Almost got kidnapped in Caramoan, please don’t tell my mom!

The author in awe of the islands' allure.

By A. Mabini

I have long desired to see the beautiful islands of Caramoan. From the appealing Internet pictures to the random travel blogs, I have always imagined myself standing in the sunny sands of the Bicol haven. Fate dealt me an opportunity and so I took it.

The circumstances behind my trip was unfortunate but I took the opportunity to live out a simple dream: stand in front of the sweet, melodious waves on Caramoan in Camarines Sur.

I started by flying out to Naga City where my friend, Emanuel Imperial was to attend a wake for his grandmother. I met Manny in college where we shared the same passion for our identity and we expressed it by starting out the Pilipino clubs in our schools. In any case, anyone who knows me knows that I’m scared shitless of flying. So there I was, reunited with a good friend, accompanying him on a solemn trip to his hometown, grabbing my arm rest for dear life as I felt every little bump on the small ass plane that took us from the ghettos of Manila to the boondocks of Bicol.

My desire to see the bright stars of a warm night was postponed until my first night in Baao, Bicol. There I had a good moment with Manny’s other grandmother. She was warm, but our conversation about the changing times made me feel warmer. She fed me ‘pili’ nuts. I loved it and the softness of its texture was a treat in my welcoming stomach. On the way back to the wake, we rode a ‘padyak’ or a manual tricycle. It was that moment that I got to look up and began my hopeless quest to count the stars. It was a beautiful moment. It brought me back to when I was young, wild and free (so what we get drunk, so what we smoke weed, we were young, wild and free).

The next day, I awoke at 4:30 a.m. where I was driven to Naga’s bus terminal. There I took a bus heading to Lagunoy, which was essentially a foreign word to me since I had no idea where I was going. What I had though was faith in the bus driver and the conductor who told me that I was going the right way.

I got to the ‘pantalan’ by 6:40 a.m. I waited on the makeshift boat, where I took notes and observed the small ‘bangkas’ around me dropping off students and a variety of commuters. It drizzled, and I slowly lost confidence in my trip. The fear of the unknown was slowly starting to creep in to my subconscious but thank goodness for my stubbornness, I went on. About 20 minutes into the supposedly two-hour trip to Caramoan proper from Sabang, our boat’s water pump failed so we were transferred to another boat without going on shore. I almost fell on the water, but thank Allah for my athleticism and my good balance.

‘It felt good to be in Caramoan.’ Photo by Jovi Villareal

Finally, I got to the Caramoan port where I was greeted by a tourism stand. I had no idea where I was going, I had no hotel reservation, shit I didn’t even had a hotel name in mind. What I had though was my broken Tagalog and my questions. So I asked, and I was answered and so I found myself in a hotel in the town center. I immediately took a tricycle to Paniman, where I found myself in front of a gloomy, perhaps angry, shore of the Caramoan peninsula. The waves prevented me from renting a boat to island-hop but I took the opportunity to do one of my favorite things. I found an isolated part of the beach, faced the vast emptiness of the ocean and screamed my lungs out. It was therapeutic, but I’m pretty sure the people who were getting the French Survivor set ready thought I was crazy. But it felt good, and I felt free at least for that moment.

The next day, I awoke at 4:30 a.m. But before that, I found myself half-dreaming about a boy in my room who I asked how the fuck he got in my room, in which replied, “through him,” as he pointed to something behind me. Before I could turn back, I felt my body still, and thought I’ve been poisoned, so there I thought, “this is it, this is the moment that my Mama warned me about.” Thank God it was just a half dream, otherwise I would have been assed out.

I proceeded to the Caramoan port an hour earlier than the first scheduled departure. As soon as I got to the port, a random man asked my tricycle driver if I was planning on heading to Sabang and if I was, there was a private boat which had an open seat. I said fuck it and went with them. As I was walking toward the back end of the boat, suddenly it dawned on me, this is a perfect kidnapping scenario in which they can simply dock somewhere isolated and kidnap my dumb ass. But it was a pleasant surprise as I was able to sit on the window of the boat as it careened pass the shores of Bicol. A man named Laning, who owned two little ‘bangkas’ offered me a cup of coffee and asked me to sit with them in the very back end of the boat. I agreed, and walked on the side edges of the boat where I’m pretty sure I looked like a scared little princess holding on for dear life.

The men were very good to me. They told me stories of their youth and the beauty and tragedies of Caramoan. They worry that after the “Survivor” show, Caramoan would lose its unique appeal of subtleness. I agreed and began to worry with them.

Finally when we docked at Talisay, I found myself somewhere else from where I departed the morning prior at Sabang port. But thankfully I was good with directions and I eventually found my way back to the bus route that brought me back to Naga City. What was supposed to be an hour trip was extended to a two-hour bus trip because it kept on stopping every five miles to pick up passengers and then dropping them. It was frustrating but nevertheless I enjoyed the picturesque Mt. Isarog and what I assumed from its perfect figure was Mt. Mayon.

I found myself finally reunited with Manny on a scheduled eight- to 10-hour, one-stop bus to Manila. But the bus broke down, and broke the back end of our trip. It became an adventure for Manny and a frustration for me. At that point, I’ve been traveling for 12 hours straight and my ass was beginning to get sore from sitting, no homo. When the bus broke down, I came up with the brilliant idea of taking a non-air-conditioned bus, which pretty much stopped every freaking kilometer of that trip extending my trip back to the polluted air of Manila for a total of 18 hours. It sucked, but it was a good experience. Lesson learned, bussing sucks but I’ll do it again.

My trip to Caramoan was a good start. It brought me the realities of loneliness and excitement of my journey. There may be a time that I may finally encounter trouble in traveling to places I had no idea how to get to. My trust in my fellow man in helping me get to where I need to go may find me in a difficult place one day, but if it is my faith in human beings that will lead me to my end then I can live with that.

Just please don’t tell my Mama.

A. Mabini was born in Davao City and raised in New York. He’s back in the Philippines. This essay originally appeared in his blog Burning Dog.



4 Comments

  1. Yla wrote:

    Hello there…

    I was browsing for blogs about caramoan and then i read yours.
    At first i was like, is emanuel my cousin? The you wrote about grandma’s wake and all…
    Then i read about another grandma who fed you with pili… And when you’ve mentioned about padyak i knew it was manny you were with… Manny is my cousin… :)

    Nice blog you got there… Planning to go to caramoan this april…

  2. Lorraine wrote:

    Me and my friends are planning to go there but i have second thoughts, so i decided to look up for blogs about Caramoan to convince me 100% why should i go there..you really entertained me…you made me laugh…I adore your writings, you’re amazing…haha now, i have decided to explore Caramoan, thank you for helping me…:))

  3. Kayleene wrote:

    yes Caramoan is nice, i think the cheapest tour package comes from brgy. capt. avila of Tawog Caramoan, his website is http://www.caramoantourpackage.ph they also offer the more expensive special tour package which has beach front accommodation and cave tours aside from island hopping.

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