Saturday, January 14, 2017

Saturday, January 14, 2017
Binumbunan Island courtesy of Google Earth
The white sand beach of Binumbunan Island

Off the coast of my mom's hometown of Infanta in Quezon Province is Polillo Island. It was where I spent my last day in 2016. She had always persuaded me not to visit it because of its notorious reputation to cuddle communist NPA rebels and those whom she perceives to practice witchcraft. She would always tell stories of rebel recruits and the occult even if she has not stepped foot on the island in her life. She's that paranoid. It was always someone else's story which led me to ignore her bidding. The first chance I got last year, I boarded a passenger barge from the port of Ungos in Real, breezed through less than three hours of a dizzying boat ride at sea, and arrived at the Anawan Wooden Pier of Polillo unscathed.

Bound For Burdeos

Polillo Island is actually divided into three municipalities that includes one that's named after itself. The other town is called Panukulan. My New Year's Eve vacation, however, was set for Burdeos, another town in the other side of the island that's bejeweled with 25 more islands. It's been officially a town since 1948. This is why a lot of tourists easily mistake a Burdeos attraction as one that belongs to Polillo because most tourist guides or operators that they're in contact with are usually from the latter. What they end up having fond memories of when visiting the area is actually of the former to the dismay of Burdeos residents.

Binumbunan Island can be found in Barangay San Rafael
The tranquil scenery on the island
Arriving at the Anawan Wooden Pier of Polillo aboard a passenger barge
The thug ride on the Polillo-Burdeos Road
At the poblacion

The Thug Jeepney Ride On The Polillo-Burdeos Road

Racing past pelting rain, I made my way through the pier's rickety pathway and registered myself at its outpost. The commute terminal was just next to it, so I wasted no time boarding one of those dirt road-designed jeepneys as the early morning passengers started to crowd the registration area from the barge.

"I soon endured the stomach-churning ride on the God-forsaken dirt road of Polillo."

I soon endured the stomach-churning ride on the God-forsaken dirt road of Polillo. The Polillo-Burdeos Road proved to be more difficult to tackle on a rainy day because it was muddier. Locals say that it's been that way for decades and they're starting to lose hope it will ever be completely paved. What could have been a thirty minute joy ride of the highly vegetated forest turned out to be two hours of idle time. In the middle of it all, I almost wished I just set out for a beach somewhere in Batangas instead.

A welcome treat of kalamay that locals call "hinalo"
Arriving on Binumbunan Island

A Homestay Welcome Treat of Hinalo

At the town proper of Burdeos, my contacts eagerly awaited my arrival. Traveling with an environment advocate friend who grew up in one of its 14 villages (Mabini), I was scheduled to stay at a contact's home and have a courtesy call with Freddie Aman, the newly-elected mayor, for tour assistance.

At the home of my contact, the household members took turns preparing a tasty delicacy of kalamay which they call "hinalo" because of the way it's stirred using a wooden paddle. It was a day before 2017 and I was around as special guest, so a serving of such tasty treat was in order.

It didn't take long for the sticky rice cake to be cooked. While watching two members of the household vigorously mix the sweet snack on a large iron vat, I suddenly remembered my challenging jeepney commute next town. It was easy to assume that they also named their version of the kalamay as such because of the churning of one's stomach due to the bumpy ride one experiences on the way to Burdeos.

A view of the distant mangroves from Barangay San Rafael's old daungan or port
Daungan Beach of Barangay San Rafael
The old daungan or port of Barangay San Rafael
Lodgings for booking in Burdeos (see contact details at the end of this article)
Mayor Freddie Aman reminiscing his childhood stay on the island

Recommended Lodgings

Before the day was over, I visited a couple of decent lodgings that are currently operating in the town. This was in anticipation of a revisit should I need to have a relaxing layover in the future if ever. Andy's Lodging House is the newest one in the area, but the one that's nearest to the poblacion's pier is Burdeos Island Inn. A guest rate can be as low as Php250 per night.

See contact details of both lodgings at the end of this article.

Visiting Daungan Beach With Mayor Freddie Aman

The next day, I met up with Mayor Freddie Aman and he took me to a harbor in Barangay San Rafael where locals hie off to for picnics. Next to the old port is a swath of brown sand beach that locals call Daungan Beach. From there, a faint view of the distant Binumbunan Island could already be seen. Fondly referred to as Burger Island by young locals who've spent camping there, the small island looks like a burger bun from a distance. It's considered as the most accessible island to visit from the town proper even when it's looking quite breezy at the port. Once you've reached a certain point past the view of the vast mangroves, the scenery becomes pleasant.

With the newly-elected mayor of Burdeos, Freddie Aman

At Daungan Beach

A Sidetrip To Binumbunan Island

On the island, especially with no other tourists around, the place becomes idyllic. It's incredible that the weather can be suddenly different within its small perimeter. It's an island where time seems to stand still. It's where you can forget your daily grind because it's remote and not a soul lives there.

"They would stay there for almost a week toiling night and day on earthenware vessels and salt-kettles."

Mayor Freddie, however, was reminded of how he spent countless number of nights on the island as a teenager producing salt for a living with other kids. They would stay there for almost a week toiling night and day on earthenware vessels and salt-kettles. It was the '70s and the townspeople fell on hard times, so he did what he could to help his family survive.

The pleasant scenery of Binumbunan Island
Beach-bumming on Binumbunan  Island
Binumbunan Island is also sensational for camping

Today, the white sand beach island is ripe not just for tourist visits -- day tour or overnight camping. It's also potentially good for holding romantic beach wedding ceremonies for couples who want extreme privacy in such a setting that also has a vulnerable scenery. The wedding reception can be arranged at the nearest village that's just a 5-minute boat ride away.

"Today, the white sand beach island is ripe not just for tourist visits..."

Burdeos is more than its kalamay version of hinalo. It's definitely more than Daungan Beach and Binumbunan Island. You'll be surprised to encounter several more attractions that are declared online as Polillo destinations by some well-meaning bloggers when they're actually part of Burdeos. It's obvious why tourists even bother to go as far as this town that's facing the Pacific Ocean when they can easily beach-bum somewhere else. The place is unique and its townspeople hope the memory that tourists will take home with them is not of some other town but of Burdeos.

How To Get There From Manila:

• Board an Infanta-bound van or Raymond Bus in Legarda (roughly three-hour travel time for Php200).
• Get off at Ungos Port in Real. The earliest trip is 6:00am.
• Board a passenger barge or vessel for Anawan Wooden Pier of Polillo (less than three hours travel time for Php200).
• Ride a Burdeos-bound jeepney from Anawan Wooden Pier (two-hour travel time for Php150).
• To reach Daungan Beach for Binumbunan Island, charter a tricycle ride from the poblacion to Barangay San Rafael. You can directly reach Binumbunan Island from the poblacion by chartering a boat ride from the poblacion pier.

Leaving Burdeos:
The earliest jeepney commute from the poblacion to Anawan Wooden Pier is at 3:00am. The next trip is at 5:00am.

Lodging Contacts
Andy's Lodging House
Contact Person: Andy Leynes
Mobile: 0912-464-9272
Burdeos Island Inn
Contact Person: Bernard Leynes
Mobile: 0949-683-6160

Boat and Tour Operator
Contact: Rommel De Leon Talisayon
Mobile: 0908-623-8277 and 0917-987-2358

For more info about Burdeos, visit the official Facebook fan page of Bejeweled Islands of Burdeos.

View the Turista Trails E-Zine featuring Quezon Province:

More Photos Below:

Anawan Wooden Pier of Polillo
Binumbunan Island is kid-friendly
Binumbunan Island from a distance
Visit Binumbunan Island of Burdeos!


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