“What do you mean we shouldn’t go inside the sanctuary?” I snap at the poor, suddenly-rattled guide at the Sohoton National Park. He was going on and on about the infamous jellyfish not being in season and that it was too low tide and there were few boatmen available and how it would be okay not to experience it because we wouldn’t see many jellyfish anyway and the boat would find it hard to pass through the entrances. I was finding it hard to listen. After a 3 hour boat ride from Siargao and you tell me I shouldn’t see any jellyfish? “I will swim that if I have to,” I say to him, a little strongly, probably half joking. He laughs nervously. “No, Ma’am, okay, we’ll get you some boatmen,” he says immediately and leaves to arrange boatmen for us.
It was in 2012 when I first experienced falling in love with a stranger. It was a weird feeling, beautiful and unexpected. It was the kind of feeling that despite the pain, you’d still want to experience it again. and again and again.
“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.
“Here you go,” our driver from Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort said, smiling at us as he parked outside a tall building. After a 4 hour drive back to Cebu City, all I wanted to do was get some rest. We entered Verbena Capitol Suites and the staff quickly checked us in. I could barely talk, I was so groggy from the trip to Cebu City that all I wanted to do was feel the soft covers behind my neck. When I got to my room, I quickly dropped my things and carelessly flopped myself onto the bed, bouncing a little at the softness. “Ahhh. Back to the city life,” I say to myself.
“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.