Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Surviving Caramoan

breath taking sight of Caramoan
Caramoan has been a favorite site for international franchises of Survivor. The place has hosted the Serbian version in two consecutive seasons. It has also hosted the Israel version of Survivor for two previous seasons. Israel has also planned to film their fifth season in Caramoan in 2011. Bulgarian Survivor also filmed their fourth season there in May to July 2009. Robinson 2010, the twelfth season of the Swedish version of the franchise, was also filmed in Caramoan from May to June 2010.

a sea snake resting in one of the crevices, undisturbed
The 8th season of Koh-Lanta (French edition of Survivor), was also shot entirely in Caramoan. TV director Corinne Vaillant, stated that "the powdery sand, the coconuts on Gota beach and the neighboring islets are a 'dream' for the French people. We chose Caramoan because it’s really wild. It’s necessary that contestants don’t see anything other than nature for them to believe that they’re really lost in the wilds. (Adapted from Wikipedia)

How to Get to Caramoan

From Naga City Terminal I took a 2 hour bus ride (JC Liner bound to Lagonoy) to the town of Goa. From there I rode a jeepney to Sabang Pier then another 2 hour boat ride to Guijalo Pier Caramoan.

Boat trips starts at 7AM, 9AM, 11AM and 2PM only! Make sure not to miss these time else you will need to rent your own boat. Boat ride will take 2 hours.
Alternate Route

1.       There are vans in Naga CBD terminal (P100) directly to Sabang pier where you can ride a boat to Caramoan. Vans are only available at 7AM.

*If you are coming from Manila, you can either take a plane to Naga Airport or take a nine hour bus ride to Naga City. There are daily bus companies bound to Camarines Sur or Bicol region, almost all of them start their operations by 5PM to 11PM. Bus companies like Isarog, PeƱafrancia, Raymond and Philtranco in Pasay and Cubao bus terminals offer trips bound to Naga. 

My Experience. My Caramoan Story.

I left Naga with P1700 cash in my wallet.

Caramoan has been a favorite site for international franchises of Survivor but never did I imagine that I will live like one of the participants in the reality show "Survivors" in my very own Caramoan escape. I thought (forgive me for thinking that way) that there will be ATMs or at least Credit Card terminals available in the island since it’s already an internationally acclaimed spots. But I was wrong. Dead wrong!

The moment I’ve learned that there are neither ATMs nor credit card terminals in the island I sent sms to my friends and asked them to google for me the cheapest possible transient where I can stay for at least a day. The cheapest they got is worth P400/day. I ain’t satisfied, still expensive considering my cash at hand. Then I got a message from an old friend Gara Arcilla who happened to be from Caramoan too. She asked her friend if she can accommodate me, so yebah I got a place to stay for P300!

my sanctuary
(non-aircon, common washroom but at least i got a roof and a room!)

For two days I live with P1700 in a stranger place.

It’s almost 4PM when I reached Caramoan Centro. I asked around if how much it will cost me to go island hopping. The regular rate is P1500. And being a hard headed me, I made sure that I won’t go home regretting because I failed to see the wonders of Caramoan. Why did I go to this place if I won’t see the beauty of the area? I decided to go to the pier; maybe I can find a group of tourists who might be willing to tag me along, so that I don’t have to pay the whole P1500. Gee! I’m alone, have mercy! But I failed; I saw no group of tourists, only boatmen and locals. I then sat at the corner, tired and frustrated.

Kuya Dindo my savior.
Try to look for him when you go to Caramoan.
Tell him again how Missy appreciates his help.
Suddenly I heard a voice askin “Sino kasama mo?” (Who are you with?) The man is talking to me, a boat man! After I answered him that I am alone, I talked in a pitiful low voice and asked him if he can take me around so I can see the islands that I am seeing in TV. He said I have to rent his boat for P1500. I told him I have nothing left so he said he can give it for P1000 instead. I know he’s being kind and I am asking too much but I still pushed my luck. I asked if he can bring me to at least four islands and I’ll give him P700. Miraculously he accepted my offer. He asked me to go home and he’ll meet me a day after so we can start island hopping early morning.

On my way back to my transient, a motorcycle collided with a tricycle. I was captivated by the scene that I was left there standing for some time looking at the unconscious bloody man. I tried to help but the locals swarmed around so I decided to take his picture instead and left the area.

I really hope this man survived the accident...
I went back to my transient happy because I got a boat for tomorrow, and sad for the fate of that motorcycle driver. I hope he was able to survive that accident.

In my room I prepared the things I needed for island hopping. I took my dinner; the cup noodles I brought with me (I took brunch before I left Naga around 11AM), text barraged my friends about what happened for the day and slept early.

The Island Hopping

The pictures I took are not enough to explain how really beautiful Caramoan is. It’s amazing! The water, the rocks, the sands, and the environment; they are all stunning beyond words. Everything was created perfectly, and the islands were like delicately placed far south, so it can somehow escape the abusive changes that modernization and civilization could bring. I felt like reliving my island hopping in Malaysia, it's just that I am in my very own Philippines.

I went to four islands Matukad, Lahus, Hunungan and Gota and I am more than satisfied with what I saw. According to Kuya Dindo (the boatman), it will take 3 days to visit all the islands in caramoan Peninsula. He also said that the other islands are more beautiful than those we visited but the others are closed due to Survivor taping. Some islands of Caramoan are rented for 20 years and that will end in 2029. That means if there’s a Survivor taping those islands are close to public. I was saddened by the fact that we Filipinos are being treated as foreigners in our own land. L
one of the private resorts in Caramoan
(Owned by CamSur Governor Villafuerte)
mountains, water and sands
plants and rocks
We decided to go home around 1130AM so I can catch the 1PM last boat back to Sabang Pier.

How I survived Caramoan (Projected Expenses)

Lagonoy bus from Naga to Goa -----------------------------------  P86
Jeep to Sabang ----------------------------------------------------  P20
Boat to Caramoan – P150 (way and back) ------------------------- P300
Motorcycle to Caramoan Centro – P20.00 (way and back) --------  P40
Motor to Pier P20.00 (4 times) = ----------------------------------- P80
Transient – ---------------------------------------------------------  P300
Boat Rental – ------------------------------------------------------- P700
Van back to Naga –------------------------------------------------- P100

Total Expenses = ------------------------------------------------------------ P1626
The P74 left from P1700 I bought food.

The van back to Naga will pass by SM Naga. When I took off the van I still have P18 left in my wallet. I went to the nearest ATM, withdraw and ate a whole hearty meal!

Never will I forget this escape…

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