Apo Reef: The Mangrove Forest

I imagined waking up to a dream where I was a junky man in my past life. My veins stabbed with abandon by thin needles. In time's and my own passing my earthly body reduced to ash — grew to become a forest. That scenario I played in my mind a long time ago reminded me of the mangrove forest at Apo Reef. 

Astrid Alvarez

It sure doesn't resemble a Junky man's arms, because the mangrove forest is nourished by a thriving eco-system. Life of all forms, blossoms on this largest atoll reef in the Philippines. Spread over a size of 34 square kilometres, it is not only a haven for scuba divers and beach campers but also to a countless variety of marine species and an immigratory sanctuary to different types of birds.

Gael Hilotin

The mangrove surrounds a tranquil lagoon which can be accessed when you walk over a short trail and unto a few meters of man-made bamboo bridge leading up to a small jetty docked with bamboo rafts. The rafts are maneuvered by pulling a rope tied  to the opposite end of the lagoon, and another rope tied across towards another dock leading to the Apo Reef lighthouse.

Marky Ramone Go with Gael Hilotin, Marcos Caratao and Darwin Cayetano

As you walk over the bamboo bridge you'll hear tweaking sounds and a medley of bird songs pleading for some love-making action. Soon, you will notice the branches of the mangrove forests intertwining like sets of arms spread in a continuous loop of embrace during an orgy participated by thousands. The form of which, creates an abstract image, wherein you could imagine the artist's brush was stroked like a madman, but with bursts of creativity.

Gael Hilotin

The experience of riding over a raft in this forested mangrove was just one of the few wonderful experience I had in Apo Reef, that I decided to blog about this separately. It's fitting though, as the mangrove itself serves as the mess hall of the many marine faunas and birds who flies effortlessly, while making diving stance from the air and unto the pool of lagoon as if mimicking a fighter jet.

Marcos Caratao

As our guide pulled the rope to move our raft, riptides appeared on the steady water below. As the green-colored forest nears darkness, the vibe instantly replicated a Stephen King novel. 

Ara Juan

In a ridiculously written B-movie, an alligator might come out of the water and eat us alive, but fortunately, we were not starring in a bad movie. Instead, we're cruising peacefully over the lake's still water surrounded with nature delight. 

Lilliane Cobiao

Everything seem to conspire brilliantly in creating a spectacular setting; from the deeply rooted branches, to the thick foliage and the calmest lagoon water ever. The raft ride was short but smooth. But not until it reminded me how the world was created this way and like every part of our body should not be injected with poison, and instead should be nurtured and cared to guarantee its longevity.

Claire Raborar

After docking to the other side, we walked a short distance into the Apo Reef lighthouse where we climbed up a few dozen steps and was greeted by this view of the lagoon and the mangrove.

Catherine Iblan

I guess, the last photograph says it all. I'm glad we're not in a horribly written B-movie. I could not have been gladder to have been in Apo Reef last weekend.