I was looking forward to a weekend of peace and quiet, camping on the beach; roughing it. On just two hours of sleep, my friends and I went on a 5 hour drive to Pundaquit and a 1 1/2 hour bangka ride to Nagsasa Cove. I had visions of a serene beach with picturesque pine trees and a mountainous background.
We had decided on Nagsasa Cove because Anawangin Cove has become much too popular and we heard news that it already resembles a market on weekends. Nagsasa is in the same area with the same gray sand, pine trees and mountain background, but its further away and less popular, so we thought it would be perfect.
As our boat passed by Anawangin Cove, from the distance, we could already see crowd. We were feeling a little smug for choosing to go to a more isolated cove, further away. Finally, after a long, uncomfortable ride on the bangka, we caught our first glimpse of Nagsasa – – and saw what seemed like huts – lots of them, all over the beach.
Needless to say, we were gravely disappointed. There were a lot of people there and more would come as the day progressed. The huts belonged to a series of pseudo-resorts separated by bamboo fences. Each “resort” had a cluster of huts, surrounding a sari-sari store, a hose pumping fresh water from the nearby river and a few stalls with primitive toilets in the back. Each group can rent a hut for P100 and set up camp beside it. The hut has a table, benches and a shelf to store the packs. By nightfall, it became definite that we wouldn’t be getting the peace and quiet we came there for. With nothing else to do, each group gathered around their tables or bonfires and played card games, played a guitar and sang along, or told stories, shrieked with laughter or had playful arguments. It was noisy. Each of the “resorts” on either side of ours had generators lighting the sari-sari store and thier distant hums became our background noise. By lucky chance, the resort we chose didn’t have a generator and saved us from listening to a loud buzzing all night long.
Don’t get me wrong. Nagsasa is beautiful. It may not be as picturesque as Anawangin, but it had its own appeal. The cove is surrounded by tall mountains. They are all golden and red under the summer sun. The sea is calm and pine trees dot the beach and line a small lake where the river ends. A short 2o min. walk would take you to a small waterfall. Its dry though at this time of the year. A much bigger waterfall can be seen an hour’s trek away, but we didn’t go.
I’ve been blessed to have seen Boracay before it turned into the seaside shopping mall it is today. There was no electricity yet and the only accommodations were nipa huts on the beach. I went to Anawangin when few people knew about it. There were no structures on the beach, not even a sari-sari store. I went to Siargao when it was visited only by the most avid surfers, when there were no direct flights and even the Surigao airport was closed. Even the Bohol of 7 years ago is very different from the Bohol now. There are few remaining places in the country where you don’t have to pay a premium for peace and quiet. It is nearly impossible to find one during the summer months. Are there any truly isolated Oases left?