Find us on Google+ Love Mindanao: Capturing The Colours of Botolan | A Zambales Exploration

Capturing The Colours of Botolan | A Zambales Exploration

The stressful and sickening environment of the metro is one dose of toxin near to your death and it’s just so hard to escape.

Hoping to beat the daily routine, I came running north back to my birth province of Zambales for a break or some kind of a retreat. Life has been difficult these days and my focus were just off for a long time now and I can hardly create something productive out of my precious time. I need to breath!

Breaking free, I dropped my feet in the not so heard destination in Botolan, Zambales. Where again? I don’t know about you but this place was off from the radar among travelers and not so much interesting activities were published about the sleepy town. 

Anyway, I just need to be alone and the ghost-like municipality was the perfect venue to flicker another inspiration (crossing fingers).
The pool of Rama International Beach Resort

Luckily, Rama International Beach Resort was there to aid in what seemed a little drama of my life. I was completely down, as in  “zero” when I arrived in this resort.  I was numb and feeling empty and I could hardly notice I was in a resort. I was so empty. There was nothing more lovely to hear but the rushing waves resonating in the entire vicinity. 

Henry, the German owner (who speaks Filipino more fluent than me) received me in their laid back resort and took time to talk and tour me around. The resort was not a total mess but just a little cluttered with so much potential and just need a centerpiece to standout.

"it's not how you empty or fill the cup, but how you carry your own cup..."

The black beach of Botolan, Zambales. This kind of sand is reach in mineral iron oxides (magnetite)
It was a jungle out here that somehow reflects my current condition and it’s eating me alive. A little slap of reality was all I needed to make things realized and wake up from the mess that is slowly breaking my life. But looking at the brighter side, this place mirrors people like me who have uncertain priorities, needing some push to regain control.

The resort was a garden or jungle inspired accommodation

Sitting on the sand with a coffee on one hand, I got fascinated with the messy water of the black beach fronting the West Philippine Sea. Gazing on the  rushing waves, all the negative vibes and stresses I had lately seems being pulled away by magnet filled seascape. The serenity just filled my blank space, recalling all my childhood sweet memories in Zambales.
Inside the suite of Rama International Beach and Resort

Until tranquility sunk in, I returned to my lovely accommodation with clear and peaceful mind that I fell deep asleep without a hint of insomnia.

The next morning was a new day filled with excitement that I've got motivated to wake up looking for some adventures. Curious on what lies outside the resort, I requested one of the personnel to look for a local guide for a short trekking activity to the mountainous side of Botolan.

Trekking activity in the ancestral domain of the Aeta, the dominant indigenous community in Botolan, Zambales
Henry informed me that there's a nearby waterfall just right after the small community of Aeta. I was warned that the water was scarce during summer and not recommended at this moment unless it rained the night before. I still insisted to visit for a different reason. I wanted to see it with my very own eyes and check on how’s the local situation after the destructive eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991. Two decades have passed and I have wondered how life has been with the marginalized people of Botolan. I have wished I have more days here to immerse with the community to rekindle the life we had in Zambales.

                        "nature knows best..."
One of the waterfalls in Botolan (almost dry during summmer season)

Chasing Water-Fail!

It took us a while to reach the waterfalls just outskirt of Brgy. Binoklotan. As I witnessed the almost dry waterbody, I felt a pinch of disappointment with how the environment was naturally altered. According to my guide, there was a massive change in the area as the source of water was diverted to other places; with giant rocks hindering and diverting the natural flow of the river. Well, that is how nature works and let's just be happy with it.
Dipping into the clean and clear water in one of the pools of Botolan (At Henry's pool).

Good thing I found a lot of small pools in the area that I decided to dip for a while to cool down the blistering heat of the day. What a feeling, simply refreshing!

As we descend from the mountains, we met some Aeta children on the trail with shy little faces , innocent on the chaos of the metro just outside of the mountainous walls.

Now living in the lowland area, the Aetas cultivate rice and corn and other agricultural products to earn a living.  That's how simple life here

"the eyes are the windows to your soul..."
Aeta children at the foot of the mountain of Botolan, Zambales
Not satisfied with what I have witnessed, I asked my guide to drive me to the other sitios in Botolan and ended at Ina Poong Bato in Brgy Loobunga. It was a pilgrimage site among the nearby communities that according to my guide, a long queue of devotees can be observed during the Holy Week. 

The "Miraculous"  Church of Ina Poon Bato.

Many come with their prayers for a miracle or healing.  With the kind of life condition, only God would be their source of strength, hope and redemption.

Here Comes the 'HAPPY' RAIN!

We were almost in the end of our tour when the torrential rain flooded our way. But it was only then I realized, the little barrio in Botolan changes its color at times when the rain comes. A color that seldom comes to my mind, a life that blooms with every drop of water, nourishing my thirsty soul. A gift from the heaven that brings life back to the barren earth we are living in.

"traveling makes me feel young, 'coz I got the world as my playground..."

The local children enjoying the rain.
Life beats in each drop of water. For others, it may sound an alarm to take cover, but I saw differently as children celebrated the rush of water falling from the sky. The colors around turned beautifully with each smile coming from the people not afraid to get wet and not minding walking under the pouring rain. There was a tender sweetness recalling those days when I wasn't afraid to face my own rain. Only this time, things changed.

How I missed my childhood days when I used to be like them, embracing the blessing of God from heaven. There were smiles, laughter and the pure joy that beats deep from their hearts.

Life beats in this land, it just that we are so busy to feel the vibrant pulse of their hearts. To feel their love and to share the blessings we have.

Meeting that Lonely Chapel...

As we reached the center of the Municipality of Botolan, an old and small coral-stoned church greeted us. Curious about this little charming place, we sneak in to see how it looks like up close. The fa├žade was really something that only time can tell how this little church became the sole mute witness to all the historical events that had took in this part of Zambales. There was no marker around the site that will tell you the year it was built.
The Parish Church of Sta. Monica in Botolan, Zambales. As of this writing , the date of erection is still unknown.
According to the parish priest Father Paolo it was in the year 1736 when the Recollect-missionaries from Pampanga gathered settlers in the current site. And after 30 years, settlers have grown to more than 1500 that the superior government made a decree in March 8, 1844, elevating the doctrina (mission-area) to a parroquia (parish), having Fr. Mariano Tuto as the first parish priest.

The belfry tells a different story then. The bells embossed a different year that made the confusion more. There were three (3) small bells with 3 different years embossed on each. One was dedicated to Sta. Monica. I had a hard time reading the inscriptions on the other two bells that I failed to document to whom those were dedicated. Looks like I am coming back to Botolan sooner or later.

According to Father Paolo the dates indicated on the bells can’t be confirmed whether it was the date of installation of the bell or the date the church was erected.

Regardless of what  the age of this ”heritage site”, the interior of the church needs a massive restoration. The interior has no longer its original structure and was replaced with simple architectural design suited for a chapel.

Wait, there's MORE...!

One of the locals sporting his extreme moves over the raging waves of Botolan.
As we turned our way back to Rama International Beach Resort, we notice a group of young lads along the beach making there acrobatic wake-boarding stunts on the raging waves of Botolan. 

The Habagat or the monsoon have brought strong winds that made the west coast suitable for some extreme water sports like wake boarding and surfing. How I wished I was in my best fit to experience the waves in this part of the Philippines, but sadly I wasn't that day. I really missed my wake boarding days back in Dahican, Mati, Davao Oriental. I guess I need to get stronger, healthier to be back again to feel the adrenaline rush of the extreme life I had before. Coming very soon.

Wake boarding is making the boys of Botolan busy for a fun fun fun water sports in Zambales

This short tour in Botolan, Zambales was made possible by  Rama International Beach and Resort . My sincerest appreciation to all the staff for the warm welcome and to Henry for the invitation to explore this less-traveled destination in the Philippines.

If you have more time, you can also do a side visit to the nearby town of Antonio and explore the serene cove of Talisayin.

Together with the owner and manager of Rama International Beach Resort. 

How to Reach Botolan?

If you are coming from Manila, just take a bus bound for Sta. Cruz, Zambales and alight at Km 89. Victory Liner has a frequent schedule to Sta. Cruz. Or if there is no direct route to Sta. Cruz, you may take a bus bound for Olongapo City, then at Olongapo take a bus bound for Iba or Sta. Cruz then alight at Km 89, travel time is just one hour. 

For inquiries and reservation please contact the numbers below:

Rama International Beach and Resort
Manila :          (02) 404 4784
Subic :             (047) 252 9978


  1. Nature is amazing what a beautiful view, i wish i could come stay there for some months.

  2. The first photograph is impressive enough! Share more please. Can't wait to see more travel posts from you.