But I got more than what I bargained for.
|Sisiman's lighthouse without a light.|
I didn't expect a gorgeous albeit dizzying cruise down a winding mountainous road that overlooks the coast, or massive mounds of half-quarried hills right beside an urbanized intersection. I didn't expect the 3.5-hour ride from Bulacan to Mariveles, one brimming with terrible two tantrums I just wanted to die by the bus' window seat, to reward me with such well-kept otherworldly beauty.
And now, here we are. One hundred forty-some kilometers far from home, a world away from another.
I chucked my bag inside the tricycle, a 15-minute, P60-transpo from the highway down to Sisiman. The driver offered to take us around the small town for whatever rate I'm comfortable in, because he thought it's
|An unnamed 50-foot hill with a grotto and two crucifixes on top. Not as easy to trek as it seems.|
|Examining the way up to the grotto.|
|Trail and views: 1) Easterly view: Gordo's peak, the lighthouse and biking trail; 2) Mama Mary's grotto at the peak|
3) Southeast view: ships and sails and a Chinese temple 4) Rubble steps 5) We made it! 6) View from parking space
We came to a jagged, rocky road - a biking trail, to be precise - by the side of Gordo's peak, where the now-fenced lighthouse stands. It's as enchanting as it is in pictures, this brand new self of hers, though not as iconic as the one it replaced. Even without a light, its place by the wave-hit rocks and at the side of Gordo's makes it right at home.
|Beach at the lighthouse side. All rocks.|
|Because these moments matter.|
Cottages usually get filled fast by weekenders especially during summer, but on that Sunday it was just us, another family and townsfolk, and My Way streaming from a videoke machine.
Driver dearest asked an old couple if we could borrow one of their owned shacks for an hour or two, and we managed to get it for free instead of the usual P150 (up to P300 for bigger ones). I wanted to pay, but they were happy to lend. The warm afternoon lent itself to equally warm conversations with these wonderful people, like why they would rather lend than earn.
|Free shade courtesy of these amazing locals.|
|Fish dried out for selling. This is located at the back of the beach huts, and further at the back is the loo.|
But it is just how magical places should always stay. Raw, stimulating and naturally fascinating, with just the right mix of rugged charm and endearing locals that you end up loving.
|Batanes? Nope. Mariveles.|
How to get to Sisiman beach and lighthouse via public commute:1. Take a Mariveles-bound bus. You can find them in the Pasay EDSA and Cubao bus terminals. For those in the north, they pass by the Dau bus terminals and at SM City San Fernando (every 15 minutes or so). Fare is around P150 from SM San Fernando.
2. Tell the conductor to drop you off at the BASECO Compound/ SSS Building in Mariveles. The building is located at an intersection, past a yellow gate.
|SSS building. Alight here.|
|Beach life. Lower left picture shows Bataan Powerplant and Corregidor Island. It really is super near, you can take a boat from Mariveles going there.|
Note that the grotto is the first destination upon entering Sisiman, followed by the lighthouse, then the beach proper. You may walk from the grotto to the lighthouse which takes around 15-20 minutes. The lighthouse fronts a beach, too, but it's all rocks and deep water. Swimmers walk further down the biking trail to the sandy part (about five minutes). This is where the cottages are situated too.
TO GO BACK: Go all the way back past the grotto to board a similar tricycle since there are no other modes of transportation from the beach going to the highway. There's a designated TODA there for tricycles. Tell the driver to drop you off at the waiting shed for Manila/ Pampanga-bound buses (along the street fronting SSS).
|Parking lot shown here behind Gordo's peak.|
There's an empty lot before Gordo's Peak to park you car in.
- You'd probably want to bring some food and drinks if you're planning a picnic. While there is a small sari-sari store at the beach, the merchandise is very limited. There is a grocery store across the hill where you can buy anything from bread to ice cream to razors, but they don't sell meals.
|Grocery's at the left side, where the tricycle is parked.|
- There is a very small (stress on very) thatched common bathroom/ toilet at the beach owned by one of the fishermen, but be advised this is the kind of toilet that will send Kris Aquino scampering away for dear life. It's all bamboo and tarp. A mere rope serves as a door latch. The floor is well, all soil and dirt. If you are 5'3" or taller, you have to duck while taking a bath (5'3" here and my head already touches the tarp roof). Pay P20 to use it for bathing, P10 each time you use the loo.
- There's a toilet bowl but it's so lowly attached to the floor you'll have to squat to use it. There are no bag or towel hooks, so bring something to place your bags on inside. There are two pails and a tabo. Water is sourced from a spring up the mountains and placed in gallons then transferred manually to the pail. If you ran out of water in the middle of business, either you pour water into the pail, or you ask the owner to do it for you (his hut is just beside the bathroom). I prefer/ did the former.
- Best time to go is sunrise or sunset as the place is mostly without shade and it can get very hot in the afternoons. Views of the lighthouse are more dramatic too during these times of day.
|Cross at the summit of the hill.|