The Random Road Trip 4: Of Haunted Houses, 2000 Year Old Burial Grounds, Glowing Planktons, Province Hopping, Boodle Fights and Crazy Tricycle Rides.
December 27-29, 2013, Tara Let’s Go Asia organised another Random Road Trip. This time we went to Catanauan, Quezon Province. It is around 220 kilometers south of Manila. From Manila, the place can be reached in 4 to 5 hours by a private vehicle. In our case, it took us 6 hours due to road construction happening in Pagbilao, Quezon.
Why Catanauan, Quezon?
When we were thinking of a place to go for Random Road Trip 4, we wanted a place that will keep people guessing. And then we met with Deone (a good of friend of ours in TLG). Deone, who happens to also be an archaeologist by profession, mentioned that his team from the University of the Philippines (together with their Australian counterparts) have been doing archaeological burial excavations in Quezon. And he offered to bring us there. Archaeological site. Burial grounds. Beach. Quezon. White sand. Sounds like the randomest thing to do for the holiday season which will keep people guessing. So, we immediately organised the dates and scheduled a trip there.
1. Of Haunted Houses
After a 6 hour drive from Manila, we arrived in Catanauan, Quezon around 8:00 in the morning. The road to the place where we are staying excited us a lot as it was paved with crushed white limestones leading us to the sandy beach shores. You can already smell the salty sea breeze inside the van as we drove past barangay houses. Just few minutes later, we saw the big sea. It was a sprawling white sand beach lined with coconut trees and fisher folk houses. Our van stopped inside bamboo constructed gate. What greeted us was an old rustic house that spelled H-A-U-N-T-E-D at first glance. The house was built on old narra wood with blue stained window glassiest and creeky bamboo floors. While we were settling down and excitedly exploring the place, Deo, our kind host/guide took time to meet us and offered fresh coconut drinks while we planned our exploration of Catanauan.
2. Of Sadako and Deep Wells
As we explored every nook and cranny of the house, we were told that potable drinking water can be found in the deep well outside the old house. I’ve have rarely seen deep wells in my life so I was pretty excited to see how it all looked like and experience getting water from it. Wow. Manually filling jugs and containers of water is no joke. The patience it takes to drop the bucket, fill with water, hoist it all up and pour on a container is physically exhausting. And the folks in that area do that every day!
Note: That is one pretty deep well and I can already imagine the movie, “The Ring” with Sadako coming out of that well in the middle of the night.
3. Of 2000 Year Old Burial Grounds
Little did we know that the old house we were staying is actually the dig site that Deone was talking about. Literally, the surrounding area hidden underneath the rich vegetation was actually a massive cemetery dating back 2000 years ago. Earthen vase kept the remains of our Filipino ancestors. In may not look like it, but the photos below are the actual dig site. To prevent from unwanted desecration or pillage, the team of Deone had to cover the discovered vases and remains with rocks until the next dig which on January 2014.
4. Boodle Fights and Province Hopping
Around 11AM, after preparing our lunch of grilled fish and rice, Deo, our host, brought us to the neighboring island of Marinduque, Mongpong Island. It is where we are going to have our boodle fight lunch. It took 45 minutes to get to the island from Catanauan. After a long day of traveling from Manila, our stomachs were hungry. With banana leaves as our plate and our hands as our spoon, we devoured the freshly grilled fish and rice as if there was no tomorrow. To smell of the sea, the grass, the island combined with an awesome company of friends made this lunch one of the best lunches I have had.
5. Mongpong Island
After a hearty lunch, the gang randomly decided to explore the island. With Deo as our guide, we trekked through the mountains of Mongpong Island to a spot where he said is one of the most beautiful spots in the island. As we walked and trudged our way to the rolling hills of coconuts and copra farms, I could not help to breath it all in. The scenery is not something you would see everyday.
After an hour of hiking and walking through the island forest, we ended up in a picturesque little beach side with a crazy rock cave formation. The moment we saw the seaside and the cove, everyone just dove right into the water.
Time really flies when you are having fun. So, after swimming, cliff jumping and taking endless photographs, we headed back to our own island. It was already half past 5:00 PM when we got back to Catanauan. As the sun set on the horizon and the sea became calmer and calmer. The waves became less and less which made the water look like liquid glass reflecting the colors of the horizon.
The scenery and ambiance was too much for us to resist that we took another swim and dove into the calm water. As our hands splashed around, to our surprise, the water started sparkling and glowing. We all thought it was just the sun but as it turns out, tons of bioluminescent planktons colored our night swim with sparkling green and blue lights.
What an awesome way to end the adventure filled day.
Stay tuned for the Day 2 of our Random Road Trip to Catanauan, Quezon.