Recollections from Capones Island

March 31, 2017

April 17, 2014- Anawangin is not anymore what it used to be. Unabashed commercialism and reckless tourism has made the once-secluded cove very crowded and noisy, with great rows  of fences erected by those who want to lay claim to portions of the cove as makeshift resorts. In contrast, Capones offers more solitude; harsh conditions and a lack of fresh water source has barred most small-scale capitalists (except one hardy family who operates a sari-sari store at the drop-off point for visitors, which also serve as the exit point) from the Zambales mainland from taking advantage of intrepid tourists who make short stays on this almost bleak island.


“Little islands are all large prisons; one cannot look at the sea without wishing for the wings of a swallow.” 

Richard Francis Burton


                         A desolate rocky islet greets visitors on their way to Capones.

                          The island of Capones

There were a few visitors that day; they left as the sun began to sink back to the horizon, perhaps to island-hop to the nearby island of Camara.



"A beach is not only a sweep of sand, but shells of sea creatures, the sea glass, the seaweed, the incongruous objects washed up by the ocean."


Henry Grunwald


A red-eyed crab squeezes tightly inside a small rocky interstice, wary of an intruder's presence. 

 And when the tide recedes, pools form on depressions carved through many years of erosion. Many of such pools hold a multitude of fishes and other marine organisms momentarily trapped until the tide sets them free again.


"There's nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it's sent away."

Sarah Kay

 And then, after a brief hike towards narrow trails, the gates to the Capones Island Lighthouse appears.



 The lighthouse, grand and stately amidst its desolation.


“The feeling of abandonment overwhelmed me as I realised that no one had waited, or cared where I was.” 

Emily Williams

 No edifice is safe from those with sordid souls who compensate for their pathetic existence by leaving their tasteless imprints behind.


 A rusting spiral staircase glimmers from the light of the retiring sun.

 The lighthouse was inaugurated on August 1, 1890 and although it has received funding for repairs, the surrounding structures are left to be claimed by the elements.


"Our life is full of empty space." 


Umberto Eco


               “My soul is full of longing
                 for the secret of the sea,
                 and the heart of the great ocean
                 sends a thrilling pulse through me.” 

                          Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



"There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more."


Lord Byron

 The glassy emerald waters around Capones.


 One last look at the lighthouse, at least for the time-being. 

"Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone."



 A sea cucumber forages on the exposed seafloor.

                    "The sea hath fish for every man."


                                 William Camden

On a corner of the beach sheltered by scrubby vegetation, I spotted a man- no doubt a traveler- who has put up his tent and kindly showed his catch for the day. 

 An abandoned navy detachment.

 The following day brought another stream of visitors as the island cliffs stands, still aloof and unaltered.

 And on the way back loomed this block of mountain overlooking a crowded stretch of beach.

"An island is a fixed and finite piece of geography, and usually the whole place has been carved up and claimed."


Paul Theroux

Quite accurate, regrettably.


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