05
Feb-2014
calayan-featured

As a kid, I only had two destinations in my bucket list, Disneyland & Calayan Island.  I was so fascinated to discover that there is an island bearing our family name.  I even once thought my ancestors owned it.

Twenty years after setting foot on Disneyland – it was finally happening.  On a trip to Santa Ana, Cagayan, I discovered that a ferry, Eagle Ferry plies between Santa Ana and Calayan via Camiguin and it only cost P 700 one way!   So things fell into place, research & careful planning with my buddies transpired.

We were only there for three days but we managed to get around & explore the island – we  hiked & discovered  the powdery white sands & crystal clear waters of Sibang Cove, we walked around the town & had a glimpse of their daily routine and I was even able take a few snaps of the elusive Calayan Rail, an endemic flightless bird which was only officially discovered in August 2004.

Day 1 – The 17-hour drive to Claveria, Cagayan

Yes, Claveria (always have a Plan B).  After all the planning, we were informed 2 days before the trip that the ferry changed its schedule to give way to a local official’s birthday celebration.  So we decided to take the lampitaw, a big banca used to ferry cargo from Claveria, Cagayan.

We took the long but scenic route via La Union, Ilocos Sur & Ilocos Norte.   The journey offered plenty of opportunity to take photos of historic places & landmarks as well as the breathtaking views of the Ilocos coastline.

We made a brief stop at Patapat bridge for some photo ops.  This 1.3 km bride is located in the municipality of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

We made a brief stop at Patapat bridge for some photo ops. This 1.3 km bride is located in the municipality of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

Day 2 – The Trip to Calayan

We were afraid the trip wasn’t pushing thru because of the heavy rains the previous day.  We woke up to a cloudy morning with some showers but at around 6 am, we were told that the Coast Guard gave clearance for the lampitaws to travel to Calayan.

1. The lampitaw docked in Claveria.  2. Another lampitaw carrying a tricycle was also on its way that morning 3. There's something dubious about Oglay's smile as the crew put on their ponchos

1. The lampitaw docked in Claveria. 2. Another lampitaw carrying a tricycle was also on its way that morning 3. There’s something dubious about Oglay’s smile as the crew donned their ponchos

"When you see the crew putting on their plastic ponchos, it’s time to wet so make sure you get all your gear waterproofed."

“When you see the crew putting on their plastic ponchos, it’s time to wet so make sure you get all your gear waterproofed.”

1. After hours, we made it to Calayan Island.  The Eagle Ferry docked near the town "centro".  2. Lampitaws & fishing boats lined up on the shore 3. Our buddy Lester taking our photos

1. After 5 hours, we made it to Calayan Island. The Eagle Ferry docked near the town “centro”. 2. Lampitaws & fishing boats lined up on the shore 3. Our buddy Lester taking our photos

A Calayan has landed.

A Calayan has landed.

On landing, we were surprised to have been picked up by the town’s police chief who brought us to Tessie’s place.  We settled down, took our lunch and went into our adventure – to Sibang Cove!

1. Tessie's homestay place  located in the town's center 2. Our lunch included lobsters & grilled fish caught that morning 3. For groups, the kuliglig is the best way to get to places around the island  4. At the end of the road, we hiked for about a kilometer to get to Sibang Cove

1. Tessie’s homestay place located in the town’s center 2. Our lunch included lobsters & grilled fish caught that morning 3. For groups, the kuliglig is the best way to get to places around the island 4. At the end of the road, we hiked for about a kilometer to get to Sibang Cove

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Sibang Cove is probably one of the best beaches in the world.

Sibang Cove is probably one of the best beaches in the world.

Day 3 – In Search of the Calayan Rail, “piding”

After a good night’s rest, we started early on our 2nd day for a trip to the jungle to look for the Calayan Rail.  We were accompanied by a local guide, James who brought with a portable mp3 player which has a recording of the birds’s mating call.

1. Another kuliglig ride took us to the trail leading to the jungle.  2. Our local guide, James  3. Hiking up a hill that led to the jungle.

1. Another kuliglig ride took us to the trail leading to the jungle. 2. Our local guide, James 3. Hiking up a hill that led to the jungle.

After about two & a half hours of hiking in the jungle, we were told to stop and keep still – there it was, a Calayan Rail basking on a small patch of sunlight along the trail.  It was a very short sighting, these photos were taken in less than a minute.  Just like that after a few snaps, it disappeared back into the jungle as it may have sensed our presence.

A Calayan Rail or "piding"

A Calayan Rail or “piding”

We spent the rest of the day exploring the town.calayan-essay-009

Day 4 – Farewell Calayan

It was time to go, we wished we had planned for a longer stay because we knew there were still more places to discover – we will definitely return to this amazing island. calayan-essay-011

The sea was rough that morning that the coast guard almost cancelled all trips back to the mainland.  1. The boats couldn’t go near the beach to set up planks so we had to ride on small improvised raft that’s pulled to the boat.  2.  Once we left Calayan, the waves started pounding on the lampitaw drenching everyone on board.  3.  The lampitaw slamming on the water after being hit by a big wave.

The sea was rough that morning that the coast guard nearly cancelled all trips back to the mainland. 1. The boats couldn’t go near the beach to set up planks so we had to ride on small improvised raft that was pulled to the lampitaw. 2. Just a few moments after leaving Calayan, the waves started pounding on the lampitaw drenching everyone on board. 3. The lampitaw slamming on the water after being hit by a big wave.

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