It was a toss-up between Calaguas and Cagbalete, and if there is something you should know, it’s that Calaguas never happens in this universe of mine. It’s always a plan and stays that way. Cagbalete won because it was more accessible and relatively closer coming from Manila. It did not really matter that much to me because I haven’t been to either destination. I just initially thought that Cagbalete was in Aurora. It turns out to be located in Quezon. Okay, let’s mark Aurora red in our map some time later!
Most of us live closer to JAC Liner’s Buendia terminal so that is where we all went. Buses to Lucena are available 24 hours a day, I’ve been told, although the schedule on the website says they only run until 2 AM. We arrived at Lucena Grand after two hours and a half, but this is because we left at midnight. The chicken bus to Mauban left after an hour or so. They had to fill it up first. From Mauban, we took a private boat which took us around another hour and a half of travel time.
You could also opt for a public boat but this one has limited trips, around two per day, I think. Rumor has it that it’s also difficult to get on it because it fills up really fast. Chartering a private boat cost us around 1500 pesos, but there were four of us so it was just okay. Strength in numbers! So this is what I’ve been missing traveling all alone all this time? You might also want to bring your own supply of groceries because food and drinks could be scarce depending on where you’re going.
We ended up at MVT Sto. Niño Beach Resort, which reminded me of our Anawangin trip because of the many tents that greeted us upon arrival. The place is just okay, although they say that the other resorts in the island have KTV and other perks. This one is more quiet and secluded. You could not even view it from the boat because the main area is hidden behind some sort of mangrove thingy. The tree cover is impressive, and the many coconuts in sight give you a rather bucolic vibe.
I would no longer go into detail as to what we did here. I think I have reached that part of my late twenties where it is no longer that easy to either amuse or amaze me. I am not saying that I hate beaches now, but rather my appreciation has shifted its focus on something else. Any other time, I would just be alone and chilling on a hammock by the bay. Nowadays, I find it more fun to hang out with friends and just chat and do group activities together. Maybe I am getting old.
Cold drinks are available but the resort is not that well-stocked. Also expect these products to come in airline prices. A 1.5 liter bottle of chilled Coke would set you back 80 pesos in this island. A small bottle of Absolute mineral water would cost you 50. I know it sounds expensive, but once you have exhausted every possible way to keep cool in this outdoor sauna kind of weather, 80 pesos would not really mean that much to you. Trust me on this.
You would be on your own when it comes to food. There will be a vendor or two selling freshly-caught seafood (or so they claim) in the morning, but cooking those giant squid would be up to you. You could do your last minute shopping at the market in Mauban before you hop on your boat. There is also a 7 Eleven nearby. I think the most important thing we brought along was charcoal, because we were that reliant on the grill, although our friends also came equipped with a portable stove and oil for frying stuff.
In terms of accommodation, you could choose if you want to spend the night in a tent, a nipa hut, a fan room, or an air-con room. The air-con room ran out pretty fast, which gave me murderous thoughts because of the heat. We ended up in a nipa hut. Tents are okay, but you still get wet if it rains. The only downside of the nipa hut was that the floor was quite hard, so that mean some body pain here and there the next morning. There is a common bathroom and shower room for everyone to share.