|The Siete Pecados|
I again got an invitation from Daet Mayor Tito S. Sarion to attend Daet’s Pinyasan Festival together with events organizer Mr. Bernard Supetran. Two days before the big event, I hopped on the 1 PM Philtranco bus bound for Daet. Normally, the trip took just 8 hours but traffic due to road widening and repair projects extended my trip another 2 hours. It was just about 10 PM when I arrived at the town, checking in at the Prime Suite Hotel along Vinzons Ave. After a late dinner at a nearby Jollibee outlet, I met up with Atty. Debbee Francisco, of the Camarines NorteTourism Office, at the Miss Daet/Miss Pinyasan 2012 pageant held at the Daet Agro Sports Center. Debbie scheduled an island hopping treat for us the next day.
|Mercedes Fish Port|
The next day, after breakfast, Debbee and Mr. Aldrin Sarion, a member of her staff, picked us up at our hotel and brought us to the municipal port of the nearby (7 kms.) town of Mercedes. One of the most important and prosperous fishing ports in Luzon, this town, the fish bowl of the Bicol Region, is home to the third largest fishing ground in the country. Mercedes’ large fishing fleet of 20-m. long basnigs supplies a large bulk of the catch of fish and shrimps to Manila. We arrived in time for the lively early morning fish market (open from 6-8am). At the port, we were welcomed by Mr. Victor John Orendain IV, a staff member of the Mercedes Municipal Tourism Development Operation Center.
|Mercedes Municipal Tourism
Development Operation Center
Here, a boat (aptly named Dona Mercedes) was chartered for our morning tour of Mercedes’ picturesque Siete Pecados (“Seven Sins”) group of islands which comprises Apuao Grande, Apuao Pequeña, Canimog, Canton, Caringo, Malasugui and Quinapaguian Islands. Victor and Aldrin accompanied us on this trip and we brought along snacks and a tandem kayak. Debbee stayed behind as she had to attend to their float for the festival. On several occasions, while we were cruising along, we espied hundreds of flying fish doing their aerial acrobatics around our boat. About 15 mins. into our trip, we passed (but did not land) by the by the crocodile-shaped Canimog Island, the largest of the 7 islands. The island has a dramatic lighthouse where one can camp, a grayish sand beach and lush foliage which is home to thousands of huge bats. Its lighthouse, erected June 26, 1927, is one of the oldest in the Bicol Region.
|Rocky Canimog Island and its lighthouse|
About 30 mins. out of town, we arrived off the coast of rocky Canton Island. We also didn’t make landfall here as the island has no beach and has minimal vegetation. However, the island is noted for its underwater Canton Cave. The cave is visible only at low tide and we were hoping that was the case as we planned to do some kayaking all the way to its entrance. Disappointment was written in our faces as we neared the cave, still at its high tide mark. Somewhat strong waves here would also have dashed our kayak to the rocks. Oh well, maybe next time. We proceeded on our way
About 15 mins. later, we arrived at small Quinapaguian Island, this time making landfall at its nice stretch of white sand beach. The island offers a good view of the other islands and has a fish sanctuary where one can go snorkeling. However, we weren’t there for the latter as offloaded the kayak from our boat, donned life vests, boarded the kayak and started paddling its calm, clear, blue waters towards the other side of the island. This more than made up for our missed opportunity at Canton Island.