2 Days of Sand(y) at Malapascua Island

I went to Malapascua with my friend Sandy last weekend. It was a spontaneous trip that came about only after a few nonsense conversations about what to do on a weekend. I was able to find cheap Cebu Pacific tickets last week and quickly penciled in the last weekend for this whirlwind excursion north of Cebu.

Malapascua trip with Sandra Ledesma

Enthused Wanderlust

Going to Malapascua wasn't really the goal of this trip, I admit. Rather, to meet Sandy and get to know her better. At first glance, I find her to be madly in love with the oddities of life, strikingly smart in a crazy way, and endowed with a dynamite infectious smile. It was a trip with a hidden agenda for me. Oh, I'd write about Malapascua for an online magazine that was about to launch. A place like Malapascua is always a good source of inspiration for writers. However, the trip was more about spending time with Sandy than anything else.

the long white sandy shore of Malapascua Island

So, just like in previous trips, I dug and buried the usual skeletons from my ordinary and boring life. On a Friday, I arrived at work, completed my tasks for the day, and then proceeded directly to the airport. I arrived in Cebu for the third time in my life a few hours later. The last time was at the 2011 Sinulog Festival , where I also made new friends. I had such a good time that I promised myself I'd return to Cebu in the future. Not anytime soon, but a spontaneous trip is always more fun than planning one in advance.

View from the bus en route to Maya Port

Part of traveling is looking for something, and I always regard my fellow travelers as the most honest, gregarious, humble, and sincere people on the planet, as they all admit there's something significant missing in our lives, thus the cravings of being on the road, immensely inspired to rummage through hay of needles or grass just to find whatever we were all looking for.

Approaching the white sandy beach of Malapascua Island
Approaching the white sandy beach of Malapascua Island

My opportunity was always to engage my senses in different things that a different place had to offer. To look at that sun ray from a different angle. From sitting on a bench on a baywalk boulevard to lying on my back on powdery sand by the beach 500 miles away from my home and workplace. It continues indefinitely until injected with the company of someone with an addictive persona. How could I say no to that? I was sold on the idea of a 'whirlwind trip' to anywhere, and Malapascua happened to be the place we ended up in, and how wonderful it turned out to be as a result.

Whirlwind Journey to Malapascua

We boarded a bus from Cebu City's North Terminal bound for Maya Port early Saturday morning. The ride was pleasant in terms of passing through scenic seas and countryside, with the wind occasionally plastering my face while I struggled to stay wide awake so as not to miss anything. Sandy slept the entire time because she had just returned from a two-day team-building trip in Bohol with her coworkers. Throughout the trip, I was left to converse with my thoughts while a dynamite and slightly insane woman leans on my shoulder, making the trip more bearable than most bus rides I've taken.

Sunbathers in Malapascua

After nearly 3 hours and 15 minutes on the bus, we arrived at Maya port around 11:00 PM and boarded a small boat that surprisingly held more passengers than I had anticipated. There were six Caucasians on board, as well as dozens of Korean tourists, as well as a group of friends from Cebu City. The boat ride from Maya port to Malapascua lasted 30 minutes, which was short for a boat ride but long enough for one of the Koreans to drop his iPhone into the water while filming the trip. Probably the only 'downer' of the entire trip.

Sandra Ledesma

We ended up staying at this resort called "Bebe's" among the expensive looking beach front and diving resorts in Malapascua - just by the name, it is pretty obvious that it offers accommodation for less than 500 pesos. Which was correct because we got a fan room for 400 pesos, which was well within our limited budget. It is located at the back of the beach front resort, about 5-10 minutes walk from Malapascua's white "sandy" beaches.

Marky Ramone Go is Having a beer with Sandra in Malapascua
Beer sa beach? Game

For us, life on the island consisted of bumming around and lying on the beach. Sandy received an awesome' massage on the beach from Manang Angelina, while I went for a short swim and stared out at the incoming boats and random people swirling on their respective highs around me. After that, we returned to our 5-star 400 peso room for a quick nap. A rest and sleep that would last until 6:00 a.m. the next day - yes, we were that exhausted. Whoa!

The next day, we went swimming while the sun was shining brightly, giving us a better view of the powdery white sands and calm blue waters. There was this 11-year-old girl selling sea shells who saw us, stopped what she was doing, and decided to jump into the water and engage us in conversation. She mostly spoke to Sandy in Cebuano language.

Hanging out with the Kids of Malapascua

She offered to accompany us to the lighthouse, so after swimming we went there, and one of her friends saw us and asked to join us, then three of their friends saw us and asked to join us, and soon we were a group of two adults and five children walking the streets of this small sleepy island town. They were holding our hands and happily showing us around their school and the island, including the mangrove, the beach house of famed veteran actress Pilar Pilapil, and the monkey that lives in a nearby tree.

Two of the girls were 11 years old, the oldest was 12 years old, and the two youngest were 7 years old. These kids remind me of the simplicity of island life. They were young, carefree, and eager to succeed! Yes, but most importantly, they appear happy and unburdened by the kind of simple life and close camaraderie they all share on the island.

But, as a former teacher, Sandy advised them to continue their education so that if the time came when they wanted to experience life away from the island and into the big city, they could do so without the constraints of an unfinished education. Sandy wondered where they would be in ten years.

Sandra Ledesma
with Sandy and the kids at the Lighthouse

We could only hope for the best, but what exactly does "better" mean? A life in the city, surrounded by cars and gadgets, or a life on an island, relaxed and minimalistic in approach? - These young girls would have to decide for themselves soon, but until then, they would continue to live the simple life in Malapascua with their innocence and vigour.

Sandy and the adorable kids

It always humbles me to see such a close-knit community as that of Malapascua exist beneath all the simple things in life. They live a seemingly happy life surrounded by a paradise-like place that we - city dwellers and corporate slaves - could only dream about a few weekends a year. Life is a game of give and take; all you have to do is find your niche and make the most of it, no matter where you end up.

Brunch with these young ones.

We treated them to lunch at Ging-restaurant, courtesy of Sandy, with the oldest of them 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 that nothing was wasted. They said "thank you" and bid us farewell, and a few minutes later we boarded the boat that would take us back to the city and return me to where I came from.

Back to Sandy

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't head over heels smitten with Sandy. To be honest, I am. Malapascua itself was a welcome addition to the entire trip. This is definitely going into my 'unforgettable memory' vault. I guess two days isn't long enough to patch in two completely different sets of threads with a history of reckless intertwining. More than 500 miles separate us today, but Malapascua will always be that bridge between us, and the memory of that weekend brings our distance closer than it appears in reality.

Marky Ramone Go with Sandra Ledesma

For the time being, we both agree that we remain friends and that Malapascua is an awesome island, especially if you enjoy scuba diving, as it is a popular dive spot in the Philippines. So, get your diving gear ready and keep an open mind to all of the possibilities. True to form, as a traveler and nomadic-wannabe, my search continues even if what I'm looking for has already appeared. Either I'm too stupid to let it go, or life has a way of complicating things. C'est la vie "such is life." - I guess you have to live with it.