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I am a Bicolano by birth and choice. By any standards, I am a slow runner but I like it that way. I look at running as a healthy and exciting way to make a difference. Together with my fellow runners from our family, school, office and the community, we use running to give back..

May 6, 2015

CARAMOAN CHRONICLES: Running on a Mirage that is Manlawi.

These days, the town of Caramoan and its islands are getting to be in the minds of many many many   tourists and adventurers. Guess it helped that for many years now, the Caramoan islands have been the favorite venue of the "Survivor" reality series, be it the American, Israeli, Serbian, Swedish or even French editions. To quote the  French TV director Corrine Vaillant , "..the powdery sand, the coconuts on Gota beach and the neighboring islets are a dream for the French people. We chose Caramoan because it's really wild."  To add to the wild beauty, there is the the kind of congeniality extended by the locals to the visitors that in the words of the director of Survivor Israel, "balance Caramoan's ruggedness and roughness."   

The Bicolano Penguin has been to Caramoan already, albeit in a speedy and clandestine way.  This was sometime in 2008 while the penguin was on a buying expedition for the delicious meat of the  malasugui (Blue Marlin) which are known to frequent the waters of Maqueda Channel and Lagonoy Gulf in Camarines Sur after crossing the vast Pacific Ocean from the Golfo de California off Mexico. With the help of my batchmates Ed Balcueva and Don Melgarejo,  we ferried ourselves to the Caramoan Peninsula from the Sabang Port.  It was a short half day  visit and we only had the chance to wade in the islands of Matukad and  Sabitang Laya.   The 2008 stopover was brief but the idea to come back stayed with me for a long time. 

Fast forward to the summer of 2015 and the Bicolano "McArthur"  Penguin is back in Caramoan. This time standing on the shores of Paniman Beach together with fellow 83nean runners Ed, Bob Castilla, Bodjie Importante and Allen Tolledo.  We were boarding  a boat that will take us to, in the words of Caramoan-bred Ed, "mga oragon na isla kang Caramoan." Turns out, this was not to be a short trip to the nearby Gota beach and its neighboring islets of Matukad and Lahus but a long trip to the biggest and northernmost of the Caramoan islands. Our destination was to be the big Lahuy Island and the small neighboring island of Cotivas.  

Admittedly, the  trip was close to one hour and already my traveling companions were beginning to rib Ed about their impatience with the slow speed of the motorboat (rented at Php 2,500 for the day) and likewise, growing hunger for food as it was nearing lunchtime already. Me, I just positioned myself in front of the boat, day dreaming  of a  mirage of a paradise that was soon to appear before our eyes. 

This mirage has a name.  It is called Manlawi Beach and it comes in the form of  a one kilometer-wide sandbar during low tide and becomes completely submerged at high tide.  It is situated in the eastern part of Lahuy Island, almost in the middle part of this long  island which is 10 kilometers long and 3.5 kilometers wide. 

There are more than a dozen floating huts on the Manlawi sandbar.  They are for rent at Php 250 for the day, but in our case we were able to haggle it down to Php 150.We got one floating hut to serve as a place where we can have our lunch of adobo and steamed rice which was prepared by the cousin of Ed. Funny though for Ed forgot to bring the plastic plates and spoons in the car back there in Paniman Beach. Rather than swim back to the mainland, which would have been arduous even for a seasoned triathlon swimmer, we all embraced Ed's  senior citizen moment as an opportunity to engage in a "boodle fight" with our bare hands. The adobo sure tasted richer and finger licking good. 

With our hunger fangs momentarily satiated, we settled down admiring our pristine surroundings. We were indeed in  paradise  where  powder white  and turquoise blue are the dominant colors.  Sure, there was the occasional smattering of yellow or red which were the colors of the floral two-piece worn by some voluptuous chick babes but our eyes were focused on the long white sand bar.  It was the widest I have seen.  Despite the fact that we just ate, we readily succumbed to the temptations of nature. Not to pursue the seduction  of Eve but the seduction  of running on the white sands. 

As with most temptations, the experience of running on the Manlawi sandbar turned out to be most delightful in both the realm of the physical and metaphysical.  Physical delight that is brought about by the refreshing sensation of running on a softer surface than concrete or asphalt which are the staple in most, if not all, of the ultra marathons that we have conquered (or is it the other way around). Since it is a softer surface, barefoot running is the modus operandi.  Running barefoot on the beach allowed us to improve the strength of our feet. Running on sand  stretches our arches, ankles and ther below-the-kneww muscles more than running on harder surfaces.  And one thing particularly distinctive about the sandbar in Manlawi Beach is that it is flat and not slant like the other beaches I have tried running before (i.e. Pico de Loro).  In addition,  there was nary a sharp object or obtrusive garbage on the Manlawi sandbar. 

Metaphysical delight in the sense that running on those powdery soft white sands of Manlawi in the middle of all that gorgeous blue water had me reaffirming that indeed there is a God.  For how can such beauty exists if not for a supernatural and all-too powerful Being.  Mystical is the feeling I have when I was galloping on the soft sand.  We felt light and floating as our bare feet caressed the sands of Manlawi.  Perhaps words would not be enough to encapsulate the pleasure we got.  Perhaps the photos would do more justice.


A priceless experience indeed for us runners on that mirage that is Manlawi. A running moment in time worthy of the  iconic "Chariots of Fire" movie sound track. 

Our 2015 Caramoan Chronicles is off to a good start.  A couple more blog entries to be savored. 



  1. Pading vic, it was.indeed a memorable and unforgettable adventure... Islands in Caramoan are truly like paradise.... We shall return but next time mas dakul na kita.... Galing ng writeup mo BP, More Power!

  2. Thank you Pading Allen. Your presence and "por da lab" attitude definitely made our Caramoan Expedition both fun and loud. Never a dull boring moment when you are on board.