Manila, Banaue, Pagsanjan
Lake Taal, Puerto Galera, Manila
November 1985
Part II


During the last stretch from Santa Cruz to Pagsanjan, boatmen or banqueros also boarded the jeepney and their touting for a boat ride up the Pagsanjan River was a real nuisance. I told them that I am not planning any trip. When I arrived I stayed at the Willy Flores Guesthouse (where I also wanted to meet again my friend from Munich). In the meantime I explored the environment with watching Philippine country life and visiting a traditional cockfight.

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Close to Pagsanjan I met these rice planters
Cock fight stadium with betters Cock fighters waiting for their turn
Roosters killed Will be grilled
And then after the cockfight I didn't eat chicken but something else in a restaurant on main street in Pagsanjan where I met a kind Filipino guy who invited me to a wedding, not his but of his friend. And that friend was old enough to know what he was getting into and it wasn't the boy looking like a child groom together with his cute bride.
This cute couple is too young to marry This couple has already lost their heads
But both the old bride and groom maybe really lost their heads (I used the wrong shutter speed by accident) while agreeing to a lifelong bond without divorce (not allowed in the Philippines). Their sad faces on all of the following photographs speak for themselves.
Also they are not looking too happy Maybe they were forced to marry
Wedding dinner first turn for close relatives Wedding dinner second turn for VIPs
Wedding dinner for the poor village folks Wedding dinner finished, what's next
After dinner I intermingled with the crowd. Not necessarily playing with the many children around, but I had an interesting talk with the mayor lady of Pagsanjan. It seemed to be a high society wedding and I was the only longnose and thus a special guest.
Happy kids but sad looking bride and groom What will be so terrible that's coming soon
Dancing is on the agenda next. First come bride and groom. This was the opportunity for a present, because I didn't bring one. It also didn't seem the custom to show up with big parcels. I didn't see any. So everything is about money, which is ok.
My friend shows me how to stick on the money Will that make bride and groom more happy?
The same evening I met the Munich guy at Willy's. And next morning we are ready for "Apocalypse Now". A boat ride up the rapids of the Pagsanjan River with its jungle like surrounding where the last portions of that movie with Marlon Brando and director Francis Ford Coppola was filmed.
Hard work going up the river That's not easy against the rapids
Then finally we reach the famous waterfall "Apoca-lypse now" if getting under
The waterfall was fantastic. More fantastic was that we were only few people around and we could get a raft just for ourselves. We floated to the fall as close as possible and then, what a surprise, even could get behind it.
What a lot of water It's the rainy season
How close can we get without being swept away
The way back was not such a hard work for our two banqueros as on the way up, but they had to watch out for the rocks while speeding down. We took a rest at a small restaurant on our way to drink and eat a delicious coconut.
No coconuts fell down from above But we did get one on our way back
And we were back just before the crowd was coming up. That evening we were celebrating another farewell in a pub owned by a scot also just right at the main road. This was also the joint where everybody socializes and where you can meet expatriates living around and intermingle with the locals. One early retired guy from England told me that he had been living here in a rented house for a couple of years. His low pension was just enough to make both ends meet even in this cheap country. Once he received his small monthly pension a week later of whatever reason but the locals got to know and helped him out by putting food on his door step.
Lucky we visited the fall before the crowd Cele-brating farewell again with my friends

Lake Taal

Next day I left for another adventure: climbing a hot volcano in Lake Taal. It was already an adventure to get there: I had to change several jeepneys and a bus in between until I did get to the small village of Leynes via Talisay, where I found the guesthouse recommended by my friend from Munich who has been there before. Immediately after my arrival I was able to hire a boat with a banquero to get onto the volcano island right away.
After the dangerous waterfall Now the dangerous volcano
Actually the whole lake was already the caldera of the old volcano. The island in the lake is the smaller new volcano (thus within the old one). The last time it broke out was in the year 1965.
My feet are really getting hot Hope the volcano doesn't break out
My feet became hot, my nose filled with a stench and my eyes saw the steam: an indication that it was still a little bit active.
Steam is coming out and the air gets hot
A whole village is buried here slowly some life is coming out
Since the last breakout no people have settled down on this island again. Only few come here during the day collecting whatever and tending their little cattle.
No village will be founded again some people just use the land
It wasn't all rugged on that island. After walking around the cone we reached a beautiful lake which had another island in the middle, inviting for a swim. Though I didn't swim here but in the big lake after coming back to the guesthouse. The water was very clear and clean and very refreshing after my volcano "adventure".
This is the lake on an island within a lake of another island and within the inner lake there is one more island. Compli-cated?
It seemed to be a little bit dangerous what I have experienced in the last couple of days. But lying just in a bed can be more dangerous. I was stung during that night by a creepy-crawly thing. I only felt a sudden pain in the leg but did forget about it the next day.

Only after I came back to Germany I noticed a living thing was digging and creeping under my skin which was itching like hell especially during the night. In the morning I could see new red streaks on my leg skin looking like streets my creepy has walked underground all night.

The dermatologist didn't believe me and "diagnosed" my skin "irritation" as a result of an allergic reaction and treated it with an ointment. Only after three days he was convinced and prescribed me three pills, which worked wonder and killed that beast before it could reach my brain. But before I swallowed the first pill, I went to a bookstore and found a booklet about tropical dermatosis with a photograph showing similar marks as I had on my leg. The prescription was alright. So never rely on a doctor alone, get some information beforehand.
Then back to my village And my home overnight
After all the caves, mountains, waterfalls and volcanos I had to finally stay on a beach on one of the 7100 islands, of which the Philippines are famous for.

Puerto Galera

The closest island to Luzon (where I have been travelling around) is Mindoro which has nice beaches. And the closest harbor from Lake Taal to get there was Batangas. The boat ride with a big old ship (no small outrigger) to Puerto Galera took around 2 hours. From there it was another half hour by tricycle until I reached White Beach.
My next overnight stay at the White Beach
It really was a nice beach with very few simple cottages and restaurants hidden mostly under the palm trees. The few travelers around were mostly Germans, Swiss and Austrians.
Right side of the beach Left side of the beach
Swimming and lying on the beach was not my only treat. The opportunity to sail was another option. It almost became adventurous again when I almost lost my paddle used as my only rudder to cruise back to shore.
One time I rented a sailboat with a guy from Hamburg Another time I went by boat with guys from Austria
The two Austrians had a permanent resident status and survived here somehow by offering boat excursions, either for diving, snorkeling, fishing, lobster catching or trekking to indigenous people in the jungle of Mindoro. I decided for a half boat and a half "jungle" trip.
In an outrigger boat like this one we passed other secluded beaches
First we visited a small village at the shore where one foreigner settled down as some kind of a Robinson while building a boat by himself (to just escape his island someday?).

Next stop was at a Ghost House, as what the locals called it. Maybe the old Spaniards, who supposedly lived here in the last century, propagated this rumor to protect it from breaking in. Others believed that the Spaniards were hiding their gold here found in the gold mines, thus the name Mindoro, but nobody knows today where they are.
First we visited a settlement along the shore a little bit inland we found this "haunted" house
Then we "trekked" through the "jungle". It actually was an easy walk and the countryside was beautiful. We met some shy people of one of the indigenous Mangyan tribes living on Mindoro, though most are living up in the mountains and more like their ancestors. The one close to the sea already became a little more "civilized".
And then even furtther through the jungle
We found at first some native huts
Then also some people around who belong to the Mangyan tribe
Then came the end of our "jungle" trip and the end of my stay on White Beach. Time ran out and I needed another day contingency before my scheduled flight from Manila.


And that one day I enjoyed Manila again, not the bars but the parks. Actually I always tried to flee any big third world city, mostly because of its air pollution, but Manila was not so congested and polluted as Bangkok at that time. Ok, the buses and jeepneys did blow smoke out a lot but the breeze from the sea (especially felt in the districts close to the Manila Bay) and the trees from the parks cleared it mostly up.
Then back to Manila with its urbanite tribe
Midst an unusual tranquil place where young lovers embrace
And people strolling around or may ride with a calesa
Or paying respect to their hero Jose Rizal
Where people leisurely walk along the beautiful landscape
Financed by the Ministry of Finance advertised by the Ministry of Tourism
A topo-graphical model of the Philippines My last sunset over the best side of Manila

Ok, that was the Philippines, though still only a small part of it. There could have been seen and done a lot more. Also I could have written more. If you want to know more all about the places I have visited, then just look up any of the many guidebooks or in the internet. Though it may be all different today at the time of writing this than in the "good old days", where much more backpackers were traveling around.

© WEW Tours