Puting Buhangin is a privately owned beach, with white sand and crystal-clear waters that are both warm and calm.
So far, it is the only beach I have been to where the fish are not afraid of people. During our brief stay, fish would be swimming side-by-side with us.
The only off-putting thing was that while the beach was clean and beautiful, the people were not.
Notwithstanding this, Puting Buhangin is a nice place to visit as it has its own unique charm.
Last Trip for the Summer
Our friends have been planning to head out to a beach this summer for quite a while. We would have done it sooner, but everyone seemed to be busy with their own personal activities that we couldn’t get together.
A week ago, we finally came together, planning to go out for the weekend. The initial site was Potipot Island since they hadn’t been there yet.
But after doing the math, it was a bit too expensive so we opted to go down South to a place called Puting Buhangin.
Located in Pagbilao Grande, Pagbilao, Quezon, the beach is one of the more famous ones in the province.
Travel to Quezon
Before leaving the city, I suggest topping up your fuel tank. All the gasoline stations have fuel prices that were much higher than those within Metro Manila.
And since it took us about five hours to travel from Manila to Pagbilao in Quezon, you’re going to need quite a bit of fuel for the trip.
Leaving at five thirty in the morning, we were surprised to see a lot of cars on the South Luzon Expressway, or SLEX.
But the nice thing about it was that even if there were a lot of vehicles, the wider expressway kept cars flowing at a good pace.
The biggest bottleneck for the trip was at the end of the expressway; two kilometers from the toll gates to be exact. But after thirty minutes, we were finally able to take the Calamba exit.
Majority of the roads were smooth but there were a few huge potholes towards the end of our trip.
The good news is that these potholes should be gone soon as small stretches of road were undergoing repair when we passed by.
Given these conditions, our average speed was seventy kilometers per hour on the open stretches, dropping down to thirty-five in the barrios or towns.
Going home was a bit faster as we were able to shave an hour off out trip. The SLEX extension road added another PhP23 to our cost, but was worth every Centavo.
Everyone was particularly excited about the trip because we rented a whole house for only PhP3,500 from a contact found by one of our friends.
We were told that the house belonged to the congressman and is their family’s ancestral home, raising our excitement a bit more.
When we got to the place, I must admit that it looked very ordinary from the street, with its concrete wall and low-key doors and gates. But after parking in the three-car driveway, several of us fell in love with the place.
Meeting our expectations was an old house complete with large wooden doors and windows that allowed air to freely pass through.
The furniture on the ground floor was a mix of both old and new pieces, with one thing in common, they were big.
According to the caretaker, when the congressman visits, he brings his entire family with him. The large furniture is needed to accommodate the entire clan during their stay.
And while the living room couches were imposing, my favorite piece of furniture was one particular dining table.
It was an old table with hand carvings depicting the provincial life of a time gone by. It was very ornate and beautiful to behold.
To protect the carvings, a thick glass plate covered the top. The glass allowed the table to still be used for meals without causing any damage to the carvings.
The second floor was composed of thick wooden floors that we don’t see in modern houses anymore.
And just like the ground floor, the furniture was a mix of modern and antique pieces.
A wide balcony faced the sea on the second floor. And while a Mango tree blocked part of the view, it still allowed visitors to see the port and the island across.
One Room Only
It turns out that there was a bit of a misunderstanding on what we would be getting for PhP3,500. Our understanding was that the cost covered the rental of the entire house.
But after talking to the caretaker of the house, she clarified that the amount only covered one room and use of one bathroom.
None of us considered it to be a major issue as we still had the house all to ourselves. Besides, the room was big enough to fit everyone snugly but comfortably.
Had we wanted more space, other rooms were available for rent. A room that could fit five people could be had for PhP2,500, while another one that could fit three was available for PhP2,000.
Since we would only be staying the night, we didn’t see the need to get additional rooms anymore.
Besides, the room we got was comfortable enough. It had an air conditioner and a wall fan to better circulate the cool air.
Two queen-sized beds were placed on either end of the room and there was a table and closet for us to use.
Seeing that we all wouldn’t fit in the queen-sized beds, the caretaker was also kind enough to lend us additional mattresses at no extra cost.
Since the port was just a few meters down a steep road, all of us decided to just walk.
Our food and bags were brought down by a tricycle driver, who happened to be the original guy we made arrangements with.
Before boarding the banca, we registered at the port office. The people here, like the caretakers of the house we rented, were very friendly and accommodating.
The banca we got had an awning roof and was big, compared to the one we rode in Potipot Island recently.
Like everyone else in Quezon, the bankeros, or boatmen, were friendly, helpful, and accommodating.
In fact, before pushing off, we realized that we lacked ice for our drinks. One of the bankeros offered to get the ice so we wouldn’t have to leave the banca.
It took about thirty minutes to travel from the port to the Puting Buhangin beach.
As we approached the beach, everyone was excited to see the white sand from a distance.
But as we got closer, we began to become concerned that the beach was crowded with people and bancas.
There were a couple of bancas anchored on the left of the beach when we arrived in the morning. And by the time we left in the afternoon, there were several more anchored throughout the entire shore.
Perhaps the caretakers are still a bit new since in beaches like Boracay and Potipot Island, bancas are only allowed to dock and anchor at designated places.
This maximizes the area used for swimming and allows photographers to take advantage of the open beaches for pictures.
It is privately owned and is about seventy meters long by ten meters wide. Nestled within a cove, the sand is reputed to be pure white and the gentle waters are said to be crystal-clear.
Puting Buhangin literally means white sand and when we finally disembarked form the banca, confirmed the accuracy of the name.
The beach is indeed white, with the sand getting its color from the dead shells and coral scattered all over the shore.
The water was crystal clear and had more fish than the other white-sanded beaches I visited recently.
What was amazing about the fish is that they didn’t seem to be afraid of people. They never shied away nor did they swim too far when startled.
There was even one long fish that followed us around as we waded in the water. I mistook it for a squid but after people looked more closely, concluded that it was indeed a fish.
I was initially surprised to see a lot of bubbles floating in the water and thought it was due to the garbage that other swimmers were dumping in the water.
One of our friends, who had a more active imagination, quipped that the bubbles was the saliva other swimmers spit out for the afternoon.
But after examining the water a bit more closely, the bubbles were most likely from the fish as they seemed to be spawning.
From above the water, I observed that one fish would go through the motions of laying eggs while a second one appeared to fertilize them by diving down to the same spot.
This was repeated by several pairs of fish along the coast, just like what they would do on the Discovery Channel.
It is too bad that I couldn’t record what was going on; this would have made for one interesting video.
Unfortunately, while the beach was clean, the people were not.
Smokers would flick their cigarette butts anywhere, whether it was on the white sand or in the clear waters.
Thankfully I had aqua shoes on. I wouldn’t have wanted to walk around the beach with cigarette butts in between my toes instead of sand.
I was also lucky I didn’t end up swallowing water with a cigarette butt in it. The kid beside me wasn’t as lucky as he coughed out the one he swallowed.
Another thing I noticed was that the people, specifically the bankeros, would just urinate anywhere.
I know that urinating in water is the stuff of many jokes, but I think it is a better alternative than doing it on the rocks by the beach.
At least the ocean won’t reek of urine and we will still get to sit down on white, not yellow, sand.
The final minor annoyance was that the island’s caretakers were a bit rude.
When we were packing up our things, the caretakers came to us and yelled that we hadn’t paid our bill for the entrance and cabaňa rental yet. Not satisfied with yelling at one guest, they looked for another member of our group to yell at again.
We could have made a big issue out of it, but then we were on vacation and just let it slide. It wasn’t worth spoiling our day over such a minor thing.
One of the best features of the beach is the cave known as Kwebang Lampas to the locals. Facing the beach, you will find it on the left side of an outcrop of rocks.
You can walk to the cave by traversing the rocks by the outcrop. But you’ll need to be careful as the rocks are very sharp.
To avoid getting cut, those without aqua shoes preferred to swim and avoid the rocks altogether.
By the mid-afternoon, low tide had set in and the water dropped low enough for people to walk on smoother rocks.
The cave from the inside is not very big, being about ten meters deep and three meters wide. At its highest point during low tide, it looked like it was about two and a half meters high.
Voices would echo around before exiting through the cave’s opening. Any sound coming out from the cave was so clear we could understand the conversations people had inside.
The best effect was when a church choir practiced a few songs in the cave. It sounded like angels coming down from heaven in there.
I couldn’t help but go back to the cave several times as the rock formations of the floor and roof made me appreciate the beauty and power of Mother Nature.
We spent the following for our trip:
- The entrance fee for adults was PhP50, making eight adults cost a total of PhP400
- The children were charged PhP15 each for a total of PhP30
- The banca ride, including the rental of ten life vests, to and from the beach was PhP1,900
- The tricycle driver charged PhP100 for three trips
- The rental of a room for two days and one night was PhP3,500
- Gasoline averaged of PhP1,000 per vehicle
- Toll fees were under PhP600 per vehicle
The End of Summer
Summer is now coming to a close and I am happy to have ended it on such a good note.
Yes, we encountered a few circumstances that were not ideal, but they were not enough to spoil our trip. If anything, they added a little spice to it.
The beach was clean, the fish were friendly, and the food we ate was great.
Speaking of food, nothing sets the mood better than a dinner of grilled Pork Chops, Adobo, Fried Rice, and Crab and Corn soup, on antique furniture in an ancestral home while the rain poured and the wind blew outside.
The only thing that really bugged me is that I could not find any of the local delicacies to bring home as pasalubong. But then there’s next summer for that.
Hope you all had a great summer!
We would like to thank Anything Under the Sun for contributing pictures and videos for this article.