A Detox in Paradise
Can you survive the day without your mobile phone? How about foregoing the day’s news over the radio, your frequently watched TV program or updates from your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts?
I never thought I would overcome all these throughout the 2 nights and 3 days that my family and I stayed at the Waling-Waling Eco Village, and now I’m proud to say I did.
Visiting this eco resort is a challenge for the city dweller who breathes digitalization day in and day out. Yet, being about 350 kilometers away from Metro Manila through a six to eight-hour car drive, plus around 11/2-2 hours of boat ride provided by Waling-Waling to reach Mahabang Buhangin, Calaguas Island in Camarines Norte could literally transport a wired soul to an inviting, authentic vibe that radiates a different level of enchantment.
Once here, time seems to stand still. You start forgetting a word called ‘hurry.’ You get fresh sea air and can literally smell the flowers (after all, Waling-Waling is how a valued flower such as an orchid is called in the Philippines). In quietness, you feel one with nature as you get to listen to the sounds of birds and emerald-blue waves of the sea within the resort.
This place does not have karaoke or loud music. Even bon fires are prohibited.
“We limit our guests to a maximum of 100 people at a time to keep the privacy of the resort because people come here to detoxify from city life,” says Dino Sacay, Waling-Waling’s General Manager as he hands over a plate of fresh tuna sashimi for us to sample. “On the first day, some guests would be pissed that they could not check their emails or use their iPads because electricity here is only from 5:00PM until 5:00AM. But then, on the 2nd day and onwards, they would tell me how light they feel to be unburdened by this stuff even for a while, and then they became thankful.”
Sand & Sea
To say that Mahabang Buhangin’s 1.27- kilometer powdery white sand in Calaguas island is magnificent may be an understatement, unless one tries to actually be there to see for one’s self. The white, powdery sand lining the pristine sea amidst the green mountains is quite smooth and white, that it is said to have actually outperformed Boracay in these terms.
There were no stings when our children were swimming and for the first time, they did not complain about itching afterwards.
More Calaguas Photos here
As we sat under the tree watching the sun at its peak, the black crow was flying freely in the sky while about four tame dogs surrounded the trees. Suddenly, a green snake strayed from a tree and was about to jump to another tree. A few guests all the way from Europe surrounded it and flashed their cameras, amazed to capture a sight previously possible only through National Geographic. While the crow, birds and dogs are pretty common sights in Waling-Waling, however, Dino assures that the garden snake is not.
The kubol was our home for 2 nights and 3 days. It is a spacious 2-storey booth that can house up to 6 adults. Carefully constructed using native materials blended with durable concrete, the kubol, just as the rest of the resort’s cabaňas, has been designed with the guest’s necessities in mind. For example, under the wooden seats are cabinets to store your stuff. The rooftop has a ceiling fan. The queen-sized bed has pillows and mattresses with soft bed sheets, ready to recharge a tired body after spending the day perhaps over island hopping, mountain climbing, trekking, diving, surfing or after sitting around to watch the birds fly, or the sun to set or rise.
Body massage service is also available during the late afternoon.
My personal favorite in this part of the kubol is its spacious private bathroom. It’s a fusion of modern and old style, surrounding a tiled shower room with bamboos. It has an open-air set-up, allowing fresh sea air to flow inside. While the bathroom has no toiletries, there are fresh towels and toilet paper.
Just when exactly was the last time you woke up feeling fully refreshed and renewed?
“There are many ways that you can wake up,” says a European tourist that my family and I found ourselves overhearing, as his kubol was just next to ours and he came to this eco resort ahead of us. “Being here is probably the best way.”
Fresh Food Rules
Food served should be as fresh as possible, according to Dino. Since the resort serves from scratch, people who are used to ‘fastfood’ would be shocked to be served in about an hour. “If only our guests knew what it took us to serve on their table the freshest catch from the sea as much as possible,” the son of Waling-Waling’s owner and former Chairman of the Boracay Foundation, Inc. Dr. Orlando Sacay recounts his routine of getting up as early as 1:30AM or 3:00AM just to haggle for the freshest catch from fish dealers. “Ice is quite precious like gold because the place is away from it all, but we make sure to have it here. Even our vegetables are from fresh harvest nearby.”
Another distinct advantage of being here is that it frees the tourists from the ordeals of meal planning. Here, the resort takes care of your main meals during your stay. You’d just have to think about snacks in between.
While the resort boasts of its fresh seafood and barbecues, the staff was accommodating enough to customize what they’d serve their guests like us who thrive largely on vegetables, fish, beef and chicken and are non-pork and non-crustacean eaters. For example:
- Welcome Drink: Fresh melon juice
- Lunch: Sweet & sour lapu-lapu fish, Bicolano delicacies like sinantol (santol with coconut milk and tuna flakes), laing (gabi leaves with tuna flakes and coconut milk), beef nilaga and eggplant, pinakbet and unlimited hot rice.
- Dinner: Fried chicken, chicken afritada, tuna sinigang and unlimited hot rice
- Breakfast: Corned beef hash, fried eggs, tuyo (fried dried fish), fried crispy dilis and hot coffee
The place is best for:
- Couples on a honeymoon in June or off-peak seasons seeking privacy
- Colleagues on a teambuilding activity, friends and relatives who seek the laidback adventure
- People who would like to take a break from loud beach parties and food preparation
- Advocates of the environment
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Indeed, getting a detox in this splendid place brings you back to your job in the city in full swing.
More Photos here
“Paradise has a name,” my sister Christabel whispered on our way back home. “It’s called Calaguas Island.”