Last weekend I made a trip to Malapascua with my friend Sandy. It was a spontaneous trip that came to fruition only after a few nonsense chatting over what to do on a weekend. I was able to find cheap tickets from Cebu Pacific last week and hurriedly penciled out the last weekend for this whirlwind incursion north of the province of Cebu.
Going to Malapascua, I admit wasn't really the purpose of this trip. Rather, its getting to know Sandy a little bit more. I find her at first impression - madly in love with the absurdities of life, strikingly smart in a crazy manner and a dynamite courtesy of her infectious smile. It was for me, a trip with hidden agenda. Oh yes, I'd write about Malapascua for an online magazine that was about to start-up pretty soon. A place like Malapascua always makes up for a great writing material. However, the trip was after all - more for getting to know and spending time with Sandy more than anything else.
So I dug and buried the usual skeletons from my ordinary and boring life just like in my previous trips. I showed up for work on a Friday, did my tasks for the day then head out straight to the airport. A few hours later I was in Cebu for the third time in my life. The last time was during the 2011 Sinulog Festival where I met a new set of friends as well. I enjoyed that experience so much that I told myself I'd go back to Cebu in the future. Not this soon though, but screw the planning, a spontaneous trip is always fun than drawing it out in advance.
Part of traveling is the search for something and I always regard my fellow travelers - full time or weekend escapist such as myself as the most honest, gregarious, humble and sincere people on the planet as they all admit within themselves that there's that significant thing that is lacking in our lives, thus the cravings of being on the road, immensely inspired to rummaged amidst a hay of needles or grass just to find whatever we were all looking for.
Mine was always the opportunity to engage my senses to different things that a different place offers. To see that ray of sun from a different viewpoint. From sitting on a bench in a baywalk boulevard to lying on my back on a powdery sand by the beach 500 miles from where I live and work. It goes on and on until injected with a company of someone with an addicting persona. How could I say no to that, from the very start I was sold to the idea of a 'whirlwind trip' to anywhere and Malapascua happens to be the place we ended up in and how marvelous it turned out to be because of that.
We took a bus from the North Terminal in Cebu city bound for Maya Port early morning of Saturday. The ride was pleasant in terms of passing through scenic seas and countryside with the wind plastering my face every now and then while I struggle to remain wide awake as not to miss anything. Sandy was asleep the whole time as she also came from a team building trip with her workmates in Bohol the previous two days. I was left to converse with my thoughts throughout the trip while a dynamite and little bit crazy woman leans on my shoulder making the trip more bearable than most bus trips I've taken.
We arrived at Maya port around 11:00 PM after almost 3 hours and a half bus trip, boarded a small boat that surprisingly held more passengers than I previously thought. There were 6 Caucasians aboard and dozens of Korean tourists as well, plus a group of friends from Cebu city, me and Sandy. The boat ride from Maya port to Malapascua lasted for 30 minutes, a short trip for a boat ride but long enough for one of the Koreans to drop his iPhone on the water while using it to take video of the trip. Probably the only 'bummer' moment of the whole trip.
Amid the expensive looking beach front and diving resorts in Malapascua, we ended up staying at this resort called "Bebe's" - just by the name of it, it is pretty obvious that it offers below 500 peso accommodation. Which in fact was correct - we got a fan room for 400 pesos which falls squarely on our tight budget. It is located at the back of the beach front resort about 5-10 minutes walk from the white "Sandy" beaches of Malapascua.
Life on the island for us was bumming around and lying around by the beach. Sandy got a 'mindblowing awesome' massage by the beach courtesy of Manang Angelina while I took a short swim and stared out at the incoming boats, books that sexy sunbathers are reading and random people swirling on their respective highs around me. Afterward we returned to our 5-star 400 peso room to take a quick rest - rest and sleep that would extend to 6:00 AM the next day - yes we were that tired. Whoa!
The next day we took a swim while the sun was out in full monty providing a more picturesque view of the powdery white sands and the calm blue waters. There was this 11 year old girl who was selling sea shells who saw us, took a break from what she was doing and decided to jump into the water and engaged us into a chit chat. Well, she spoke mostly to Sandy in Cebuano dialect.
She offered to accompany us to the lighthouse, so after swimming we went towards the lighthouse and one of her friends saw us and asked to join us, then three of their friends saw us too and also asked to join us, soon we were a group of 2 adults and 5 kids walking the streets of this small sleepy island town. They were holding our hands and happily showed us their school and some parts of the island like the mangrove, the beach house of famed veteran actress Pilar Pilapil and the monkey that resides on a tree nearby.
Two of the girls were aged 11 years old, the eldest is 12 and the two little-ones are 7 years old. These kids reminds me of the simplicity of life on an island. They were innocent, happy, striving this soon! yes, but most of all they seem sincere and excess-baggage free with the kind of life and camaraderie they all share within each other on the island.
But of course, Sandy being a former teacher, told them to continue with their education so if ever a time comes when they wanted to experience life away from the island and into the big city they could do so anytime they want without the limitations of an unfinished education. Sandy was wondering what would they be 10 years from now. We could only hope for the better, but what is 'better' really means? a life in the city surrounded with cars and gadgets or a life on an island in a laid back manner and a minimalistic approach in life? - These young girls would have to decide it for themselves soon, but until then - they would continue on with their innocence and lively manner of living the simple life at Malapascua.
It always humbles me when I see a close knit community like that of in Malapascua exists under all simple things in life. Surrounded by no lavish setting and materials, they live a seemingly happy life surrounded by a paradise-like place we - city dwellers and corporate slaves could only dream about a few weekends a year. Life is really a give and take one, you just need to find your niche and make the most of it whichever place your ass ends up on.
Courtesy of Sandy, we treated them for a lunch at Ging-Ging's restaurant - with the oldest of em all acting like the big sister of the group equally dividing the food on each other's plates and asking the little-ones to finish their food so as not to waste anything. After that they said "thank you's" and bid us farewell, a few minutes later we boarded the boat that would take us back to the city and take me back to where I came from.
I would be freaking lying if I wrote here that I was not smitten by Sandy. Honestly, I am. Malapascua itself proved to be a welcome addition to the whole trip. This definitely makes the cut on my 'unforgettable memory' vault. 2 days is not enough I guess to patch in two entire different set of threads with a history of reckless intertwining. More or less 500 miles separates us today, but Malapascua will always be that place to connect us in between and somehow the memory of that weekend makes our distance from each other closer than it seems in reality.
For now, we both agree that we are friends with each other and that Malapascua is one awesome island and much better if you're into scuba diving since it is also a famous dive spot in the Philippines. So, get your dive gear ready and open your mind to all sorts of possibilities. True enough, as a traveler and nomadic-wannabe, my search goes even if what I'm looking for has already made its apparition. Either I'm too dumb to let it go or life has a way of making things complicated. C'est la vie "such is life". - got to live through that I guess.
This is my entry for the Pinoy Travel Bloggers' Blog Carnival for the month of September 2012, hosted by Ding Fuellos of "Pinoy Explorer" with the theme "The Visayas Roundup"
Click the logo below to read the past Blog Carnival topics.