The Pacific Recreation Kamp in Real, Quezon
Holy Week is one of the most observed holiday among the many Christian Holidays in the Philippines where Catholicism is the major religion. Non-working day starts on a Maundy Thursday until the Easter Sunday. Some prefer to stay at home, rest, and reflect while others take advantage of the 4-day long weekend to go out of town, escape from their usual routines and spend time with family and friends.
We have yet to recover from the budget spent from our recent Boracay trip so we have to resort to a minimal expense getaway but still have a taste of salt water on our lips and feel the warmth of the sunny day on our skin. To cut expenses from the North and South Luzon Toll fees, lessen gas budget, and shorten the travel time to and from the destination, we headed East towards the Pacific Coast in a small town called Real, Quezon.
Situated at the far Eastern end of the Greater Manila Area, the scenic journey will pass by several towns of Rizal Province and Laguna, through the sharp turns and blind curves at the Sierra Madre mountain range. At cruising speed, the trip from, let’s say, Ortigas Center will take approximately 3 hours if departure time is 5:00 A.M. But if you drive like the devil, the trip would take 30 minutes… before you reach hell. So drive safe and carefully, especially for those driving in these areas for the first time for the zigzag rights may be tricky and you might end up on tomorrow’s front page. Anyway, 5:00 in the morning might be the best time to leave so by the time you reach curves and corners in Teresa, Rizal and Sierra Madre area, the road is well lit and safer. In addition, the morning light striking the mountains and morning rural scenes create a breath taking vista a few thousand feet above sea level.
The boys (and girl) inside the rented jeepney to Real, Quezon all the way from Marikina. It’s actually the group’s first time to travel on a hired jeep. The trip was fun, spacious and lots of activities.
On the other hand, a non-air conditioned bus with direct routes from Sampaloc, Manila to Infanta and Real Quezon via Manila East Road. This is a preferable option if you don’t have a private vehicle or if you’re traveling in a small group. And besides, it’s cheaper.
The descent from the mountain ends on a semi-fork road (semi because it’s obvious that you should follow the paved road) – the rough road to the right leads to Mauban, and the paved road leads to the town of Real, Infanta., and General Nakar. Not far from the fork is a bridge which is probably the best marker that you’re now in Tignoan. Approximately a kilometer from the bridge is The Pacific Recreation Kamp or The PaRK which is on the right side of the road so better slow down and watch out for The PaRK’s signage.
Upon arrival, owner, Teody Villaflor warmly welcomed the group and showed us around The PaRK, from the in-house store, huts, and tent pitching sites. The group was gathered for a short briefing regarding house rules, and safety precautions in the area. The PaRK’s grounds and tent pitching sites were covered by green grass and coconut trees provide shade and protection from the hot summer sun. If you’re not the tent type of person, huts are also available. Bathrooms for men and women stand behind the store where visitors can clean up after swimming. Grills are also provided for those who prefer to cook their own meals. A few steps outside The PaRK (which is also accessible from The PaRK) is a local sari-sari store wherein you can also ask to cook food for you. If you’re bringing a rice cooker, you can ask personnel if you can plug the appliance at the store.
After pitching the tents, the group took a short break before they start the day filled with activities.
Huts for rent at the PaRK.
Gateway to the Tignoan Beach from The PaRK.
After a short rest under the shade, lying on soft grass, we got back on our feet and headed for the beach. Real may not be as popular as other Luzon surf spots like San Juan, La Union and Baler, Aurora Province, but the place has a definition on its own. I’m actually not a surfer but according to locals and some blogs, waves are friendly and perfect for beginners like us. During our stay, surfers from all levels indulge themselves with 2-4 feet of waves not far from shore. On the other hand, Swimming alone, as Mr. Teody emphasized, should be avoided especially when the tides are changing. Sudden shifts may cause drowning due to the strong current. Thus, a buddy-buddy system (even if you’re as good as Michael Phelps) is strongly advised.
The huge rock on the Southern side of the beach about 250 meters from the PaRK.
Two men sat by the edge fishing for a fresh catch of the day.
Low tide late in the afternoon.
Various sizes of rocks revealed as the tides changed.
Skim boarding in Tignoan’s smooth shores
Brown sand stretching all over Tignoan Beach.
The long stretch of Tignoan Beach is composed of rocks with varying sizes, while some areas have smooth and fine brown sand. Due to the brown sand, some may think the beach is dirty but it’s actually clear, and the water is also cool. About 250 meters from The PaRK, on the southern side of the beach is a huge piece of rock molded by natural elements. Many surfing beginners try to catch waves on that part since it’s shallow and there are no rocks. The smooth shores on that certain part of the beach makes it an ideal spot for skim boarding especially for beginners, like me.
When waves become agitated, the cool fresh water at the river beside The PaRK is a good alternative. The current on the estuary is quite strong so be careful. It’s so strong that the current will push you towards the sea. Depth reaches about 7 feet on high tide so better stay at the bank if you don’t know how to swim on deep waters with strong current.
A carabao beside the river.
A boat docked in freshwater beside The PaRK.
If you’re looking for a solemn place to reflect where you can reflect while watching the sunrise, just cross the road from The PaRK’s gate and you will see a staircase which leads to the “The Prayer Mountain”. Life size images of saints painted in white sits the garden on the hill. However, the garden needs much maintenance to avoid that jungle feel, and going around especially for children would be a lot easier. Benches under a shade are installed so if ever you feel tired (it’s definitely not tiring since it’s a few steps up, but just in case you are), one can rest and have a snack while watching the majestic view of the open ocean.
The Prayer Mountain.
If you want a taste of nature, a good side trip not far from the beach would be Balagbag Falls which is situated along the Mauban-Real Road. From The Park, head South on the highway, and make a left after passing the bridge. The Mauban-Real Road is unpaved so it may slow down the trip. On the other hand, passing by this road is quite scenic as it runs along the coast where rock formations are molded by the Pacific waves crashing on the coastal rocks. After passing by a small bridge, there is a parking lot where you can leave your vehicles and hike towards the falls.
Rough road to Balagbag Falls
Waves crashing on rocks along the Real-Mauban Road.
Corals along side the road to Balagbag Falls.
Balagbag Falls drops on two cascades. The first drop flows through several rocks while the second cascade, about 22-24 feet drops on a catch basin about 10 feet deep. Jumping on the falls was like shooting adrenalin through your veins. Just be sure you fall on the deepest part of the basin or doctors would be shooting anesthesia when they operate on your broken bones.
First cascade of Balagbag Falls
Second cascade of the falls.
Jumping from 20-22 feet.
Real, Quezon is a good option especially when you lack the budget to finance long trips and far destinations. The journey itself is actually rewarding where there are lots of picturesque views waiting to be captured on your digital camera (or film, on other cases). Wide variety of activities await the weekend traveler in Real, so I say it’s worth the visit. I’ve been there 4 times just this year, and I never get tired of going back. First of all, it’s near. If it’s near, it means less budget, and that’s the second reason. Third, there’s a lot in store for travelers in that area, and I haven’t really explored the place because once you’re at the PaRK, all you want to do is relax. Last but not the least, the best thing about the PaRK is I can go there on a day visit since I’m from Rizal, so it’s a one bus ride away.
Now here are some fast facts that may help you in your trip:
1. The drive to Real, Quezon gives you more control on time, and one can stopover anytime especially on those beautiful scenery along the highway. On the other hand, public transport like Raymond Transit has routes from Sampaloc, Manila to Infanta, General Nakar, and Real Quezon. A bus leave every hour which passes by Ortigas Extension. And as usual, call the terminals regarding the schedule. The trip cost Php 158.00 on ordinary buses, and Php 195 .00 for air-conditioned.
Raymond Transit Nos.
2. Rates and Fees at The PaRK:
Php 50.00/person – overnight
Php 35.00/person – day trips
Php 20.00/person – day trip
Php 35.00/person – overnight
Php 50.00 – Pitching fee per tent if you’re bringing your own.
Php 300.00 – Tent rentals (2-3 persons)
Beach House (The Red House) Rental
Php 1,500.00 – Porch with Sink and Toilet
Php 5,000 .00- Whole house excluding air-con room (4)
Php 7,000 .00- Whole house including air-con room (5)
Php 200.00 – Extra Mattress (single)
Php 300.00 – Extra Mattress (twin)
CONTACT Teody Villaflor –
3. There are eateries and carinderias along the highway about 5 minutes from The Park or you can ask if they can cook food for you.
4. Be safe and enjoy your trip.
6. If you like this, you might also want to see:
- Quezon Province destinations
- Real, Quezon: Balagbag Falls’ Leap Of Faith
- Cagbalete Island, Quezon (East Coast)
- Cheapest Travel Package To Cagbalete Island
- Biyahe Lokal in Cagbalete Island
- Puting Buhangin Beach, Pagbilao, Quezon
- Cagbalete Island, Quezon
Real, Quezon travel buddies.