It took me roughly a couple of months to finally muster some inspiration and write about my trip to Real, Quezon last March 1-2, 2015 as it only took me a couple of weeks to plan the trip. I heard about “The PaRK” from friends and my aunt who lived in brgy. Tignoan (Real, Quezon) a year ago, they then moved to Infanta, Quezon (next town). For this trip I decided to travel alone. After finishing one hectic week at work in which I had 3 straight days of work (Photoshoot Events / Photo Coverages) and I’m losing focus on what was important in my life – to be happy with the simple things we have or we get every day, so I packed my bags and head out at the Legarda bus station (A.H. Raymund bus terminal). I was at the bus station around 12 noon and sadly the 12nn scheduled trip already left which means I need to wait for another hour before the next bus depart. Looked around and found out that a few meters away from the bus station was the van pool service. It cost a bit more, I paid Php 220 pesos for a one-way trip from Legarda (Manila) to Reál (Quezon). Travel time was about 4 hours with only one stopover (I think it was in Tanay, Rizal), it was a stopover with a breathtaking view and enough time to grab a late lunch which I did since I haven’t eaten anything since I left the house.
The PaRK owner and HIStory
Arrived at The PaRK (The Pacific Recreational Kamp) exactly at 4pm. Got the chance to meet The PaRK’s owner Mr. Teody Villaflor, and spent almost a couple of hours talking to him and his wife Jenny. I got to talk to him pretty much about everything, from our country’s educational system, about his job, about health, to major life decisions and business ventures. There were a few things that was surprisingly cool about my encounter with Teody, first off his family was from Laguna (same as mine) and he went under the knife a few months ago at Philippine General Hospital (were both my parents work/ed) he had some lower back problems. He took up BS Agriculture (Plant Breeding) in UPLB as to what his dad advised him to take, I asked him “If it was his first choice?” and told me that it wasn’t. Which led me to the question “What happened after graduating from college?” He said that he worked as a University Instructor at UPLB and enrolled at UP Diliman’s DPE (Department of Physical Education) – Sports and Recreational Management. His father was a UP Professor at the College of Forestry and Natural Resources back in the 80s and back then his dad would buy farm lands from all across neighboring provinces near Laguna and one of them was The PaRK. The PaRK was established in 2001 not primarily as a business but as a way to keep informal settlers from taking over the privately owned land. Eventually, more and more people discovered the park and it became known to local surfers and surfing enthusiast. Take note there are no fan or air-conditioned rooms that you can rent at The PaRK instead they would like you to be more organic and reduce carbon emissions by pitching your own tent and just enjoying what nature can offer.
I’m not (yet) really good at surfing and this only account as the 3rd time for me hitting the waves and my first in Reál, Quezon. My 1st surfing experience was last October 2014 in San Juan, La Union, were at first I was hesitant and I had that feeling that I would just waste my money just by renting a surfboard and not totally enjoying the whole surfing experience. Apparently, I was wrong (which was a good thing), I had a surfing instructor named “Marley” and it took me several tries to finally be able to “pop-up” on the surfboard and ride the wave, somehow I knew I was hooked and I wanted more! There’s something meditative about surfing. I mean think about this, you’re alone in the middle of the ocean, waiting for the right wave to ride, deciding whether to give in or not. You only have a few rules; like to bend your knees to lower your center of gravity and look ahead. This Reál trip was my first time surfing alone. If you’ve already seen the video you’ll notice that there was no one around and literally for 2 hours I was alone in the middle of the ocean, riding unforgiving waves (roughly 4 feet – according to wavefinder.com) and if something bad happens to me, no one will ever know about it (yikes). Surfed for 2 hours, since I only had 2 slices of bread which I bought from yesterday, I decided to go to the market and ate a hearty breakfast.
Balagbag is a tagalog word meaning crosspiece. In Filipino it’s used as a verb, example: “Ilagay mo ng pabalagbag” “Put an object in an untidy or unorganized manner (or perpendicular)”. Balagbag Falls is a 3 tier waterfalls. The bottom of the waterfalls is about 13 feet deep, which means you can jump from the top of the 1st tier of the waterfalls as seen on the video. Yes, my feet softly touched the sand and pebbles at the bottom. I was able to briefly film my conversation with the driver (turned my unofficial tour guide – Nickson Mangampo) of the tricycle I rented. We talked about his family and some history about Reál/Infanta Quezon. Also he brought up a certain topic about “pag-uuling” or charcoal production or “fuelwood”, it has been banned in the entire province by the DENR, because of the effect of deforestation causing landslide incidents during the rainy season. I also asked about the common source of income in Reál, most people form the town are fisherman and farmers, some are tricycle drivers which should be ample enough to make a decent living or make ends meet, one of the alternative source of income is tourism as more and more people are starting to discover Reál as a hidden paradise (because of the internet), but of course tourism is also seasonal. The thing is during the rainy season, Reál gets hit a lot of tropical storms and typhoons, so besides fishing, farming, transportation and tourism there should be an alternative source or income or employment which I haven’t figured out. I’ll get back on this once I have a solution.
Landslide brought it down (Folklore)
Speaking of landslides, in 2004 Reál was hit hard by 3 typhoons that resulted in a massive and tragic landslide that killed more than 500 people (check google/youtube for images and report). There was a certain folklore that spread across the town of Reál and Infanta. Before the storm hit Reál and Infanta, there was this old wandering lady, going house to house asking for some water to drink, nobody and no one gave her water, until she finally reached the end of the town wherein one of the family broke the trend. They gave her water, and the old wandering lady was very thankful. Then she cursed the town that she just passed by which was Reál and Infanta and said “tubig pala ang gusto n’yo, ibibigay ko ‘yan sa inyo” (you people wanted water, I’ll give you water). Then it rained for four (4) days, until the soil couldn’t hold that much rain water causing a massive landslide. The folklore of “The Old Wandering Lady”. Some of the residents were buried alive and they were no bodies recovered, some of them were buried just by the seashore. It has been about a decade and the people of these towns are back up on their feet and living their lives.
Noknok Falls and Funny Komiks
After jumping off Balagbag falls, Nickson and I decided that we head out to Noknok Falls, I have no idea why it was named “noknok”, and the only thing I know is that it sounded like Niknok a fictional character in “Funny Komiks”. This part is totally unconnected to the waterfalls but I started collecting Funny Komiks way back in the early 90s, I remember saving up money or asking for some spare change from my aunt so that I could buy me the latest issue. I started to notice similarities of the characters drawn in the comics from western cartoons, I mean you could say Funny Komiks’ characters were rip off from their western counterparts. First there was Combatron who looked like Megaman or Rockman to some (I know I’m starting to geek out a bit here), then there’s Niknok who happens to be the Filipino version of Dennis the Menace, after that Tomas and Kulas which is quite similar to Tom and Gerry and finally one of the most hilarious duo in Funny Komiks Matsutsu and Taba in the section called “Planet op di eyps” need I say more about the title? As a kid and maybe up to this day, never really bothered if they were copied from those characters overseas. It was fun and I remember drawing them on my notebooks. When I started collecting Funny Komiks it only cost Php 4.00 then it became Php 4.50… Php 5.00… Php 5.50… so on… I had the first issue of Combatron until that issue with “Abadawn” and “Death Metal”. I stopped collecting Funny Komiks after graduating from grade school and I decided to sell all my toys including all my Funny Komiks in summer of ’95. One of toughest decision as a kid that I had to make, same as jumping off from the top of Noknok Falls. It was a good 20 – 25 ft. drop. I wish they could do a movie about Combatron, either cartoons or live action film would be fine, I guess.
One good wave for the road
After visiting Noknok Falls, I decided to head back at The PaRK I think it was around 4pm. Went for an hour surf again, I was surfing solo, the tide was starting to rise and the unforgiving waves are a lot stronger and higher, I wanted to ride one good wave before I go home and the sea gave one in return I had several deep cuts on my foot from the sharp rocks, which made it difficult to walk on for several days. I wasn’t really sure about the bus schedule that leaves from Infanta, Quezon terminal which passes by The PaRK but Teody’s wife told me that the last trip was 9pm and the 1st early morning trip was 1:30am. Went back to the market to eat an early dinner after that cleared up my tent, took a bath and braved the night waited for the bus back to Manila. I was able to get the last bus and the last seat on the bus (how luck am I?). Travel time was quite short because there was no traffic along the way. I was in Ortigas, EDSA by 1am. What are you waiting for? Start wandering!