The Lakbay Norte bus was waiting at the Victory Liner Kamias as I boarded down from a 30-minute cab ride from home. It was three in the morning and with still no sleep, I lugged my bags aboard and met the crew. I chitchatted with the Lakbay Norte guys a bit and then had a cup of hot taho where I met Mang Poka, a washer at the station for 12 years. We rolled half an hour later, here we go North Luzon!
Norzagaray was two hours away and everyone had their much needed shuteye. It was much too soon when I felt our bus bumping away uphill towards our first stop, the Pinagrealan cave.
I actually dreaded this stop since it was gonna be my first time to do real spelunking. Not that I’m afraid of getting bumped up but really because I cramp easily and I don’t want to ruin the trip by being hosted back out of the cave on a stretcher haha. After a feast on local sweets and some words from the Mayor, we were off to the dark depths of Pinagrealan cave.
The floor was wet and expectedly uneven. With flashlights, which not everyone has, we managed to slowly move towards the bowels of the cave. A third of the way and we were already wading in cold waist-deep water, there really was no other way to move forward but to cross these murky obstacles. Twice, we’ve had to squeeze through tight crevices, with cameras held tightly for the bottom was also filled with water.
I don’t have an idea how long it took us to reach the end of the tunnel, I was only glad I was able to reach it with no problem (other than dropping my flashlight twice into the water.) Only thing was we have to do it all over again to go back where we came from.
Four hours later found us at Microtel Cabanatuan. Still full from the Crispy Pata and Bahay Itlugan, (a local specialty) breakfast at Norzagary, it was again time to chow down.
Inside their Liquid Restaurant, we wolfed down everything from veggies, pork, beef and chicken dishes, eskargo anyone? Kuya Bodgie and Ate Shena would be proud of their choice of servings.
After half an hour, we were off again, this time to Pantabangan Dam to do some Bass Fishing. The road to Pantabangan was quite long and it was already five in the afternoon when we alighted from our bus.
Now I know absolutely nothing about fishing and with the wind blowing with absolute abandon, I begged off the boat ride and instead focused on shooting the landscapes instead. It was almost sundown and I knew with the way the clouds are forming that we’re gonna have a grand sunset going on in a few minutes time.
The only problem was I was unable to find a suitable subject for foregrounds. Some minutes of walking along the water’s edge, and I finally found my prize. A lone tree elevated from the docked boats. I waited for everyone to clear out before pressing my shutter and photographed the tree from every angle ‘til the colors went out of the sky.
One of the last photos I took was with A of Lakwaterso.com, the sky was ablaze in orange fire and a boat painted with the Philippine colors was docked just below the poetic looking tree; a picture perfect ending for Lakbay Norte 3’s first day.
L A K B A Y N O R T E 3 S E R I E S
ON THE ROAD: LAKBAY NORTE 3 CAVING AT NORZAGARAY & BASS FISHING AT PANTABANGAN DAM
TOPLOADING & WHITEWATER RAFTING AT KALINGA | SHOOTING LANDSCAPES & SURFING AT THE BLUE LAGOON
PADDLE BOARDING & BIRDWATCHING AT PAOAY | HIKING AT HOLCIM’S ECOTRAIL & AIRSOFT AT BAGUIO COUNTRY CLUB
RIVER CRUISE AT DAGUPAN & GO KARTING AT TARLAC | JUNGLE SURVIVAL, SPA TIME & PINOY HENYO AT SUBIC
PUNING’S HOT SPRINGS & LUBAO’S PRADO FARM
HOW I JOINED LAKBAY NORTE 3 LAKBAY NORTE 3! | PICKED 4 LAKBAY NORTE 3!
LAKBAY NORTE IS AN ANNUAL MEDIA FAMILIARIZATION TOUR AROUND NORTH LUZON
ORGANIZED BY NORTH PHILIPPINES VISITORS BUREAU