It was unbelievable how soft the shore was. It’s not really white but it felt like I was walking on very soft foam. My feet gently sinking on the perfectly fine sands as I made my way around the west side perimeter of the Island. I can’t remember the last time I had a pleasurable walk on sand that I wish there were more on this little Island of Hagonoy. But I may be asking too much. We already have almost the whole island to ourselves this morning except for Aling Ambing and her helpers.
Hagonoy Island is small that it won’t take 10 minutes to walk the length of the island from end to end. The North east side is filled with coconut trees while the west end is where the beach is found. Aling Ambing certainly made a few adjustments here for comfort but not enough to ruin the island’s tropical feel. There’s a restroom and shower area which is really clean and managed well. A few cottages, a volleyball court and numerous natural lounge chairs made from wood. The island has a rare benefit of having water from a deep well.
Morning was spent lazing on a hamok. While some of our friends were diligently shooting each corners of the island, I was enjoying the breeze and the view. Aling Ambing’s relative gave us a plate of boiled shrimps to add to our breakfasts of cookies and breads. When the sun was high enough to brighten the shade of the sand, I made my own island exploration. I dipped in the water and marveled at its clearness. This place is perfect for a safe and easy swim.
By mid-morning our solitary group finally got some guests coming in from one of the sea vessels with small boats on board. We had a short chat with Aling Ambing telling us we welcome to spend the rest of the day here or overnight as well but since we didn’t have much supply we decided to head back to land first and return later in the afternoon.
As we expected, we were back again on an outrigger boat that afternoon. The low afternoon light was another scene altogether, giving the Island a much more needed spotlight. Aling Ambing was deep reading into her reading when we came back and was joking that we shouldn’t have left. Asking Aling Ambing if she plans to put a full-fledged resort here, she said she’s happy just the way it is now and even some of her foreign guest said to keep it as is.
While we were getting ready to shoot, a cheery and chubby guy approached us asking if we were the ones from Manila. He introduced himself as Conrad, the son of Aling Ambing who is also currently the Vice Mayor of Bislig. He’s an approachable guy despite his political charm with a natural wit about him. He welcomed us to the island and introduced some of his companions and one who turned out to be a friend of our Art Director friend from Seair Inflight.
Honestly I wasn’t really much in the mood to shoot so after a few shots, I just lounged around till darkness listening at some tunes from my Music Player. By dinner time we were also invited to their table to partake on what seems to be a feast of seafood. There were baskets of crabs, fish and lobsters and some engaging conversations.
We accompanied Aling Ambing again on her way back to mainland late that evening and left Conrad and his friends in the island to camp. It was such a fun day. Then we thought of our friend who was supposed to be on this trip with us. Learning Conrad was also lawyer, we remembered her saying she has a good friend and batch mate in Bislig. One text away and we learned it was Conrad or she calls him Concon. It would have been great if they got to see each other here again. Now we sorely missed our friend’s company then. The conversations would be a lot interesting over lobsters.
Hagonoy Island can be reached via an outrigger boat with a travel time of 30 minutes. Boats can be rented for P1000 (10 pax roundtrip) and P1500 (20 pax roundtrip). There’s an entrance fee of P50 and a parking fee of P60 for the boats. The cottages can be rented for P100 (small) and P200 (big). It’s best to bring food on the island. They allow overnight camping as well.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.