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This blog is an amateur photographer's attempt to show how beautiful the world really is. He is drawn to the colors of nature like a moth to a candle light. What are showcased here are nature's grand display of colors at sunrise and sunset, beautiful beaches and off-the-beaten track locations in his beloved Philippines, waterfalls and some of nature's great sculptures, architectural gems, and other views from around SE Asia that he was fortunate to see at one point.

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April 23, 2013

alabat island: island life in villa norte

Morning bounty
I have a soft spot for small islands that are still out of commercial tourism’s radar. In an archipelago of 7,107, give or take a few depending on the tide, we still have a lot of these islands out there.

A planned trip to Cagabalete island was cancelled and thus opened up my long weekend. I got sold to the idea of going to Alabat island within minutes of a friend and fellow blogger Dong Ho pitching the idea.

A quick search on Google did not yield much photos, which is a good thing! That meant it had not been shot to death like most destinations. I later found out that Alabat was in Lamon Bay, same as Cagbalete, off the coast of Atimonan in Quezon province.

Getting there was breeze, you can take any bus heading to Bicol and get off at Atimonan (the jump off point to Alabat island), or take buses bound for Lucena. From Lucena there are plenty of options to get to Atimonan. It made me wonder why Alabat has made it off the radar (relatively speaking when compared to other destinations in the province) when getting there is easy, a requisite for most tourist(y) destinations. But then if you look at it on a map, you’ll see that its been bounded by more popular destinations on all sides. Still a good thing though.

We arrived in Atimonan in the wee hours of the morning (we kinda over calculated the trip time) and still got a few hours before the first ferry leaves for the island. Found benches in a tricycle terminal and caught up on some sleep.

Offloading produce from nearby Alabat island
busy scene at the Atimonan pier

The Atimonan pier services primarily vessels bound for Alabat. There are three towns in the ladyfinger-shaped island: Perez in the northern trip, Alabat at the center, and Quezon in the south. Our planned destination was Perez, but the first trip was 11am. Not wanting to wait for a few more hours, we instead took the 9AM trip to Alabat.

Alabat Pier
Alabat pier

It was pure serendipity, for we never did get to Perez. Once we arrived in Alabat and saw some of the places they are promoting, we decided to stay there.

Alabat Summer Bloom
Alabat summer bloom

Alabat is just 40 minutes away from Atimonan, the two towns looked worlds apart. You can count with your fingers the number of 4-wheeled vehicles in the island. There were some tricycles, but these are hugely outnumbered by bicycles: surplus “granny” bikes, complete with baskets at the front.

Alabat Biker
Alabat biker

The town was just full of them. We got a taste of the island hospitality when someone offered to lend us her bike so that we can roam around the town. If it was not for the searing heat of the midday sun, I would have taken her up on her offer.

Villa Norte
laid back Villa Norte

Villa Norte Bangka
facing the Pacific Ocean

Alabat Lowtide Bangka
Alabat lowtide

Our final destination for the trip was a quaint fishing village called Villa Norte on the eastern side of the island. Villa Norte is one of the barangays of the town of Alabat and is about 20 minutes by tricycle through a snaking mountain road, mostly cemented already. You’ll see overlooking views of the island along the way.

Related: Beautiful sunset and sunrise in Villa Norte

Natural Sun Shade

Villa Norte’s community is small, probably not more than 20 families. Cellphone signal is very spotty and you have to stand at specific spots to get a faint reception. The locals would be happy to point out where and which telecomms carrier you’ll get :).

There is a single (family) resort (La Villanueva Beach resort) there were you can get spartan accommodations (cottages for Php500/night) but they don’t serve food. The sari-sari store where we bought canned goods offered to cook for us, good old island hospitality. We ended up having our meals with a local family during our stay there (for homestay, contact Edna +63-927-783-7905. Update 2016/01/15 Number is inactive already. Will update homestay number as soon as I have another contact. In the meantime you may try La Villanueva at 09495916655 09157604138)

Repairing the Net
repairing the net

Preparing the Net
loading the net

The folks there are either fishermen or copra farmers (or both). What I like about places like this if that the locals treat you as visitors, not as tourists they can make a quick buck off. You can work for your meal if you want, like helping pull the net and get portion of the catch. They invited us to go crabbing at midnight (to catch our breakfast), unfortunately the sandman got the better of us :)

Alabat Villa Norte Fisherfolks
morning catch

One may think there is absolutely nothing to do in a place like this. That’s actually the point. You can spend the whole day on a hammock, reading a book or just stare at the Pacific Ocean. Its the perfect place to do nothing all day.
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Andrea said...

Oh thanks for this Allan. I have first job batchmate who hails from Alabat. He or she is working now as OFW and will tag me along when he returns there. In places like this, there will be a lot for me to do, just roaming around the rocky shores will be fun because i love watching sea animals. I guess there will also be plenty of shells for gleaming, i love eating shellmeat that i sourced myself, oh i love it. And finding them is wonderful. That crabbing offer for you is too irresistible for me too. And what big fish is that in the first photo. I would also love sinugba or inihaw na isda, fresh from the sea. OMG, i hope Procy will not forget to remind me!

Lantaw said...

I readied my torch for the crabbing but was not able to wake up at midnight hehe. A kid told me the next morning they had a good catch.

Unknown said...

Hi Alan - I really like your blog. Excellent picturs. This is what I do: www.HelpPhilippineSchools.org. Would you happen to know the person in charge of the Alabat airport at the extreme north west of Alabat Island? I would like to store some aviation fuel there for my helicopter flights wicarrying school computers down into Bicol. Thanks if you can help! Bob Wagner (bob@robertwagnerfoundation.org)

Michael Caparros said...

Very nice blog of good old town Alabat Island...part of my 2014 Holy Week Travel Plans

Lantaw said...

I'm very sure you will love this island! :)

Richard said...

Nice blog. Am heading there later this month to do some research for a company I help, so I will take opportunity to explore around. Have you heard of the locals mention anything about scuba diving around the area?

Lantaw said...

Thanks! No specific mention of dive spots but the eastern side looks promising, as well as the northern town called Perez since they have established marine sanctuaries there. You could be one of the firsts to explore the sites there :)

Richard said...

Bob, I know your comment above is quite old but do you still need help on the above? I have met the mayors of both Perez and Alabat and am still in contact with Mayor Messa of Alabat. I may be able to assist.

Lantaw said...

We were able to contact the caretakers of the runway but I am not sure if Bob's project pushed through

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm glad that you enjoyed your stay in Alabat, Island. There's more to explore in this place and I love the fact that it's not that popular 'coz every time I go there I enjoy the serenity. I think if you will go there again the best time is in May (Mayohan) and in July(Fiesta). Thanks for the blog!

Monti said...

are there any place that is good for snorkeling? prefarably with a place to stay na rin.

Unknown said...

Thanks for choosing Alabat Island

Unknown said...

do you still need help about this? my Lolo is working here..

Lantaw said...

@Derick, can you email Bob at bob@robertwagnerfoundation.org? Thanks.

Unknown said...

Sir, I tried the number of Edna and it was wrong. The guy said it's his personal number and that many people have called before inquiring about Alabat. Please check, :)

Lantaw said...

Sorry to hear about that. It was her number before, but its not uncommon for telcos to recycle unused or "expired" numbers

Unknown said...

Contact ALABAT TOURISM COUNCIL OR LGU ALABAt thru fb Alabat Municipality

Unknown said...

Email me at derickanthonyserdea@yahoo.com. I can refer you to mayor of Perez, the northern town of the island where the airport is located.

Filipina Explorer said...

Kaya love ko tong blog mo, you always visit unexplored islands! I've always wondered about this island pag galing Bicol. This is the one na parang puro burol (mala-Chocolate Hills) from the Pagbilao AH26 Highway, I guess?

Lantaw said...

@Gretchen, I don't think thats the one. Alabat is visible from Atimonan

Unknown said...

I was trying to find a hotel in alabat but i am not sure if this resort in villa norte is ok. Gen. Mesa is my friend but i lost contact with him. Can i have his number?

Unknown said...

I was trying to find a hotel in alabat but i am not sure if this resort in villa norte is ok. Gen. Mesa is my friend but i lost contact with him. Can i have his number?

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