The Stormchaser’s Guide to Calaguas

Phase 1:

Plan to go to Calaguas Island with your travel-enthusiast buddies. They don’t have to be your closest friends. Make plans via Facebook.

Learn that there’s an upcoming storm.

Mention it on the Facebook thread hoping one of your companions will suggest postponing the trip.

When no one replies, push through.

Phase 2:

Ask your mother to drive you to the Superlines bus terminal in Cubao (Southbound).

Listen to Mom’s sermon “Bakit kayo tutuloy, eh may bagyo? Wala kang katanggi-tanggi sa mga lakad!”

Get on the bus that leaves for Paracale, Camarines Norte at 7:45PM.

Try to feel comfortable and warm inside the freezing bus. Attempt to sleep.

After a little over 8 hours on the road, arrive in the small, provincial, seaside town of Paracale at 4AM.

Be greeted by horrible weather (Surprise! Not.) It’s raining, it’s windy and there’s no electricity.

Ride one of the tricycles waiting at the bus stop and ask Manong Driver to drop you and your stormchasing friends at any open establishment (read: karinderya/tindahan).

Drive around in the dark. See no open establishments.

Feel your heart break at the fact that no boats are allowed to go to Calaguas.

Feel the storm getting stronger. Feel hopeless and helpless and stupid.

Wait for manong driver to offer his house while you contemplate your life decisions “Fuck! Bakit ba kasi kami tumuloy?!”

Feel a surge of gratitude and relief when manong driver invites you and your friends to his home. You have shelter now.

Thank this man nonstop.

Phase 3:

Slowly feel at home at Kuya Jun’s, your savior, the kindest, most hospitable man ever. Get to know his story, his family.

Get served breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Feel super emotional because these strangers gave you roof over your head and fed you warm, delicious meals while there’s a Storm Signal #2 outside.

Play with Jam-Jam, the Frozen-obsessed, very thoughtful and bibo grandchild of Kuya Jun.

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Play cards.

Wait out the storm.

Pray hard for the weather to get better, or less horrible. Believe in miracles. “Sana mamayang hapon wala nang bagyo”.

When the storm temporarily subsides, go outside, walk around.

Visit the church, people-watch, inspect the surrounding areas.

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Witness for a brief period how gold is made/melted. Paracale is known as a gold town afterall. Life goes on in the little seaside town.

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Get your hopes up.

Go to Pulang-Daga beach. The waves and winds are still furious. Your mom is probably as angry. Think about your mother a lot. And your life decisions. Feel terrible.

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When it starts raining cats and dogs again, go back home (aka Mang Jun’s place).

Get your hopes down. Become realistic. No more Calaguas. Not today at least.

Make a pact among your friends. “Bawal mag-isip. Bawal malungkot.”

Spend the night at Kuya Jun’s house.

Join Jech-Jech and his barkada’s inuman/tawanan/kwentuhan session. Jech is Kuya Jun’s grownup son and the dad of Jam-Jam. Feel reluctant at first. Get comfortable eventually. Laugh a lot. Observe a lot. This is such an unexpected but heartwarming experience.

Witness a sky full of stars. Probably one of the starriest night skies you’ve ever seen.

Feel hopeful again. The weather tomorrow is gonna be beautiful. The starry night sky is proof.

Sleep! Yes, they let you stay and sleep in one of their bedrooms. Fight the urge to cry!

Phase 4:

Wake up early. Take a peek outside. See the clear, blue sky. Feel excited!

Go back to the nearby beach. Not Calaguas but that can wait… Or can it?

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Touch the earth. Finally!

Decide with your friends that you can put off going home another day. Calaguas is 2 hours away. Work can wait. Hesitate for a minute but who are you kidding. You don’t care much about work. Not when the weather is this pleasant and island life is more attractive than ever.

Take a boat to Calaguas Island.

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-To be continued-


You may reach Mang Jun Salen (also known by locals of Paracale as “Bigwak” – not sure if I spelled that right) at +63 916 2899904