We were already at the Victory Liner Terminal in Cubao around 5:30 in the morning. Seeing the throng of vacationers lining up to get tickets had my hopes hit bottom, but to my relief the queue was for Baguio. Why of course, Baguio afterall is the summer capital of the Philippines.
As there was still no posted trip for Iba, Zambales, I was thinking of getting on the Olongapo Bus and just hopping on another Iba-bound bus from there. Fortunately, an employee announced the 6:30 am trip for Iba so I booked for 4 people, 270pesos each.
We decided to get a quick caffeine fix via countrystyle coffee and doughnuts situated just outside the terminal. While we were sipping coffee and battling sleep deprivation, we ranted about not being able to buy booze from the convenience stores due to a city ordinance banning the purchase of liquor from 10pm to 8am. Tequila was on the menu; we already stocked up on lime and salt so it was really frustrating. And we also doubted the availability of tequila in San Antonio, our drop-off point in Zambales.
Four hours later, touchdown. We got off at San Antonio, rode a tricycle to Brgy. San Miguel, and met our contact Manong Johnny (who later proved to be so hospitable by inviting us to a free buffet lunch and a few drinks and some pica, and enlightened us about the town fiesta!). Yes, talk about perfect timing, we went there during the town fiesta! Our boatman, Ryan, insisted that we finish touring all the 4 islands (Camara, Capones, Anawangin, Nagsasa) in one day , which later proved to be strategic since the waves were so huge during day2 and the camera’s batt got drained towards the end of day 1, and it was gloomy during day2 so the photos (if the batt lasted another day) would not turn out good. again, perfect timing.
Manong Johnny is the most hospitable man on the planet!
And to prove that the cosmos truly conspired to make everything in perfect sync, we left Nagsasa on Day 2 for an adventure-filled boat ride back to the mainland. It was fun at first, with the gigantic waves crashing against our tiny boat, with the skies agreeing in loud thunder, with the water splashing forcefully onto our faces already hurting with sunburn. But as the horror sank, we found ourselves praying to a God long since forgotten. In a nutshell, we enjoyed a beach weekend under the clear blue skies and the scorching sun, but came home to the cold arms of a raging storm.
We weathered the storm after a very long journey at sea (almost 1.5hrs?) and as reward for our newly-discovered courage, the simple joys of a home-cooked meal! It was a feast, actually, as it was the town fiesta. The fiesta queen – sitting atop her elaborate float, shielded from the rain by her faithful escort- paraded the streets. Of this, we had a great view from the table set-up by Manong Johnny for our drinking session (after our very full meal). Talk about the perfect host! We just couldn’t turn away the invitation as, even the locals convincingly told us, this only happens once a year. But I am 100% certain that Manong Johnny’s hospitality is all-year round.