June 17, 2017

Quezon Province: Alibijaban Brought Happiness to Our Summer Plus Travel Guide

Finally, we boarded the 15-capacity boat off to the island called Alibijaban. After almost 12 hours of land travel from Quezon City to San Andres, Quezon Province we saw the turquoise-clear water, white and almost power-fine sand of Alibijaban Island. It wasn’t an expectation versus reality moment when my foot first touched the warm water of the shore. It was really it! There were people enjoying the beach but not too much to fail our weekend escape. Alibijaban Island is great escape to those who are willing to enjoy the long journey down to the island.



The Van we rented left Cubao at exactly 1AM just like we all planned. When we organize events like this, my last thought would be, if the group would click at first impression – impressions do not really last but it is an important factor to determine the color of the group. As much as possible, we invite happy souls and positive folks to join the event. In Filipino “Walang drama dapat at walang attitude” Gladly our group was loaded with people like that.

The journey was longer than I expected. The 8 hours Google Map forecast became 9 then 10, 11 then finally 12 hours. Add the weather then that makes me felt anxious. Weather reports said that it will be a bed-weather for Metro Manila and its nearby provinces. Weather agency images shows that there were no dark clouds in the southern part of Quezon Province and it gave me relief. But the heaven shows otherwise. Tick clouds appeared when we exit Lucban and heavy rain fell when we reached Lucena City. San Andres though is still 4 hours from Lucena. A positive attitude was my shield towards the weather.

At 11AM, we met our guide Ronnel outside the Port of San Andres in his yellow shirt and all smiled face. We immediately went to the market to buy things that we need in the island. We commissioned his mother to cook for us for our entire stay. Ronnel and his entire family, unexpectedly assisted us in all that we need in the Island. I owe them so much because in my opinion we had a great feast in the island.




We all boarded the boat with our ready to dip ensembles. We were all excited to dip in the water! Fortunately, the sun was showing his might to us promising a sun-kissed weekend.

Alibijaban Island is simply glorious and gorgeous. It’s just perfect for a weekend of fun, laughter and adventure with friends and new friends. The short stretch of white sand beach gives a memorable summer vacay for folks tied in an 8-hours work empire. The moment I saw the clear waters of Alibijaban shores, I immediately wanted to jump on it and stay there for the entire day!


After we had lunch courtesy of Ronnel and his entire clan, the group went to the less crowded beach area. There’s nothing to do in there but to swim and play the sand. There are no beach activities in the Island except for the volleyball net readily set up. The island is raw from hard core beach commercialism found in other beach destination in the Philippines. 

We all settled in a shaded area to rest and eat some of our snacks. Moment like this is an automatic bonding time for the group that is unfamiliar for some but a reunion for others. We did not have an official introduction yet, but seems like the group was getting along like they all met 10 years ago.


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The beach view and the sea breeze drowsed most of us. I slept in the sound of the calm waves and fresh air of the province. I heard them talking of corporate shits and phenomenal happenings in their life and the celebrities around them but I was swayed by the wind to just settle and sleep.   





Since it was a semi-DIY trip and although we commissioned Ronnel’s mom to cook our meals, we still had to work each meal for us to move and calm our starving stomach – and that is okay 😊 Gladly, the group was blessed with industrious people who are more than willing to prepare the smallest thing like the dip for the grilled fish and the like. The group will have an automatic mock to the one whom they think is not standing up yet to find his own chore. Of course, they do it in such a way that nobody will get offended. It’s in the spirit of the group to tease and call – out, it’s always a burst of laughter and happiness.

After the dinner, we all went to the beach where Ronnel setup 4 tents for us – as if we will sleep inside the tent. 


 That our house right there and the guy on yellow is Ronnel

Sea shells, an addition to our dinner :)

We bought expensive liquor for our night in Alibijaban but who would have thought we won’t be needing it? Yes, you heard it right. Rem, who were bullied or kidnapped in the van to join the trip prepared a fun but meaningful activity for us together with Claire who my usual partner in crime for events like this. I was happy that Rem joined us because I know he will add color to the group.

We were all tipsy not by the alcoholic drinks but by happy thoughts and colorful story each one has – it brings laughter to everyone. It was a simple get to know activity. But the depth of it draws everyone to get to know each other. It was the first time in my entire summer events planning that alcoholic drinks did not had a role to makes us more open to each other. It’s the company and the kind of activity that you do that makes you more drawn to the people around you – not no mention that some of them met there for the for the first time. 

After the getting-to-know activity, the spirit of the group led us to my much-awaited part – the star gazing!!!

Rex, who is a physics teacher and the certified nerd of the group (don’t get me wrong, he’s a cool guy) gave us a little lecture about the galaxy and what we can see above us. I enjoyed looking at the sky looking at the start and waiting for a shooting star and Rex's little lecture gave a more excitement to it. 

Looking at the stars is like a lullaby to me. Me and Lana, my girlfriend was looking at the stars until we both fell asleep.

Our next day was dedicated to again beach bumming and tour around the island. I was thrilled when I saw the blue waters in the middle of the sea with starfish on the sea floor – yes it’s really clear that you can see the sea floor. I wanted to jump on the water and swim till’ I kiss the starfish. But hey’ I must contain my excitement, be calm and enjoy the moment at the sea. I wonder then if Moana would ever get tired of the view I was seeing then.

Lana in her beach ensemble 

Coral reefs, flying fish, colored fish, starfish, rock formations, clear waters – are some of the natural gifts Alibijaban gave us. How could you complain when you see a view like that? I doubt if you cannot be wowed by the blue and clear water in the middle of the sea. Despite of the negativities in the concrete jungle in the metro, there is still beauty to celebrate upon in the rawness of an island.

I realized that the boatman intentionally went around the island for us to see it – just for the sake of seeing it and that was okay for me. The mini sandbar which we were all anticipating is just a five-minutes boat ride away from where we were. 

Not far away from the sandbar are the mangroves in a protected area. Not everybody wanted to go to the mangroves so the group was divided to those who wanted to stay in the boat and to those who wanted to explore the area. I joined those who wanted to explore the mangrove area. It was a forest in the sea. Up to now, I could still imagine the vivid color of the mangrove in green and brown kissing the blue waters of the shore.





Mangroves are very important to the fisherman and to mankind. It serves as the breeding ground for marine creatures. Mangroves balances the ecology. 



At the immediate level, it gives the local of Alibijaban an income because of tourism. Because it’s a beautiful natural scene, folks are visiting the mangroves to take a selfie or just to entertain their eyes.

One of the best part of the tour was when the boat stopped in the middle of the sea where blue dominates the background. I immediately jumped on the water and swam in what I thought is a swimming pool. It was just an awesome experience. When I went down further, I saw big starfish with different colors. The white sand sea floor plus the sun shining its brightness – the result, a swimming pool like sea. 



I thought I was the only one jumping on the blue sea but when I looked back, half of the group was on the water holding on the boat. Oh… who would not be hypnotized by the allure of the water? I guess if know how to swim there is no chance on the world that you would not jump. I am not swimmer but I know that the law of buoyancy would not fail me.



While I was floating and enjoying the water, I decided to take plunge and play under. While doing so, I saw a black species swimming almost on the sea bed. I went up and my mind was in panic. I wasn’t sure then what was that so I plunge to check it again. Still I wasn’t sure but I shouted “shark! There is a shark” - even though I am not so sure. I just do not know how to address the moment. It was excitement and fear. They wouldn’t believe me when I said that thinking I was playing a joke to them. Kier, one of the trigger-happy folk of the group plunge to see what I saw. To my surprised he immediately swim back to the boat and carried his body to go up! 

That draws laughter to the group.

From then on, I know that Alibijaban is special place to us. It gave us a happy memory that we cannot not forget for the rest of our lives. The experience in Alibijaban is a benchmark for our future summer event.

Travel Guide:
Alibijaban is located at the tip of Bontoc Peninsula in the Province of Quezon. To go there you can either bring your private car or commute. The jump off to Alibijaban Island is San Andres Quezon which is 330 kilometers from Quezon City. There are stores in the Island but I guess bringing your own food would save you more peso. Ask a local to cook for you and they will gladly do it.





How to Go to Alibijaban Island
By Private Car:
Just passed through the road down to Lucena City. From Lucena align the highway to Gen. Luna then San Andres Quezon. Travel time is approximately 8 hours without stopover. From Port of San Andres, hire a boat bound to Alibijaban Island.

By Commute:
  • Take a bus bound to Lucena Grand Terminal. Fare is Php230 from Cubao. Travel time is approximately 4 hours.
  • From Lucena Grand Terminal, take a bus bound to San Andres. Fare is Php250. Travel time is approximately 4 hours.
  • From the Port of San Andres hire a boat bound to Alibijaban. It will cost you 1,900.00 and it is good for 15 people to and from the island.

Accommodation
There are no fancy resorts on the island yet and I hope it will remain that way. You can bring your tent or ask the locals if you can stay in their house. Prices would vary according to the facilities that the local will offer. Some would offer Php500 per room some more than that.
You can also bring your tent and pitch it on the white sand.

I would highly recommend our guide, Ronnel Larisan because they did not treat us as customers, I felt that we were long lost family members visiting the island. If you read my long narrative above, Ronnel and his whole family helped us in all that we need. You may contact Ronnel in this number: +63909-771-3714.

If you are wondering how much did we spend, here’s the birds eye view:
  • Van – 13500
  • Homestay (with tent) – 1000
  • Boat (to and from the island plus the tour around the Island)– 2400
  • Food – 4000 approximately for 13 people
  • DENR Fee – 1300 (100 each)
  • Port Fee – 130 (10 each)
  • Cook Fee – 1000
  • Tips – 1500

Individual cost – 2000