It ‘s been raining in Metro the past days but on the day we left for Tuguegarao, I saw sunset in Manila Bay. Positive sign… Good vibes ahead, I thought.
True enough, the good weather didn’t left us all throughout the trip. A picture perfect blue sky graced us on that short weekend to remember.
Six months after Gael and myself’s first attempt to reach the lighthouse of Cabo Engaño, we were back with renewed spirits. This time, three adventurous souls joined us. In the absence of black-and-white itinerary, we endured the 11-hours ride from Manila to Tuguegarao, and another three hours from Tuguegarao to Sta. Ana, Cagayan. Our plan, to reach Palaui Island and trek its lighthouse.
Palaui is an island off the coast of the north easternmost town of Cagayan Province, Sta. Ana. It is an island made up of volcanic rocks and surrounded by white sandy beaches. A home to a fishing community, without electricity and commercial accommodation. Its main attraction aside from its beaches and waterfalls, is the Farol de Cabo Engaño, an 18th century lighthouse built by the Spaniards that guides ships entering and leaving the coastal town of Sta. Ana specially those vessels using Port Irene and San Vicente Port, and those traversing the Babuyan Channel and Philippine Sea.
It was late last year when Gael and I had the journey of our lifetime on our failed attempt to reach the lighthouse, and I can still remember that day. The sun was up and burning our skin, but I didn’t took notice of the scorching heat. I was too excited on the thought of seeing the lonely sentinel of Cape Engaño and the thought entertained me for quite some time that we almost lost track of time. We didn’t mind getting lost in the woods and acquiring wounds that will forever be attached to the place. At the end of the day, our first attempt to reach the lighthouse ended up on a sad fate, but there were no regrets, only realizations and appreciations.
As we traversed the road to our grand destination for the second time, the memories of our unfortunate attempt came alive. The shoreline, forest, hills, meadows, water buffaloes, goats and echoing waves welcomed us once more. With frequent stops, the two-hour trek became four as we took our time to enjoy the trail. Darkness already started to envelope the sky as we raced with time to reach the cove, but the crawling darkness of eastern sky added drama and charm to already majestic sights of Palaui.
Just after the sun set and the night prevailed, our foot finally set to our humble abode – an entire stretch of a calm cove glittered by millions of flickering stars. We had no night lamp nor flash light but the moon provided us the light we needed to survive the night. Before we called it a day, we gave in to the tempting water and swam with the nocturnal of the sea for our greatest relief.
When the sun was up the next day, the daylight revealed the beauty of the scenery. A cove covered by white sand and pebbles, with turquoise blue water, a blue sky and tranquil waves that gently break on the shore. It was a picture perfect morning.
We took a leisurely walk towards the end of the cove, barely talking and mesmerized by the grand beauty around us. Our thoughts were conversing in silence, and our silence made us hear ourselves in the harmony of the songs of the sea.
I tried not to show any hint of excitement to get up close to the lighthouse, seated on top of a hill on the other end of the cove. But as I tried to ignore her presence, the wind blew and touched my soul. I felt the lighthouse’s charm down to my nerve and heard her soft voice. She was waiting for us… for so long.
Her gentle and inviting murmurings were too overpowering and for five souls at mercy of her will, who are we to disobey?
We trekked the small hill. Every step that got us closer to her was like a dream come true.
And there she was, standing proud, overlooking the cove, the rolling hill, the nearby islands of Dos Hermanas and the vast sea, is the lonely sentinel of Palaui Island – Farol de Cabo Engaño.
We strolled around and took refuge in her comfort. She embraced us with arms wide open. We felt her warm smile through the sun rays that gently touched our bodies. She was beautiful, and the images we took were not enough to give justice to her majestic appeal. One needs to feel and see her in real to fully solve her mystery and appreciate her true beauty.
I looked at the direction where Gael and I turned our backs to her the very first we met. It was still far. I just smiled and shook my head, for I know she still remembers our misadventure and how we really wanted to meet her. Alas, we finally met her, and the past doesn’t matter anymore.
What seemed to be an elusive lighthouse was really not that elusive after all, and as we wonder on her grandeur and the striking view she offered, we felt her domineering presence. I hope she felt us too. We may just be another curious souls, but it was her who linked us all and she will forever be part of us.
Our weekend journey came and went so fast. On our way home, as I rested my back against my soft seat and closed my eyes, I saw the stars of Palaui that guarded us through the night, and the vivid images of the island flashed one after the other. I just smiled until my consciousness faded to a deep slumber. There’s something about Palaui Island that is life changing, and as we part our ways, we knew our lives will never be the same.
Before I close my book on our journey to Palaui, let me thank these four souls who made the trip memorable:
Gael, one I fondly call Jill, my long lost sister and the only rose among the thorns. A corporate girl who finds comfort in solo traveling. She was with me last year on a failed attempt to reach the lighthouse. She blogs at www.thepinaysolobackpacker.com.
Edcel, a Cebu based travel blogger and head stander who found escape in his 10-day work related stay in Manila. He hasn’t been traveling for three months until this Palaui trip. He blogs at www.soloflighted.com.
Jerome, a well-traveled and a real adventurer who also works in a company in Metro. Of the five of us, he is the only one who had been to Batanes, Palaui’s long lost sister. He shoots really great photos so he was our default and official photographer, no wonder he is rarely seen in our Palaui photos. He blogs about his travel at www.balintataw.org.
Darwin, a young blood from Talisay, Batangas. One I really envy for being exposed to the real sense of travel and adventure at an earlier age than me. He has a day job in Taguig aside from being the well respected president of Bagets. He blogs at www.trackingtreasure.net.
The trip means a lot to me and Gael. Ed, Darwin and Jerome were the perfect people to be with. We all fell in love with the lighthouse, the beautiful cove, the scenery, the serenity and tranquility of the place, and the circumstances and events that transpired. They say that it’s the journey that matters and not the destination, but for us it is the journey, the company, the memories we created along the way, and the destination that made the trip a weekend to remember.
For information on how to go to Palaui Island, check out my Palaui Island Travel Guide.
2200H: Departure from Victory Kamuning
1000H: Arrival in Tuguegarao
1000H – 1100H: Proceed to Sta. Ana Van Terminal / Lunch
1100H – 1400H: Tuguegarao to Sta. Ana, Cagayan
1400H – 1445H: Market / Proceed to San Vicente Port /Register
1430H – 1500H: San Vicente Port to Palaui Island community
1500H – 1830H: Trek to the lighthouse
1830H – 1900H: Pitch tent
1900H – onwards: Dinner, night swimming, bonfire
0600H: Call time
0600H – 0800H: Explore Cove
0800H – 0930H: Lighthouse / Breakfast
0930H – 1000H: Beach
1000H – 1200H: Trek back to community
1200H – 1300H: Palaui Island to Sta. Ana / Snacks
1300H – 1600H: Sta. Ana to Tuguegarao
1600H – 1700H: Late Lunch / Early Dinner
1700H: Departure from Tuguegarao to Manila
5 Manila to Tuguegarao Bus Tickets- P2900
Trike Victory to Van Terminal – P100
Tuguegarao to Sta. Ana Van (5 pax) – P900
Royal 1.5L on Lunch – P30
Grocery Items – P230
4L H20 – P60
Trike Centro Sta. Ana to Port – P70
Packed Foods – P210
Boat/Guide – P1000
Trike Port to Van Station – P75
Sta. Ana to Tuguegarao Van (5 pax)- P900
5 Tuguegarao to Manila Bus Tickets – P2900
Total = P9375
P9375 / 5 pax = P1875 each