The day I found out about a Zambales ride being cooked up, I got excited immediately. I can’t remember ever going to Zambales as a child and from what I heard, it’s a nature trip. True to what they said, Zamba is the ideal destination for nature and beach lovers.
Zambales is a province of the Philippines located in the Central Luzon region. Its capital is Iba. Zambales borders Pangasinan to the north, Tarlac and Pampanga to the east, Bataan to the south and the South China Sea to the west. With a land area of 3,714.40 km2, Zambales is the second largest among the seven provinces of Central Luzon. The province is noted for its mangoes, which are abundant from January to April.
Zambales is served by the Subic Bay International Airport, which is located in Cubi Point in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. The Freeport Zone is host to many tourist attractions which include casinos, beach resorts, parks, beachside huts and cottages and historical sites. -Wikipedia
It’s one of those moments that I am glad I invested on a Flamingo London folding bike (folds like a Brompton bike). It’s very compact and it can perfectly fit in the leg space of a taxi.
My girlfriends, Tina and Jeans met up in Quezon City and the 3 of us took a cab to get to the Caloocan branch of Victory Liner where we met up with the rest of the folding bikers.
Getting to Zambales from Manila doesn’t really cost a lot. The best bus and terminal to take is Victory Liner Caloocan. This branch offers more option in terms of timing. The last trip leaves at 12 midnight.
Waiting at the terminal was more exciting for the other passengers. Seeing a group of bikers with their folding bikes just wasn’t the usual thing they’d see at the terminal. Some even approached us and asked if we were serious about our trip.
With my girlfriends, the “Mamech”, Melissa, Jeans, Tina, and Carol. Bike rides are always more fun with the mamech!
The bus ride only took 4 hours from Caloocan, Manila to Iba, Zambales. Personally I think we left Manila too early but because we didn’t have a choice, we had to leave at 12mn. The last trip of Victory Liner to Iba was only 12mn. Upon arrival, we unloaded all our things and folding bikes and there we met up with the rest of the group and our hosts, Ms. Aleth and Sir Mario.
From the terminal, we biked our way to Jollibee (about 3km away), the only breakfast place open at 6am in Iba. It was also there that we met up with more folding bikers, Stephen and Thanny.
The ride started immediately after breakfast. Every pedal was breathtaking. A lot of trees, well paved flat roads, nice weather, and most of all great company.
Just about 15kms away from the city, we reached an Aeta Village where we stopped to meet and greet the kids and the rest of the community. We were also fortunate to be able to give a little of happiness to them. A local vendor of buko ice cream came and we all pitched in to give away to all the kids in the community.
There were two lines, one for the boys and one for the girls. Tina and I took turns giving buko ice cream to the girls. What a great feeling to be able to give them simple joys.
Shortly after visiting the Aeta Community, we continued with the ride. Just about 10kms from the community, we “pedaled” our way to a church on top of a hill. There were 3 inclines, 2 of them minor but the last climb was the killer, where most of the riders dismounted.
After pedaling our way up to the hill, we went back down to visit another church for prayers and bike blessing. The 2nd church was a newer church than the one on top of the hill.
After the ride, we went straight to a local restaurant to have lunch. It was quite a long ride back especially because it was getting hotter and most of us were already tired. I think we pedaled about 40kms in total. Exhausting but it was all worth it.
After lunch and a nice cup of local brewed coffee, we again pedaled our way to a resort nearby where we parked our folding bikes. It was also during this time that we said our goodbyes to most of the bikers who were leaving for Manila that same day. Those who stayed behind awaited a greater adventure in Potipot Island.
Before heading to the island, we stopped by a nearby supermarket to buy food, drinks, and other supplies. We were told that the island didn’t have electricity and sari-sari stores.
Gentle breeze and warm placid waters of the South China Sea welcome travelers to this charming and peaceful little tropical island off coast of the town of Candelaria in the northern part of Zambales. Literally meaning “small white island”, Potipot Island boasts of lush array of coconut, mango, kamachile and talisay trees, coral shells, hermits’ crabs, starfishes, and the most spectacular sunsets ever witnessed in this side of town. And if the weather is just right, dolphins will honor you with their presence. This untamed and untouched island makes an ideal camping and picnic spot.
One such place is suited with Candelaria and is called Potipot Island. It’s the nearest island from mainland Zambales where tourists or travelers can simply rent a boat from any of the resorts.
After a 15 minute boat ride from the shore, I found myself on a small and uninhabited Potipot Island, an unspoiled haven that is completely surrounded with cream sand beaches and filled with trees. Many have enjoyed spending a day here, basking around the sun, enjoying its waters and solitude it brings.
Touring the entire island only took me 30 minutes where every inch of the shore is covered by the same cream-sand beach. Taking a closer look, I marveled at the distinct, pink-tainted shoreline that I haven’t seen anywhere else before. Potipot Island owes this to the rose-tinted corals shed and washed along its shores, adding charm that makes Potipot Island unique from other islands.
As there are only trees and sand in Potipot Island, tourists who want to experience its grandeur can stay at resorts in mainland Zambales and rent a boat to take them to the island. Tourists can claim the island for a day and reflect on Potipot island’s waters. Commune with nature and take in all the beauty of what an unspoiled island brings, for it offers a rare experience one would not normally find or afford.
We arrived at Potipot around 4pm. The sun was fast setting. So after a quick dip, we went straight to another corner of the island where we experienced an unforgettable sunset moment. I was joined by Tina, Melissa, Jeans, and Mark.
In the evening, things got even better. The island was lit by the full moonlight. The setting was perfect for poi dancing. Jeans was prepared. She actually brought her fire poi kit and she performed for us, the cast-aways. It was another unforgettable moment for everyone who stayed behind especially for our friend, Stephen, who was seeing a fire dance performance for the first time. Thank you Jeans for mesmerizing us. (The hunt for kerosene was so worth it.)
Our lovely host, Aleth Velasquez arrived at 9am to pick us up with the speed boat to bring us back to the mainland. Then we rode the rear of the pick up truck to the resort where we left our folding bikes. Shortly after arriving at our destination, we packed our bags and bikes into Sir Thanny’s car. Before heading to Manila, we stopped by a local restaurant to eat lunch, then another stop in Subic for coffee, and then our final stop was at Mr. Kebab’s Place for dinner.
The Zambales experience was amazing. I would like to thank Ms. Aleth Velasquez and Sir Mario Velasquez for being such great hosts in Zambales, to the Folding Bike Pilipinas and Polkit group for organizing the ride, to Sir Thanny for allowing us, the Mamech, to hitch a ride back to Manila, to the Gov of Zambales, for sponsoring our Potipot experience, to all those who participated and supported ride, and most especially to the Mamech for making it more unforgettable. Until the next ride again. Happy New Year!
P684 – Round trip bus fare with Victory Liner (Caloocan)
P100 – Potipot Island entrance fee
P500 – Round trip boat ride good for 8pax (Day trip)
P500 – Local meals and drinks (Lunch & Dinner)
P1,784 – TOTAL
Photos by Nityalila Saulo, Melissa Sambajon, and Tonnette Jacinto