I couldn’t have been happier about finally stepping foot on Sabitang Laya; but for some strange reasons, I felt scared instead.
Sabitang Laya was one of the islands I had been wanting to see but had not the chance to during my first two visits in Caramoan because a Survivor franchise was filming there.
There was something in the air that it stirred fear in me. It was thick and cold and slightly intense, causing small swells to appear on water surface and rush to the shore one after another. The limestone outcrop on the edge of the island didn’t help me either, especially the one submerged in the sea. It has a shape of a foot, and it’s huge!
However it was not its imposing size, but the charged energy that was emanating from it, that made me feel as if it got a life of its own. I felt like anytime it would stir and move and cause havoc which would bring the end of every living organism on the island, including us three – the boatman, my cousin and me.
It was indeed an eerie thought, although my more rational self was telling me they were self-inflicted fears. Whether it was irrational or not, I had to push it to the back of my mind because I didn’t want to appear a killjoy to my cousin.
Besides the sky above Bag-ing beach (the beach on the other side of Sabitang Laya) was sunny and clear, as if confirming that whatever it was that made me felt eerie about Sabitang Laya did not make sense.
Or so I thought, until the rain started to pour and the sea breeze became more intense right after we got on board for our next island destination. Storm swells broke on the sea, making our boat ride a little rough and bumpy.
I began to figure out what my fears were all about when waves rolled in and rocked our boat, and the cold splash of rain hit my skin. It was not Sabitang Laya but the weather and all the warnings that came with it that had been nagging at me all along. I had a nearly suicidal boatride experience before, and the thought of experiencing it again was what I was really afraid of.
There was low pressure in Bicol that day, but my cousin and I took a chance knowing that we had another option in case the trip from Nato port would be suspended. And glad we did because Matukad was open to tourists at that time, aside from Sabitang Laya that was often off-limits to give way to the filming of Survivor.
Matukad and Sabitang Laya share a few similar features like prominent karst formations, fine sand and pristine water. Both have a vast sandy shore and green vegetation, which makes them an ideal camping site.
In Matukad it is set on the edge of the island, while in Sabitang laya it is nestled between the two long stretches of beach that are adjacent to each other.
The rock formations on both islands are impressive and interesting for anyone up for a challenging climb. But I’d bet more people had climbed the jagged limestone cliffs in Matukad to see the lagoon with an enchanting tale.
I brought it up while my cousin and I were eating beside a tree near that jagged limestone rock. We both looked up to where the towering rock formation lead, and all that he said was “Talaga?”
If the sight wasn’t unnerving, then I didn’t know what was. The sharp-edged cliffs looked like a mountain of kryptonite, and the drop of rainfall that cascaded down the rocks made it looked even more dangerous to climb.
My cousin had recognized it too as he did not comment further about the possibility of climbing it. Besides, why would we look for fun elsewhere when we had the island all to ourselves?
So we stopped pretending that the tree was indeed shielding us from the rain and enjoyed the warm water instead.
Then as if on cue the skies cleared up when we were about to leave for our next destination: Lahos. The shoreline of Lahos Island is sandwiched between two beaches and two identical giant rock formations with spiky edges. We had to leave soon after arriving though because the rain started to pour again, which was harder this time.
June is not an ideal month to visit Caramoan. It is the start of the rainy season in the Philippines, and it would also mean encountering one typhoon after another. There were very limited choices too in terms of food establishments, unlike when I first visited it in the summer of 2010.
The town proper looked exactly what it is during off seasons: a sleepy town. But I wasn’t complaining because my cousin and I came home safe and fulfilled (I hope).
He, for finally fulfilling his wish to visit Caramoan, and I, for finally seeing the two islands that weren’t accessible during my first two visits.