uncertainty. More than the hunger and restlessness, and the very tight budget, how will I able to reach Capul Island was my biggest problem. The lone boat from Allen to Capul Island that I know departs at 12 noon. On that same time I was still on the ferry wishing for impossible.
Later, I have learned that there are motorboats direct to Capul from Matnog, Sorsogon and Looc and Dapdap, both in Allen. But I was already in the town of Victoria and about to cross San Antonio, the island in between Capul and mainland Samar.
The easy way of going to Capul from Allen turned out to be long and costly for me: a trike ride to Victoria (P25); public boat to San Antonio Island (P50); habal-habal to Barangay Dalupirit (P50); and a chartered boat to Capul (P300). At four o’clock in the afternoon, my feet landed on the island. Just when everyone there was about to call it a day, my day has just started.
But good Samaritans come in times we need them the most, and in trying times like this, I have known Sir Marlon Mente virtually. A former town official, Sir Marlon referred me to the town’s Vice Mayor, Veronica Babelonia Castillo. “Please proceed to the vice mayor. Di ka niya pabababayaan“, his words.
True enough, Mommy, as most locals call her, opened her home for me. She welcomed me like a family and provided me a room to stay. In a short time, I instantly felt her motherly care.
Mommy Veronica’s home was at the corner of the plaza, fronting the century old Church of Saint Ignatius Loyola and the fort that served as the town’s bastion against Moro pirates during Spanish era. Just this year, this old church of Capul was recognized by the National Historical Commission as a national landmark and a heritage, a pride of Capuleños.
When I and Mommy Veronica’s small talk was getting deeper, I excused myself to see the lighthouse. I needed to see it before sundown, because above all, it was the magnet that got me to the place.
The motorbike charged me P200 for a round trip ride to the lighthouse that sits on a hill, north of the island. Unlike those in Capones and Palaui, the lighthouse of Capul Island is accessible by motorbikes. It took only less than 30-minutes for me to reach my grand destination.
As I enter the compound and see the lighthouse, my entire world brightened. For a moment I forgot my lost valuables, my aching stomach screaming for breakfast and lunch, and my restless body. The towering sentinel evoked my graying consciousness and her domineering presence made me feel so small without taking away my soul.
She is beautiful. Just like her other sisters that she haven’t seen.
The lighthouse is still being utilized by the coast guard, a room in the keeper’s house serves as their sleeping quarter and the whole compound is their home. The wall of keeper’s house reminded me of Palaui’s, while the dilapidated rooms and roofs are pictures of Capones’.
I walked further to a grassy hill below her, overlooking the nearby islands, the sea and the mountains of waves hitting the northern shore. A huge tree in the middle of the hill is trying to steal the domination of the lighthouse, but instead succumbed and just complimented with the scenery. I looked around and everything was of beauty.
Right there and then I felt that my day is a big accomplishment. Despite all the odds, seeing the old lighthouse of Capul up-close was the sweetest thing that happened to me that day. There’s really something in me that connects to lighthouses… something that is still unclear and I am trying to uncover as I explore further to see the other lonely sentinels of the sea. There are still more out there.
The wind blows to my face as the boat maneuvers to the mainland. I look back but the lighthouse is already out of my sight. I remember the island and its compelling stories, the scenery and the amazing people I have met in my short stay there. It is still a long way home but the memories of the island start to entertain me. I may have lost something, but my day in Capul Island was just priceless and I am bringing them all home.
How to Go to Capul Island
From Allen, Samar: A boat departs from Looc every 12 noon daily, fare is P50.00. From Dapdap, a boat leaves in the afternoon on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Weekends, fare is also P50.00. Travel time is 30-45 minutes. Alternatively, if you miss the boat, you can go to the town of Victoria and ride a public boat to San Antonio Island (P40 / 30 minutes ride), then ride a habal-habal to Sitio Dalupirit (P35 / 10 minutes ride), and charter a boat going to Capul Island (P300 / 30 minutes ride).
From Matnog, Sorsogon: A boat departs daily from Matnog at 11 or 12 noon. The boat is not in the main ferry terminal but on the beach on the side of the port, near the bus terminal, fare is P100 and travel time is 45 minutes to an hour.