Sun, Surf and Buhay-Baboy – Living the good Life in Gubat.

Gubat Bay-3380After our two rather mediocre experiences at Mount Pinatubo and the CWC in Naga, we were really hoping for our luck to improve. Thanks to a recommendation by a friend from Manila, we planned to go to the little seaside town of Gubat in the Bicol Region of the Philippines. The local surfer crew, the Gubat Bay Surfers (GBS), was supposed to host an Easter Surf Camp right at the beach with lots of fun, sun and surfing. This and the fact that the spot is still unknown to the crowds inspired us to check it out and spend Holy Week in Gubat. We soon realized that this would not only more than compensate for all the mess before, but actually be our best travel experience so far.

The Hayahay Surf Camp in Gubat – Our home away from home
Riding on the top of a local Jeepney again, we arrived in Gubat late afternoon. There we got personally picked up by Noli Mercader, the president of the Gubat Bay Surfers. What a nice welcome. He took us to their camp by the beach and what we found there would be our home away from home for the next 5 days. The campsite was situated right behind the coconut tree line, decorated with colorful little lights and a big wooden nipa hut right on the beach. The locals that were hanging out there gave us a very warm welcome and after getting some food and having the standard sun-downers,  we pitched our hammocks underneath the palm trees and called it a night.

First surf
The next day we got woken up by a short rain shower which isn’t so nice when sleeping outside without a tent. We didn’t care too much though and got some breakfast at one of the little food stalls which had been set up by that point. What do you do with such an early start? Right, you go surfing. It felt great getting into the water again after almost exactly a year and despite the waves being rather small, it was so much fun. Chris and Dolf got their first lesson that day and they did really well, doing good take offs and riding their first white water waves. It was great to see them progress so quickly with the help of the Gubat Bay Surfers teaching them the needed basics. Gubat Bay seems to be a very beginner friendly spot but also has a couple of nice, peeling reef breaks for the more advanced on offer.

Chris and Dolf getting their first lesson with head coach Nards watching over it.

Chris and Dolf getting their first lesson with head coach Nards watching over it.

Small but fun. Good to be in the water again.

Small but fun. Good to be in the water again. Photo by Kane Sniper

Zarina and James about to hit the surf.

Zarina and James about to hit the surf.

Had to get the shot.

Had to get the shot.

Partynights and eating the Balut
The time flew by quickly and more people arrived, many all the way from Manila. One of them was Arvin, a caterer from Manila, who started cooking some local foods in the nipa hut once it got dark. He and his friends invited us to join and it soon became a merry happy round of people. We all had the freshly cooked food on a big banana leaf and dug in. We started to get to know everyone and a few bottles of the popular Emperador Light, also known as MP Light, made it even easier. The common custom here is to drink out of one glass and passing it around after having finished it. One person is always in charge of refilling the glasses and distributing the drinks in the right order. That person is called the Tanggero and Chris was happily accepting the duty managing to get everyone tipsy or even more than that. The highlight was all of us three eating the Balut, a local snack which is an egg with an embryonic duck chick inside. What is a delight for the locals cost us the uttermost effort to eat it and watching that, was probably also a highlight for everyone else around. Everyone had a blast. It was a great night with so many friendly people and hospitality which we hadn’t experienced before.

The BLC-Crew eating the Balut. Good thing we were pretty drunk at that point.

The BLC-Crew eating the Balut. Good thing we were pretty drunk at that point.

The Balut - a fertilized duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in the shell.

The Balut – a fertilized duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in the shell.

A pig’s life –  living the Buhay Baboy
During the next night we got rained out again but thanks to Noli from the Gubat Bay Surfers, we had a tent by now which was our last escape in a case like that. The day passed by pretty lazily with time in the hammocks, some swimming, more good surfing and chatting with the locals which we got to know better every day. For lunch we got invited to Glenda’s house for lunch, a friend we had already met on our first night at the camp. Chef Arvin had gone to the market to buy some good local seafood and prepared the probably most delicious food we have had in weeks. Once again we were treated so nicely, that it was almost unreal. The rest of the day we spent lazing around Glenda’s farmhouse. The locals call a life like this the Buhay Baboy – a pig’s life, just eating, drinking and sleeping. This expression was very suitable and would accompany us for the entire stay in Gubat. It actually became the motto of our stay and was cited cheeringly during our many fun nights at the camp.

The plan for the night was a little party with a live band playing underneath the palm trees. As the night fell, the stage was set, lights were on and everything was prepared for the Tropicanas to entertain the small crowd. The atmosphere was great with people enjoying the truly tropical tunes to some MP Light and beers to go with it. We were again sitting with our newly made friends from Gubat and Manila and had yet another great night with lots of fun and laughter. By that time we already felt to have made some true new friends which felt very nice.

Time to say goodbye – thanks to Gubat Bay Surfers
Holy Sunday was our last day in the beach camp. There was kite flying for the kids in the morning which attracted a great amount of people. It was great to see the kids making their own little kites and flying them together with the older people around. Afterwards the finals of the ongoing surf completion were held and the local groms showed how good they were. Even in the still rather small waves they pulled off great moves and it was awesome to just watch. Then it was finally time to say good bye to the Gubat Bay Surfers who had hosted us for almost a week. For me it was an emotional moment I have to admit. I have hardly ever met people that friendly and hospitable in my life. We were treated so well and that without any expectation to return the many favors we had received.  We got a last group shot with almost everyone in it and afterwards broke camp.

Gubat Bay-3557

Gubat – Thank you so much for having us. We’ll definitely be back.

Gubat Bay-3641

Last wave check before breaking camp.

Gubat Bay-3959

Kite flying for the young ones – what a blast.

Gubat Bay-3969

Gubat Bay Surfers – Cheers guys. We’ll always remember your warm welcome and hospitality. Great times!

House blessing – a typical Filipino Custom
In the evening that same day Glenda had a house blessing for her newly finished farm house, a very authentic local happening which we luckily got invited for. After having the local priest say prayers, reading from the bible and blessing the house with holy water, the once again delicious food was offered. We had a relaxed evening at Glenda’s and were looking forward to sleep on proper mattresses for the first time in a week. Once again we experienced the hospitality of the Filipinos at its best.

Local house blessing at Glenda's.

Local house blessing at Glenda’s.

We had to spend a few more nights at Glenda’s place due to a very unfortunate event which happened to me during a side-trip to one of the volcanoes nearby. This actually made me face one of the toughest challenges of my travelling ever. Coverage will follow soon.

Last thoughts
This experience was not about great landscapes, sunrise or sunsets – it was about the people. From the first day in the camp until our last night in Gubat we were treated like true friends and even better. The hospitality of the people there was unmatched and just incredible. I can honestly say that staying in Gubat was one of my best travel experiences ever. Being around so many great people was really an eye opener thinking about the mentality back home. It really changed my mind and it will hard to adapt again once back home.

I also want to especially thank the Gubat Surfers for hosting us. They are a great group of people with a big heart and a great passion for surfing and helping the community. They are really trying hard to establish their region as a surf destination and their involvement and engagement was just great. The Gubat area is a great place, good for surfing with several classy breaks from beginner to advanced, but also offered more than enough highlights for the non surfers. The best thing however is that the mass tourism has not at all hit the region. You can really experience the local life and have a great time with these super friendly people. I am usually a little it hesitant about recommendations but I can absolutely recommend everyone out there, surfer or not, visiting this great part of the Philippines. And do it before tourism picks up because it will happen soon.

Thank you Gubat Bay Surfers and thanks to all of the new friends we have made.

Categories: Surfing, The Philippines | Tags: , , , , | 53 Comments

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53 thoughts on “Sun, Surf and Buhay-Baboy – Living the good Life in Gubat.

  1. You certainly had a great time with lots of food and picture perfect scenes.seeing all your posted pictures made me miss more of my birth country, people and beautiful beaches
    and someday will settle back there for good.

    • Hi Les, your home country is just great. We are having the time of our lives here and I have to say, after having seen quiet a few other countries of this world, that the Philippines are really hard to beat. People are so friendly that it is sometimes hard to believe and the nature and scenery that awaits you around every bend is incredible. Everything is so lush and green. I hope you make it back sometime, I could actually picture myself living here. Greetings from the city of Tacloban, Philipp

  2. jaz

    thanks for visiting .our hometown..GUBAT ..we glad u enjoy!

  3. Claire

    Can’t believe that you ate Balut, I saw this in Laos but couldn’t quite bring myself to try it. Gubat looks amazing 🙂

    • Hi Claire, yeah it took a lot of effort I have to say. It is definitely easier being drunk. Doing it sober was very hard but it was good fun, at least for all the bystanders. Good times.

  4. Oh mu goodness, they convinced you guys to eat balut? LOL , watching a foreigner eat it is always a spectacle, happy to know that you guys were game to it. It is one way to win the hearts of the local.
    “It’s more fun in the Philippines” , right? 😀

    • It sure was an event… more to the entertainment of the others though ;). We had fun looking at the pictures afterwards though. Great times and unforgettable memories. The claim “It’s more fun in the Philippines” is definitely true. We are having the time of our lives here. No doubt.

  5. Wow, just reading your blog it feels i’m home to my beloved hometown.Thank you for sharing to the world your unforgettable experience how friendly GUBATNONS are, particularly those warm welcomes to visitors.

    • Hi Randy, you can be happy to call Gubat your hometown. I loved it there right from the beginning when we got off the Jeepney. Some of the best people I have met so far, without a doubt. Travelling long term can make you feel lonely at times but staying in a place like that was great and made us feel home. Can’t thank the Gubatnons enough for that.
      Greetings, Philipp

  6. sounds like an awesome trip. 😀 good one you mate!

    • Hey Whacky, thanks for your feedback. The trip is great, despite some serious setbacks which I will cover soon. I will try to keep the proper updates coming. Thanks again for stopping by, Philipp

  7. Helen Bautista

    i had a great summer vacation this year2013…i enjoyed a lot with the foods & beautiful pictures at hayahay beach, even with the moonshine at night on the beach

    • It was nice there, that’s for sure. Did you see the amazing moonrise there. It was quiet a sight. Where did you sleep there? Greetings from Biliran, Philipp

  8. Lily Vargas

    I was there during the party night . . . really a relaxing get away. Love it!!!
    see you next year HAYAHAY !!!

    • Hi Lily, you were there as well? How great is that. I had a good time that night. It would be great to be there next year as well. Maybe see you then!? Greetings, Philipp

  9. Mimi

    thank you so much for your good reviews about my hometown, Gubat! this write-up made me even more excited to visit Gubat for our high school reunion this coming June! next time you visit, you may want to learn our unique dialect 🙂

    • Hi Mimi, no problem and my pleasure. We had a great time in your time and I am sure you will to when you return. I found the Gubatnons extraordinary friendly and nice. Where abouts do you live right now? I reckon that a lot of people have moved up to Manila, right? Oh and by the way, we got a English – Gubatnon dictionary as a present from the Gubat Bay Surfers. So I can actually study your dialect now 😉

  10. Angela

    i also went to the surfing site last saturday of the holy week. then went to Bulusan Lake and I believe you were the ones who had trouble during the hike? sorry can’t help but hear what the chaos was about coz I was eating mangoes and watermelon right in the middle of that resting hut. but im really glad that you enjoyed your stay in my hometown. 🙂

    • Hi Angela,
      so you were at the camp and at Bulusan at the same time. How cool is that. Yeah, I inured myself pretty bad on the way down. The post is this is online now, you can check it out. It was really bad luck but what can you do. Anyways, Gubat was really nice and we had the greatest time there. I hope you also had fun. Greetings from Biliran, Philipp

  11. Kendi

    Hey! We were there too! Saw your group when we had our surfing lessons 😉 Thanks for visiting our hometown. Another great place to go is Sagada in Mountain Province. A beautiful place for trekking and spelunking. Enjoy your travels in SEA!

    • Hi Kendi, just replied to your other comment. Thanks again for your feedback. Take care, Philipp

  12. indigodarcher

    hey! Thanks for this words for our hometown Gubat! We were there too and had our surfing lessons 🙂 Saw your group during the Night Jamming with Tropicanas. Have you also visited Bulusan Lake And Volcano? Another place to go is Sagada in Mountain Province – beautiful place for trekking and spelunking. Enjoy your South East Asia exploration. Safe travels!

    • Hey Indigo,
      great that you can call Gubat your hometown, I really enjoyed it there. How did your lessons go. I think the waves were alright for starting out. I went to Bulusan on Easter Saturday and the post on that has just been released here. Check it out. I had some real bad luck on that sidetrip and twisted my ankle badly. I am still struggling with it but hoping for the best. Wish me luck. Oh and concerning Sagada, we have also been there. Make sure to read the post on this trip because the pictures have turned out great. Thanks for stopping by and your feedback. Greetings from Biliran, Philipp.

  13. victoriaaphotography

    Sounds wonderful and looks even better.

    • Philipp Dukatz

      Hi Victoria, it was great there. We enjoyed it a lot and sometimes, the kindliness and hospitality of the people were hard to believe. Great time with great people….

  14. Surfing, beach parties, sleeping under palm trees…if that doesn’t sound like paradise, I don’t know what does! Sounds like the best Easter holiday ever!

    • Philipp Dukatz

      Yeah, it was a great Easter. The only downturn were the nightly showers we got while sleeping in our hammocks. Besides that, it was like a dream. Especially the kindliness of the people make for a great memory. It was a great time and I already miss the good friends we have made there.

  15. So good to hear you had a nice travel in Bicol. Hayahay!

    • Hi Joy, yeah it was super nice there. The region and the people. Are you from Bicol as well?

      • Yes, but I haven’t been to Gubat. I’m from Legazpi! =) Now, I am wondering if you did visit Mayon in Legazpi as well.

      • Philipp Dukatz

        Hey Joy, unfortunately not. After climbing Bulusan I couldn’t do any of these activities anymore and I probably won’t be able to do so for a long time. Have you done it? The volcano looks picture perfect. Would like to do it some time.

      • I haven’t climb Mayon yet. My friends are probably climbing it today. I actually missed joining again. 😦 Then, I also need some preparation and stuff for the climb. Really looking forward to it as well. I noticed since its summer Mayon shows itself perfectly a lot these days. Best time to come =) Anyway, if you do come, my very warm welcome.

        Then if you have more time you can do some sidetrip at Kawa-kawa, go for an ATV, and visit Embarcadero. =)
        Made some short blog about it! You might be interested.

      • Hi Joy, thanks for the info. I really liked all of the Bicol region and I would like to come back some time. If I do, I will definately try to go up Mayon. The views from the bottom are already so amazing. Yeah, and if I do come back, I will definitely hit you up, maybe we can meet up or even climb it together. Who knows.

        I will read your two blog entries now but they seem very cool. Ahh, there is so much to do and see here in the Philippines. Really makes me want to stay 😉

        Greetings from Camiguin,


      • Sure thing, who knows. I might even bumped into you around the city. 😛 Enjoy Camiguin island!

  16. thank you very much PHIL!… Hope to see you back here sometime… -back in HAYAHAY CAMP.

  17. Nonette Garcia Tsang

    Your post about my hometown Gubat made me teary-eyed. I have been living in Hong Kong for years, my thoughts are always there. Thank you, you make us proud.
    I do have that English-Gubatnon dictionary.
    Dios mabalos!

    • Hey, thanks a lot. Your feedback means a lot to me. I am happy that you liked the post on Gubat. I really met the nicest people there and I even lived there for one month after traveling the Philippines for two months. It is such a nce area and so good to not stumble across hundreds of other tourists like for example here in Malaysia. Have a a good time in Hong Kong. Philipp

  18. Mark

    Hi we are in Gubat now. We rode here on motorbikes and spent much of the evening yesterday trying to find the accommodation of Glend’s farm cottages. We found in other blogs but not sure if it’s open to public. Can you confirm?

    • Hi there, its not really public I have to say and accommodation is difficult. U can find something at Rizal Beach. Just ask for Hilton (it is not actually Hilton). Glenda might be willing to host you guys but U have to get in touch with her. Find her on Facebook MG Esperida. If not, maybe she can hook you up with another place. How do you guys like it there?

  19. dave

    Hi Phil! Where is Gubat in the Philippines?

  20. Homer

    Hey Phil, us Filipinos are not just Asians but Pacific Islanders as well. Welcoming of foreigners is in our blood. 🙂

  21. hebigat

    I just want to point out that it’s not “MP light” but Empe Light which is short for Emperador. 🙂 Great blog btw. Hopefully more posts from the Philippines. 🙂

    • Thanks for the hint Hebigat.. I will remember it. It sure was a nice drink to have in good company. Take care …

  22. Pingback: From Germany to Gubat: Philipp Dukatz travels the Philippines | Pally News

  23. Rudy Estipona Escoto

    Last part of my June travel, i spent a few surfboarding lesson hours at Noli’s Gubat Rizal beach at sundown; swam the pools in hot & cold Nature’s springs in Irosin, Orok natural cold spring, Gubat’s Kalayukay(bacolod) beach all in & near Gubat Sorsogon Philippines.
    The excitement & thrills & experience outweigh any of the achilles tendonopathy (few weeks to heal) i had on left ankle going after a runaway surfboard hahah
    Been around the globe (sort of) though but still find it comfy and unique and a paradise for me too getting in Gubat — even i am gubatnon myself.



    • Hi Rudy, glad you also had the experience of experiencing Gubat and you are lucky to call yourself Gubatnon. I really had a great time in the area. Hope your achilles tendon is better by now. I also had that for a long time, several month, due to excessive snowboarding. Take care and all the best. Philipp

      • Very heart warming article…..I enjoy reading….I hope your next visit will include Norther Luzon, in particular my home town Cagayan Valley :).

        Thank you very much for the uplifting thoughts about our country Philippines. I look forward reading more of your articles.

        More power!

      • Hi Miko, glad you liked the article. I will sure have to tour Northern Luzon next time. Seems that there is so much to see there…. and maybe I can stop by your hometown as well. Would be nice. Take care and all the best!

  24. Very nice blog post. I definitely appreciate this site.


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