Anawangin and the almost-wilderness

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Scenery at the back of the cove

Again, Lady Luck was on our side.

In our first pathetic attempt at a spur-of-the-moment getaway, my officemates and I brought our beach denizen arses to Pundaquit in Zambales last April 9 and 10. Our chosen spot for the long weekend used to be the mountaineering community’s hideaway. Until about five years ago, the Anawangin Cove was an unspoilt weekend destination for campers.

I have heard so much about this place and have wanted to visit it many years back. The words camping, wilderness, remote and no electricity set off each group of friends I invited.

The beach of the cove is quite interesting as it is a mix of white, brown and grey sand which gives it an ash-like appearance and texture. Another surprising feature of the cove are the agoho trees that line the beach, dot the camping grounds and grow by the banks of the stream at the back. The absence of electricity and even mobile network coverage makes it appealing for those seeking remoteness.

To date, the Anawangin Cove is by far the most popular overnight camping site of mountaineers and tourists alike. It is the most visited, most (so to speak) developed, and nearest cove from the town proper of Pundaquit. When we were there, there were easily more than a hundred tents in the area. Camping and beaching in Anawangin has become so popular it’s like teleporting in almost-wilderness. The remoteness, seclusion and the absence of necessities feed the feeling of getting away and being in the wild; but not quite with over three hundred or so other happy campers sharing the night sky, using the loos, waiting for a vacant handpump, swapping stories over so many bonfires and drinking to their hearts’ content.

Still, Anawangin is charming and mystical in its own right. I will come back, and next time, I promised myself I will do the half-day coastline trek of Mt. Pundaquit to better appreciate the beauty of the cove.

Here’s a rough sketch of our itinerary:

Day 1
00:00 boarded and left Manila for San Antonio, Zambales via Victory Liner (in Pasay, take the bus bound for Iba, Zambales; an alternative route is to take the bus going to Olongapo and from there, take another bus bound for Sta. Cruz, Zambales)
03:30 arrived at San Antonio town proper and boarded tricycle for Pundaquit
04:00 arrived at Pundaquit; contracted boat and shopped for food and supplies
06:00 boarded boat
06:30 arrived at Anawangin Cove and set up camp

Day 2
09:00 break camp
10:00 boarded boat for Capones Island
10:20 explored Capones
11:00 boarded boat for the mainland and for wash-up
12:30 boarded tricycle for the town proper and for lunch
14:30 boarded and left San Antonio for Manila via Victory Liner
19:30 arrived at Manila

Approximately, here’s a breakdown of the costs of the trip:

Php    266.00 aircon bus (buses from the Pasay terminal leave at 11:30 PM, 11:45 PM and 12:00 MN)
Php      30.00 tricycle ride (per person) to Pundaquit
Php 1,000.00 boat ride to and fro Anawangin Cove (max of four pax with sidetrip to Capones and Camara)
Php    100.00 overnight camping fee and use of picnic table (per person)
Php      30.00 tricycle ride to San Antonio town proper
Php    188.00 ordinary bus

Basic expenses amounted to Php1,014.00. In addition, cost of food, groceries and other expenses (like charcoal, cooking implements and tips) amounted to Php1,500.00. In total, this weekend trip cost us ≈ Php1,400.00.

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