I remembered Garchitorena mainly because I saw that tarpaulin of Baticorao Island in the baranggay of Bikal in the town of Caramoan. Garchitorena and Caramoan are towns right next to each other.

Though the two towns are close to each other, Garchitorena, unlike Caramoan, do not have a lot of white sand beaches to boast of. I have fortunately been to one – Baticorao Island, because my mom was assigned to the town for a few years.

It was summer of 2008 and I was at my parents home for some reason. My mother asked me if I wanted to go with her to her town assignment. She persuaded my father as well as my aunt to go too. That is how we found ourselves in the port of Tamban in the town of Tinambac so early in the morning.

Port of Tamban, Tinambac, Camarines Sur

The port of Tamban is a busy one but the passengers are mostly locals and goods being transported consist of dry goods and a lot of soft drink bottles. It is perhaps uncommon to see a tourist here.

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Port of Tamban, Tinambac, Camarines Sur

If one wants to go to the town of Caramoan, one must go through the towns of Pili, Ocampo, Goa, Tigaon and San Jose to where the port of Sabang is. If one wants to go the town of Garchitorena, one must go through the city of Naga and the towns of Canaman, Magarao, Bombon, Calabanga and Tinambac to get to the port of Tamban. I just find that so weird considering that the two towns are just right next to each other.

Map of Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

Map of Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Just like in Sabang, San Jose or even Vinzons, Camarines Norte, the boat travels down the river before going out into the open sea.

traveling the river to the sea, going to Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

The boat had been open, without any protection from the sun and I spent the entire trip huddled under a blanket my father had laid out over me, fast asleep. I tend to sleep a lot like that.

When we arrived, I was not surprised to see that there was no pier – porters simply carried the passengers on their shoulders to the beach.

Pierless town, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

It had been hot though very cloudy when we arrived that morning. We had lunch of fresh fish, crabs and shrimp – and I, predictably, had an allergic reaction. We managed to find anti-histamine syrup in one of the little drugstores. That rendered me asleep on my mother’s desk in her office the rest of the afternoon.

My mom’s office was in a building right next to the municipal hall, which stood over the town on a hill.

Garchitorena Municipal Hall, Camarines Sur

The town of Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

I managed to stay awake enough to go around and took a few pictures of the town, viewed from the municipal hall.

Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

Garchitorena Town Hall Balcony, Camarines Sur

Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

At the end of the day, my mother said we were going to an island to spend the night. It had rained really hard that afternoon. Off we went in a little boat that did not even have proper seats.

Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

My mother

Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

My Aunt Helen

In a small boat, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

My father with my mother’s friends

There was barely enough light when we arrived in Mansangat Island.

Mansangat Island, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

(During this time, I had not mastered the camera and did not know at what exact ISO the camera works best. That explains all the noise.)

It was actually the little baranggay’s fiesta when we got there – there were a lot of people, food, and dancing. None of which I got to experience because I slept the entire night away. I don’t even remember whose house it was that we spent the night. Perhaps it was the baranggay captain’s.

I woke up the next morning to breakfast and a bright day. We were told we were off to another island where we will spend the next night.

Morning in Mansangat Island, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

And that is how we found ourselves in the island of Baticorao.

Arriving in Baticorao Island, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

Main House, Baticorao Island, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

The place had not been ready for our arrival and we found everything quite… unprepared. Nevertheless, we busied ourselves with all kinds of activities.

Mine was basically sleeping all morning til lunch and sleeping after lunch til the afternoon – at which hour I was asked if I wanted to do some snorkeling out in some open area somewhere. I said yes of course and we boarded a boat that took us around. Sure there were some fish and some corals, but nothing impressive. It was a good activity nevertheless. A break from all that sleeping at least.

Baticorao Island, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

This is where we slept

Baticorao Island, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

Baticorao Island, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

Baticorao Island, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

The place is really simple. The rooms were basic, with windows that opened out into the sea. There is no airconditioning or even a fan. The island does not have electricity. Or was it that they were not prepared for our arrival that the power generator had no gas? Or something like that.

Cottage, Baticorao Island, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

The island actually has a white sand beach but it was cluttered with debris, grass, sticks and other things. The beach-front was also fenced off from a grazing area where there were cows and goats. There were huts scattered about and when I asked what they were for, I was told they were for the planters during amihan season. “Planters of what?” I asked, gazing at the rugged hills, with patches of grass here and there, and a few trees. “Seaweed,” I was told.

Huts for the Planters during Amihan Season; Baticorao Island, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

Baticorao Island, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

Sunset in Baticorao Island, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

Sunset in Baticorao Island, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

Sunset in Baticorao Island, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

My mother and her friends spent the night drinking and talking and having fun while I slept really early – as early as after dinner, which was actually at seven in the evening. What else can one do in such an island anyway? 😛

Baticorao Island, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

Our only light in the island was this gas lamp. After dinner, my mother and her friends lit up a bonfire and that’s where they were the entire night.

I slept early because I was told we were going for the earliest boat back to Tinambac the next day. It was actually so early that the sun had not come up just yet and we sped in our little boat in the cold, towards this place where the big boats going back to Tinambac where. It was all soooo… provincial.

We stayed on the roofdeck of the boat.. where there was fresh air.. and where they say it was… safest.

Sunrise in Garchitorena, Camarines Sur

I took a few pictures and soon dozed off. Such is the life.

My mother have now been re-assigned to the town of Sorsogon in the province of Sorsogon. One of these days, I just might show up for a little visit…

Click here to see the entire photo set on Flickr.

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