I have heard of people talk about this place as a hidden jewel behind the mountains of Zambales. Was Often described as the sweet escape for mountaineers and adventure seekers. I have envied people who have been to this magnificent place. Seeing their photos and reading their blogs make me want to pack my things, leave everything I know behind and hop the first bus I see on my way to San Antonio, a small town in Zambales and the access point to this well coveted PARADISE.
After three long years, in October 2013, I finally had the chance of a lifetime, to meet with Anawangin Cove and its wonders. Together with my well trusted friends, whose hearts were also thirsting for adventure just like mine, I took the leap of fate and head for Zambales. Despite fore-warnings of thunderstorms and disappointment (from some of the blogs I read), I hardened my resolve and still went for it. If thunderstorms await me, it’s for me (us) to face. And disappointment, I’d be the judge of it.
On the way there, I couldn’t help but thought of what’s it going to be like. We were very much prepared. Got all the things we need to survive through the three days we plan to be out from civilization. But what I couldn’t set aside was the thought that “Anawangin Cove is no longer the paradise it used to be”. It probably would break my heart, ever it is true.
After more than four hours of agonizing anticipation, we finally reached the town of San Antonio. Grabbing some snacks and some supplies, immediately, we rode a trike going to Barangay Pundaquit where our boatmen await.
Upon arriving at Pundaquit, fear engulfed my entire being. Seeing the open sea with its waves roaring and unforgiving, I suddenly would wanna head back home. But it wasn’t the time for cold feet. Besides, I had the reassurance of the six boatmen who were accompanying us that the sea was at its normal. I thought that was all I needed, right? And I had no other choice, it was the only way unless I was up for a 5-hour trek in the mountains.
The boat ride took 30 minutes or so from the shores of Pundaquit to Anawangin cove. 30 minutes or so of praying nothing bad ever happens. As soon as my eyes got a glimpse of Anawangin Cove from afar, all my fears melted and I found myself fell in love a thousand times. With the waters so clear and pristine and the pine-like trees standing mighty green and tall, who am I to ever doubt the beauty of this sanctuary. But the love didn’t last. As soon as we unboarded, the realization also came. I knew now what the bloggers were talking about. Suddenly, I felt grief and regret for this heavenly place. It is still a paradise in such a state that badly needs salvation. Here are the reasons why.
1. Territorial Fences – These imposed limited access to visitors. Also, they hurt my eyes as they were badly built and even if they weren’t, who would appreciate only able to access one part of the cove and would have to pay another 100php to explore the other parts? Based on my understanding, the entrance fee is for the entire cove itself and not just for one territory.
2. The Presence of these filthy things
Though the locale I had spoken to about these told me that these are already in the process of being removed, I think this needs immediate attention.
3. Poorly maintained Toilets and shower rooms – I know that the entrance fees we pay are used to help the locals of the area earn a living and for the preservation and maintenance, however the latter I think was poorly funded.
4. Inaccessible cottages – there are cottages there which are off limits to visitors unless you have made arrangements to the ones who own them. If they can’t be used, they might as well be gone.
Despite all these things I found unacceptable, you shouldn’t deprive yourselves from experiencing what Anawangin Cove has to offer. I only cited those things I thought should not be part of this beautiful place. Anawangin Cove is one of the destinations in the Philippines which is still way out of reach from commercialization and I would really love to keep it that way.
These photos might encourage you to still visit the place, else be an advocate to bring back this paradise from the way it used to be.