August and January are not your normal island-hopping, beach-combing months in the Philippines. Typhoons are the norm in August and January lies smack in the middle of the northeast monsoon season that can make for scary inter-island boat trips due to the strong waves. For some strange reason we ended up visiting Cagbalete, a scenic island in the Pacific Ocean lying off the town of Mauban in Quezon province, during those very same months.
It was a perfect morning when our boat left the beach in front of Dona Choleng Resort at Cagbalete Island, Quezon. Overhead was a partly cloudy sky with the sun peeking through blue gaps in the tangle of white and gray clouds. The waves were calm and our boat easily made its way to our morning destination: the Yang-In Sandbar.
Still feeling a bit tired from the nine-hour bus trip from Manila plus another hour by jeepney from Banaue town proper we trekked the remaining 3 kilometers to our destination on foot. It was already late in the morning when we arrived at the village entrance, accompanied by Manong Jun, our wiry local guide. A few meters past the entrance, a sight until now hidden from our view emerged: amphitheater-like terraced rice fields carved from the mountainside now almost golden yellow in color from ripening rice stalks..
Matnog, Sorsogon is a sleepy little port town that serves as a jump-off point for ferries going to Northern Samar and other destinations in the Eastern Visayas. Arriving at the unassuming town late one afternoon we realized just how remote and underdeveloped the place is. There were very few tourist accommodations and no fancy cafes or restaurants, just a few dining places in the public market and at individual homes. All of which suited us fine because it offers a clue about how possibly pristine the attractions around this town are.