In less than a month of stay in Zambales, I was able to make my first solo escapade in San Antonio. It was a spontaneous trip, something I don’t normally do. I actually wanted to go to Mt. Pinatubo, but the weather and lack of company didn’t allow me to.
The initial plan was to go to Ramon Magsaysay Ancestral House in Castillejos, Zambales, a neighboring town of Olongapo. After that, I just wanted to explore the town and see what’s worth seeing. Unfortunately, when I went to the ancestral house, it was under construction. Wow! Visitors were not allowed inside as construction workers were busy painting and mixing cement inside the compound.
I approached the tricycle drivers beside the house to ask other destinations to see but there was none. One said I should head to San Antonio to see the islands or go swimming. Without a choice, I took a bus going to San Luis, alighted at San Antonio town proper and took a tricycle going to Pundaquit for 60 pesos.
I reached the shore around 10 in the morning and I was greeted by a smiling man who asked me if I needed a boat. I only have one thousand pesos in my wallet. Seriously, I wasn’t planning anything like swimming or island hopping. The most I could do in my pair of jeans and tee was to take pictures of Pundaquit shore and the distant islands of Camara and Capones.
The guy was really insistent. He even dropped the price to nine hundred pesos for the two islands including Anawangin Cove. As per research, Camara, Capones and Anawangin cost one thousand five hundred pesos for the boat. I said OK. Kuya Jun bought gasoline and after pushing his boat to the water, off we went to our first destination-Camara Island.
The water was calm and the weather fine. Few minutes and we landed to this beautiful, small island with coral sand and a short sandbar. As soon as I landed, I realized that I’ve been here before in one of our company outings. But, the feeling of going here alone was totally different. I played with the waves, made footprints in the sand and took pictures. The sandbar was amazing. It wasn’t there the last time due to high tide. There were about three people in the island. I didn’t mind.
After taking photos and a little bit of relaxation and reflection, we headed to Capones Island. I went there for one purpose-the lighthouse. The boat hadn’t fully docked to the shore yet when I asked Kuya the way to the lighthouse. He said I had to walk to the other side but we could take the boat if I want to. I chose to take a boat rather than walk, but before that, I walked along the shore of Capones, admired the blue sea, its grayish white sand, huge rock formations and the lush greenery of the island. I owned the island that time and I felt very exhilarated upon realizing that.
After wandering along the shore, we both boarded going to the back of the island. Kuya asked me if it’s okay if I would go to the lighthouse alone because someone has to be on the boat and if it’s okay if I get wet. I hesitated at first, asked how deep the water is but quickly said I don’t mind. He said the water was above the knee deep. I thought I could just roll my jeans up.
When we’re at the back of the island, I noticed that waves were stronger. This part was facing the open sea. And when we’re near the shore, I realized why he had to stay on the boat. We couldn’t dock. The shore was composed of huge rocks and he had to hold the boat so it wouldn’t be washed away by the strong current. Kuya jumped out of the boat first. Wait. It’s not just knee deep. I had no choice but to jump too. And voila! The water almost reached my waist. Apart from that, waves were big they could strike me out of balance anytime, plus, I was standing on uneven, slippery, huge rocks underneath so it was very hard for me to move. Also, I was holding my SLR that time. I asked for Kuya’s help but he couldn’t since he’s holding his boat against the harsh waves. Obviously he’s more concerned of his boat than me. I tried to make my first step towards the shore when a big wave pushed. It hit my right side, then my SLR. WTF?! So my entire body was already wet but I didn’t mind. I was so worried about my camera, I quickly looked for a dry part of my shirt and wiped it. I tried if it still works. Thank heavens it still does up to now.
Without losing determination, I tried to walk again, despite the waves and rocks. Few more breath taking minutes and I made it to the shore safely. I was advised to take the cemented steps and trail. So I did.
The shore was composed of sand, rocks and….slippers, probably from visitors who made it up and down barefoot because their footwear failed them. I couldn’t imagine.
As I traversed the hill, the view became clearer-green grass against the blue sea and sky. What a reward after that epic moment!
The trail became denser as I approached the lighthouse, plants and trees everywhere. That made me thought of snakes.
After a while, I reached the gate to the lighthouse. Kuya was right. The place was already abandoned and not maintained anymore after the typhoon. Scraps of broken metal roofs and wood were scattered everywhere. There was a well filled with stale water and garbage. I crossed the aisle of shattered chambers. I could see the bright sky from the inside.
I walked my way to the elevated part where it’s best to take pictures.
The clouds were already forming near the mountains. I hurried my way down while butterflies seem to bid goodbye. I walked over the rocks again against the harsh waves. It was difficult to climb onto the boat when almost half of my body was submerged in the water. Luckily, we still managed to leave that fateful place alive.