roast_like_1

Ennui and how to be roasted like a pig

Piglet aboard the motorized pumpboat for the next nine hours

Calayan Is. in red

So this is how it feels to be slowly roasted. I said to myself as the heat of the sun was slowly beating down on my exposed skin, biting, scorching, as our rented pumpboat, locally called lampitaw in Ilocano almost arrived, after nine hours at sea.

I was on assignment in Calayan Island in the Babuyanes and in between, I got to enjoy this piece of paradise this part of the Philippines. Nine hours, four hours more than the usual pumpboat trip thanx to a defective engine that saw us cruising at around 10 KM/HR on a fine sunny day, a calm sea and just great weather. It’s no fun. It’s no joke and it was just freakin’ exasperating. Not even my excitement of finally coming to these fabled group of islands in the Babuyanes can make me smile anymore. I was just so bored and helpless. We all were.

Our rented motorized pumpboat that took us from Claveria to Calayan Island.

The passengers. CLICK TO ENLARGE

I wasn’t really prepared for the type of vessel that we have to ride on. It was more for small cargo for small islands and not for people. Passengers are there only as an afterthought. Only did I realize when we were already at the vessel and started to sail, after waiting two hours for the high tide, that I was left out in the open as we made our way out of the mouth of the Kabikungan River, to be roasted slowly.

The trapal, heavy canvass, that acted as the roofing was too small for all of us and I offered the seat, only good for four to the ladies and the PAGASA weatherman. Bummer. I left my patadyong, a smaller sarong, in my backpack which was loaded at the bottom. Unreachable. I was wearing my TNF100 singlet, a cap and shorts and left nothing to rely on but what I already have. No sunscreen and no recourse but to enjoy the view.

Darn picturesque, stunning, perfect view of the blue sky, the deep blue sea and pieces of terra firma (but not terra incognita) as our vessel passed, cruising slowly. For a few minutes, I was entertained and regaled with stories and at other times, fell sleepy and fighting drowsiness lest I fall unceremoniously into the waters and my dignity with it.

Three hours before we arrived, the boat's captain decided to remove the canvass, further exposing us to the sun

Nearing shore. CLICK TO ENLARGE

And just as we already passed between the three islands that form the Fuga group, the boat’s pilot decided to remove the tarp that covered some of us and further exposing us to the sun.

Its almost eight hours into the journey. Dalupiri Island was behind us and the sight of Calayan from the distance is causing us excitement as the prospect of reaching our destination was just overwhelming. But unfortunately, the vessel just chugged slowly.

By this time, my back is aching. No hard surface to lean on during the entire trip, unless I lie, sprawled over bottles of Pop Cola. So close yet so far.

Finally, terra firma, Calayan Island

This is my arm exactly a week after the trip to Calayan. Dark area attributed to sun exposure. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Almost there and my exposed skin was already reddening. If I were the pig and basted with oil from time to time during the journey, I would have become lechon with all the crispiness of its skin. But I wasn’t. Instead, a warm sensation has been bugging me from time to time and the burnt part was becoming sore.

Land was coming closer and closer. The steeply inclined coastline strewn with pieces of polished shells and corals was coming into view and the vessel’s crew was already guiding it safely until, alas, we docked and we all heaved a sigh of relief.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

15 Comments

  1. Grace
    June 13, 2011 @ 10:55

    Aray mukang 1st degree burn. Looking forward to more of your photos. I’ve heard of the Babuyan Islands when I was a kid although I never knew anybody who has been there. Very intrigued.

  2. estan
    June 13, 2011 @ 11:09

    @grace, yup. pero its okay now. just waiting for the rest to peel off. babuyanes has been there and we’re familiar with it in our elementary years but getting there is more than an adventure 🙂

  3. lakwatsera de primera
    June 13, 2011 @ 13:52

    I love this trip of yours, inggit mode, I’ve been wanting to visit Babuyan Island for as far as I could remember. I even thought it’s an island full of pigs when I was a kid hahaha.

  4. estan
    June 13, 2011 @ 14:05

    @claire, wait till i get to the Cibang Cove post. talbog lahat ng pinuntahan mo. hehehe

  5. docgelo
    June 14, 2011 @ 15:30

    napa-aray! din ako sa sunburn mo, estan.
    the heat is so apparent in your photos, i can almost feel it by just merely looking.

  6. estan
    June 14, 2011 @ 15:54

    @docgelo, very init talaga. right now, i’m still peeling 🙂

  7. RON | Fliptravels.com
    June 14, 2011 @ 23:49

    yikes 9 hours of pump boat ride… i cringe with the idea alone!

  8. estan
    June 15, 2011 @ 0:53

    @Ron, 9 hours na walang sandalan 🙂

  9. Jaja
    June 15, 2011 @ 18:33

    We hope you can still find meaning in coming back to Calayan. We really hope. Thanks!!

  10. estan
    June 15, 2011 @ 21:45

    @jaja, of course, I really need to go back there. This september and enjoy the beautiful island 🙂

  11. » Near drama at the Babuyan Channel | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    June 19, 2011 @ 22:08

    […] lampitaw (motorized pump boat). The morning was sunny and the sea was calmer than expected but not as calm as when we traveled to this island a few days before. But it rained the previous night and the sunset was quite red. […]

  12. » How to get to the Calayan Islands | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    June 25, 2011 @ 11:55

    […] the lampitaw that is sailing. In our case, the motor had problems and a five hour trip lasted for nine hours. Note that the lampitaw is more geared towards cargo and only offer a few space for […]

  13. » Personal thoughts on my Calayan sojourn | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    June 26, 2011 @ 12:36

    […] forlorn, so out of the way, limited transportation as it all depends on the condition of the sea: calm one day, treacherous the next. Calayan town is quaint, but has lodging facilities for the […]

  14. khristina
    July 25, 2011 @ 2:49

    I also wanna visit Babuyan Island. A friend of mine kasi directed a play entited Babuyan Island. 🙂 Tapos, wala lang,I just wanna visit the place 🙂

  15. khristina
    July 25, 2011 @ 2:49

    *entitled

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