Like a porn star working on a scene (this time with Sasha Grey) for the third day in a row. Wait, let me rephrase that. Like an experience, equalling a porn star reporting for duty at the tail end of a three day shoot, we took another boat ride early morning of our fourth day in El Nido, still dazed and hang-over from the drinking game with Inah and the three crazy Dutch guys the previous night.
|view from the Matinloc Shrine|
I thought there's nothing more to experience or see what we haven't done in the past two days. We already did Tour A and Tour B, plus a frightening episode when a bomb exploded near our inn. We could have packed our bags and headed back to Puerto Princesa, or just hanged out by the beach with a beer in hand. Either way we still signed out for a Tour C package. Which turned out something we would never regret.
First we went to what they call "Helicopter Island", shaped like an early Sikorsky chopper model from afar. We went snorkeling here with fins, my friend Josiah said he saw a group of squids huddled together, I tried following him but after a while I got hammered by the currents, so I just returned at the beach and rested while I contemplate life aha!, a few moments I saw another boat coming in. Off were three sexy female Caucasians with one lucky dude. They went walking off the further part of the island, I regret not bringing my 50-300 mm lens as It could prove useful that day :)
After almost an hour Kuya Rogie of Servant Tours, sounded off the imaginary bell and told us about our next destination with utmost zest in giving a description. Its called "Hidden Beach" he told us. "You need to swim underneath this giant hole in order to enter this secret beach". I got more excited even though I am nowhere from being an experienced swimmer, but I wasn't worried at all since I will be using a life vest.
Hidden beach was anything everyone have told me about. It was hidden from the view by a towering limestone cliff, and as Kuya Rogie said, visitors needs to swim underneath a hole in to go inside. I swam without a life-vest but I held its strings and made sure it is within my reach in case I cramped out or saw a threatening sea creature. Swimming below the hole, I saw scores of fishes swimming in synchronicity with a colorful set of reefs as its background. It was truly amazing and from a few meters deep you could see the light stemming from the other side of the water, and slowly as I came back to top I found myself at the other side, into the "Hidden Beach" itself. It was like going through a portal and exiting to another planet.
I wish I had photographs to show for it, but my borrowed underwater camera conked out during our second day in El Nido, so you just have to rely on my drunken description of the hidden beach. Inside, the water becomes shallow towards a small shore. The beach is encapsulated by a round shape limestone formation. Its easy to get lost in thoughts inside. Mine wandered around for a bit trying to instill the memory of the place in my head. Hoping never to forget it. Kuya Rogie told us how he love the simple life in El Nido, working as a tour guide he had seen this place many times, but according to him, each visit seems like the first time as the hidden beach never fails to serve him with a visual feast. I definitely agree.
I saw the Portuguese couple who were with us on the same boat, they laid down together on the sands. I swear, I was completely content at just being there, but the thought of being with your girlfriend in El Nido. Nothing will beat that up. My friend Arriadne tells me, she plans to go anywhere except El Nido, because she's saving it up for her honeymoon trip.
After that moment of romantic delusion, we proceeded to 'Star Beach' for our lunch. After which, we went to Matinloc Island. An island which is shaped like a heart if viewed from the top. In the 1980's a group of missionaries set up base here. Fishermen would go to the island to get blessings from the group and often would come home with boatloads of catch. Soon, the members of the missionary dwindles and the place was left deserted. Rounding off our Tour C were the "Secret Beach" - another version of a beach hidden from plain sight. We didn't enjoyed this as much as the "Hidden Beach" because it was already late in the afternoon and it was low tide, so we had difficulty swimming over the corals going to the beach itself. Our last stop was Cadlao island, a sight of bountiful corals perfect for capping the day off with snorkeling activity.
On the way back to the town, I got an SMS from my mom informing me of a cousin's untimely death. That hindered the highs I was feeling and realized that life is so short, we just have to make it a lot sweeter while we can. Traveling has made me live off some of the finest experiences I had so far in life, and with death just howling around, Its best that I continue doing this as much as I could. As I stare at the setting sun that day, I remembered my late cousin for one last time, knowing very well, unlike each passing day, that nothing is guaranteed.