BY RICKY MONTECILLO
Jose Panganiban in Camarines Norte used to be called Mambulao, meaning land of gold.
There used to be a lot of large scale gold mining operations there but nowadays only small ones still exist.
We went to Jose Panganiban to see the Parola island, famous for its pinkish sand. The Municipal Tourism director Ms. Ruth Marie Forteza arranged for our activities for our adventure camp and ride last March 29-31, 2018.
The Long Riders (TLR) has the distinction in the Philippine motorcycling industry as the group that dares to take their big adventure bikes to off the beaten destinations in the country.
Led by artist and adventurist Restie Renia, TLR is composed of a loose group of people who come from diverse backgrounds and who share a common passion for motorcycles, nature and adventure. Oh, and booze.
From the Caltex station in South Luzon Expressway where we met up, we started our journey by 6:30 am, made a few stopovers for breakfast and hydration.
The fun part was the bitukang manok road from Pitogo all the way to Camarines Norte. It’s called that because it resembles the zig zag shape of a bituka.
The ride took about 7 hours and we arrived at the Jose Panganiban Municipal hall as the sun shone its brightest and hottest at 2pm.
We met with Ms. Ruth Marie who briefed us on the sites and arranged for our boat ride and island hopping the following day.
First stop, we rode our big bikes to the JSM Yellow Green Agri-Eco tourism farm. Yellow-green represents the gold mining turning into farming.
The farm director is called Abijit, his yoga name. He is an artist and is developing the farm to become a diverse and self sustaining commune. They have vegetables, cattle, carabaos, sugar cane and also a man made fish pond. They even have a water supply run by solar.
The owners want to promote organic farming and they are developing the property as a local tourism spot.
We spent our first night in the Turayog view deck. It is a high point of Jose Panganiban where one can see the Camarines Norte at the best vantage point. But before going there we bought food at the public market. Sael Requierme, our kusinero and master chef, did the marketing.
Buboy who turned out to be the owner of the Turayog view deck property is also into small scale gold mining and is fixing up his place as a resort.
We camped right there on the clearing of the view deck where it was cool and breezy.
The next morning, we set off to go to the famed Parola island. We rented a big boat which brought us to the island.
Parola island does not disappoint.
It is a beautiful island. It is like a small sand bar with coconut trees and mangroves. It has two beach fronts on both sides. Its sand is white but pinkish especially during sunrise and sunsets.
Presently it is controlled or owned by a private person and there is only one family who lives there in a shack and some tables for day trip visitors.
Visitors are not allowed to stay overnight in Parola. So what’d we do? We stayed overnight there.
We had the island to ourselves and we camped by the east side shore where the wind was blowing.
We had good ole’ riding buddies fun over alcohol and Sael’s cooking. Imagine, having an entire island to yourselves, Survivor style.
Jose Panganiban is not yet on the popular tourism map. But through the efforts of Ms. Ruth Marie, Abijit and Buboy, they hope to promote it as an upcoming adventurers’ gem and tourism spot.
On the boat ride back to the port, Capt. Sonny Yutuc, a retired airline pilot said, “Ngayon ko lang na experience ito!”, with the expression of an overjoyed kid.
At his senior age, riding a motorcycle, camping in the Turayog view deck and sneaking an overnight stay in Parola island in the middle of the ocean, he seems to be enjoying life at the fullest.
I guess he’s also been bitten by the ride and camp adventure bug.