A conversation with a colleague last week, about a weekend destination that he headed to last weekend, had me and him discussing about my blog and the trips that I have gone to. He was asking for my suggestions on weekend destinations to which I directed him to me website. When he mentioned “Borawan”, I told him that I have been there and started sharing my inputs. I told him that he can check out my blog on Borawan to give him a better idea.
He came back to me and said that he and his friends could not find the actual blog about Borawan. I figured that there might be some problem with the search engine of my website so I checked and found out that there was nothing wrong with the search tab. But searching for the Borawan blog still yielded a negative result. Desperate to check out what was wrong, I went from entry to entry.
Guess what I found out?
I did not blog about our Borawan, Dampalitan, and Putting Buhangin trip.
So before the heat of summer of 2016 fizzles out, let me share with you a great summer destination that you might want to check out.
Padre Burgos is a town along the coast of Tayabas Bay that was named after one of three martyred priests of the Philippine revolution. The town, that sits east of Lucena City, is laid back and is also known to be the jump-off point to three amazing islands in Quezon – Borawan, Puting Buhangin, and Dampalitan.
It took us another 45 minutes from Lucena City to get to Padre Burgos via a non-airconditioned bus. My daughter and I had the privilege of sitting next to the driver aboard the rickety bus where we were treated to amazing views of Quezon’s farmlands and seascape of Tayabas.
Padre Burgos is a quaint and laid back town where there is not much to see except for the three islands that we were planning to visit. It is the closest jump off point to Borawan, Dampalitan, and Puting Buhangin. In fact, one can already view the famed Borawan Island from the coast of Padre Burgos.
There are a number of accomodations located on the mainland but a lot of travelers opt to head off to one of these islands and camp out. In our case, we opted to stay in Tamarind Resort, a beachfront resort in town.
Borawan Island is the closest island from Padre Burgos. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to get to the island via motorized boat. It is the most popular beach destination because the island is said to have the white sand shoreline of Boracay and the limestone formations of Palawan, hence the name Borawan, a mash-up of BORacay and PalaWAN.
Having been to both Palawan and Boracay, my expectations were up about Borawan. It was going to be our first island stop just before the day ends. As we boarded our ride, our manong scooped out a jelly fish from the waters. Now the mere sight of the jellyfish had me thinking and feeling painful stings but we were assured that these jellyfish were the type that do not sting. So I mustered up my courage to hold it and there was no sting. Just a word of caution, check with your boatman before picking up any jellyfish that you see.
The limestone formations and the cream-colored shoreline loomed on the horizon after 15 minutes of riding the calm waters of Padre Burgos. The rock formations jutted out and was complemented by pockets of sandy shores. As soon as our boat docked on shore, you would feel the different charm of Borawan Island.
I guess Borawan has a good and bad point. The limestone rock formations was impressive and it was probably close to that of Palawan. On the other hand, the shoreline was not even close to that of Boracay’s. I guess that was the reason why I was not initially impressed with Borawan. It had its own charm which is impressive since it is rustic and beautiful. I think marketing it as similar to that of Boracay and Palawan is not an effective way of promoting it as it can lead to disappointment.
Puting Buhangin / Kwebang Lampas
I started out the next day with much excitement trying to catch the sunrise. It was amazing to watch Padre Burgos come into life to welcome a brand new day. The waters of Padre Burgos is relatively shallow so one can enjoy walking along its waters. You can count starfish, fish, and even jellyfish while enjoying the amazing backdrop of Borawan from a distance.
After breakfast, we boarded our boat to go to our next destination – Putting Buhangin. The cove is within the jurisdiction of the nearby Pagbilao town. It can be accessed via land or boat through Pagbilao or by boat through Padre Burgos. It is known for its white sand shoreline bounded by interesting rock formations on both ends. One of its unique destination is the Kwebang Lampas located at the other end of the beach. It is a pass thru cave that has one side opening up onto the sea.
The beach was full of campers when we got there and finding a good spot to pitch a tent was a challenge. It was obviously the preferred destination because of the volume of people at the beach. The sand is whiter and finer in Puting Buhangin compared to Borawan and the beach is more swim-friendly. Again, the only concern was the volume of people camping along its shores.
Interestingly, I had the chance to check out Kwebang Lampas located at one end of the shoreline. You need to carefully traverse the sharp edged rocks leading to the cave opening. From there one can traverse the inside of the cave leading you to huge cavity where you can view the sea from the exit point of the cave. Make sure though that you practice caution if you want to explore Kwebang Lampas.
Dampalitan is probably my favorite among the three islands. It did not have the usual crowd and had the most amazing beachfront to enjoy although they also had a specific area for swimming that is protected from jellyfish. Like the two other coves, the way to go in Dampalitan is by setting up camp. The shoreline is lined with sea pines that people often compare Dampalitan Island with that of Anawangin and Nagsasa.
I have to admit that I quickly fell in love with Dampalitan because of its fine cream-colored sand and its clear turquoise waters. I guess I found it more “photogenic” compared to that of Borawan and Putting Buhangin. It also helped that there were less crowd that it was easier to find a spot where one can sit down and just enjoy its natural beauty. I figured that should I visit Padre Burgos again, I would prefer setting up camp in Dampalitan.
Post Travel Notes
It’s been two years since I have been to Borawan, Puting Buhangin, and Dampalitan. A lot could have changed from before to now and it is probably interesting to find out how the landscape changed in two years.
Interestingly, these three beaches in Padre Burgos is still a favorite spot by weekend warriors based from the feedback from one of my colleagues who recently visited the place. I think Borawan, Puting Buhangin, and Dampalitan have its own charm that can attract its own set of visitors that it does not need to stay within the shadows of the more popular Philippine destinations.
So if you are looking for a quick summer escape just right before the rainy season sets in, you can check out Padre Burgos and enjoy its rustic charm.
Getting There: You can take a bus bound for Grand Terminal in Lucena from Cubao or Buendia where you can take an ordinary bus bound for Unisan. You can ask the driver to drop you off at the town center of Padre Burgos. Mode of transportation in Padre Burgos is tricycle. Travel time is 4 to 5 hours.
The Quezon City Circle is the most iconic image of Quezon City. It is a 22 hectare public park located in the city’s government center that is bordered by Elliptical Road. Known to locals as “Circle”, the park is easily identified by the towering mausoleum that serves as the final resting place of Manuel L. Quezon and his wife. The national park is undergoing improvements to attract more tourists in the area and it is a favorite destination of locals during weekends.
QC Circle has a number of attractions that I have previously blogged about but I still had two main park attractions that I haven’t had the chance to blog about even after I have visited it. The Quezon House and QC Circle Museum and Mausoleum were two spots that I had to visit on a separate occasions as it was not accessible during two other visits.
Walk with me and let us explore QC Circle.
The Quezon House
Originally located at 45 Gilmore Street in New Manila, the Quezon Heritage House was relocated and reconstructed within the premises of the Quezon City Circle. The two-storey house, acquired in 1927, served as the Quezon family’s rest house and the late President’s home when he was sick. The house now serves as a museum where you can catch a glimpse of the President Quezon’s personal and family life through family heirlooms, donated by the family. It is now considered as one of the city’s cultural and historical treasure.
As soon as we stepped onto the house balcony of the second floor where we started our tour, our guide mentioned the tile flooring of the balcony was an original from the house and these tiles are unique to the house. He said that the makers of the tiles manufacture these tiles with a specific design for only one house.
The second floor houses the separate rooms of President Manuel and Dona Aurora. If you are wondering why the couple have separate rooms, it is because Quezon was already suffering from tuberculosis which is a contagious disease. So to ensure the safety of Dona Aurora, they both sleep in separate rooms that is connected by a common restroom. Adjacent to the late president’s room is a room where his nurse stay.
On display inside these rooms are memorabilias of President Manuel and Dona Aurora. Ternos, shoes, and even their traveling luggages are prominently displayed in these rooms.
The dining area is also located on the second floor where the recipe of the late President’s favorite dish is also on display.
The spiral staircase from the second floor to the first floor brings a lot of memories to the youngest of the Quezon brood. She fondly remembers sliding down the staircase when she was a little girl.
The first floor houses a hall where Red Cross meetings were held under the auspices of Dona Aurora. On the very same room, the Philippine National Red Cross was formed as an independent organization. The house-turned-museum has the original notebook where Dona Aurora took into the proper accounting of the donations that they received.
The first floor also has one room that served as the rooms of the children and grandchildren of the Quezon couple. The room also has personal stuff of the President Quezon and Dona Aurora.
Most of the personal stuff were donated by the Quezon family who appreciates the recognition of the legacy of President Quezon. Hence, a lot of these items are viewing purposes only to ensure the safekeep of these historical pieces.
Quezon Memorial Shrine
A short walk from the Quezon Heritage House is the iconic Quezon Memorial Shrine. The shrine, measuring 66 meters, is the centrepiece of the 36-hectare park. It was designed by Federico Ilustre and followed an art deco theme.
The shrine also house a museum that showcases memorabilias of President Quezon and a brief history of the Philippines complete with historical pieces. The interactive museum gives you a visual and audio experience on how the Philippines was from the pre-war Philippines to post-war rehabilitation.
The shrine is also the final resting place of President Quezon’s remains. His remains stands directly under the center of the three columns. It is Quezon City’s way of honouring him for the development of Quezon City. In the same mausoleum is also the final resting place of his beloved wife, Dona Aurora.
I also read through that the shrine has a viewing deck that gives visitors an amazing view of Quezon City. I still need to check this one out though but I guess that would be cool.
Post Burst Trip Notes:
Quezon City Circle is more than just a leisure park. It is also a great place to have a better understanding on the late President Quezon – his personal life and his struggles. It was also nice to see how Quezon City honours and values the contribution and legacy of Quezon to the present day Quezon City.
Getting There: The Quezon Heritage House and the Quezon Memorial Shrine are all within the QC Circle Park. You can take a bus, jeep, or van bound for Fairview that will pass by the Quezon City Hall. You can use the pedestrian underpass in front of the city hall to get to QC Circle.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.