It was last year when I first heard of Fortune Island, and because I know for a fact that in this life I will probably never ever step a foot in Greece and on this island are pillars which resemble those of The Parthenon, I immediately locked it as a target. Last month, while looking for beaches to go to, I read in the comments of a blog post about a trip to the island organized by #JJTours. I contacted two of my friends and in no time I was already at the bank paying for the down payment. What did just happen.
The day of the tour came, and we huddled at the McDonald’s by the MRT Buendia station. Red Chuca, the tour manager, arrived and told us that he actually forgot about us three as he was on the road when I told him about my deposit. If I didn’t make a follow-up the day before we would’ve been left out
and I would’ve committed suicide using the five liters of water we brought with us.
We left in two vans at 03:30 and arrived in Nasugbu, Batangas two hours later. Breakfast was at Jollibee before we proceeded to Fortune Island Resort, which seems to be the gateway to the island. The island has no electricity, freshwater source, store where you can buy food, and most especially, restroom (well, they said there was a functional one but I really didn’t look for it). That means that if you’re staying overnight, the resort is the place to do your thing, mantra, or whatever it is that you need to do.
Looking at the island and its Grecian pillars from a distance. It was around 20 minutes past the hour of eight when we arrived in the island. Travel time was an hour but probably takes longer when the waves are feeling a bit treacherous. (Now that should be exciting.)
It’s stated in many blogs already but I’m still gonna say it anyway. Fortune Island used to be a luxury resort but was ravaged by a typhoon in the early 2000’s. For some reason it was no longer restored to its previous grandeur (I’m guessing this would have to do with typhoons visiting more often than not). It is owned by a former governor and is now being rented by Koreans. The structure above is what used to be the main building.
Not fully pictured above is what used to be the pool of the resort. It now contains just rubbish.
This shipwreck is actually not a shipwreck but are remnants of the resort’s restaurant after it was obliterated by another (yes, you guessed that right) typhoon only recently. You can see pictures of how it used to look like in other blogs.
We set up camp right beshinde (a word here which is supposed to be a sort of portmanteau of “behind” and “beside”) the main building where there was a good deal of shade provided by some trees.
In no time I found meself and me mates exploring the (pronounced as “thee” and not “tha” because the next word starts with a vowel) island. The pillars can be reached by stairs which go straight through the top, leading you to the other side of the island where the real fun happens.
Atop the hill are not only the pillars but also some statues. Now that makes me wonder, I should’ve tried making out with the woman who seemed so damn lonely looking into the distant horizon. Come here, baby…
Because it would be dull to just stand with the pillars and maybe even look like one of them, I tried becoming Spidey for a change. (My left arm was actually trembling so hard when the photo above was taken that I could’ve egg rolled down the hill and met my end.) Also, never, as in NEVER, try standing on the busted pillars. I tried it and attempted to go to a higher level. If I went on and without caution, I would’ve been sent egg rolling down for sure. What’s with all these egg rolls, anyway.
And this is what where we just came from looks like from above. At first I was dumbfounded as to why people would opt to pitch tents under the ridiculously blazing sun but when night fell I understood why. On the right side is where you can cliff jump noob style. (Did I just sound cocky there?)
At some point I got annoyed by the heat that I decided to break one of the statues to show Zeus and his kin who’s boss.
This, my friends, is the other side of the island as seen from above.
Steep stairs lead to the other side, where you can jump off the cliffs to your heart’s content.
Look at me swim like a tadpole and act like I just conquered the island. Hilas!
The lowest point where one could jump would be at the foot of the stairs. People who don’t know how to swim can just take it from here and have a life vest ready. Also, there’s a rope where one can hold on for dear life. I wanted to try a front flip here but I sort of got dizzy after jumping twice from the high point so I tried diving instead, as I just couldn’t do it from high points just yet.
When it was almost 12:00 we retreated to our camp for lunch and immediately right after went back to the cliffs with the rest of the gang.
From the picture above, there are two high points, one on each side, where you can jump off. The one on the left, although comfortable because of the presence of a platform (if Mother Nature created that one I’m gonna marry her in my 30’s) where one can reflect about decisions in life (yes), is more difficult, as you will have to swim your way back to the stairs. The one on the right has no platform, but it’s very near the rope (and stairs) that will save your life.
Here’s a video of Matze, a German guy who was with the group, me, and Norry, battling our way into the sea. I was delighted making it. I just launched my video-editing software and everything simply came pouring in. Hola, Avicii!
About half of our group took the plunge, and in between us there was this group from Baguio which captured everyone’s attention as all of their girls actually did it. There were a number of bloopers, though, which included a denim shorts becoming a skirt after the jump (“Yung shorts ko naging skirt!”) and a guy declaring that he’s okay being gay so long as he doesn’t have to jump (“Di na. Bakla nalang ako.”). Hahaha! In the end he still leapt. Kudos!
When everyone already had their fair share of risking lives, we went back to the other side to take a dip. Some continued cliff jumping, from the noob style spot I was arrogantly referring to earlier. At three o’clock we headed to the left side of the horizon towards the end of the beach in an attempt to sight sharks.
This part of the beach is ideal should you want to answer calls of nature by nighttime. Dunno if it’s always the case, but during our stay it was free from camping tourists.
A scene reminiscent of bayanihan, the Filipino term which means communal effort to achieve a goal, best exampled by people literally lifting a house on their shoulders in order to move it to a new location. And yes, those are live shells!
Reaching the end of the line, where the shade and peace and quiet made it a perfect spot for everyone’s siesta.
There were no sightings even after an hour so we went back and went for another swim. Red had this Tribord snorkeling gear and I can only tell you how awesome it was. If a typical snorkel allows you to breath through your mouth, this one allows through the nose. Truly badass. Unfortunately, the price is also badass and it’s not available in the Philippines yet. I have no underwater camera so I couldn’t show any evidence, but take it from me (and my broken heart) that the scenery underwater is superb. Probably among the best I’ve seen so far.
The final activity of the day was the sunset watching, set at 17:30. It was lovely. The sun almost made me believe in forever as it seemed to take all the time in the world setting.
While the sun continued teasing all its spectators, I backed away to the farthest part of the cliff possible in order to take a panoramic view of the island.
When the sun was finally succumbing to its last emotional moments, I had it eaten by one of the lions just because. (Up to this point in time I honestly don’t know where the use of “just because” to end a sentence originated but for the sake of it please spare me.) Of course, one last shot as the sun started crossing the horizon was also obligatory.
We rinsed ourselves with whatever means possible and then had dinner, which was as scrumptious as the other meals. We then moved our tents such that we can feel some wind, as for some reason there was none at our original spot at all. Socials commenced a little after everyone settled at their new locations. Before that, our group was already setting off with a simple concoction of GSM Mojito and Sprite. Haha.
I would say a lot happened during the socials, and there were enough booze to knock everyone out in the end. Hahaha. I particularly liked that game of words in which you have to say a word that is related to the one the person before you mentioned. The tricky part was the disallowance of the following:
- Words that start with “s” (damn this)
- Proper names
- Repeated words (per round only)
- Words not related to the previous word
For every error and no word spoken within three seconds the person has to take a shot. I had a lot of blunders and WTF moments like starting the round and giving an s-word already. As the mechanics wouldn’t be able to fill everyone up, a different shot glass was “rotated”. We also played Categories, where some really interesting categories were brought up. It was a night of absolute frolicking and thankfully none of the other campers told us off.
Come morning over breakfast, everyone was laughing over what happened during the socials, how it suddenly rained, and all those whatnots. Not that I really love drinking, but for me socials usually work better over a few drinks, especially if it’s to cap off a very long day. We had breakfast, gathered our
shit things together, and started crossing back to the mainland minutes past ten o’clock, where we were finally able to do some proper rinsing. Before we boarded the boat someone was calling everyone about a forgotten underwear and when I saw it I was, like, “Jesus Christ, that’s my underwear, stop raising it above everyone’s head!”
From left to right (photo courtesy of Sir Jun): Red, Erwin, Faty, Alona, Alfred, Dolly, Basil, Matze, Denisse, Rod, Eike, Norry, me, Bianca, Jeremy, and Dana
We had bulalo for lunch in Tagaytay before finally parting ways at our meet-up place around four in the afternoon. It was my first time participating in such a tour, and it was fulfilling having survived it with mostly strangers in the beginning, in an island where scarcity is of great abundance.
If you intend to visit Fortune Island, here are my two cents (or three?):
- Everyone’s not kidding about the absence of freshwater there. If you’re the type who really needs to take a bath at the end of the day, bring water for that purpose. I survived with just two glasses just to kick the itchiness away.
- Wet tissues can be very great alternatives for the item above.
- Bring booze just because! Alam mo ‘yan!
- I haven’t’ taken pictures of them, but garbage is all over the place, so don’t be surprised. It would be great if regular cleanups could be done, because I would say that the Greek architectures are the primary reason of tourists in going to the island. If they’re taken away by some typhoon, how will the island compete against way cleaner islands?
- Because of the garbage, pesky flies can be all over the place! So bring candles if you can! Or bombs! Really!
- If you got a snorkeling gear, definitely bring it. I would go back to the island just for its underwater scenery. You will even see something down there that will make you think how it got there.
- If you find it hard to find people to go with and you’re on-the-go to meet new people, you can watch out for another trip organized by #JJTours. Their price is reasonable and the food, cooked right before your eyes, is great.
Lastly, Denisse and Sir Jun also blogged about the trip. CLICK!
P.S. This article was originally posted in Beer & Skittles.