While Survivor US has generated additional revenue and employment for the locals of Palaui Island and the town of Sta. Ana in Cagayan, it has also shut the doors to local adventurers like me. Because my vacation leave was canceled, and my plane ticket forfeited, I had to take the long bus ride from Manila to Sta. Ana in Cagayan.
That’s almost 15 hours in the bus.
That would have been okay, I slept almost all the time since I came straight from a shift then. I arrived at Sta Ana at around 6am.
1st turn off point: a quad-cycle driver charged me a hundred pesos for the ride when it should have only taken 30 to get me to the boatmen.
I then rented the boat for PhP 700 for 6 hours. We could go to the crocodile island, and one side of the renowned Palaui Island. The boat ride took us about 5-10 minutes. Some villagers were already awake. I registered and was assigned a female guide.
It was a little scary because in all the places we’ve been to, and the guides I’ve met, she was the 1st female. But no, that’s not what made it scary. It was the fact that she brought a bolo with her.
Knowing that there’d only be the 2 of us, I thought to myself: “What have I gotten myself into?”
2nd turn off point: The guide didn’t seem like a guide at all. Based from her stories, she mentioned that she had not been to the falls for years, and everyone was telling her before the trek, try not to get lost. When confronted with a decision of turning left or right, she would scratch her head in confusion.
3rd turn off point: The guide fee was a whopping PhP 300 for a falls that didn’t look like one. I mean, I get it that with Survivor, some places are off limits to locals, but they could have lowered the fee, or refused tourists altogether.
Oh and by the way, guides in Baler, Ilocos, or Bacolod didn’t cost as much but took to breath-taking places. After that disappointment, I decided not to pursue the boat ride to the other island because…
Disappointment #4: The beach was dirty. I don’t know if it rained the night before but the reality that welcomed me was totally unexpected.
The prize though, of journeying to Sta. Ana, was the plate of crabs, which was only at PhP 350. And so there I was, finding myself lost in my hunger and disappointment, as I enjoyed the tasty Garlic crabs.
I then resigned to the fact that I would have to charge this to experience. My DIY adventure came right back at me. Canceled leave, forfeited plane ticket, overcharging guide, unclean beach. A cry for help to the officials of Sta. Ana, maybe we can train our guides more, beautify the island for other tourists. I don’t generate that much revenue, but am a visitor, still. PhP 300 a guide would have been justifiable if I were able to see really beautiful places. But with the Survivor restricting tourists and travelers, lower the fee, please.
For future visitors to the place, please make sure there aren’t any outfits filming there. Avoid the heartaches – not to mention butt-ache after a 15-hour ride, I’ve had.