I teased you with pictures of Cagbalete Island, then you excitedly packed your bag with your swimsuits and sunblock, your shades and that book that takes you forever to finish, you already planned what you'll do on the island, that you'll swim to your heart's content, that you'll do this pose, that you'll shoot this and take picture of that, BUT, do you know how to go there?
The internet is laden with all the informations you need, but you don't have to go far as you can get them from here, and for me, getting to Cagbalete Island is not rocket science, it's as easy as 1-2-3.
1. Go to Lucena. Ideally at 3:30 am, take the Jac Liner or Lucena Liner bus in the corner of Buendia and Taft Avenue, very near the LRT Buendia station. There is also Jam Liner but the first two are better as they go inside the Grand Central Terminal in Lucena while Jam do not. Ask the bus conductor to drop you off in the Grand Terminal. Fare is P187.00 (air-conditioned) and travel time from Manila is only three hours.
2. In Lucena terminal, take the Mauban mini-bus that can be found on the left side of the terminal, which is just a few steps from where the bus will drop you. If you leave Manila by 3:30 am, you will be in Lucena by 6:30 am, you can have your breakfast at the terminal and board on the bus that leave for Mauban either at 7:30 am or 8:00 am (there's a trip every 30 minutes, earliest at 5:00 am). This is an ordinary bus but the morning breeze is refreshing as you will be travelling on a mountainous area. Travel time is approximately 45 minutes to one hour, fare is P50.00.
For those who prefer air-conditioned buses, sorry, there's none. But there are air-conditioned FX/Vans in SM City Lucena that can take you to Mauban. Fare is P60.00 and travel time is faster at 30 minutes, but the waiting period (both for passengers and available vans coming from Mauban) is both longer and crucial. From the Grand terminal, just wait for a jeep with SM Lucena as sign board.
3. By 9:00 am, you're already in the small town of Mauban. You can walk (around 7 minutes) or you can take a tricycle and ask the driver to take you to Pantalan (small port) and tell him to bring you near the passenger boat going to Cagbalete, tricyle fare is P7.00 per head.
The passenger boat has two trips everyday, 10:30 am and 4:00 pm. Fare is only P30.00 and you will be sharing the boat with everyone and everything from hundreds of kilo of rice, flour, breads, vegetables and other necessities. You can observe that everyone in the boat knows everybody, except for you, of course. And can you take note of tagalog words that you did not understand? That would be quite a lot hehe.
At 9:00 am, you also have the option to pass by the public market and get your provisions from there. I assure you that you can get there the freshest catch and vegetables, you can also buy your drinking water and some more chichirya.
The water can be rough as the boat will go against the wave, so better secure your belongings and yourselves (don't worry, there's a vest).
There. Before noon, you'll be in Sabang, you'll be in Cagbalete island. Though the "welcoming sight" may not be very ideal (there are informal settlers in the area), you can already sense in the water that the fun and enjoyment and relaxation is about to start.
Whether you'll stay in Pensacola resort (0427840158) - which we did - or in Villa Cleofas (our next destination), you'll be walking for about 10-15 minutes. You can ask around if you're going the right way. The island occupants may appear to be a bit intimated by your presence and all of them will look and/or stare at you, but they are friendly and you have to understand and expect such reaction because it is only know that tourists (like you and i) are starting to flock to their once secret place.
Being the guests, we have to be humble and friendly, and not the loud type that's usually associated with Manila people (which is bad). In other words, once there, we are the ones who will make the adjustment and not the other way around. I should know, as I grow up in the province. :)
But, is the almost five hours of travel by land and sea worth all the trouble?
to be continued...