Chapter 2: The Pre-Drench Chain Gang on a Hula-Loop of Coron | Palawan

When my alarm clock went off at 5:30 a.m., I was startled to see natural light seeping through the small opening in the window curtain. It had rained heavily the day before and all night. In my mind, I've filed the prospect of a sunny island exploration around the Calamian Islands in the cold case folder. So how could I complain about the way things had unfolded up to that point? Lauren and I, on the other hand, were still subconsciously fumbling with our romantic fate at the time. A Lumineer song moment had been developing all along, and things were about to get even better on this particular day.

Island hopping in Palawan

The sun suddenly shone brighter than a midsummer day as I finished my plate of Dangit-Silog. We followed it up with a sweet lowdown cheer and four imaginary under-the-table low-fives. The tour we took was Coron Island Tour Option 2 and included Siete Pecados, Twin Peaks, Banol Beach, CYC Beach, Coral Garden Reef, Skeleton Wreck, and Twin Lagoon. While we waited for our boat to take us around Coron Island, a middle-aged American from Colorado sat near our table, resembling the Delacroix inmate brutally executed in the film Green Mile.

Marky Ramone Go with Lauren Denoga

He was clearly a well-traveled man, and he began the conversation by pointing to Ron's sando while completely ignoring his muscled biceps. "Do you like Beer Lao?" he asked Ron who replied favourably. The ensuing conversation between Ron, Monette, Lauren, and the American guy Richard revealed that he works in construction back home in Colorado, has a lawyer son who he said "is a grown man and can take care of his own" justifying how he spends his time nowadays just traveling the world.

He'd already been to many of the places I'd put on my own list of must-visit destinations. From South East Asia, India to China, to Somalia and Ethiopia, where he once spent three days holed up in the middle of nowhere, unable to leave town due to a lack of transportation. He appeared to have a plethora of extreme travel stories to share with strangers who were willing to listen.

Lauren Denoga with Ron Cruz

Like-minded travelers are frequently bonded by these brief exchanges of on-the-road experiences. Even when huddled together in a teetering boat, there is an undying interest in hearing each other's stories. Although I prefer to share my travel stories in writing rather than verbally, this does not mean that I am uninterested in hearing about everyone else's.

Lauren Denoga

We went crazy with the snorkeling, feasting our eyes on the vibrant corals all around us. Monette, the slowest swimmer, was rewarded by being the one to be dragged by our boatman Russel's right hand man, Voltaire, who was using a floating device Hasselhoff and Erika Eleniak used to carry around in Baywatch. While the rest of us saw schools of fish, brain-like corals, and other creatures, Monette outdid us all by seeing a large sea turtle.

Monette Fernandez

We had lunch at Banol Beach. Fresh crabs and pork liempo were laid out in front of us like a buffet. Lauren, a non-vegetable eater, told us that this was her first time eating a torta-cooked talong, and her second time eating crabs—after sampling curacha crabs in Zamboanga a few months ago.

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

After lunch, we snorkeled at a site where a shipwreck from the end of WWII had sunk. The waters surrounding the Calamianes group of islands in Coron are littered with it, having been the site of a fierce naval battle in the waning days of World War II, and these skeleton ships now serve as our ghostly link to the last great war. The sky was clear, and the chance of rain quickly dropped to 1%. We were having so much fun island hopping in the sun that Lauren mentioned to Monette that she already had a "cutey tan-line."

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

We saw a group of mackerel fish jumping and flying out of the water before arriving at our final destination, the Twin Lagoon, and one hungry shark hot on their tail. A lone bird in the sky was also attempting to catch one of the fishes. It was a fascinating experience to see a natural food chain unfold in front of our eyes.

Levy Amosin

A heavy downpour began as our boat approached the port of Coron. We had to dock our boat a little further away and climb out into another docked boat before reaching the jetty ramp. Shaking in the cold, drenched in rain, one might think we're cursing the heavens for such bipolar weather showmanship. We didn't because all we had on our faces were smiles. 

Chapter 1: Pre-Lumineers' Arrival in Coron

Chapter 3: Meeting an Old Tagbanwa Couple