ZAMBALES | Traveling Light to Cabangan

Monday, February 17, 2014

Traveling to Cabangan, Zambales

Travelers all over the world abide by a single mantra—travel light.

While I try to follow these two words most of the time, it’s not always possible. Consider my case—I’m already a camera enthusiast even before being hooked to traveling. Bringing one compact camera on a trip is like diving without gear.

Or so I thought.

Dusk at Cabangan, Zambales

Lights trail right outside my bus window as it sped towards Zambales. It was the last few days of the year and I was visiting a good friend in the town of Cabangan, spending some days in her hometown before ending the year back in Manila.

Kids Transporting Bamboos at Cabangan, Zambales

Cabangan is a laid back town in the middle of Zambales. While the province is flocked by tourists for its weekend coves in Anawangin and Nagsasa, Cabangan has almost zero tourists. Well, except maybe for me and a few lost travelers looking for a place to get away from the holiday crowd.


Morning Sun at Cabangan, Zambales

The town is mostly made up of farmlands, but head towards its western side and the sea will greet you with its massive waves. It’s the perfect location to take both pastoral scenes and landscape photographs. But with this trip, I decided to finally make good on that travel mantra.

I will travel light.

Readying for a Jump at Cabangan, Zambales

Armed with only a single camera, or make that a phone camera, I braved going on a trip without my backbreaking camera bag. That said camera bag, storing three camera bodies and two extra lenses. It was a first for me, but I was willing to try the limits of the new Nokia Lumia 1020 which has been in my pocket for at least two weeks now.

Sunset at the Beach in Cabangan, Zambales

And so I went; my backpack lighter by a gazillion kilo of equipment. Gone were the two heavy Nikons on both my shoulders. Gone was my fridge-heavy camera bag. Gone was the tripod.

All I have was the camera phone on my pocket and nothing else.

Gray Shoreline at Cabangan, Zambales

Days at Cabangan usually start at nine by the beach.

After being woken by the crashing sounds of the waves, we would have coffee at the beach house veranda before hitting the waters for a swim. Or a non-swim, to be realistic.

Frothy Waves at Cabangan, Zambales

Cabangan beach is no ordinary beach. Its sands are gray and loose; its waves, unrelenting. It’s almost like a surfer’s beach, only it is way too deep for the uninitiated. Swimming is a chore even for experts, so what we do is simply wade in and let the waves slap us to kingdom come.

Breakfast at Cabangan, Zambales

Besides farming, fishing is also a way of life in Cabangan. The town is abundant with small tunas which they call barallete. It is perfect for breakfast, especially when paired with fresh greens harvested from the backyard and their local fish bagoong.

Making Matamis na Bao at Cabangan, Zambales

Without a permanent irrigation system, Cabangan’s farmlands are quite dry. Rice isn’t always their main crop and they resort to crop-rotation techniques to keep the land fertile. Sugarcane is one such alternative crop and I was lucky to witness how they harvest and convert it to matamis na bao or panutsa, their own version of muscovado sugar.

Making Matamis na Bao at Cabangan, Zambales

With the unobtrusive Lumia 1020, I was able to document how local farmers manually squeeze the juice out of the sugarcanes by carabao labor. They then boil it for hours to achieve a thick consistency using a giant cauldron and an underground furnace. Finally, they let it cool a bit before filling coconut husks with the sticky concoction. These are then left to dry until they become solid.

It was quite heartening to see how folks at Zambales still spend hours to produce sugar that will put to shame the most expensive ones you’ve got on your kitchen rack.

Marketplace at Cabangan, Zambales

These are then sold on the market for a mere ₱120.00 per half-coconut husk.

It’s always interesting to take photographs inside marketplaces so I made sure to tag along. The area is always replete with vibrant colors and interesting people. Cabangan’s own is no exception.

River Trekking at Cabangan, Zambales

A whole range of mountains cover the province of Zambales and a few of those can be seen through the town. I convinced my buddy to go and see these mountains across one of the rivers I saw on my way to town.

The Mountains of Cabangan, Zambales

Hounded by dogs, we trekked for some minutes, looking for pathways before being able to descend to a once mighty river. It has since been tamed by the Pinatubo eruption, filling its once deep bed with ashes and pyroclastic material.

The view however was still as beautiful as it probably once was before the infamous eruption.


Kids Playing at Cabangan, Zambales

Secretly, I was apprehensive that I would be limited by the Nokia Lumia 1020 and would hanker for my Nikon and UWA as soon as I started shooting; I was worried that I would regret my decision of following the travel light mantra. But it didn’t happen at all.

I was so engrossed and satisfied shooting with nothing else but the Lumia. I didn’t miss my ultra wide angle lens at all and was perfectly happy with the output from a phone camera.

It was liberating to be lifted off a great weight when traveling. Travel light indeed.

Cabangan, Zambales
Where to Stay: Kobe Beach House  
Contact Number: (0920) 630-7090, (0943) 564-7536 | Rates: ₱3,500.00 max. of 15pax
GPS Coordinates Map: 15.174308, 120.034773 
How to Get There:
Board a Victory Liner bus bound for Iba and ask to be dropped at the town of Cabangan. Fare is ₱301.00

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  1. "I convince my buddy to go" hmm... cnong buddy kaya? smart buddy ba yan hahahaha

  2. I am impressed with the pics you took with your camera phone! You'll probably be able to improve the pics with your array of camera bodies, extra lenses and what nots, but the burdensome load is not worth it. Just my opinion.

  3. Really missed that place

  4. Wow, it doesn't even look like the photos were taken using a camera phone!

  5. This is my hometown. Very well done sir. You inspire me and I also love photography. :)

  6. I was once reading a book, tapos may nabasa ako na the one who travels light will enjoy the most. Totoo naman yun, pero iba din pag handa ka talaga at nakalagay lahat ng gamit mo sa backpack,,,, I remembered once nung nag zambales ako.. may kasama ako na traveller din may dalang tripod, sinabihan daw sya ng lola nya , ano na naman yan, dala dala mo na naman yang armalite mo!.

    1. Hahaha armalite talaga. Traveling light is a joy talaga, Jonathan. If only I have the money to switch to a lighter camera set up, I will do it in a snap

  7. Cabangan Zambales is my root , my love my family ! Thank you for sharing your adventure .

    1. No problem Anonymous, I'll be sharing more in the future :)

  8. hi! thanks for posting this article along with the photos. I'm from Cabangan (but the call of profession made me move somewhere) and a work of this kind always bring a nostalgic feeling and gladness :-) I was actually thinking of sharing this to my fb account after your permission. Rest assured that you own all the rights and all will be credited to you. :-) ciao!

    1. Share all you want Stevens! Glad to have brought those feelings back :)

    2. you may want to visit bataan also... its a new perspective :-) its where i stay :-)

    3. I've barely covered Bataan on my travels, maybe someday :)

  9. Another stunning pictures and adventure!

    1. Thanks Ben! It's so much easier to travel with a light camera setup! In this case, a cellphone haha

  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you... Proud Cabanganean here.

    1. No problem Michael, I love Cabangan's super laid back atmosphere :)

  11. Wow that was very nice. Your shots were amazing, you're very good with that stuff. This is the very first I ever read a shared article on FB about Cabangan cause it wasn't really a tripper's fave destination, but I love there. Quiet, very peaceful, people there are still very traditional, and still have those good old Pinoy traits intact (there are still lots of provinces in the Philippines maintained the traditional traits though).
    and that's my mom's hometown! So thank you so much for sharing your experience. :)

    1. Hi Rence, I'm glad you liked the article. I agree how traditional Cabangan still is, very peaceful and quite scenic too. :)

  12. Just wanted to ask which station of victory liner bus did you came from? Was it the one at cubao?