Slow & Easy in Anilao
Fishes of various colors and sizes swarmed around us as my friends threw in bits of bread into the sea. It was delightful to be in their midst, some of which kissed my fingers, hoping to get some food from there. This is Anilao, Batangas, home to many underwater species in the Philippines.
Yet, my smile was briefly replaced by a frown as the once vibrant coral gardens have turned dull. I boasted of such beauty to my friends, the reason for this weekend trip. Although there are good snorkelling spots in Anilao, the place is really a haven for divers.
The sun came out bright on the Saturday morning when we embarked on a land trip to Anilao. There were threats of rain but the weather has been good to us. With the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) now connected with the Star Toll of Batangas, it was a smooth ride from Makati to Batangas. Thanks to Google and the directions we got on the net, it wasn’t hard to navigate towards Vistamar Resort, where we made reservations. As soon as we came upon Batangas City, we turned left below the flyover towards Mabini, Batangas. Once we get to Bauan, it was a good 20 minutes to Anilao.
We arrived in Vistamar before noon, and we had plenty of time to settle in and even take a nap before lunch. It was a relaxing trip, with no busy schedules or itinerary. Our rooms were overlooking the sea and had a great view of the bay. Vistamar is affordable although it’s not within the snorkelling or dive spots. The resort is near the port with a swiming pool tucked away in one of the buildings. It has a chapel and a replica of the risen Christ, similar to that at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. But the resort is well-maintained and has many amenities.
After a lunch of Filipino food, we headed to the town proper of Mabini to look for mangoes and cold desserts. With the sun high up on an early afternoon, there was little activity that could be found in town. We parked at the church of St. Francis de Paul. A block away was the small Plaza Mabini with the statue of Apolinario Mabini, from whom the town was named after.
Time seemed to stand still as we sat across the tiny plaza and waited for our companions. Some of us headed to the market to buy fresh fish and bread at very low prices. The rest of us decided to buy snacks from street stalls to satisfy our local food craving.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent swimming by the Vistamar steps. It was a challenge keeping afloat with those huge waves. Yet, the two hours we spent swimming seemed to stretch into eternity as we waded through the waters and took several servings of afternoon snacks in between. With the strong winds, there were several people who took advantage of this for some windsurfing. Their colorful sails were a sight to behold from the resort.
In a little while, the golden red streaks of the dawn provided us with a wonderful venue for some playful pictorials and a restful afternoon by the sea. The sun has set and the day was over. Dark has claimed Anilao and we once again headed out to find some local restaurants. We went to the port area but most of the stalls were closed. Good thing one of the locals pointed us to Binalot sa Nilaib Restaurant, located along the highway.
The sunshine and the good weather was a welcome thing for us the day after. We hired a boat to take us to Ligpo Island. We could have snorkelled there but the waters were too deep so we decided to go straight to Dive & Trek, where I stayed before with diver-friends.
There was a vivacious presence of life beneath the seas as I snapped photos of the colourful fishes swimming around me. There were blue fishes swimming fast beneath me. I loved the green with rainbow-colored fish and it was such a marvel having them up close. I watched them enjoying their natural habitat. I hope that generations after me will still be able to enjoy this beautiful creation.
Another weekend spent out-of-town. We spent less than P3,000 (USD 64.00, more or less) for accommodation, food, transportation, and other expenses. Not only was it a cheap getaway. This one was also a really relaxing trip with not much activity and plenty of time to enjoy the surroundings and be amazed at nature’s beauty.