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Local tourists at Caramoan beaches

Can someone help me buy an island in Caramoan?

Local tourists at Caramoan beaches
Local tourists at Caramoan beaches

Taking a break after a semester of teaching at the University of Nueva Caceres (UNC), my wife and I, together with some friends, went off to Caramoan last weekend.

Although I’ve not been to Caramoan, I’ve heard a lot about its beautiful islands, pristine white beaches, limestone cliffs, deep caves, and rich marine life. I’ve also heard how it is more beautiful than Boracay simply because it has not been commercialized yet.

So I went to Caramoan anxious to see for myself what I have seen in pictures and have watched on the American version of ‘Survivor’ – a reality TV show filmed in one of Caramoan’s islands for two consecutive series.

Advised by some friends to avoid the almost 5-hour trip by land from Naga, we rented a taxi to take us to Sabang and took the two-hour early morning boat ride to Guijalo Port.

The boat ride was so refreshing.  The sea was calm under the early morning sun, making our ride surprisingly smooth. For someone like me who is not a good swimmer, the steady calmness of the sea was reassuring.  I felt safe and that was good enough.

From Guijalo Port, we took a tricycle to Barangay Paniman where we stayed in a house that was converted into a lodge. To my surprise, the house offered no special amenity, but the owner charged us equivalent to that of a hotel rate. This is another story.

Paniman is one of the jump-off points for island hopping in Caramoan. The beach is littered with all sorts of trash and I facetiously told our guide that if I become the mayor of Caramoan the first thing that I would do is routinely clean the beach. He agreed.

Then our conversation turned serious.

I asked him where the revenue that was generated by the staging of the ‘Survivor’ series went and who profited from it. He flashed a naughty smile, as if he was telling me, ‘Hey, stop asking if you don’t want any trouble to fall on you.” I understood.

A Google search revealed the following:

Caramoan has hosted the following ‘Survivor’ reality shows thus far: American version, two consecutive series; Israel version, 3 consecutive series; Serbia version, two consecutive series;  12th season of the Swedish version; 8th season of the French version; lastly, the only version of the Indian version was filmed in Caramoan.

Taken together, I assume that’s a lot of dollars that went to the coffers of the local government since the islands, unless I am terribly mistaken, belong to the government.

Yet I am baffled that the local government cannot even clean the Paniman beach. I don’t know about the other beaches.

On our way back to Naga, while waiting for the boat to leave the Guijalo Port, I struck a conversation with a local tourist who informed me that, while island hopping, he saw the island that is being converted into a resort. The owner is an ABS-CBN executive.

The tourist is from Naga and appears to be an educated man because he would occasionally shift to English during our entire conversation. I told him that I also want to buy an island in Caramoan and I would appreciate it if he could tell me how to go about it.

Again, just like our tour guide, he gave me a similar naughty smile. I also understood. That was the end of my dream to buy an island.

A few minutes before the boat left for Sabang, a nice-looking, hydrofoil-like craft docked and unloaded rich-looking tourists. Inscribed in the craft is the name, “Tugawe Cove Resort.”

The man told me that Tugawe is the most expensive resort in the island. My curiosity led me to ask him: Who is the owner of Tugawe and how was the owner able to buy that cove? From whom did the owner buy the cove? How much?  I further added that I also want to buy a cove in Caramoan, followed by a sarcastic smile.

He returned my sarcastic smile with his unique naughty smile. We both smiled. We both understood.