Weekend in Caramoan by Sam Milano

Take the white sand beaches of Boracay or the diverse ruggedness of Palawan – and you have the best of both worlds – an idyllic haven called Caramoan.

Clear blue waters and rock formations similar to those in Palawan

The name Caramoan has been officially used since 1619, the date when it was founded by Fray Francisco de la Cruz y Oropesa. The first name given to this place was Gota de Leche by the Dutch traders. It is a hilly peninsula with deep gorges and a rough, rocky terrain, caves, limestone formations, white sandy beaches, an islet lake, a subterranean river, clear blue waters, unending coastline, and abundant marine life.

To get to Caramoan from Manila, one may either take a 9-hour bus ride or a 1-hour plane ride to Naga City (377 km South of Manila). From Naga City Central Terminal, one may take a van to Sabang port. Travel usually lasts for 1 hour. From Sabang port, there are small commercial boats that ferry passengers to the Caramoan Port. Hourly boat departure schedule starts at 5 AM. Boat ride usually lasts for 2-hrs and cost Php120++. One may take a jeepney or a tricycle to go to the Centro or the Gota Beach.

Dagos po Kamo sa …CARAMOAN!

You don’t have to worry about finding a place to stay in Caramoan. Our group chose La Casa Roa Hostel with its reasonably priced menu and airconditioned bedrooms with CR. You can ask for a spare bed for a minimal fee. Cable TV is also available.

Soak up the Saturday sun

After a short jeepney ride from La Casa Roa, we reached our first stop – Gota Beach. What a breathtaking way to start off a weekend adventure! Gota Beach, Bichara or Paradise Island and Pitogo are just three of the frequently visited beaches in Caramoan with its powdery sand, clear waters and imposing rock formations.

World famous Gota beach

Sweet Sweaty Sunday

Day two of our Caramoan adventure took us to Sabitan Laya, Caglago, Tabgon and other islands which, unfortunately, will remain unexplored simply because the motorboat we were in got beached. The boatmen took extreme caution not to damage the newly-planted seaweeds. Then we took a detour from the islands and climbed Mt. Caglago. In the early years, pilgrims used to bring bags or baskets of sand from the bottom of the mountain. They would take 2000 steps up to pile these sandbags on the base of a big statue. How the statue got there was a unique and touching story of concerted efforts – piece by piece, block by block. Each frame, stone, cement and sand that held the image together came from different places in the region. These pieces eventually reached the top of Caglago, put together by hand, and became what is now known as the image of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.

Caramoan is considered as one of Camarines Sur’s last frontier. Steady progress is slowly but surely making its presence felt in the peninsula, hopefully, not in exchange for its untamed beauty.

WORD PLAY:

“caramo-an” – what beautiful things you’re wearing

“carahan” – a sea turtle abundantly found along the peninsula’s shores

“nagka-cararamoan” – breaking one’s teeth

“namo” – a wild plant

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