Then I realized I have never camped overnight in Tondol before. Same with my wife. We are both locals and the countless trips to the beach never involved an overnight stay.
December is cool season in the Philippines so I thought the weather will be perfect for a beach visit. The date was set, December 27. Then on the 26th, it suddenly started becoming windy, cloudy and at times drizzly. What's wrong with this weather!
Even my plan of camping in Tandoyong Island which is a small landmass off the Eastern end of Tondol beach was impossible because of strong winds. We were also initially planned to camp with my brother and his fiancee but he had to go back to Bataan for work the next day so we ended up bringing a couple of kids with us---including our daughter, my cousins and nephews.
I took our old and dilapidated tricycle with us, drove from Sablig to Namagbagan and then Tondol. My cousin Elly decided to bring their tricycle as well coz there were seven of us all in all that we wouldn't fit in one tricycle. She and her husband ended up camping with us. All nine of us in three tents.
We set up our tents the moment we arrived making sure they were strongly pegged so as not to be blown off by the winds. We also chose a location behind the cottages and near the mangroves so as to stay a little shielded from the winds.
Despite all the seaweeds taken ashore, I wasn't complaining. I came to accept that this is a daily reality in Tondol beach. Perhaps we can official call Tondol "the seaweed" beach? Haha. It actually gives the beach a unique feel. At some point, I felt like walking on a desert and not the beach. Oddly, it was a welcome sight.
The night comes early during this time of the year. An attendant from the beach entrance approached us to ask if we were to stay overnight as entrance rates are different for overnight.
Tondol Beach Entrance Fee: 5 pesos per head
Overnight Fee: 500 pesos
We were surprised when we were told that the 500 pesos fee is mandatory for overnight stay. Asked why mandatory, the attendant explained that we arr required to get a cottage as that cottage will be lighted for us for our security. They also assured us that somebody will be staying at the entrance outpost to look over us overnight for added security. Fair enough.
We asked if we could get a discount because we are locals. Me and my wife immediately shifted into speaking our native tongue (Bolinao) to prove that we are indeed from Anda. A little trivia, Bolinao is a dialect which is spoken only in two towns -Anda and Bolinao Pangasinan--and as a matter of fact, all Andanians speak Bolinao while half the people from Bolinao town couldn't speak it because of the mix of Ilocano and Pangasinense immigrants. Only Anda therefore is the only purely Bolinao speaking town. As I was saying, we did haggled for a discount and that we were granted. We paid 300 pesos instead of 500 plus 50 pesos for all ten of us who stayed overnight.
Entrance fee (10pax) --50 pesos
Overnight Fee (w/cottage)--300 pesos
TOTAL: 350 pesos.
Not bad! And that small fee is indeed a small price to pay. We were glad that one of the cottages has an electric bulb lit coz as I said, we were the only one in the beach that night. Sure, we set up a bonfire but it wasn't enough to lit the place especially because the kids were out until 12 midnight playing the the beach while we four adults were inside our tents snoring. The cottage and the light also proved very helpful when we had dinner.
I made my mom cook for for us back home so as not to be inconvenienced by preparing the meal. We also bought all the necessary utensils with us so it was easy. All we did was to unpack our meal and we had a nice dinner by the beach on a windy night. It was fun.
We had a hearty breakfast before leaving for home.