“Wow.” It was the first word I ever said as I stepped onto the sandy beachfront of El Nido, the first time I went there in 2010. I looked out at the infamous limestone mountains beyond the sea fronting Poblacion. Everyone who’s been to El Nido has to have a picture with that mountain in its background. And I just had to make sure I had mine. 3 years later, as I walked through the narrow streets of El Nido towards the same view, on my 5th trip to El Nido, I still have the same reaction. “Wow.”
I peered through the tinted window of the front seat of the SUV. Everywhere was green pastures, tall coconut and banana trees swaying with the soft breeze. Fresh air. Cool wind that could only mean we were near the sea. I couldn’t help smiling. I knew the driver kept looking over at me, probably thinking I was crazy, but I didn’t care. I was 15 minutes into Siargao. And I was loving every bit of it.
“Maayong buntag!” they greeted us as we stepped off the golf cart and entered the main pavilion. I breathed the fresh air and for a moment I forgot we still hadn’t reached our room. Ms. Apple lead us into the pavilion, disappearing to get our keys. After about an hour and a half of travel from the airport, we had finally reached our destination. And boy, was it a beautiful, beautiful one.
“Do you know how beautiful you are?” he says. I frown at him, forcing myself to look at him in the eyes, searching for the familiar “joke” or “game” that I would normally see. I laugh nervously, telling him he was just drunk. He shakes his head. “I’m not drunk,” he drawls in his sexy, Spanish accent. “I meant what I said,” he finishes. And I believe.
“We won’t stop…” the speaker blared on at volume 16. In the dimmed light of the Linden Suites biggest 3 bedroom suite, we swayed to the pop-and-hopping music of Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke, Katy Perry and more. On the center table was an open box of pizza. Open and empty bottles of beer was scattered everywhere. The now empty bottle of 24K gold alcohol stood atop the center table. In the big round table, another open box of pizza lay, surrounded by other kinds of food, more empty bottles of beer and people. Some lying down on the sofa, others sprawled over the comfortable chairs. It was a fun night. And yes, it is possible to house-party without leaving major Metro Manila!
One day. I tell myself. One day. I frown at the Angkor Wat pictures of my friends Doi and Andrew – partially in jealousy, partially in crazed attempt to will all the goodluck to me so that I’d have funds to fly there the next day. Of course that didn’t happen.