I was always itching to visit Palaui after reading some blog posts about this remote island at the north-eastern tip of the province of Cagayan. However, the mere thought of traveling by bus for 16 hours doesn't sound very appealing and to cross an open sea by boat where the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea meets is another downer. But as the saying goes, if there's a will, there's a way.
Thanks to Cebu Pacific's 25-peso seat sale, Ivy and I were able to book a roundtrip flight to Tuguegarao for around Php 200. It never crossed my mind that Palaui was just a few hours away from Tuguegarao and my only plan was to visit the Callao Caves in Penablanca so I consider this trip as an added bonus when I learned that I can finally visit this island.
There were a lot of mishaps and unexpected events that happened before this trip finally came into reality. First, typhoon Mina made a landfall on Cagayan and cancelled our flight so our schedule was bumped off a week later just to be safe. Second, I was suffering from an upper respiratory tract infection during that time and pushing through with this trip could possibly affect my health. Lastly, we weren't able to catch the last van from Tuguegarao to Sta. Ana so we had to take the van bound for Dugo and take our chances in catching that last van which they say might do a stopover for a few minutes. When some of the locals learned about our plans they strongly advised that we just stay at the police station for the night because there are no hotels or accomodations at Dugo. That really freaked us out because all of them were very concerned about our safety. Fortunately, we were able to catch the last van and found a place at Sta. Ana to stay for the night.
The next day, we were greeted by a sunny morning and enjoyed a delicious papaitan for breakfast before going to the port. After a few haggling fiascos, we able to hire a boat for Php 600 that would take us to Palaui and back. It's actually good for 8 people so if you have a bigger group, you'll be able to save more. I was a bit worried about the roughness of the sea because typhoon Mina just passed by this place a few days ago but it turned out to be the opposite. The sea was very calm and we couldn't even see any traces that a category 5 super typhoon strucked the place except for a damaged vessel that was docked at the port. And after 30 minutes of crossing the Babuyan Channel, we finally reached the island. I've read a number of blogs that are seriously recommending to hire a guide if one plans to go trekking the path to the Cape Engano lighthouse so I just followed their suggestions. It was just Php 400 anyway and our safety is always the top priority.
And so the 4-hour trek to the lighthouse finally started. It wasn't actually that hard and what made this trek fun is that it's not a total uphill climb. We passed by several small villages and then got a good view of the Pacific Ocean before going though long stretch of foliage. And after 3 hours, I had a first glimpse of the Dos Hermanas Islands. Words just can't describe how I felt after seeing this place and I even had to stop for a few minutes just to gaze on it. A few minutes later, we finally saw the lush hills where the mighty Cape Engano lighthouse stands. But before making that final ascent uphill, we made a short stop at a small hut owned by a couple who lives there. They were kind enough to offer us a glass of water and while our guide was resting and having a chitchat with the owner of the hut, we had a good talk with his wife, Ate Maya.
After getting enough rest and a good talk with Ate Maya, we've finally reached the climax of this trip and that is to climb the uphill path leading to the majestic lighthouse. On the way to the lighthouse, we got a spectacular view of Palaui and the nearby Dos Hermanas Islands. There's a certain area nearby that is very similar to the Rakuh-A-Payaman or more popularly known as the Marlboro Country in Batanes.
The lighthouse was built during the 19th century Spanish colonial era and still continues to guide vessels heading towards the port of Aparri by using solar-powered light installed on the top of the tower. Sadly the structure has been abandoned and continues to be battered by the weather withstanding the test of time. Nevertheless, it still has that charm that offers an amazing view of the ocean and the nearby islands such as Camiguin and Fuga.
And so an hour has passed and we still can't get enough of the reality that we've finally conquered this majestic lighthouse. Unfortunately, time is ticking and we need to be back at the port before dawn and this means we have to say goodbye to the wondrous view that was stretched out before us. But before finally leaving that lighthouse I had a moment of silence, took a deep breath and savoured the calm serenity that will forever be etched in my memory.