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Travel PH | Solace in Islang Pandak in Calatagan

Four hours away from Manila is Calatagan, Batangas.  Its a quiet town, a really quiet town.  For backpackers and campers like me, its known for Manuel Uy Beach, Burot Beach and Stilts.  For this trip however we were invited to stay at Islang Pandak.  

An island 5 minutes off the mainland, its a privately owned island with an unfinished housing structure. The island is made out of corals so don't expect sandy beach surrounding it.  What charmed us with this place is its serenity.  It had no bridges, no regular boat trips, no stores, no electricity and worst of all, no restroom.  Its really an isolated island except maybe for passing fishermen, they are the only humans you'll ever see when you on it.

For our trip, we went as group to check out this "isolated" island.  We brought with us food for 3 days and 2 nights.  Ever the paranoid that I am, I brought along my cookset, brought some food like canned goods and the survivalist favorite the cup noodles.

How to get to Calatagan
If you have a car, you have two ways going there. You can use SLEX then exit Sta. Rosa then traverse through Tagaytay.  Another way is through Cavite and exit Bacoor then traverse Tagaytay.  Use the main highway towards to Nasugbu then Lian, then Calatagan.

From Manila, there are some buses from Lawton, Erjohn (this information was just googled).  From Pasay, there's Celyrosa Bus along Macapagal Avenue, at HK Sun Plaza Terminal.  From another point in Pasay, in Buendia DLTB also goes straight to Calatagan.

If you ask us, better choose between DLTB and Celyrosa as we have seen their terminal at the Calatagan end.

Fare of DLTB is Php168 only one way and its already airconditioned.  Not First class but its comfortable already.  Travel time is 4 hours.

Bagong Palengke
You will alight at Bagong Palengke (New Public Market) and even if no 7-eleven is on sight, you can buy food stuffs and what have you there.  Its still a sleepy part of town so don't expect to see some products you might prefer.  There's no pharmacy so have medical stuff ready from Manila.  Water rations can be bought there as well.  We suggest getting the blue water refills in our trips but this time, better ask how much the cash deposit for these and coordinate with them when you are returning these.  Less hassle later on waiting for your deposit to be returned.  Buying disposable water bottles is bad for the environment.

Also in this place, you will be met with tricycle drivers willing to take you to your destination.  They will ask you if you are going to 1) Manuel Uy Beach or 2) Stilts.  The former is a budget friendly camping beach spot, while the latter is the Maldives of the Philippines so you know it won't be budget friendly.  Going to these places are a bit far so price going there varies depending on your haggling skills.  (The drivers will not mention Burot Beach, and if they do, they will say its closed to the public - but as far as the boat people and locals would suggest, its still open).

For our trip here, we had to dropby to a nearby house of a friend so fare is simply cheap.  Our boat to Islang Pandak is just nearby as well, so we only had to walk it from that house.

After a 5 minute boat trip, we were on the island.  Its surprising that even if close to the mainland, this place had strong cool breezes and quiet disposition.  On one side of the island, they created a breakwater thereby giving you a clean access to the water.  It's so clear and shallow that you can see fishes and crabs swimming and crawling all over.  What a relaxing sight it is.

As mentioned earlier, its not a sandy beach so the island is on top of hard corals.  Venture a few feet from its edges and you will touch sand.  On low tides, one can walk on it and get yummy seashells.  Some fishermen do this and sell a bucket to you for Php70 only.  We bought one bucket and had it steamed.  Yummy indeed.

Now when sunset came, it was a great sight to see.  The island is facing the sunset and with the orange skies dawning on us, it was truly romantic.  No electricity on the island added to the ambience.  Dinner was so solemn and hard LOL.  Check out our dinner here.

On our Day Two, we were whisked to a nearby sand bar.  What a sand bar? yes a sand bar. When this writer woke up early, we found a small boat that went near our island.  They alighted and the water was knee high.  They were looking for seashells and walked all the way to the sand bar.  Wow.

When all of us were awake and had our breakfast, the waters went back to normal levels and we can't walk to the sand bar anymore.  We had to take a boat ride to it.  It seemed that this sand bar is a tourist attraction as we saw more boats came in with hordes of people in life jackets.  Even with the influx of people to this sand bar, the place was ultra clean.  Except for a plastic fork I've seen (I picked it up and disposed later properly), the whole place was clean.  No bits of plastic or garbage on its waters nor on the sand bar itself.  Kudos to the people who maintain and bring people to this place.

Marine life is teeming here as we saw fishes, starfish, some isolated urchins (most urchins are found in deeper waters in the area - another yummy sea product) near its shores.  I have travelled in a number of beaches and islands, seldom do I see marine life lately.  Here its still so alive.  We hope they maintain such nature and beauty of the place.

Sun rises on the other side of the island and its still breathtaking as well.  Calm seas, chilly air, quiet island, great breakfast indeed.  What a way to start your day.

No electricity
Yes there's no electricity on the island so I bought along two huge powerbanks.  It was enough for me to survive the 3 days and 2 nights.  Cellular service is present on the island so its not a digital detox experience.

Where to eat in Bagong Palengke

We suggest eating at King Ace Goto Mami Pares.  They are like your karinderia but very much nicer and cleaner.  They also serve goto and mami.  Pares they don't offer anymore as no one was great at cooking pares they say.  So stick only with what they have and you will have a good dining experience there.  Nanay is so good to us while we ate there.

For breads, they have a bakery there as well.  They close though during lunch so don't fret when you see it closed during lunch time.  As I said earlier, its a sleepy town so people are still laid back.  They come alive only on weekends when tourist flock going to the stilts or Manuel Uy beach.

Cost Breakdown
Bus to and from Calatagan Php168 x 2 = Php336, Tricycle to boat Php10 x 2 = Php20.
Boat rental for 3 days with side trip to Sand Bar and stay on the island = Php2,000.  Capacity of Boat is for 6pax.  Php333 per pax.
Food during our stay Php150 for noodles and bread and drinks.  Water was Php50.
Lunch on mainland and breakfast Php70.

Total cost Php781 per person.