Petra | Jordan. A rose-red city half as old as time
San Vicente | Palawan. Counting solitary strides.
Taj Mahal | India. A teardrop on the cheek of time
Catanduanes Island. Postcard-pretty slideshow.
Keep Kalm (at Kalanggaman Island | Leyte).
Nikko | Japan. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil in this UNESCO heritage town.
Counting temples in Bagan | Myanmar.
Chasing UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka.
Where to Stay? | Luxury, Backpacking & Glamping
Inaul Festival | Maguindanao. In homage of a weaving tradition
Rishikesh | India. a morning walk inside the Beatle's Ashram

Chapter 1: Pre-Lumineers' Arrival in Coron | Palawan

This was my third time in Coron, Palawan–and the most charmed of it all. If any, I should be writing this in a routine manner with eyes closed and using only one hand, while the other one makes a salami sandwich. Narrating the 'I did this, we did that, went there and ate at this place, stayed at Coron Eco Lodge'. However, this trip of the ordinary. It was in fact, a 'some kind of wonderful happened and exploded like fabulous roman candles' kind of journey. 

Lauren Denoga with Marky Ramone Go, Monette Fernandez and Ron Cruz

More than a year ago, after our Palaui trip, we agreed that it was better for us to remain friends. It was an easy decision especially when Lauren and I realized we'd be living our lives more amazingly as best friends, as travel buddies. But while we listened to a song by the Lumineers, on a pair of earphones shared between us, while waiting for our plane back to Manila, something magical opened our eyes to a wonderful awakening. I guess getting to that state of awareness started a few days earlier. 

Our flight from Manila to Busuanga, Palawan was highlighted by a rapid ascent that shook the cobwebs out of Lauren. Aboard a Turboprop jet with less than 20 passengers, we were assigned at the back while Ron and Monette were seated at the middle. As the plane settled smoothly and ascened to its normal flying height, I noticed Lauren about to fall asleep as she slowly lean her head on my shoulder. 

Coron Palawan

But then a violent turbulence happened. Imagine the feeling of riding your first Ferris wheel ride? or a roller coaster? when you feel like a part of your intestine is being pulled out of your butt? I describe the sensation of flying through a turbulence almost similar. Just when our plane gathered  elevation to evade some wind gust, Lauren got scared. I just assured her that our flight will turn up alright. She held my hand tightly.

At that moment, I thought I was just playing the role of a one time air turbulence security fodder to her, not knowing I will be willingly stepping into her life where she can hold my hand whenever fear or any worry grips her.

Coron Palawan

Mister, can’t you see we are still smoking?Ron told us in a hushed voice as he keep his Victor Aliwalas dead-ringer demeanor. Of course, he never said this directly to the driver who was hurrying us to board his van to be driven into town. Laughter and then some; like witty exchanges from the three of them ensued. I remember staring at the three of them and thinking to myself, how utterly lonely and impossible to travel solo, when you can easily travel with these wonderful people. 

Coron Palawan

Since I've been to Coron twice before, going back wasn't part of my plan a month ago. It only came to fruition when the generous people of Coron Eco Lodge provided me an opportunity to come back. 

After Ron, Monette and Lauren finished up their ciggys, we boarded a van going into the town of Coron. The airport is located at Busuanga and is surrounded by the 7,000 hectare Yulo King Ranch–a source of contention between the government and its owners accused by the PCGG of being Marcos' dummies for more than 20 years. In 2010, then President Arroyo issued an order renaming it into Busuanga Pasture Reserve. Whatever its current designation today, the roads leading to Coron town is filled with eye popping scenery of rolling hills, lush fields and innumerable cows mingling around. It is so far, one of my favorite roadside landscape in the country. Not even the van's soundtrack of Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus can lull me to sleep, as I stayed awake throughout the 45 minute trip just to watch the view outside our window.

We arrived just in time for a very late lunch at the town. We hurriedly checked in at the newly constructed Coron Eco Lodge–a post modern-styled 22 room hotel located at the town center along Calle Real. We were greeted by the friendly staff and was quickly ushered into our room, as if all they wanted us to rest ASAP in preparation for the loaded island hopping itinerary they prepared for us the next day.

However, starvation and alcohol thirst happened and so it became our first and second items on our scratch list. Heavy rains started to pour, and so we hurried our pace along a narrow street to look for a place to eat in the town. Lauren and I shared an umbrella–and again, we held hands

Coron Palawan

We ended up in Coron Bistro. Lauren and I shared a ham and something sandwich, while Ron ordered wine–to my recollection was the first time, a travel buddy of mine ordered wine on a trip. Monette ordered a Cordon Bleu, which I looked at with bad intention, waiting for her to quit on it so I could clean it up, but she never did because according to her, it was really good.

Lauren Denoga with Ron Cruz and Monette Fernandez

We capped our day by having a dip at the hot waters of Maquinit Springs. We were joyous, unmindful of the craziness of the world we came from. No reading of emails from the bosses, no crime scene to dust for fingernails, no homework and lining up at the trains. It was the greatest feeling being in that moment with two great friends and Lauren.

Marky Ramone Go and Lauren Denoga

As Lauren writes, we had dinner at a place where topless mermaids exists. We learned deeply entrenched and almost forgotten Tagalog words from Ron, and at the same time developed a deeper connection among each other–none more greater in depth, than the one Lauren and I would develop in the coming couple of days. Remembering back that time at the airport three days later, while listening to the Lumineers' song "Hey Ho". Sometimes, all the good things aren't planned. It just click and happen–or should I say, they do happen. And on my third time at Coron, it finally did.

Chapter 2: Coron Island Hopping

Chapter 3: Meeting an Old Tagbanwa Couple