One of the places to visit in my bucket list is to see the ruins in Athens, Greece, and the next best thing near to it is to visit Fortune Island, part of Nasugbu, Batangas. A friend of ours suggested we try to visit this place long before, and this chance came and learned that we would be visiting the place in a weeks time. We prepared for this trip like our other trip, searching the net on how to get there and what to expect. Packing a tent with bedroll and minimal change of cloths plus other provisions including 3 water bottles, since there would be no source of drinking water in the island.
Fortune Island is a resort island in Batangas Province in the Philippines. The island was long owned by Jose Antonio Leviste, a former governor of Batangas Province Leviste opened the Fortune Island Resort Club on the island in 1995. The beach resort was built along a 20-metre (66-foot) stretch of pristine white sand. Several rest houses facing the water. The resort features a salt-water swimming pool, clubhouse, cabana, basketball court, helipad, desalinator for freshwater consumption, and a small serpentarium a reptile zoo for snakes. The beach also has an acropolis with Grecian pillars and statues on the edge of the island overlooking the sea. There is also a museum dedicated to the San Diego, a Spanish warship that sank off the island (see below).
This island has since been parceled out into seven lots reportedly titled in the names of three companies: Fortune Resort Club, Inc., Meridian Pacific Hotel Corp., and Batangas Bay Development, Inc. Leviste holds either majority stocks or has interests in these companies.
Some government officials believe that Leviste’s ownership of Fortune Island underwent “scheming procedures” to acquire both judicial and administrative titles. These officials believe that these titles should never have been granted for two reasons, firstly, the island is classified as a marine reserve under Proclamation 1801, issued in 1978 by President Ferdinand Marcos and, secondly, Section 16 of Presidential Decree 705 (the Revised Forestry Code), which provides that “areas less than 250 hectares which are far from, or are not contiguous with, any certified alienable and disposable land" are “areas needed for forest purposes and may not, therefore, be classified as alienable and disposable land.” Some government officials further contend that subdividing Fortune Island into lots was a “ploy” to skirt environmental and other pertinent laws.
It was near this island (approximately 900 meters (3,000 feet) northwest of the island) that the galleon San Diego was sunk on December 14, 1600 by the Dutch warship Mauritius under the command of Admiral Oliver Van Noort. The shipwreck was discovered in 1992 by French underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio.
This island has also been the site of modern shipwrecks. On December 13, 1995, the MV Kimelody Cristy, a passenger ferry owned and operated by Moreta Shipping Lines Incorporated, caught fire and sank off Fortune Island as it was on its way to Mindoro, leaving 17 people dead and 16 people missing. On September 18, 1998, the MV Princess of the Orient, a passenger ferry owned by Sulpicio Lines, sailed during a typhoon on its way to Cebu City from Manila and sank off Fortune Island, resulting in the deaths of 70 people.
Meet-up time would be at 0400hrs, and like most travelers, would be the meet-up place early, arriving at the place and bought ice for the cooler and then waited for others who would be joining the trip, packing all our things in the van and by 0530hrs we were on our way to Nasugbu, passing through Kaybiang Tunnel at Mt. Palay-palay. We arrived in Nasugbu around 0730hrs, and headed for Jollibee to meet up with chris, who is our contact for our trip to the island and eat breakfast. After eating breakfast and buying provisions, including lots of water, we headed to the Public Market and bought fish and meat that we would be cooking in the island, parking the van at a resort and then we boarded the banka, leaving the shores of Nasugbu at around 0830hrs. While traveling in the banka, seeing big ships passing through, I was surprised when the operator of the banka slowed down almost to a halt, then I realized why when a strong wave created by the passing ship hit the banka, which I did not see and I was sitting in front of the banka. Now every time a big ship pass, I could see the waves and know when it would hit the banka.
Arriving at Fortune Island at around 0930hrs, and was greeted by Loret, where he showed us where our spot would be and unloaded our things and made camp, there were also another group which arrived earlier than us and shared the place. We then started cooking for our lunch and we grilled the meat we bought in the market earlier. Eating lunch at around 1130hrs, and rested after where in we could feel the heat of the noon sun bearing down.
By 1500hrs, others were already swimming in the beach while I walked around and tried to discover the place, which was still hot at this time of the day so it did not take long before I headed back to camp, where our model to be is having her make-up done, and by 1600hrs, we were shooting for a pre-nup and others.
I really wanted to shoot the sun setting but the place where the statue was did not permit me to compose a good shot of the sunset but I did the best that I could do and transferred to other locations. We started cooking for dinner at around 1900hrs bringing our headlamps out for lights, and we were grilling a big slab of steak (which I did not have the chance to take a photo of). Eating dinner was literally eating meat with our bare hands. After a bit of rest, we then started drinking with sisig as pulutan, by 2300hrs it was rest time for most of us. Entering the tent was like entering an oven because it was hot and humid, I was sweating laying down till I fell asleep and hearing footsteps all night walking all over the place, learning the next day that it was just Loret checking.
My alarm went off at 0500hrs, and got my camera and headed up to the ruins to shoot the sunrise, taking a lot of photos till the sun was high above and headed back to camp where we started cooking by 0600hrs, we broke camp at around 0700hrs and I packed all my things and placed in one place to be picked up later where we ride the banka. While the other have gone swimming, I had a chat with chris, where he told me a story about a foreigner who was a girl dared him to jump with her from the lion statue down to the water, but the girl would jump first, and then she jumped chris could do nothing but to jump also.
Leaving the island past 1000hrs and arriving in the shores of Nasugbu an hour later, where we showered off and then packed our things in the van then headed for Chowking to have our lunch 1230hrs, and by 1300 hrs we were traveling back to Manila.
This trip was something different for me because, first my travel buddy, Carol, did not go on this trip with us. Second, this would be the first time to travel with this group of friends and they are inviting me to join them on another adventure in the island of Tingloy, which I would be looking forward to.
Till the next adventure, Happy Trails.
Thanks to my companions on this trip:
Richard Miling & Ianne Clemente-Milling
Ria Robles & Rex Bautista
Chris – 09087225628
Thanks also the Loret – lone caretaker of Fortune Island
All photos are owned and copyrighted by Joey Rico (also known under these names: alien_scream).
All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use, copy, editing, reproduction, publication, duplication and distribution of the digital photos, without his explicit permission, is punishable by law
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.