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Sorsogon: An Island Camp Experience (Part 1)

Camping isn't exactly my forte as I've passed up many chances to join girl scout outdoor camping trips in high school. And so when my lust to wander outdoors finally sets in and the more adventurous side of me took place, I began to appreciate the occasional escape from my comfort zone and be more open to what if's and why not's - like my first island camp experience.

my sister and I admiring the sea after an unforgettable night

An Irresistible Invitation

My dear Aunt Lily, mom's sister-in-law, once told us stories about Malawmawan Island, an isolated island her brother owns. I can still remember her sweet smile while sharing with us her memories of that island - the sandbar, the jellyfish, the coconuts, the lake and the many fresh seafood caught straight within the island. I thought that it may take a while before I can even see this island, if not close to impossible. But I took a mental note of that conversation and a year after, what seemed to be a distant dream finally came true.


Aunt Lily and Uncle No invited me to go back to Bicol to specifically visit the island. Immediately, I pitched the idea of an overnight camping of which my uncle agreed. He was awarded bundles of medals during his boy scout years - I couldn't wait to learn and relearn a couple of surviving tips.

The Long Journey To Sorsogon

My sister Hannah and I met up with Uncle No and cousin Ate Ging with her son Hentjie at the bus terminal of Cagsawa in Cubao at 6pm of Saturday - the start of the long weekend holiday of August. I am specifically excited for my sister who is set to experience her first long bus ride with me. We left 6:30pm sharp and arrived in Legazpi at about 7am. Hannah was overjoyed to have seen Mt. Mayon that morning, and with the absence of its usual blanket of clouds, the perfect cone shape volcano was a stunner.

arrival at Legazpi Terminal (Mayon at the background)

After a carbo-loaded breakfast in Legazpi (hello binutong), we wasted no time and proceeded to Macalaya in Castilla, Sorsogon. We were all itching to get into the island and boarded jeep after jeep. Within an hour, we finally saw the sea and the outrigger boat that will take us to the island. Uncle purchase last few minute items we needed specially water since there's still no direct source for fresh water in the area.

that's the island right there as seen from the docking area
sisters day out

The outrigger boat fits 8. It's still not a designed-for-tourist type but a local fisherman's boat - it's the real deal! Naturally, Hannah was initially scared to see the boat, it's her first boat ride at sea after all. Sanay lang kasi siya sa bangka namin sa Lake Sebu - at walang alon dun. It was a good 15-20 minute ride, there were rough areas but it was tolerable considering we sailed during the habagat season. Surprised, we caught glimpse of lawin or hawks flying above us one after the other. I was delighted to finally see the 1.5km stretch of sandbar from the boat. Seeing that, I'm sure this trip would be a weekend we'll never forget.

hawk flying above sea
first glimpse of the sandbar

the island's caretakers

The kubo. This is our kitchen, bedroom and dining area for 2 days

Uncle introduced us to Tita Lilia and her family, whose ancestors were the first inhabitants of the island were tasked to become the caretakers. While having lunch, they told us a brief history of Malawmawan revealing that during the Japanese revolution, the community living there was forced to move to the mainland. A foreign national and his Filipina wife were the previous owners before aunt Lily's brother decided to buy the island.

seafood lunch - all from the island

As you can see, the food trip part was off to a good start. Panalo ang mga ga-higanteng crab at pusit! The satisfying meal made us discuss exciting food options of what to serve once it opens to public, Bicol inspired of course.

The Island Tour

The lunch left us all wanting to get a good siesta, but decided to walk instead and start the island tour. It's location-perfect for bonding while breaking a sweat and burning the piled calories. Let me take you on a quick photo tour...

abundance of coconut trees




It was my first time to see how a landscape architect works (made me fancy what could have been if I pursued landscape architecture). We talked about her previous works and the importance of having landscape architects at the initial stage of urban planning. She supports sustainable development - work with nature type of planning. Sana kasi naghihire talaga ng mga landscape architects ang government natin at private sectors especially sa mga cities. Ate Ging was actually convincing me to pursue the course simply because our country has a very few landscape architects. As much as I love landscapes and architecture,  I've moved on and it was no longer part of my goals. I definitely have no plans of going back to school.

island tour
We surveyed the 30 hectare island for about 3 hours and we haven't even seen most of its forest-y parts and simply strolled its border sand beach. Coconut trees abound in the island, as well as mangroves where the lake exists. There's also an area where the glistening black sand kept us all wondering about its mineral content and what makes it sparkle. We passed by spiky rocks, gathered cute and odd looking seashells, wandered at sea urchins and snails moving in their natural habitat, climbed a coconut tree at nagtampisaw.

I can't wait to see how this island develop. With a landscape architect like my cousin, I'm sure she can deliver the most sustainable plan for an island resort.

Up Next:  The Unexpected Night Camp Experience (Find out how we spent a hair-blowing and spine-tingling night in the island)


This post is part of my Sorsogon series:

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