Monday, October 31, 2016

Monday, October 31, 2016
A local on an early morning fishing errand at the beach of Masanga


There was a time when the sleepy hamlet of Masanga in Canaway was totally remote. It was so remote that the Dumagat natives have chosen to flee to it when lowland locals in Infanta outnumbered them in the area. Whether it was grief for having lost a place that can reflect their sense of self or simply a natural reaction, they didn't dwell on it for too long as they soon found this Quezon Province coast their new home. With numerous river crossings and a winding dirt road, the only convenient way to it used to require riding a motorcycle or habal-habal.

It was probably why it was also chosen by one Capt. Guillermo Nakar as his Philippine Army Battalion's hiding place from the invading Japanese forces in 1941. As a crucial refuge, the challenging terrain of Sierra Madre sheltered Nakar's guerillas of more than 1,000 men until he was captured and subsequently executed by the Japanese. It was eventually included as part of the new town of General Nakar that's been named after the World War II hero. These past few years, though, a jeepney ride has been made possible as a three hour-long commute to the once inaccessible fishing settlement.

Sunrise view at the third cove of Masanga Beach
The impressive coralline rock expanse that has tidal pools next to an imposing rock formation
The dramatic ocean waves against a rock formation in Masanga Beach
A young Dumagat and his fishing tool

A Community In Harmony

Today, Masanga is home to both lowland locals and Dumagat natives. Most are into fishing for livelihood and some have found the coast to be beneficial for farming as well. With four pristine coves that are unique in their own ways, it can easily charm any tourist who loves the beach. Three succeeding coves have dark brown sand and are respectively veiled by the highly vegetated Sierra Madre. Both also have a few profound-looking rock formations at the beachfront.

"With four pristine coves that are unique in their own ways, it can easily charm any tourist who loves the beach."

The fourth cove that's the farthest from the entry point to the sitio looks more tranquil with its white sand and age-old trees. However, when it's low tide during the day, it looks like a desolate expanse of coralline rocks.

Morning fishing at the third cove of Masanga Beach
Early morning catch in Masanga
The coralline rock expanse in Masanga
Shell fish for lunch at a cove in Masanga

"I was able to experience two kinds of home -- that of a Dumagat family and a lowland local."

Post-Typhoon Lawin Visit

Knowing that I have a few relatives living in the area, I was hopeful that I'd have the chance to meet them for the first time. Unfortunately, I didn't know where exactly in the area they eventually settled so I decided to just tag along with a Dumagat friend of mine who was scheduled to visit his own tribal community there this October.

Staying for a couple of nights in Masanga, I was able to experience two kinds of home -- that of a Dumagat family and a lowland local. Each was remarkable for showing me glimpses of the hamlet's storied past.

My challenging morning stroll at the beachfront of Masanga
Hiking inland for the fourth cove in Masanga
The dramatic ocean waves against the first cove's rock formations
(top) Diana, the Dumagat snacking on sugarcane; (bottom): Cooking at a Dumagat home

"At the humble home of a Dumagat family, the experience was more communal in that neighbors can easily go in and out of each other's house.

Dumagat Home

At the humble home of a Dumagat family, the experience was more communal in that neighbors can easily go in and out of each other's house. It was like each structure was simply an outpost in the whole settlement that's been there for more than a century.

Even if there's an electric distribution utility that currently services the area (Quezelco), most of them unfortunately don't enjoy the convenience of access to electricity because of the lack of budget for it. This is why most homes here only have a sleeping area and a kitchen but don't have living rooms and bathrooms.

Feeling minuscule in Masanga
Almost sunset in Masanga Beach makes the dark brown sand almost black
The first cove in Masanga Beach where the jeepney for Infanta parks to wait for passengers

Second Night In Masanga

I spent my second night at the house of my Dumagat friend's mission co-member who has long been living in the area since marrying another local. As a seasoned fisherman and boatmaker, he has managed to raise his family and is open to entertaining tourists in his home or touring them in the area's different coves and nearby attractions on his boat. A stark contrast to the typical house of the Dumagat, his home is at the beachfront of one of the area's four coves and is more spacious. As a matter of fact, his family enjoys free water that flows straight from a pristine stream in his backyard, rendering his budget useful for other expenditures.

Both families seem to enjoy the off-grid way of life in Masanga. The lack of a decent mobile phone signal and facilities for amusement have not deterred them to appreciate life. Any setbacks like storm surges from the Pacific Ocean or sporadic encounters between the military and the NPA rebels don't seem to impede their way of living. They just keep on going knowing that grief is always brief in an underrated paradise they call home.

Watch A Short Video of A Fresh Catch In Masanga:

How To Get There From Metro Manila:

• From Legarda, Manila, board either a Raymond Bus or a passenger van for Infanta.
• Rent a tricycle for General Nakar town proper.
• Ride the passenger jeepney for Masanga.

Contact Person For Accommodation:
Ramon Romero (0909-478-6191)

You want to know more about General Nakar?

Check out my visit of Lulumnan Beach and Falls here.
Check out my visit of Maktang Beach and Falls here.
Check out my visit of Tutulakan River here.
See my compilation post about General Nakar here.

More Photos Below:

The second cove in Masanga Beach where the house that I stayed in for my second night is located
The view of Masanga Beach from the road
Where we docked in Masanga from our previous trip in Maktang
The tranquil cove that's farthest from the jeepney terminal
When black sand is beautiful
The rock-studded way to the fourth cove
White sand at the fourth cove
From afar, the coralline rock expanse looks like one massive tropical desolation
The view of the second cove from the house of my host
How we arrived in Masanga from Maktang


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