Sunday, May 10, 2015

Malatandang Beach: Unisan's hidden paradise

Chances are, you have never heard of Malatandang, that lovely beach of my childhood years.

¡Bienvenido a la playa de Malatandang!

Visitors will be rewarded with a relaxing view of the countryside while traveling the paved narrow road that leads to the beach.

Malatandang Beach is admittedly a least-known beach located in the outskirts of Unisan in Tayabas (or Quezon) Province. Unisan itself is not that well-known in the province compared to Lucena, Lucbán, and Sariaya. But Malatandang's obscurity, not to mention its distance from Metro Manila, may work well to its advantage. For one, it doesn't get crowded here compared to popular beaches in Batangas and Cavite. Secondly, its calm view of Tayabas Bay adds up to its allure. I couldn't even remember a time when Malatandang was attacked by huge waves. And then there's the clarity of its waters gently lapping the coconut-lined beach sand which turns peach white when struck by sunlight. Simply put, it's a modest tropical paradise thiside of the province.

North side of the beach. On the other side of that land mass is Agdañgán.

On the south side of the beach can be seen faintly the island of Marinduque.

Junífera Clarita's first beach escapade, and she hasn't even turned nine months yet!

The shoreline of Malatandang extends for more than a kilometer of golden brown to peach white sand, separating the sea from coconut groves that are now lined with nipa hut cottages and a few private vacation homes/resorts. Most people who swim here are locals who bring along their friends and relatives from the metro and elsewhere.

Having seen old photos of Borácay, the internationally famous island seemed, at least to me, to look like Malatandang many years ago... sans the exceptional quality of the former's sand of course (despite Borácay's worsening algae bloom, it'sands are still incomparable). And like Borácay, one can wade far out into the sea from the shoreline since most parts of Malatandang are shallow.

The only danger I see here are jellyfishes, locally known a"salabay". But don't let these sea creatures deter you from visiting Malatandang. You see, I've lost count on homany times I have swam in Malatandang Beach, but not once have I been stung (I even remember a time when I was surrounded by several, but I was left unharmed). However, Krystal wasn't that lucky when we visited the beach two Saturdays ago (it was her third time there). While wading in the waters of the northern side of the beach away from the throng of vacationers at the south side, I suddenly saw her running ashore, crying out in pain while rubbing her skin profusely as if it was burning — she got stung by a salabay! I immediately rubbed beach sand on the partwhere she wastung but the pain didn't subside that fastA friendly Caucasian sawhat happened and he suggested that I apply fresh calamansî on the affected areas. The pain subsided in a matter of minutes, but not the scars which she now have on her right wrist and ankles (thankfully, they're miniscule).

But hey, don't let the jellyfishes scare you. Perhaps the secret here is to practice constant care whenever you dip into Malatandang's crystal clear waters. And don't forget to bring a bag full of calamansî coz you'll never know. Other than that, don't followhat Krystal and I did; you have to  swim in areas where there are lots of people because it somehow frightens jellyfishes away. Furthermore, the presence of jellyfisheshouldn't be considered a menace because it only shows how healthy Tayabas Bay's marine life is. Aside from jellyfishes, you will also encounter schools of small fishes (smaller than one's finger) and a variety of hermit crabs, starfishes, and snails.

Just keep both eyes open because Malatandang is abundant with jellyfishes. But so far, I haven't been stung, not even once. Well, during this visit, Krystal was stung near her right wrist and legs. In case this happens to you, simply apply calamansi on the affected area. It's what I did to Krystal, and the pain disappeared in a matter of minutes.

Check out the fine beach sand!

Malatandang Beach is about an hour-and-a-half drive from Lucena City, the capital of Tayabas Province. There are vans going to Unisan from SM Lucena and Grand Central Terminal for ₱120.00. It's only ₱60.00 by bus from Grand Central Terminal, but these buses are small, old, rickety, and not airconditioned. They might take you there even longer since they run slower and have to make a couple of stops for incoming and outgoing passengers. The best thing about these buses, however, is that you will be able to breathe in fresh mountain and sea air on the way to Unisan.

Just tell the driver that you need to drop off on the road going to Malatandang (it will be to your right). But from the drop off point, the beach is about another kilometer and a half away, and public utility vehicles there are rareSo the best way to go to Malatandang is from Unisan'población or town proper. Tricyclethere are everywhere and they charge around ₱60.00 going to Malatandang. Thatched-roof cottages at the beach cost only ₱100.00. But we didn't avail of any of it. We just looked for a shaded spot on the beach and laid out a huge sarong, picnic style. There are a couple of sari-sari stores there, too. And if you wish to spend the night in Malatandang, just ask for the Évora residence which is owned by an auntie of mine. I'm really not sure how much they charge. Just ask the caretaker there. I'm pretty sure it's cheap since Malatandang is not really a top-rate beach. At least, not just yet.

I have so many childhood stories that I can share about Malatandang Beach. But my dad's cousin, Uncle Paul Évora, can share his Malatandang story much better, in a brief but succinct way:
As a kid, I used to spend part of my summer months in Unisan, Quezon, my father’s hometown. It is a coastal municipality about 180 kilometers from Manila, located in the Bondoc Peninsula. We used to go there by train, hopping in at the Pacò terminal in the wee hours of the morning. After numerous stops, we would finally reach the station in Barrio Panáon where we took a bus to Unisan's town proper, arriving by late afternoon or early evening. Today it can be reached in only four hours by car on well-paved roads. 
One of our summer treats was riding the waves with a motorized banca to nearby Malatandang. There we would spend early mornings or late afternoons when the sun was friendliest, enjoying its unspoiled and pristine waters, notwithstanding constant warnings about encountering “salabay” or jellyfish. Maybe we were so distracted that I don’t recall seeing a single house or hut at the beach. It was all ours to enjoy!
My father always loved the sea. So when he retired from banking in 1989, he left Manila in favor of the peace and quiet of Malatandang, acquiring a small property right by the beach. Somehow he got possession of two bancas, I think, and spent a good time fishing. He stayed in Malatandang for many years. But circumstances made him return to the ancestral home in Unisan and, not very soon after, he decided to put his Malatandang property on the block. By then, the house was almost abandoned and left to the elements. I am very happy that an older cousin living in the States, Ate Thelma Isaac, now owns the place. A new resort house, available for rent to visitors (but free for kamag-anaks), was built on the property. 
Last May 15, 2011, we celebrated my dad’s 83rd birthday at Malatandang Beach. It was nice to be back. I saw myself in the younger ones as they ran around and frolicked under the sun. They never grow tired, these kids. In fact, even before we had finished packing up for home, they were already looking forward to our next visit. Such is the allure —and mystery— of Malatandang.

Click here for more photos of our Malatandang day tour! And don't forget to LIKE US on Facebook! ¡Hasta la vista!


  1. Thanks for this post. Wanted to ask if you have contact number of a beach house in Malatandang that we can stay overnight at. Thanks

  2. Sorry, we don't. Try contacting Uncle Joel Évora. Maybe he has.


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