I went out to Punta Fuego — located in Nasugbu, Batangas for a summer weekend; the sights were pretty breathtaking and let’s say that even just the shortest of local trips really invigorate oneself to the beauty of the world around you. Needless to say, my lust and desire to travel and wander (to perhaps even farther places, sometimes you really miss the stale airplane meals since the feeling of the sky descending beside you is something that really enlightens you; counting city lights like the stars, and all the like) has really surged. As a collection of keepsakes from a minuscule 2-day trip, here are some photos and a short guide-by of the trip; though of course — incomparable to taking in a vivid landscape before your own eyes.
After a three-hour drive bustling from the robust metropolis in victim of paucity, the whirring of decade-old vehicles — screeching through the afternoon haze on posters falling apart over and over before their six-year due date, we drove past the sunken creeks and wishes left on cement cracks and crooked leaves. The road from Manila to Batangas is pretty notable in the fact that the Kaybiang Tunnel — so revered as the longest subterranean road tunnel in the Philippines since it well, goes through a mountain, is something that you would have to inevitably pass through. It is underwhelming to say the least, and with further research I found that it took a whopping four years of construction to finish the project. Although it redeems itself by cutting our dear travel time significantly, so thank you tunnel. In actuality, this portion doesn’t stand out that much — nor do I have pictures of it but, the more you know.
In all honesty, driving around mountains and twirling around in circles for half an hour was pretty enjoyable. The scenic view of a sea kissing the sky in contrast to dusty pavements and rims of plastic flying in the wind is a huge change; the fear of the crumbling cliffs washing down below transfixes your gaze — a renewal to the paranoia of a collision against the sky. Simply seeing the ocean from heights was enough to make me way more excited for the trip, the rocks peering out from the rocky shorelines until smoothing itself out to a grand collection of silky grains that litter the walkways and landscape. Watching people run out, barefoot and free towards an inviting blue infinity, the houses that act as personal lighthouses, guarding the serenity of a milky sea, the trees that mark the paths towards every stretch — all of these amount to what makes even just the drive to the place exhilarating. Being accustomed to sunlight from drawn curtains in suburban wallpapered coffins and finally waking up to an embrace and the sound of the waves crashing into the shore, breathing itself in and out in an endless cycle only mixed around by the serenade of the moon is something that I truly love about travelling. Waking up and reaching for what you are so desperately used to — only to be greeted by a thousand new touches that you have never graced your fingers through and a sunlight that strays from the usual evening corner — the surreal milliseconds of oblivion, figuring out that you are in a place where you stray from your routine – all of it sums to a grand lust, a longing, a desire, for more.
After driving through some farmland and quaint barangays scattered here and there, we arrived at Club Punta Fuego; the scenery changed almost immediately. From a homely touch towards nature was a lavish entrance into a place where I felt like I didn’t belong — like an impossibility that this was the Philippines, but there’s nothing impossible for upscale resorts! Houses dispersed themselves atop of hills and cliffsides, flowers in bloom – arrays of different colors that I couldn’t fathom to see in nature after them being mysteries for so long. We entered the lobby — it looked simple enough but it had a beautiful view of the ocean, the infinity pools it boasted of and such. They also gave free lemon water, which tasted pretty good.
There are two levels of pools here; though it’s initially a bit difficult to see.
Notably, there weren’t as many people as I expected. I guess it’s since we arrived at a later time, but in general — there weren’t too much people around the resort. A huge contrast to the other tourist spots drowning in too much publicity that it goes into the negatives. The lack of people truly made the experience much better, as I must say. Enjoying things such as the ocean and shorelines are better done in smaller numbers; I’ve never understood the pictures of public beaches filled to the brim with monochromatic shades and colorful umbrellas perched into the rocky sand; kids and sand ingrained throughout, the lack of calm or melody. Perhaps it’s just me; but really, I don’t see the appeal.
i sort of like my hair in this picture thank
For our short stay, we stayed in one of the many casitas the resort offered. Since we were with quite a bit of family, we stayed in a house that was connected to the one next to it. The rooms were really spacious; the bathroom was huge and I want to put emphasis on that because it really was gigantic – I am just a small child. Each casita featured a balcony, though we didn’t take the houses that offered a view of the ocean – which would have been really wonderful to wake up to.
The temporary residences were situated really close to the pool – a short three minute walk would lead you towards it. Also, the place around the casitas wasn’t open nor was it structured perfectly like what you would find in a neighborhood block. It was divided by sloping hills and pavements that crossed a dozen directions, there was an abundance of flowers and trees as well as lights hidden in pots that acted as streetlights. It felt really comforting, even when walking through it in the darkness.
After settling in, we quickly changed and headed for the infinity pools. We swam for upwards of an hour — losing time.
This is the view of the ocean that one could easily view from the pools. The house perched at the edge of a cliff, overlooking everything was something that made me really envious — what a wonderful thing to walk outside to in the morning mist while sipping on a cup of coffee.
I expected the water to be cold; but it was actually really, really warm. I didn’t mind at all – though. The day itself was actually quite gloomy and hazy in comparison to the rest of the summer days, luckily it didn’t rain at all on our arranged trip. But there’s something about soaking in a cold pool while the sun rays find themselves looming over your skin that can’t be beaten, it’s the feeling and the escape.
There weren’t much people swimming at the pool either. It was more of people just lounging around, and over-protective parents clutching their kids around; some people just staying on the same spot and talking. Here, the water wasn’t deep at all — even I, with my battle towards my height was free to roam. However, the pool in the lower deck was deeper — around five and a half feet if I recall correctly. In which my battle with my height wages in an unending fervor, inability of my feet to touch ceramic pool tiles and all that.
We had information that the beach itself (located quite a drive away) actually closed at six, really early — and I guess that defeats late-night walks in the fog and humid weather. I was kind of disappointed that it closed so early, it’s a beach – after all! Safety reasons and all that, I get, but still shake my head to. With the rest of my family, I rode a car towards the area where the beach was located (and others rode a golf cart, amazing) and passed by more houses that were much too lavish for me to even dream of owning and flowers so awe-bringing that I wondered if they were real.
There were far more people in the beach – but still barely any. Boats could be spotted, ebbing and flowing in the distance and strangers made their ephemeral marks on receding sand; one could easily see mountains not too far away, the waters did not meet with the sky but instead towards more unexplored beauties. Lots of rocks were found peeking out in the water, a sight that I am strangely not used to seeing. It was quiet, but not quiet enough so that the waves would be all that I could fill my lungs with and the shells the only thing that would resonate and reverberate in the hollows of myself; but it was still a getaway from a humming air conditioner and the crickets of the foreigners in the dark.
I am really scared of the ocean – not just because we don’t know anything about it and that we have discovered space far more than the waters — all that blather. The fear already creeps up to me when I step foot into the shallow water — when I am dragged by people, my wrist held by sunburnt hands, calling for me to come in and just try. I did, however — and I didn’t make much noise about it, it’s just that the thoughts and fears started overflowing me. The rocks were really piercing through my feet, I felt like lifting them up and rushing my hands throughout their outlines to check if they were bleeding; and I would run — even if it would only make it worse. I recall a silly memory, me being stung by jellyfish every single time I step more than a meter forward in water that goes above my ankle.
On the east, I walk a bit, my feet shaking – I try to make it look like I was cleaning them, getting rid of the sand clinging in between my toes. I pick up a shard of glass, it’s brown and I identify it as a beer bottle. The scent of alcohol is long gone, instead it transforms itself into something more deadly, something more wallowing and sickening; the salty taste and kiss of the ocean has overtaken it. I reach for my foot again, shaking it off, wondering if any glass has cut my feet. I throw the shard away – away into the water, underhand motion – they think I am swinging a rock, counting what it has left. More glass, more glass; I feel like I need to throw them all away — but I know that they’re just going to return. Pick them up, keep them in my pocket and brush them off when the ocean will not forgive it; but they would think that I am weird. So I toss some more, and another; before I just back away from the sea when I start feeling the sand wash down my toes. I step on rocky foundations, it sort of hurts and it sort of feels like bleeding but at the same time I know it’s fine; I check it anyway, just to be sure.
I like to wonder, what if I lose control — do not believe in my own fears and instead walk by myself, towards the ocean – no one is looking, no one is making sure that the sixteen-year old is intact. I walk forward and forward, until my head is salt and I remember the quote from Slaughterhouse Five — people aren’t supposed to look back, yet no one even looks forward to see if I am there. And I turn into a pillar of salt, like how mermaids who are far more beautiful than I am dissipate into seafoam for the sake of unrequited love and mishaps; I wonder if I will turn into seafoam – but I know that I am destined to just fall into salt. Perhaps sometime, I will be rinsed from the feet of a child; again and again. It’s just a thought, an idea — but I know it would haunt people; so I keep quiet. All I answer is that I dislike the sea, it’s too scary, too unknown.
But the sea is my friend, and I am so afraid that the only remnants of a girl will be the shard of glass in a neat bundle, the slippers drowned in sand over and over again, and a message-in-a-bottle, too soaked with tears for them to ever understand.
I gave up on the concept of trying to build a sandcastle — not enough time nor motivation to do so, more or less the tools. The tide will come and ruin it anyway, and I never have even built one in all my years. I decide to just sit back on the rocky sidelines, far from the shore with a view just as the above photo. My legs collide with sand and rock, it hurts and I want to get away but there’s no where else to go. I think of the sea, talk to the people who matter with a phone in hand and wonder if this is something I would love to really wake up to, every single day.
We go back to the entrance of the beach area; it’s not like a beach at all – there’s a reception counter, an actual locker room, like they modernized something that’s supposed to simply be towels and plastic balls floating around. We pass by a kid’s playground, untouched and unused; except for the swingset, which accommodates the wind. There is a mini gold course that I didn’t bother looking at enough, but I see cheers and purple-colored balls rolling about the fake grass. I take the hand of my grandmother, my sister follows. There is an Italian restaurant that closes on the dot, six as well. The lady points and says that it is 5:30, the last call for orders before they close down. To the right of the table is another pool; closing at six as well. Inside, there are more people swimming about; yet when I traversed the beach earlier they were all clinging onto the shore. In confinement to what we know; we are so much more free, we are so much more brave — it’s like the stretching water limits our horizons, blinds us and makes us susceptible to what we hate most.
Fifteen minutes of waiting pass and I am presented with my order; penne pasta just drenched in tomato sauce and mozzarella; nothing out of the ordinary. The food was alright, and I doused a lot of pepper in it as I always do. The bread looked strange but was surprisingly better than the pasta itself. The food wasn’t the best that I had ever tasted, nor was it something worth remembering; it was warm and not hot, also pretty hard. It was my first meal of the day, so I ate it all – nevertheless. My sister takes their specialty, carbonara pasta – she claims that it’s pretty good. I take another sip of my drink and look at the trees that surround the restaurant and how strangely empty it is. Grandmother handles the cold, tall glass and takes a sip of the milkshake.
A man with a bucket emerges and pours chlorine into the pool before the clock hits even six. His movements are systematic – as if he had done the same task every single day for who knows how long. People start leaving, cars arrive in order to bring one from Long Beach to the reception – where all the action happens. The sun hasn’t even set yet we are urged to go away. I don’t mind, though. We are set in a small sort of bus – I remember that Disney has that same kind. A wonderful trip from the parking lot to a train station, while the scorching sun threatens us over and over. It’s different now – the sky is looming downwards but it hasn’t bent itself on setting yet, the flowers appear to contrast against the gloom far more and I feel so close to the ground – the wind rushes over and I feel it breezing through me – another feeling that is so strange to me. In a few minutes we are back at the reception. Other members of my family weren’t done with their fun and decide to rush for the pools – I walk towards the casita with the key in hand, wishing to lock myself away in the colossal washroom and to feel water that is actually cold.
I realize that the answer to my question is no. It’s too tempting, far too enticing. The sun is now beginning to truly set.
For some reason, my eternal feeling of weakness didn’t leave itself as expected on this trip; but I got to see a lot and appreciate the sights, even the walks back to the room. As the darkness falls, my family enters and we prepare ourselves to go to dinner.
We pay around 800 per head for a buffet, they lie about my age and say that I am twelve — which I can easily pass off as if you ignore my eyebags and intense resting I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-and-what’s-the-meaning-of-life face. It was alright, as well. I didn’t expect extravagant food or anything. We eat inside the brightly lit-up dining area, others rest in the faint glow outside, wooden floor creaking below them and candlelight blooming. Honestly, I would have prepared that rather than the abundance of light inside. It wasn’t memorable, and the area was fairly small. I leave early with some of my family and we look at the other amenities the place has to offer, most of them close by nine. They offer a mini-theater with a seating capacity of about 30, they’re about to play Jaws – I almost watch but decide against so.
It’s extremely early when I get back into the room with my siblings and some of my family, just a little past nine. With the blessing of free wifi (there wasn’t even a need to ask for a password, how beautiful) I end up sleeping at around 3 AM. I miss the next day, the mediocre breakfast buffet, and get waken up just for the sake of check-out. I am amazing.
A turn of events for me was the fact that we were stopping by Tagaytay for a late lunch before heading back home – it was perfect since it was just a stop-by on our planned route back to Metro Manila. I wasn’t even aware of this until our car suddenly pulled over. We eat at Buon Giorno in the Cliffhouse, which offers another wonderful scenic view and is a place I have been to a couple of times before. I remember going there a lot as a kid and eating in this ice cream stall, which I found to be gone. The nostalgia trip didn’t work out and I was actually kind of mellow when finding out that it had left.
I order another penne pasta because sadly, they ran out of ravioli. It tasted alright as well; I’d argue that the one from the resort was better. Along with that, I got a cup of cappuccino. I wondered why they gave me a pretty large cup of brown sugar until I realized that… yes, I really needed it, I am weak and strong coffee is an enemy that I wish I did not have.
Their pizza looked and tasted really good! We couldn’t finish it, so we brought home a good bit of leftovers. The crust was the thinnest that I ever had.
I had finished eating and decided to go out. I spent my time looking at the view and of course — trying to capture how mesmerizing it was in photo. It didn’t work out as excellently as I would have liked and I am a horrible photographer, but getting to lean out and just see all of these – as if they were at your reach yet realizing how far they actually are is really strange. This was a gloomy day as well and wasn’t that bright.
Restaurants may be the main focus of the area but it was also adorned with a lot of plants; like it seamlessly fit into the environment. The terrain was rocky and felt oddly natural, and although it was also built in a sense – seeing a place that tried to capture the beauty of its surroundings and nature so vividly and in a manner well-executed is something that I really enjoyed. I would love to come back here, time and time — bring people that matter to me and show them this beauty hidden in the side of a highway. I feel like it’s a place where I would love to just spend hours talking, and talking. I’ve mentally noted down my wishes to watch the sun set here, as I stare at the horizon and the hidden mountains.
I fall asleep in the car, wake up a few times and stare at the road, confused at unfamiliar surroundings before drifting back off. At around five, the sky turns itself orange and we arrive at a place my family calls home. I assume my normal routine, sleeping at ungodly hours of the night and sometimes letting myself go when the sun has already brought itself back up amidst the warnings of the chirping birds. Like it was just a flash, two days had passed and all I have left are memories and photographs.
I realize that travel is something that’s really important, something that is really essential to bring us out of something as numbing as everyday routines, like summer in its endings and school at its peak. There is so much more to the world than what we see in pictures, there is so much more than the songs we blast from our speakers and the rising sun in our bedrooms before we actually drift off to sleep. We can go farther, we can see sights that we had never viewed before and bask in the moment to try and try – just to make it eternal. A few thousands thrown at a resort and drinks spilled through the cloth are entirely worth the clearing of one’s mind, the renewal and a break in time. I just wish that it didn’t take all that in order for us to appreciate the environment, baptize ourselves in the ocean’s warmth once more, to look at flowers in colors that we had only painted on canvases we’ve lost long ago.
This was my only trip this summer, and I don’t know if I will be able to capture all the feelings and thoughts I had in its taking, in the very moments it had happened — but keeping what I know of just a few days after is something that’s as close as it can get. You have no idea how badly I want to see the world, see things beyond the regions I know and have drove to a thousand times over; but this — this was already an alluring experience. I can’t imagine how I would feel once I see things that had only been seen in the dark room, camera rolls dripping.