Growing up in a traditional (and almost strict) Catholic family, devotion and repentance starts earlier than 40 days to reflect on the real essence of Lent season. My mom made a vow to read the “Pasyon” (Passion of Christ) after my Dad suffered from a serious illness more than a decade ago. But for 11 years of observing this panata, I have developed a different sense of devotion on discovering my faith literally farther than traditions our family have set for us.
So together with my best friend, Monica, we agreed to spontaneously go on a Holy Week trip. It was late morning of Maundy Thursday when we lined up at the bus terminal going to Lucena, the capital city of Quezon Province and a hub link to most of the provinces in Southern Luzon. With minimal research aboard the bus, this little paradise a hundred kilometers from Lucena came about like an angel from heaven: Off we go to Alibihaban Island.
Alibihaban Island can be accessed from San Andres, a municipality in the southern tip of the province. I have seen photos of several beaches in Quezon ranging from remote to luxurious that offer equally tranquil-vibe of the more popular islands like Boracay or Palawan. Mainly because of its accessibility from the Metro, I get how beach-lovers from Manila frequent this province for a quicker get-away. In the case of Alibihaban Island, getting there is not as “quick” as I thought it would be. Travel time took a total of 19hrs that includes a series of waiting and hunger games!
We left Manila 11:30am of Thursday, we arrived in the island 6:30am of Friday. Had it not been a holiday or a spontaneous trip, of course it would not take almost forever to get there but it was a holiday indeed and we are spontaneous travelers, ergo we get what we (obviously) deserve 😉
Upon arriving at the island, we immediately went for a walk to survey the small community nesting in it and went West because according to the fisherman who we hitch-hiked to cross San Andres port to Alibihaban, that is where mangroves are located, water is clearer, and sandbars are visible during low tide.
True enough, it’s a humble gem with more to give than it shows.
There is no electricity in the island but some homes have solar panels. Water supply is a challenge here too, they cross back and forth to San Andres town proper to fetch fresh water. On the upside though, there is a good cellphone coverage with 3G signals but I opt to be disconnected for my entire stay to appreciate a truly simplistic way of remote-island living. But who am I kidding, I did it as penance too for a more holistic hibernation. What’s 3 days without the frivolous buzz from the cyberworld when I have a peacefully stunning island to fling with?
Alibihaban’s rawness will wonder you but the generosity of the locals complement it just as much to make the island more ideal. Since there are no infrastructures in the island for a more commercialized tourism, travelers pitch tents in the shore where boats dock from mainland San Andres.
But we got none and we weren’t even rattled on where we will stay the night.
It was 8 in the morning on a Good Friday. As we continue to walk around the island, we met two pair of traveling couple who just came back from the laot (open sea) where they bought fish for their food that day. How cool is that to do trade on a boat with a fisherman who’s on his way to supply the city with fresh catch?
A few more conversations after, we found a place to stay, had freshly cooked fish in our stomachs, crossed another island of a different province, and gained new friends. It was a good friday indeed.
Where did we stay? Over at Kuya Guido’s humble home. That side of the island is an undeveloped property of a former Quezon official being taken care of Kuya Guido and his family. Since we have no tent nor a place to stay yet, he offered a space in their small but beautiful home.
I took this trip with a mindset of hibernation (with a gist of a spiritual journey) but when I left Alibihaban Island, I got a heart-full of gratitude and humility for having more than what I need when there are people with less yet it is all that they want.
That night before we leave the island, while all six of us were having shots and throwing Q&As to each other under the moonlight, I felt a “Supertramping” moment. What Alex said in the movie Into The Wild is exactly how I’d sum up this island experience: “Happiness is only real when shared”.
For guidelines on how to get to the island and other tips, check out my this post Travel Guide: How to go to Alibihaban Island.