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Thursday, June 7, 2012

El Nido, Palawan: Paradise Momentarily Disturbed


On our second day in El Nido, Palawan something happened that has me thinking whether I should write it here or not. I realized that I need to take the bad ones along the good ones, knowing the ripe fruits far outweighs the rotten ones. This is one of those moments one hopes will never happen again, a short burst of terror that disrupted paradise. Momentarily.

Me and my friend Pam has just finished our "Tour A" island hopping along with the new friends we met the night before. On our way back to El Nido Plaza Inn, I stopped by a store to buy a pair of slippers. It was then that we heard a loud thud. We shrugged it thinking it was a sound of thunder coming from the direction of the towering limestone cliff covering this scenic town. Unknown to us that time, it was in fact an explosion that happened in front of Entaula Resort, which is located just across the place we're staying for the duration of our trip.

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When we realized it was something serious, we walked slowly towards our place and started seeing people pointing at a particular spot, there were a few people running towards us and away from the site of the explosion, a little panic engulfed the place and soon a tricycle passed us by with a bloodied passenger - who turns out to be a staff at the Entaula resort. She was hit by fragments caused by the bomb while she was throwing trash at the garbage bin where the explosive device was planted.

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It was a scary scene that momentarily disrupted the peaceful and paradise setting of El Nido, as we walked further, we saw a Western couple consoling each other with the man assuring his girlfriend that it was an isolated incident. It was indeed one, which unfortunately further reminded us that things beyond our control can happen everywhere, even in a place like El Nido.

While we were about a hundred and plus meters away from where it happened, my friend Josiah was very close from the explosion. Upon docking out of the boat we used for our "Tour A" island hopping a few minutes earlier, I remember texting Josiah to meet us at El Nido Plaza Inn and by that time he was already on his way, fortunately no other persons were hurt aside from the lone injured woman (who turns out alright after), from the blast.

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Back to normal after the incident
It was my first time to witness such a terrible event and we were worried about its implications, whether it would escalate or not and the overall perception about the place. We later realized that everyone who were in El Nido that day knows better, they understand it as something that could happen everywhere and does not mirror the real "peace and order" situation in Palawan. Aside from the infamous "Dos Palmas" incident few years ago, Palawan has been very peaceful. As one of our next door neighbors at the inn would say afterwards "I'm from Israel that is nothing".

It may be a 'politically incorrect' way of assessing things, but it is still a reliable measurement of how bad things sometimes happens in every part of the world. This time though, El Nido wasn't spared. Whatever disruptions it did to the peace of the place, it quickly dissolves by the time we went out of our place to have dinner. Tourists and locals alike did talked about the incident, but it never scared nor drove them out of the town, because they all know, El Nido is paradise on Earth and no evil-minded person can shatter the great vibe and camaraderie which people from all over injects to each other.

Me, Pam and Josiah had dinner that night and walking back to our inn, we were joking that we should walk at the center of the road to avoid parked motorcycles and trash bins. We were joking with each other, but deep inside we were sick about what happened, how dare people disturb such paradise. Yet we all know, the peace will reign all over the place and it'll go back to becoming the safest place on Earth. Which it did, that's why we would have the greatest time of our summer in the next three-four days hopping from one island to the next, meeting other travelers and talking to the locals.


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