The ladies in the car squealed nervously.
My pulse quickened. I held my daughter’s stubby fingers tighter, prayers at the ready. In front of us is a gob of the road – practically the other lane – chipped off as if bitten by a T-rex.
It’s an already narrow thoroughfare without the chip – passable by only two small vehicles – more so with it. The road rolls down steeply to a seaside cliff, so if the car falls through that hole and we’re not dead yet, we’ll be wading in a crapload of seawater.
Along with the car.
In a seldom visited, little-known coastal town without vehicles plying the jungle-lined road, proceeding is pretty much suicide. It would’ve not taken ten black cats to think that perhaps we shouldn’t.
Yet, because we’re a family of stubborn female tourists, we heeded the advice of motorcycle-toting locals along the way. “It’s a small chip. Your car fits.”
The other part they missed? There’s a second same-sized hole a few meters away.
The morning was still young and we weren’t willing to give up the one-and-a-half hours we drove from Daraga to Pilar, the nearest town in Sorsogon from Albay. The promise of a white sand beach kept us on our toes – a promise I haphazardly fished off a couple of blogs 10 minutes before we left that morning.
We were on the verge of massive discovery here, ladies and gents. How often do you discover an unmapped territory on Google maps? We could be the next Columbus!
Thus, we risked the car – and our lives – and spent the next two hours running around in circles and probing bewildered locals in sari-sari stores about the “hidden white beach of San Antonio”.
Two men pointed us to a narrow passage near the chapel toward “foontasi” (Funtasy), a “white sand” resort. It was, like most roads this side of town, forlorn and forgotten: heapfuls of dead leaves and coconut tusks and virtually no humans, a bleakness that says “no idiot has gone here for years.”
The splash guard crunched against coco shells and felled barks as the car, barely fitting, backed up.
A bunch of disgruntled youngsters sat on the mud-colored shore facing Sorsogon Bay, waiting for a boat for island hopping; their backpacks parked next to a string of litter and sad, empty canoes.
One complained of hunger as he ate the last kibble of Boy Bawang. Like us, they didn’t bring food, expecting there’d be a restaurant, carinderia, a store, or any other life form close by.
Turns out there isn’t.
We stood on the
mud beach, unfailing. Toward the tail of the shore is a green-dotted pocket of what seems to be white sand.
“Pitogo Beach,” the caretaker said. “They probably have food there. It’s a bigger resort.”
“Puti at magayon talaga”, the standbys claimed.
Magayon. There is such deep weight when a native Bicolano utters the word – especially when they say magayunun – it’s almost like a superlative. The tongue flares with conviction and you get instantly sold.
We heeded against reason, as any stubborn female tourist would.
Hectares of desolate brown earth filled with tractors, caged ostriches, empty cabanas, and ubiquitous husks greeted us at Pitogo Beach Resort. A groupie of emaciated dogs came up to the gates, but zero staff and visitors, nonetheless – the reasons for which became obvious when a friend of the owner later laid down the cards.
|I will not tell you what that brown thing is. You can decipher for yourself.
And there are tons of it, along with splinters of beer bottles.
On Pitogo Beach Resort:
- Pitogo Beach Resort is apparently the most popular resort in San Antonio among locals. The other one, Funtasy Resort, is situated about 10 minutes away. Both I couldn’t recommend.
|Empty even on a holiday. Available huts. The biggest (lower right) serves as a venue for functions.
- The huts are pricey. We stayed only a couple of hours and were charged P600 for the big hut fronting the shore (lower left in collage) when we checked out . There are no fee tables listed on the resort, so we thought the rate was the same with the smaller hut (upper right), which can accommodate 6-9 people. Entrance fee is P50 per head.
- Google results led me to another Pilar resort, Palm Creek Beach Resort months after we went (Too late, Google. Too late.), and it looks much more well-maintained. I’m especially curious about the lily pond and the horseback riding.
- If you do decide to head to Pitogo, please, please bring something for the poor dogs to eat.
How To Get To San Antonio, Pilar, Sorsogon:
- From Legazpi, you’ll pass by Daraga, then Pilar. Upon reaching the entrance to Pilar, follow the signs going to Donsol. Don’t take the route going to the port. You will reach a fork with a sign that says “To Donsol”. Take the other road, not the one going to Donsol. This will lead you to San Antonio.
- Public transportation isn’t available in San Antonio. There are jeepneys though going to the Pilar port. If you don’t have a car, perhaps you can contract a jeepney or a trike driver on site to take you to there. You can also board a ferry from the port going to Masbate.
Possible Activities to Explore in Pilar:
|Overview of destinations surrounding San Antonio. Click on picture to enlarge.|
- Firefly watching. If you’re staying for the night, there are firefly watching tours at nearby Ogod River.
- Panumbagan Sandbar is accessible via a 45-minute boat ride from the port of Pilar (Google Maps calls it Bantayan Island). The 12-hectare sandbar is farther from San Antonio, about 60 kilometers away.
- Donsol is 11 only kilometers away from Pilar, where you can embark on whaleshark sightseeing tours. Some sites state the whalesharks also flock to Pilar, but as far as the resorts and locals we’ve asked are concerned, the sightings tend to be more erratic here than in Donsol. None of them offer such tours either.
- Dona Ana Island. This is a relatively new discovery for me. Haven’t been there. But the pictures here look gorgeous. Map says it’s only a few miles off San Antonio by boat.