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Finding Magalawa: Your Do-It-Yourself Travel Guide

Sudden changes at work, deadlines, trainings… sigh… what happens when all of these happen to a clique of happy-go-lucky-call-center-slaves? Hmmm… Burnout!

So without any further a do, as soon as some extra pennies can be pulled out of our pockets, we came up with this bright, yes, a very very bright idea – tsararan! OPERATION PALABOY. Okay, I don’t want to go on details what Operation Palaboy is (I think it’s self-explanatory); and trying to use some of my brain cells will contradict the main purpose of its foundation.

I have learned about Magalawa Island 2 years ago (again because of playing with Google Earth). Two years ago, I searched about getting there and total expense will just be around nearly Php1000.00. I got too excited about the island since it’s like what most average working individuals would say a “pasok-sa-banga” budget trip. However, circumstances happened that this Magalawa Island Trip plan got cancelled numerous times.

For this year, after being on a long leave from going outside, I decided to go back on the road. This time, it’s a road trip with good cool friends at work. The pressure was like dominating 80% of my body for about a week and a half during the planning stage – this trip should be good, WE needed it, THEY badly needed to be relaxed, I WANTED it.

(plus some fun facts and exclusive friendly trips, how about that?!?)

I know for a fact that when people want to learn about a certain place, they rely with their bestfriend named Google for some help (I do too). Here’s a sample, look:

As of November 4, 2012 2:22PM, if you’re going to type ‘magalawa island’ and/or ‘magalawa’ in Google, you’ll end up with the results shown above. Most of those who have visited Magalawa Island went there through Ate Grace of Armada Resort. Yeah, about 2 weeks ago, I tried to check their Facebook Page and website, however, I found it pricey(for me) and quite disappointing. Why? Aside from the fact that they only offer packages, I would understand if my trip will cost a little higher because of the transpo fares(it’s inevitable due to continuous price increase of gasoline) but if it’s because of  a sudden increase in one’s accommodation in a supposed-to-be-not-exclusive-island, nah, expect me to pass.

I almost gave up my dream to visit Magalawa Island; thanks to the help of my blogger friends in our Facebook Group; Astrid Zoe of Starfish Travels shared an unfamiliar contact named Mang Mulo.

(This is it, pancit! Your all-out DIY Travel Guide)

Take Victory Liner either to Sta. Cruz or Iba, Zambales.
Schedule and Ticket Price of Victory Liner.

For inquiries, you can send an e-mail to, you may also call (02)3611506, (02)3614665 to 66. Bus leaves exactly on time so make sure to be there at least 30 minutes before. Make sure to specifically tell the cashier or to the bus conductor that you’re getting off at Veritas Road or Brgy. Pangolinan so you will be priced accurately. In short, do not just simply say ‘Iba’ or ‘Sta. Cruz’; it’s far different.

Our original plan was to take the 4:00 AM trip via Sta. Cruz. Unfortunately, though we’re quite 25 minutes early, there were no longer available seats. We got 2 options left – wait for the Sta. Cruz bound at 7:20 AM or Take Iba route instead and we can leave at 5:00 AM. Hmmm… we took the latter even that meant that we needed to take another 30-minute-bus-ride.

via Sta. Cruz
From Caloocan, take a Sta. Cruz bound bus. Asked the bus driver to drop you off at Radio Veritas Road in Brgy. Pangolinan (Palauig Zambales).

via Iba
From Caloocan, take an Iba bound bus. At the Iba Bus Terminal, take an ordinary bus to Palauig. Asked the bus driver to drop you off at Radio Veritas Road in Brgy. Pangolinan. Fare is Php34.00.

How to know if you’re already at Veritas Road? Watch out for that waiting shed. 

From the drop-off point at Veritas Road, ride a tricycle. Fixed rate is Php150 which is good for 2 pax only. Make sure to tell the driver that you will be staying at Mang Mulo (locals call it ‘Ruiz’) since almost all of the drivers there are used to bringing visitors to Armada Resort; it’s important because the 2 got different ports.

After a 30-minute-exhausting-bumpy-ouch-ugh-super-rough-road-tricycle-ride, Mang Mulo’s boatmen will pick you up at Luan Port. Don’t worry about the boatride to Magalawa Island; it is smooth and will only last for about 10 minutes or so.

Magalawa Island is quite an off-the-beaten beach destination. Do not expect hotels, resorts, rooms with aircon, and free WIFI. There are 2 resorts in Magalawa Island – Magalawa Island Resort (a.k.a. Armada) and Ruiz Resort (Mang Mulo: 09294670505).

Magalawa Island Rates via Mang Mulo
Tent ……………………………..  Php300.00
Bring your own tent …………   Php200.00
Kubo (w/ fan) ………………..    Php1000.00/5-6pax
Open Cottage ………………..   Php500.00/10-11pax

Roundtrip Boatride is just Php100.00.

* What’s the maximum capacity for Tent? How much are we going to pay? Is it Php200 per tent or Php200 per pax?
Good news, backpackers! It‘s Php200/tent. Do not worry about the maximum capacity. If your tent is good for 4 pax, or if it can accommodate 10 pax, then the charge will be Php200/4pax or Php200/10pax. 

* Is there any electricity in Magalawa?
Magalawa’s electricity is up from 6:00 PM to 7:00 AM only.

* Is there any menu available at Ruiz Resort? or food packaged with the accommodation?
(Unlike in Armada) Ruiz Resort is not into tour/trip packages. You can bring your own food, cook your own food, buy your own food in the barrio, or even catch for your own food too. You are allowed to bring your fish rods, so you can catch some fish for your meals. No extra charge.  

*Can we set-up a bonfire?
Yes. And the good news is that you can do it for free.
(Optional: you can ask Mang Mulo and his boatmen to look and pile some wood for your group for Php50.00)  

Finding Magalawa, the Photogenic Island
Have you heard about a ‘photogenic’ place? If not, Magalawa is definitely one. To be honest, as we get closer to the island, my excitement died. The sand is not white as what Google shows, there were even a lot of weeds on the shore; that time, I couldn’t even imagine where we can swim.

Underwhelmed, I’d been talking to myself since we set foot on the island; hmmm… I just can’t believe that I traveled that far, spent almost 7 hours just to see an ordinary beach. (Or maybe, I was just expecting too much that at least it could be next to Calaguas). Sigh (repeat 24x).

Sigh again (repeat until fade).

Late afternoon, we took a silent walk by the beach and still, I tried my best not to vent out my disappointments. That time, Magalawa Island is no longer my ideal type of beach… not until my boss asked to take a picture of her…

…we can say that that’s where all the magic started. Unbelievable.

shot taken by Nico T.
Jumpshot, anyone?

Not believing the shot we just took, I tried to click the shutter again, making sure if it’s for real.

Late afternoon at Magalawa Island
See the sand? It’s not white fine powdery sand like how most of the pics in Google say. Don’t expect too much.
But you can look up, Magalawa got a great sky above. 

Let’s try another one…

Clear Water + Great Sunset+ Nice BlueSky  
Definitely, Magalawa Island is a perfect photo session destination!

I’m supposed to give you a sexy pose like the one above…
but I saw a big fish just right in front of me… I got amazed and chased it instead.

Sorry, next time na lang.

Again, they say, a trip will not be complete without a group jumpshot. So… tsaran!

shot taken by Nico T.
Please don’t look at my big tummy though (I’m not an expert in Photoshop).
True. There would be trips that will not turn out as expected and planned.
But just like in life, we should always look at the BRIGHT side of every thing.”
So we tried to look for something bright in Magalawa… hmmm… they’re not shining and bright though, but they’re cute 
Magalawa Island is blessed with hundreds of constellations of starfish. I tell you, there’s A LOT.

Of course, it would depend on your chosen accommodation. Accommodation cost will be less expensive if you’ll opt to stay in a tent. Ahmmm… sssh… use your haggling skills too, we actually got it a way little cheaper than that. *wink*

Friendly Tips/Things to Remember/Important Info
(Whatever you might wanna call it, read it):

* If you do not want to take the rough road, you can take the boatride at Masinloc. Masinloc is the town after Pangolinan. Roundtrip boatride is Php200.00. If you opt to do so, make sure to send a text to Mang Mulo indicating that you want to be picked-up at Masinloc.

* Send SMS to Mang Mulo before riding the tricycle so he can send his boat before your group’s arrival at Luan Port.

* There’s a common bathroom in Ruiz Resort. Though, it’s called ‘common’, no need to worry since Magalawa Island is not known to everyone. The CR is clean, well maintained, and got ample supply of water.

* Make sure to buy food at the town proper in Iba or maybe before you take the bus. Do not expect that there are some small sari-sari stores or a small wet market at the port. The answer? hmm… there’s none.

* You can ask Mang Mulo and his wife, Ate Beng to prepare food for you. IMPORTANT, NO, VERY IMPORTANT: Send them a text at least a day before your visit that you want them to cook some seafood, or whatever your cravings are. Consider that since, there’s no market in Magalawa, they need to take a boat, ride a 30 minute tricycle, and a quick jeepney ride to satisfy your cravings. Understand. 

* Do not expect that you can buy fish, crabs, or pusit fresh from the catch if the there’s a full moon the night before

* Mosquitoes roam around from 6PM to 8PM only. =)

All shots are taken with my 3 year old Nikon D60 and 18-55 kitlens.

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