Monday, November 19, 2012

Revisiting Pugad

Of the more well known beaches in Lianga, Pugad is the one that always evokes in me the most nostalgic of memories.  In this sense, its very name which literally means nest in English is oddly appropriate.  Every time I go there, this stretch of coastline has always been able to conjure for me a veritable nest, a cornucopia if you will, of deeply buried yet unforgotten images and sounds, my recollections of Lianga's not so distant past.

I remember the beach as it was in the days of my childhood in the 1970's.  There was no clear access road then but just a dirt track that led from the highway that ran straight and true for a hundred meters or so and which quickly snaked right and then wandered its way through and in between coconut trees sheltering underneath their leafy fronds a straggly line of native huts, most of them facing, just a stone's throw away, the wide expanse of fine sand and the gently rolling sea..

There was no Pugad Beach then, the whole area was just known as Pugad.  The owners of the many beachfront lots then had still no idea of the tourism and commercial potential of their properties.  Many of them were simple farmers and fishermen eking an honest but hard living out of the bounty of the sea and the land adjacent to it.

My brothers and I would spend hours frolicking in the sea or just lying like beached whales on the pristine, grayish-white sand while the gentle surf would wash over us in wave after wave of white foam and greenish-blue water.  On the entire expanse of the gently curving beach, only sounds that can be heard except for the hiss of the sea were the occasional screeching of faraway birds and the gentle swish of the sea breeze on the foliage of the trees and coconut trees on the far shore.

Nowadays, of course, Pugad has become the weekend Mecca for beach-lovers and the picnicking hordes from the many inland municipalities to the west of Lianga.  The local people have wised up and have become aware of the income generating value of their land.  What used to be a long and uninterrupted stretch of beach has become a patchwork of different, individually owned and operated resorts and other commercial establishments.

Beach huts and native-style cabanas crowd each other on almost all of the shoreline space and where there used to be only the silence broken by the sounds of the sea and wind, loudly thumping karaoke music blares out almost everywhere particularly during the weekends when the whole coastal strip rocks and hums to the frenetic movement of visitors and guests.  Whatever available parking underneath the shade of the coconut trees becomes crammed with cars disgorging extended families and cargo trucks each carrying a teeming humanity on its back, all hungering for the sight, scent and feel of  beach sand and the sea.

At these times, Pugad and its waters becomes jampacked with weekenders speaking in a babel of tongues and dialects.  The revelry, often boisterous and loud, can continue until long after sunset.  From the distance, say from the shores of Baogo and Baucaue which lies farther to the west and south of Pugad, the whole stretch of beach becomes a glittering, twinkling line of lights from where, even from afar and across the water, one can still faintly yet clearly hear the manic din of music and merrymaking.

Pugad has become the chief beneficiary of the domestic tourism boom in Lianga.  It does not aspire to be classy and high-end as the more exclusive and relatively more expensive resorts like the Kansilad Beach Resort in Ganayon just north of Lianga.  Instead it revels upon and welcomes with open arms the ordinary landlocked masses who think nothing of travelling for hours just for the opportunity, even for just one sunny day or even for just an idyllic summer afternoon, to enjoy the pleasures of sun, sea, sand and surf without paying through the nose for that privilege.

As a result, it offers a unique ambiance that few of the other beaches and resorts that now dot the Lianga coastline can match.  In weekends and holidays, going to Pugad is like going to the perya or the carnival or town fair.  It is not just about the beach and the water alone, it is also about the multitude of people all eager to temporarily escape their humdrum and mundane lives and just let go. It also about loud music and the discordant cacophony of voices and noises, the mad rushing to and fro and the hyper-kinetic energy, and being part of what may seem to be collective mayhem and chaos but actually just a mass of people grooving and boogieing to the beat and rhythm of their own version of aggressive fun by the sea.


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