We could see the long strip of the white sandy shores of Alibijaban Island from the port. We arrived just in time for the sunrise after a long six-hour drive from Manila. I was in the company of my fellow officemates from the university I currently work with and we’re on an outing trip. But it seems, we won’t be alone on the island as we were expecting. The newly built port already had a few vehicles parked, probably heading to the same island. Alibijaban Island has garnered quite a popularity in the past couple of years, and I had to blame my friends, Dong Ho and Allan of Lantaw for that somehow. I had some laughs when I recount Dong Ho’s story of being mistaken as an NPA when he first set foot on the island. He had to seek comfort and security under the baranggay captain since no tourist comes to their island. Now visitors here picked up especially on weekends. What drives people on this southern region of Quezon province?
Our bleary eyes and drowsy heads from the six-hour red-eye road trip from Manila to San Andres, Quezon was suddenly shook awake. We knew we would take a motorbike to our first destination which is Tigbi Falls, but I guess we were not ready for the tough and rough road (which is an understatement) ahead. Suddenly, I was harkened back to those butt-beating rides to waterfalls like in Asik-asik Falls in Cotabato and Tulgao Palan-ah Falls in Kalinga. While it’s certainly not of the same level of difficulty, it is that close to a tough ride in at least half an hour for me to recall them. But all that was a rewarding transit. Aside from the scenic landscape of Banaba village on the way, Tigbi Falls is where stuff of enchantments and lore are born.
It’s really a challenge to go to places not really on everyone’s radar. Atimonan isn’t really a tourist hot spot. It has a few known sights like the Pinagbanderahan, Quezon Memorial Park and its Zigzag road known as Bitukang Manok. Aside from that, it is mainly a transit town often passed by. I did some further research and found some sites of interest like the Bantakay Falls, since I always like to incorporate nature elements in my trips. Good thing I got a hold the number of Atimonan’s tourism officer, Cecile and were able to ask directions on the phone.
They were going to Atimonan Town for the market and I made sure I go along. Even though I’ve been in Atimonan numerous times, I don’t remember ever visiting the town proper. Barangay Buhangin is just an easy 10-15minutes drive. If coming from the zig-zag or the new diversion road, it’s just left before heading to the main road to Bicol. We got into the narrow roads of the town and headed straight to the market to find a place to park. While the relatives do the shopping, we went to the Parish Church, the center of the town.
I have vague memory of the last time I stayed in this seaside town of Atimonan, Quezon province. There was a time from my grade school to high school days where the family would have an annual holy week vacation in Atimonan then in Bicol since both are my dad and mom’s province respectively. We were always looking forward to this each year since it was a really fun place to be. Our cousin’s simple house of four concrete walls and iron sheet roofs at Baranggay Buhangin was close to the sea. It was an enjoyable simple life just being there as a kid.