Stepping Into the Real Balongay

(This is second part of the series. Have you read first part of this post? The link is here: Balongay and the bridge of broken dream.)

There used to be a public transport service using the obiquituous jeepney between Calabanga and Balongay. It was discontinued due owners can not break-even on its operation. Trips then were unscheduled due it takes hours just to fill a one-way run. Passengers had to stay inside the vehicle waiting it filled up.

A fisherman hauling fresh-cut nipa palm fronds.

So now, on both ends of the trip, prospective travellers have two choices- one is to rent a motor bike with attached sidecar (tricycle) for a special trip or take the habal-habal or motor bike only. Habal service has become popular when one’s destination is a remote village of the town. Enterprising owners operate this with one or more passengers taking a back ride with the driver.

A tricycle ride.

So far, accidents were known to have occurred on this mode of transport. One tragic incident happened last August of 2009. Husband and wife took the habal service on a late night trip even when they knew the driver had one (alcoholic and intoxicating) drink too many.

The couple never reach their home as the driver lost control of the wheels and rammed into a tree. Their bodies were later recovered strewn by the side of the road. Ironic as it may, the driver survived the ordeal.

Always remembering this, we always opt for a tricyle for the trip. We were the only passengers negotiating the paved road to Balongay for the next twenty minutes, no bumpy ride whatsoever. Suddenly I was engulfed in a world so rural and desolate.

Balongay is the second barangay of Calabanga from the mouth of the Bicol river by the San Miguel bay. It has a population of 1,091. The first is the isolated village of Punta Tarawal with about 267 residents. The only way out of Tarawal is through a boat ride.

the waiting shade-landing structure.

There is not much to see about Balongay except for the abundant (this link leads to a page about nipa palm tree) palm fronds all over the area where farmers harvest the raw material for the (this link leads to a post about nipa shingles) nipa shingles but the smell of fish being dried under the sun permeates the air.

At the edge of the river bank, a waiting shade serves as the landing-terminal point for arriving and departing passengers. One can let time pass just by sitting on the steps or on the cement seats. I did just that and kept awed and bewildered at how huge and overwhelming the Bicol river is.

Lowly but courageous fishermen on their tiny boats battle the rush of water current as they haul nipa fronds or cast their nets with catch of fish and maybe the expensive mud crabs locally known as “an-it” or “alimango”.

Links of the complete series here:

Bicol River Basin is a Repository of Failed Programs
The Mother and Queen of all rivers in Southern Luzon
Crossing the Bicol River via Balongay
Stepping into the real Balongay
Balongay and the bridge of broken dream

Thanks to Sky Watch Team of Klaus, Sandy, Ivar, Wren, Fishing Guy, Louise and Sylvia. See more skies on this link. Skywatch Friday(

7 thoughts on “Stepping Into the Real Balongay”

    1. Hi. Thanks for dropping by. I was kind of too late visiting your post. Liked your sky shots, too. That was a good reward after walking your kid from school, and saving on gas too!

  1. I would never dare to ride in that habal-habal! It’s very scary! Your entire body is exposed accidents. Anyway thanks for the very informative blog.

    1. Yes, riding habal-habal is courting accident. Just visited your post today, your skywatch shots are beautiful. Will check out again next week.

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