When I first heard of Fortune Island and the pillars on it which resemble those of the Parthenon, I immediately locked it as a target because I know for a fact that in this life I’ll probably never step foot in Greece. So when I read in the comments of a blog post (while looking for beaches to go to) about a trip to Fortune Island organized by #JJTours, I hit up two friends and in no time I was already at the bank paying for our down payment. What did just happen.
We huddled at the McDonald’s by the Buendia MRT Station on the day of the departure where Red Chuca, the tour manager, told us that the three of us wouldn’t have been accounted for had I not reminded him of our payment the day before; he was on the road when I made the deposit and it slipped his mind.
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 seemed to be the gateway to the island. There’s no electricity, freshwater source, store where you can buy food, and restroom (well, they said there was a functional one but I no longer bothered looking for it) on the island. That means that if you’re staying overnight given those conditions, you should know what you’re up against.
Looking at Fortune Island and its Grecian pillars from a distance undoubtedly made me bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. It was around 20 minutes past the hour of eight when we arrived on the island. Travel time was an hour but takes longer for sure when the waves are feeling treacherous.
It’s already stated in many blogs but I’m still gonna say it anyway. Fortune Island used to be a luxury resort but was constantly ravaged by typhoons which eventually led to its abandonment. The structure below is what used to be the main building. There also used to be a pool which now only contains rubbish (what else).
This shipwreck is actually the remnants of the resort’s restaurant. It must’ve been obliterated by—you guessed that right—a typhoon or was simply left to decay. You can see pictures of how it used to look like in other blogs.
We set up camp right beshinde (an invented portmanteau of “behind” and “beside”) the main building where there was a good deal of shade provided by some trees.
Wasting no time, I found meself exploring thee island with me mates. The pillars can be reached by a flight of stairs which also lead to the other side of the island where the real fun happens. Atop are some statues as well.
Because it would be dull to just stand around and look like one of the pillars (#twinning), I tried becoming Spidey for a change. (My left arm was actually trembling so hard when the photo below was taken that I could’ve egg rolled all the way down and sustained injuries.) Don’t try standing on any of the busted pillars though. I tried it and if I weren’t cautious I would’ve met more than just bruises.
And this is what where we just came from looked 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 of it is where you can cliff jump noob style. (Cocky, I know.)
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. Hah!
This, my friends, is the other side of Fortune Island as seen from above.
Steep stairs lead to it 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 there and have a life vest ready. There was also a rope where one can hold on for dear life. I wanted to try a front flip but sort of got dizzy after jumping twice from a high point so I tried diving instead (not that I’m any good at either).
When it was almost 12:00 we retreated to our camp for lunch and went back right after with the rest of the gang.
From the picture below, there are two high points, one on each side, where you can jump off. The one on the left is convenient because of the presence of a platform where one can reflect about his/her decisions in life. (If Mother Nature created that I’m gonna marry her in my 30’s). However, it’s more difficult on this side as you will have to swim your way back to the stairs. On the other hand, the one on the right has no platform but it’s very near to the rope (and stairs) that will save your life. Pick your poison.
Here’s a video of Matze, a German guy who was with the group, me, and Norry battling our way into the sea. It’s nowhere near being professional but I enjoyed making it. I just launched a video-editing software and Avicii did the rest of the job. Ah, let us not forget about that little surprise.
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 jumped off. There were a number of bloopers though, which included denim shorts becoming a skirt after the jump (“‘Yung shorts ko naging skirt!”) and a guy declaring that he’s okay being gay as 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 life jumping, we went back to the other side for a dip. Some continued cliff jumping at 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 spot sharks.
This part of the beach is ideal should you want to answer calls of nature at 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, was demonstrated by live shells!
The shade and peace and quiet at the end of the line 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 a Tribord snorkeling gear which at that time wasn’t available in the Philippines yet. It’s a mask that not only allows you to breathe through your mouth but through your nose as well. Truly badass. I had no underwater camera so I couldn’t show any proof but take it from me (and my broken heart) that the underwater scenery was superb. Probably among the best that I’ve seen.
The final activity for 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 to take a panoramic shot 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. (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 so that we could feel some wind as there was none at all where we originally pitched them. Socials commenced after everyone settled with their new locations but before that, our group was already setting off with a simple concoction of GSM Mojito and Sprite. Haha!
A lot happened during the socials and there was enough booze to knock everyone out ’til the end. Hahaha. I particularly liked that game of words in which you have to say a word that’s related to the one the person before you mentioned. The tricky part was the vetoing of the following:
- Words that start with “s” (damn this)
- Proper names
- Repeated words (per round only)
- Words not related to the previous word (obviously)
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 a round with an s-word. Shot! 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 ones 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, how it suddenly rained, and 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 rinse ourselves properly). 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 a group tour and it was fulfilling having survived it with majority of the participants being strangers, in an island where scarcity was of great abundance.
If you intend to visit Fortune Island, here are my two cents (or three?):
- Everyone wasn’t 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 enough 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 was all over the place. It would be great if regular clean-ups could be done because I would say that the Greek architecture is among the reasons why tourists visit Fortune Island. If they’re taken away by some typhoon, the island might find it hard to compete against way cleaner islands.
- Because of 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 organized tours like what we availed from #JJTours. They always include round-trip transportation and meals.