Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday, February 16, 2018

Burdeos is just a speck of a town off the coast of the sprawling Quezon Province. A lot of well-meaning travellers still mistake it for Polillo as both towns share the whole island with Panukulan. This interesting nuisance is most often overlooked because everything in the area seems to appear the same – from the age-old coconut trees to the people. Everyone here seems to be related and doesn’t have any problem staying anywhere when bad weather stops them in their tracks.

Bejewelled With 25 Islands

The laid-back town is a boat and jeepney ride away from my mom’s hometown of Infanta via the Ungos Port in Real. What sets is apart from its immediate neighbors is the fact that it’s bejewelled with 25 more islands. Having been declared as a town only in 1948, it’s yet to realize for itself an identity beyond what’s obviously visible in its territory.

Understanding The Strait

The locals are always mindful when it comes to travelling from Polillo’s Anawan Wooden Pier to the mainland – Real and Infanta – for whatever purpose they have because they know that the weather can be quite deceptive. After decades of being confronted with typhoons from the Pacific Ocean, the locals have learned to see beyond the obvious and go deep.

Sometimes, though, they find themselves too foolish as to believe that the waves of the beguiling Pollilo Strait can be merciful. Case in point: the recent passenger boat accident that happened last December, 2017.

Barangay Amot
A young local in Barangay San Rafael
En route for Ungos Port in Real

Braving The Waves

As someone who has boarded a passenger barge in the same month the year before, I can ascertain that being foolish is the last reasonable thing to be when tackling that route. The two-hour trip was the earliest that day at 6:00am and I couldn’t remember any sight-seeing that I did from my side of the seat inside the barge. There was no way anyone could stand up straight during the whole ride and sitting there with my grip on my backpack was probably the most comforting feeling that I had.

In between naps, I managed to see nearby windows where the waves would violently crash against, reminding me of a washing machine’s spinning cycle. It was that crazy.

The old pier of Barangay San Rafael
Preparing to make Hinalo (Kalamay)
Why their version of Kalamay is called Hinalo
Hinalo when ready
Paradise To Behold

Beyond the crazy boat transfer, Burdeos is a paradise to behold. Intrepid tourists have actually fallen in love with its empty beaches and astonishing rock formations. Coconut is a chief product and is widely transported in many towns of Quezon Province. Where the provincial government lacks in mettle, the locals gather for bayanihan like in the case of fortifying wooden bridges that are taking an epic time to fund and construct. Some local delicacies are still being preserved here, including their version of kalamay which residents call “hinalo” (“stirred” in English, alluding to how it’s made).

A kid on Binumbunan Island
Relaxing on Binumbunan Island
Mayor Freddie of Burdeos
Binumbunan Island and Local Scene

During my visit, I didn’t get the chance to do the extensive island-hopping which is usually the tourist-recommended activity to do. The only off-the-coast destination that I managed to visit on a short boat ride from Barangay San Rafael was the charming Binumbunan Island.

What I set out to enjoy for myself instead was discovering the laid-back town from its arteries inland where it’s the most countryside in scenery. It’s where long and winding roads weave through farming plains and coconut plantations. Another pleasure was seeing locals on the roadside from their homes and even dining with the town mayor for a snack of suman at his ancestral home.

The view from Ginatungan Rock Formation
Rock shelters at the base of the Ginatungan Rock Formation
Atop the Ginatungan Rock Formation

Ginutangan Rock Formation

I was able to scale the highly vegetated and windswept Ginatungan Rock Formation that formed the long swath of natural citadel in the hamlet of Angib in Barangay Amot. At the top, the wind was brutal and howling most of the time but the joy of seeing the expansive shoreline of Burdeos was priceless. At its base, I was able to check out a few rock shelters that hint of the area being submerged underwater a long time ago.

At best, Burdeos is a vacationer’s paradise which a lot of visitors here get to discover on an island-hopping tour. When the weather doesn’t permit it, anybody can still be guaranteed of an interesting stay inland even if it’s not the glossiest thing to experience as a tourist. In my opinion, it’s beyond the obviously uninteresting where this brave new town shines the most.


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