Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016
Blanketed by the surf at Lulumnan Beach

Beyond the issue of land grabbing of the Dumagat tribe's ancestral domain and misfires from military encounters with NPA rebels, General Nakar is one attractive town that's been trickling at its fringes for decades. If its barbed wire-fenced resorts at the poblacion can trick the gullible tourist to run away from it, I remained unfazed. I was not at all discouraged to see the lack of modernization at the town's more far-flung villages. Instead, they posed a promising off-grid terrain for me to explore the further I go into the mountainside. If anything, it's an adventure for me.

Getting To General Nakar's Lulumnan

Determined to discover its secluded attractions that lie in the Sierra Madre and the rest of its unknown coast, I commenced with a three-hour bus ride to Cabanatuan from Manila and continued to catch a Dingalan-bound passenger van which took another three hours to finish. I opted for this way rather than taking the Manila-Infanta route. In Dingalan, I had a necessary stopover with a friend at its public market for supplies. One dirt road ride of a tricycle to Umiray, the bordering village of General Nakar, and thirty minutes more at sea from the town's pantalan sealed the whole seven and a half-hour trip.

Dumagat kids at Lulumnan Falls
Location of Lulumnan Beach courtesy of Google Earth
A Dumagat family on foot
Viewing the coralline rock expanse of Lulumnan Beach from a prominent rock formation
Bathing at the pristine Lulumnan Falls

Reaching Lulumnan Beach

With a friend whose roots can be traced to the tribe of the Dumagat, I jumped off the small pump boat that docked for a few seconds against the thorny coralline rock expanse of Lulumnan Beach, the first area in the scattered tribal community where my friend had acquaintances waiting for us.

"...this one felt like escaping a shipwreck."

The weather was pleasant. However, the beachfront was noticeably breezy because of rock formations that extend to a massive cliff and break into smaller ones out into the sea, producing dramatic waves. I normally arrive at island destinations in my trips on more comfortable instances, but this one felt like escaping a shipwreck. I barely kept myself from shaking because of the bizarre coldness. And what made setting foot on land a bit more epic was the sight of the imposing Sierra Madre at the beachfront which I'd see more of in the next few days of my stay in this part of the highly vegetated town.

The dramatic waves at the beachfront of Lulumnan
A young Dumagat carrying his harvested gabi plants for lunch and dinner

Dumagat Natives With Japanese Eyes

After pleasantries with a Dumagat couple were exchanged, we settled to unpack and dress up in our swimwear.

While organizing my stuff, I couldn't help but notice how blue the eyes of the couple's toddler were. Also, the eyes of both parents looked remarkably like those of Japanese people which revived in me old stories of how the imperial army of Japan once made this part of the country as one of its bastions during World War II, including burying their loot of several Asian countries' gold. And true enough, some of the tribal members divulged that some of their old female folks did mingle with Japanese soldiers in the '40s, resulting in their generation's distinct eyes that are angled upwards. Their dark skin and curly hair, however, do not belie their katutubo or native roots.

"...some of the tribal members divulged that some of their old female folks did mingle with Japanese soldiers in the '40s."

Nature's bubble bath at Lulumnan Beach
What Dumagat tribe members use when traveling to nearby Umiray instead of a 3-hour hike in the mountains
Enjoying the pleasant weather on top of a prominent rock formation
The spiny coast of General Nakar

Cliff-Diving and Epic Soaks

To see how different the view of the beach was from up the rock formation, I scaled the most prominent one at the beachfront. The edge of the rock formation offered me a stunning cliff-side view of Lulumnan Beach where Dumagat kids, as I was told, cliff-dive or jump off for fun on a good day. The windswept scenery looked similar to the views that I've seen in Cagayan's Palaui, but this beach felt more tropical for being warmer.

"It rendered sunbathing more epic and less average."

After scaling down the rock formation, I decided to finally experience the surf down below where dramatic waves proved to be good for outdoor bubble baths. The black sandy beach is similar to that of Real which runs in the same coastline, but the distinct rock formations here made all the attractive difference. It rendered sunbathing more epic and less average.

Boarding a pump boat at the pantalan of General Nakar
A local stalking the coralline rock expanse for seafood

Bathing At Lulumnan Falls

I ventured next to the hike trail to one of the area's waterfalls that the locals call Lulumnan Falls. I was told that another waterfalls deserves to be seen because of its location next to the sea, but I was warned that scaling the way to it can be a bit challenging, so I settled for the easier one which took me about 15 minutes to hike. It was there where I bathed with some of the Dumagat kids we saw who were carrying their harvested gabi plants.

The scenery of abundance here was a stark contrast to the devastation I saw in Dingalan hours earlier where several river-crossings halted or slowed down the delivery of goods due to damaged bridges and spillways. Even if relief goods of sugar, rice and medicine in nearby Umiray did not reach this tribal community, the members of the Dumagat tribe looked capable of easily bouncing back without any help from outsiders. My friend added that the natives are usually the ones who recover the fastest after each calamity because nature surrounds them and gives them back what it takes from them in a matter of a day or two.

Where Dumagat kids cliff-dive on a good day
Fresh buko juice for refreshment during the hike in the mountains
Wearing my reliable Columbia Ventrailia Hiking Shoes for my outdoor adventures
Lulumnan Falls

Hiking To Baniladan Beach of Mactang

We only stayed in Lulumnan for a few hours as we were scheduled to stay for the night at a katutubo friend's hut in the community proper of Mactang. Once we were dry and ready, we proceeded to hike roughly an hour to reach our target native dwelling in Mactang's Baniladan Beach where a lot of banilad trees can be found.

"Natives here drink the water from the terrain's pristine rivers and waterfalls.."

Along the way, we had the pleasure of refreshing our parched selves with freshly harvested coconut juice. Natives here drink the water from the terrain's pristine rivers and waterfalls, but the abundance of coconut trees in the area just gives them more nutrition from coconut water. In my opinion, the abundant access to its simple sugars, electrolytes, and minerals here is a blessing in itself.

The scenery at the dock or pantalan of General Nakar

The Escalating Issue of Land Grabbing

No one cares about social media or mobile phone signal here in Lulumnan. The Dumagat couple whom we talked to may have a radio but they didn't even know the details of the violent October 19, 2016 anti-US Embassy rally that a communist group organized and duped some of the Dumagat tribe members into joining by misinforming them about a simple advocacy meeting in Metro Manila. They learned that some of their distant neighbors managed to go, but have not returned after being promised of being away for only a few days. What was supposed to be a peaceful meeting turned out to be a sensational news item where the tribal members were made to become bait for issues that don't concern them at all. What concerns them is actually the issue that land grabbers are toiling day and night to displace them from this side of General Nakar for reasons like profit from illegal real estate transactions or treasure-hunting.

With the escalating issue of land grabbing happening in this side of the town, there is an uncertainty in the future of Lulumnan's pristine beauty. Will it fall to the hands of preying businessmen or stay in enigma under the clutches of lingering NPA rebels?

In this frenetic age of information, who will care for its future anyway? One thing's for sure, though. The world watches and becomes aware when tourists come to a deserving destination.

How To Get There From Metro Manila:

Option A
• From Cubao, board any Cabantuan-bound bus.
• Ride a Dingalan or Umiray, Aurora-bound van.
• Rent a tricycle in Umiray, Aurora for Umiray, Quezon Province (Php300 or less).
• Rent a pump boat at the pantalan or dock of General Nakar for Lulumnan Beach (Php700 or less).

Option B
• 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.
• Either hike the mountainside for 3 to 5 hours or rent a pump boat (Contact Ramon Romero of Masanga: 0909-478-6191) for Lulumnan Beach.

You want to know more about General Nakar?

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

More Photos Below:

Come and visit Lulumnan Beach!


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