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Friday, June 24, 2011

The Anawangin I Know and Love


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Anawangin is my first (beach) love. Although there are far more beautiful beaches (like Coron, Palawan which I also love) here in the Philippines, Anawangin will always be my first (beach) love.

Back in 2007, Anawangin was not yet well-known in the travelling community. Only a few mountaineers and campers were aware that it existed. We only discovered it from a friend of a friend who’s been there. We barely researched on how to get there since there was not much blog write-ups on it. All we knew was its location, that it’s a secluded cove so we had to take a boat, and that there were no resorts so we had to bring our tents.

That was one of its charms. It was a secluded beach and only a few people knew it existed.

My first trip to Anawangin was in August 2007. It was right after a strong typhoon. So the original barkada trip was down scaled to a trio trip. We were actually worried that it might rain the whole time we were there, or worse that we will not be allowed to even leave Pundaquit Beach (the take-off point). But we were just so curious about the place so we just decided to push through. And we never regretted that decision.

Before going to Anawangin, we first visited the Camara and Capones islands.

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Then we were headed to Anawangin. It didn’t help, but it made it more exciting, that we couldn’t see the cove from afar.

I remember upon turning left to the cove, my friend said “It’s true!”. We were so amazed of the fact that there were indeed pine trees (or Agoho trees) on the beach. And the water was soooo clear.

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We were welcomed by an old couple who oversees the place. They have a small hut and a small restroom outside which they generously share with the campers. They led us to a table in the camping area where we can set up camp. (Btw, there used to be no entrance fee in the cove, but it's a common practice to give them some money prior to leaving as a sign of gratitude for their hospitality.)

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There were only four groups during that time (not more than five people per group) and a trekking group of about 10 people. It rained from time to time but we actually enjoyed it. After swimming in the beach we decided to explore the cove. We walked towards the forest area and just followed the small pathway that the trekkers use.

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Until we saw the small river and the dramatic old pine trees and the super clear water.

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We continued on to the forest area stopping from time to time to take photos and to just sit down and enjoy the relaxing sounds of nature – flowing river, birds chirping, wind breeze through the pine trees.

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We went back to where we started and saw another group who were also enjoying the river.

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We wanted more of the river so we continued on and followed its flow.

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Until we were lead to a larger river that is connected to the South China Sea.

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We decided to stay there again to enjoy the peace and quiet.

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They call it the Red River. And it’s another one of Anawangin’s charms. They said that we were lucky since for the most part of the year the river is dry. The river was flowing during that time due to the typhoon. We were so glad that we pushed through! I’ve been to Anawangin five times from 2007 to 2010, and it was only during that first trip that I got to see the river flowing.

Another thing I loved about Anawangin, at least during that time, was its isolation and rawness. There is no cellphone signal in the cove and there’s not much people/tourists in the area. The trekkers left that afternoon so we were only sharing the cove with the other four groups. It was also a great experience camping there and waking up to the sound of the waves.

It was the first trip that I can actually say that I was able to enjoy nature at its best especially the Red River.

Plus the damage for the whole trip was around Php1,200 only. It could have been cheaper if there were more of us. But Php1,200 for that kind of experience, wow. I think this was one of the reasons why I kept going back there.

This is the Anawangin I fell in love with. I went back there four more times after that, and each and every one of those visits was unique. One was very memorable. The last one was quite a sad one. Things there changed quite abruptly.

But the first time will always be the one I cherish the most. :)


*Most photos are from my friend Cito.