Gigantes Getaway

Last July, I visited the beautiful (and very far!) Gigantes group of islands in Northern Iloilo. The following is our itinerary (a summarized version):

Thursday

Instead of flying to Iloilo City, we chose Roxas City in Capiz as our jump-off point. There is not much to do in Roxas except eat tons of seafood at Baybay Beach and pray for the weather gods to cooperate (it was rainy season when we visited).

We stayed at San Antonio Resort, just a stone’s throw away from Baybay Beach. Location-wise it is a great choice. Price-wise, you’re better off picking a cheaper ho(s)tel because you’re probably going to stay for less than 24 hours.

I bet this signage at Baybay Beach is the most Instragrammed spot in the whole of Capiz. Hehe.
I bet this signage at Baybay Beach is the most Instragrammed spot in the whole of Capiz. Hehe.

Friday

We checked-out early and rode a tricycle to Roxas City’s transport terminal, where we hopped on a bus bound for Carles, Iloilo. We went down at ESTANCIA. The ride to Estancia was around 2 hours long.

Estancia Port only has 1 boat that leaves for Gigantes and it departs at around 1 PM daily. The boat ride is usually another 2 hours but it took us less because the current/waves swept the boat faster to shore.

If there’s a perfect time to use the word GETAWAY in this blog, it is for this trip. We literally got away and rode all kinds of transportation to get to Gigantes islands.

Buhay bangkero: Umulan, bumagyo Tuloy and trabaho.
Buhay bangkero:
Umulan, bumagyo
Tuloy ang trabaho.

When we arrived, we immediately rode habal-habals (motorcycles) to Gigantes Hideaway Inn. The habal-habal rides were some of my personal highlights. They are extremely dangerous sans helmet but they were also exhilarating and gave me a good view of the surroundings and local life – idyllic, simple, covetable.

The first leg of the tour was the lighthouse area. By this time, I was already in love with Gigantes. For dinner, we were introduced to the islands’ specialty – SCALLOPS. We had loads throughout our stay. Lahat ng luto ng scallops, I swear, natikman namin.

I’m not sure, but I think this is the northernmost part of Gigantes Norte. It has a stunning view of the surrounding waters.

Saturday

The windy, overcast morning was spent visiting the other islands. Unfortunately, we were not able to experience the famous “tangke” because it was not accessible 😦

It is pretty something even during monsoon season.

We went spelunking in the afternoon. I enjoyed that too! Caves are forever fascinating, also scary. Bow.

When we were not touring, there were a lot of idle moments spent at the resort or sitting outside. I went people-watching and breathed as much clean air as I could. I relished the quiet moments and appreciated the stillness because there’s a shortage of them in Metro Manila.

Hashtag Love Wins or Hashtag Stalker ? :p

Sunday

We had to say goodbye too soon. Spent the whole day travelling back to Manila… reluctantly. Island life is much more appealing to me.

From Estancia Port, instead of taking the bus back to Roxas City, we rode a shuttle/van and it was significantly faster.

PS.

Gigantes Hideaway Inn is highly recommended! They will assign a person who will take care of all your needs. Ours was Kirk and he did a great job!

Sir Joel Decano, owner of Gigantes Hideaway, can help arrange your transport and accommodations. You can reach him via this number +63 918 468 5006. Please note that he won’t be as responsive when he is in Gigantes Islands due to very limited cellphone signal. I had to contact him twice or thrice. When he is reachable, he is very courteous, responsive and helpful 🙂

Mt. Pamitinan: A Wet, Wild and Wonderful Climb

“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.”  — Greg Child.

I climb because I love the fresh air and being surrounded by trees, I like being away from the city, it’s a good form of exercise (probably my only exercise!) and of course I climb to see beautiful views. But more than ever, I climb because I need to stop thinking. My head has been H-E-L-L these past weeks. And when I climb, I tend to concentrate on the hike itself, where to put my foot next so I don’t slip or injure myself, which branch to grab to support my weight, etc. There is little room for thoughts other than survival especially when the trail is as challenging as Mt. Pamitinan.

Located in Rodriguez, Rizal, Mt. Pamitinan is just one of the four major mountains in the area. The 3 others are Mt. Binacayan, Mt. Haponang Baboy and Mt. Ayaas.

View of Mt. Binacayan from the summit of Mt. Pamitinan.
View of Mt. Binacayan from the summit of Mt. Pamitinan. “Twin” hikes are doable but probably not on rainy days because it takes longer.

To go to Sitio Wawa, the jump-off point to the four mountains, ride a UV Express from Cubao to Montalban/Rodriguez then ride a jeepney or tricycle to the area.

It is not advisable to climb mountains during the rainy season, but I am a stubborn girl exhausted from overthinking. I needed an escape. Mt. Pamitinan’s trail proved to be exactly what I needed – slippery, muddy, dangerous, filled with sharp limestones.

It's not that clear on my camera but those sharp limestones were definitely terrifying.
It’s not that clear on my camera but those sharp limestones were definitely terrifying.

Around 1/3 of the trail (mostly the latter part leading to the summit) is covered with jagged rocks. So believe all the blogs, BRING GLOVES! I didn’t have a pair. I didn’t get cuts on my hands or anything but gloves would have been extremely helpful for a more confident and secure grip. I hiked Mt. Pamitinan on wobbly knees and bare hands. I’m not sure how I survived!

Because it rained during our hike, the trail was so muddy, in fact it was the dirtiest hike of my life so far! The rain didn’t drown our spirits though. We trudged through mud and survived killer rocks! It was definitely an unforgettable climb.

Bought new hiking shoes. They were pretty reliable.
Bought new hiking shoes. They were pretty reliable. “Nabinyagan” nang bongga with mud. Hahaha.