For a worrier like me, the idea of visiting unfamiliar places can sometimes be too nerve-wracking. Somehow, this explains my endless fascination with Baguio City. Apart from having a lot of fond memories in this place, I also find comfort in the fact that I am already so familiar with it. It is one of those places I can go to anytime of the day, without having to worry about where to stay or how to get from one place to another.
Yet of course, I am also aware of how amazing it is to discover new places. It is something I appreciate doing when in the company of trusted people. In fact, my two most memorable local trips were with a close friend I look up to and deeply trust.
Earlier this month, I had a chance to visit another unfamiliar place, not with the friend I mentioned earlier but with D. Our relationship’s still pretty new, but I really feel safe whenever I’m with him. He’s a seafarer, after all. That means he’s well-traveled and he’s equipped with the skills needed to survive even in harsh environments and dangerous situations.
Days prior to the trip, D told me that he would go to Mariveles, Bataan to attend an event at the Maritime Academy Asia and the Pacific (MAAP), his alma mater. He also asked if I wanted to join him, so he could show me around his school. Since I had only been to Bataan once (in Morong, for a not-so-fun company outing), I said yes.
The said event was set to happen in the afternoon of March 3rd, so we thought we could go elsewhere before that. But where? I didn’t really know. As mentioned earlier, it was an unfamiliar territory for me.
Curious about Bataan, I read a couple of blogs talking about the province and the beautiful places that could be found there. That was how I learned about Sisiman Beach. I told him about it and asked if we could perhaps drop by in the place. Luckily, he was familiar with it.
We were zombie-like when we traveled to Bataan Transit’s terminal in Cubao around 7am because we did not sleep the previous night. As soon as we arrived there, we saw a bus leaving for Mariveles. Unfortunately, it was already full. We were instructed to line up for the next bus instead.
In just a couple of minutes, we were already on another bus. There was a problem, though. We did not realize that it was actually bound for Balanga and not Mariveles (trips were alternating, we assumed). However, we were told that we could get off in Hermosa, where we could get another bus to Mariveles.
That’s what we actually did–we alighted the bus in Hermosa. It was only 10am that time, so we thought we could have breakfast at the nearby Jollibee first.
After having breakfast, we went back to the waiting shed where we were previously dropped off. We stood there for around 15 minutes before we could get a bus to Mariveles.
We reached Mariveles at around 12nn. We went directly to the town proper to look around. D missed the town and he was curious about the changes that had taken place there. We also walked to the Death March Zero Kilometer Marker and took a couple of photos there. And since it was hot, we dropped by the nearby food park after. We ordered frappe, which we consumed while smoking at the designated area near the bay.
Feeling refreshed and ready for the real adventure, we took a trike to Barangay Sisiman. The trip was pretty quick; before we knew, we were already close to the giant rock formation I had only seen in pictures.
Photos, photos, and more photos
From the very beginning, it had been clear to us that we would not stay that long on Sisiman Beach, so renting a cottage was never an option. What we agreed on, instead, was simply explore the area, appreciate the view, and take lots of photos. It was perfect, since D was still on the process of building his photography portfolio while I also needed to practice taking photos, in preparation for future blogging gigs.
And that’s what really took place.
Back to the real business
After spending time exploring and appreciating Sisiman Beach, we started walking to the tricycle terminal. Close to the said place was a store that sold merienda, including sandwiches, tusok-tusok, and halo-halo. Since we were hungry, we decided to have snacks first.
That was where we freshened up, too. We asked the store owner if there were paid restrooms in the area. She did not know of any, but she allowed us to wash our faces and feet at the back of their store. The space was pretty covered, so I changed clothes there as well. Then, we took a trike to the main road, from where hailed a jeepney to Alas-Asin.
From Alas-Asin, we took another trike going to MAAP. Trip was a bit longer than I expected, but it was just fine. I appreciated the fresh air and the nice view from the trike we were on, so I did not really mind the travel time.
We got to the venue around 5pm. The program hadn’t started yet, so we roamed around the campus first. I was so impressed by the school’s facilities and the cadets’ discipline. I was also able to meet some of D’s friends.
The event started at 6pm. It was fun. I enjoyed watching the presentations of the cadets, plus some speeches given by the alumni attending the program. Yes, D was one of them. I also tried boodle fight for the first time during the function.
At around 8pm, we left MAAP, hoping to catch the last Manila-bound bus in Balanga. We did not make it, though.
We had a hard time getting to Balanga! It was already 20 past 8 when we hopped on a mini bus going to the said place. The trip also took more than an hour because the vehicle had to make a couple of stops to pick up and drop off passengers.
At around 9:30, we finally reached the Balanga. Unfortunately, there were no longer buses leaving for Manila. However, we found a trike driver who offered to take us to Layac, where we could wait for a bus to take us to Manila.
I had work at 6am the next day, so we accepted his offer. The next thing we knew, we were already on his trike, fearing for our lives as it raced with speeding cars and trucks on the highway.
At past 10am, we reached Layac. We were not that unlucky that night, after all. In fact, we managed to get on a Caloocan-bound bus just after a few minutes. The trip lasted only for two hours, so we made it to Caloocan at around midnight. From Caloocan, we simply booked a GrabCar to take us to my place.
Overall, the trip was a mixture of fun and adrenaline. I had a great time not only in Sisiman but also during our visit to MAAP. But of course, I am aware that I would not have survived the day if it weren’t for D. I might have panicked and cried if I were alone that day, especially upon missing the last trip to Manila that night.
Now I can’t wait for our next adventures together. Maybe when we already have more time and resources, we could visit farther places, too. Yes, I no longer worry that much about possible mishaps. That trip proved that when with the right person or people, I could actually go out of my comfort zone and visit places I’ve been to before. But of course, I also know that I also need to learn how to travel alone and manage my anxiety during tough times.