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The World and My Backpack "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

Kids of Summer: Finding Paradise

PHILIPPINES | Wednesday, 29 May 2013 | Views [577]

Doing my usual tumbling shot at Antonia Beach.

Summer. Who doesn’t like summer? Every kid who wishes to see the long stretch of a beautiful white sand beach, the crystal clear water as it amazingly reflects the warm blue sky, and the magnificent canvass of the horizon as the sun paints its setting colours, has all the reasons to love summer. I’m not a kid. I’m 23 years old. But I know a kid lives in me and wishes every day is summer.

My college friends and I came up with an idea to go on a weekend trip after we realized that there are just a few days left before summer finally scratches itself off the calendar. Work and trainings made it a little bit difficult for us to find a common vacant schedule. And because we are not paid for work yet, looking for a budget friendly destination added up to the challenge. After hours of research and days of finalizing the list of those who will be coming, we eventually found the perfect destination: Isla de Gigantes, Carles, Northern Iloilo.

After 12 hours of water and land travel, I finally found myself stepping on the shores of Isla de Gigantes. The façade of the island, however, melt down my fancies for marshmallows by the bonfire and late night conversations with friends on the beach front. A beautiful and pristine coastline was the picture I had in mind about the island. What I saw, however, were mountains of scallop shells meeting the stretch of the shoreline; hence, Isla de Gigantes was named the Scallops Capital of the Philippines.  And I suddenly asked myself, “Is this where we are supposed to go?”  I began to consider the idea that this might not be our ultimate summer destination yet, that what I saw was just some sort of a gate to the projected paradise I had in mind.

The coastline. Totally different from the powdery white sand beach I had in mind.

Because we arrived at 4 in the afternoon without any decent beach worthy for an afternoon swim, we decided to go to the island’s lighthouse for some sightseeing and picture taking. My appreciation for the island didn’t start until I got myself on top of the lighthouse.

The Lighthouse.

There, I began to admire how serene the island is and how it is capable of giving me peace of mind. I was amazed by how the horizon turned to a palette of the orange and yellow hues as it gradually combines with the twilight skies to give way to the night. It’s beautiful and surreal.

Sunset.

Unfortunately it was getting dark and so we decided to go back to our inn. It was just in time for dinner. We had a sumptuous supper mainly composed of scallop dishes cooked in different styles and to be honest, I just loved it. After some bottles of alcohol and sodas and hilarious reminiscing of our college experiences, we went to bed, bearing the very warm atmosphere of our none air-conditioned rooms. (Power supply starts at 5PM and ends at 11PM).

I woke up at 6AM all filled with great hopes to finally encounter the paradise I’d been imagining to see. After some light breakfast, my friends and I got ourselves ready for the day’s activity: island hopping. We rented a pump boat to get us across the islands. This time, mind you, I met my summer paradise. All the disappointment and frustration faded away in an instant and was suddenly replaced by utmost joy and happiness. In that moment, I felt like I was a kid finally receiving my well-deserved ice cream after watching for a long while some other kids eat theirs. Here are some of the highlights of our island hopping activity:

Jump shot on the almost-gone sand bar.

My semi-awkward levitation shot.

Climbing the gigantic boulders.

Amazing view. I mean the island.

Group shot.

The hidden lagoon aka Tangke.

Group shot again!

 

Enjoying the fine sand of Antonia Beach.

Jump off a big rock at Calumpang Beach.

Snorkelling. There's a new world down there.

 

On our last day, we had a spelunking activity. I was in doubt to go with the group, though, because I had a three-inch clean cut wound on the dorsal area of my foot after I accidentally kicked a giant coral during snorkelling on the previous day. That’s the most visceral I’d seen of myself ever since. The only thing that concerns me, however, is that I’m afraid my wound might dehisce more considering the level of activity required of spelunking. Anyway, I did go. Who can resist friends? Well, not me. I just can’t.

The cave was about eight minutes away from where we were staying. And a little bit of trekking was required before we saw the gigantic opening of Bakwitan Cave. It took at least 45 minutes to get us through the cave. Twisting our bodies to get through the massive stalactites and stalagmites, crawling through the holes beneath the gigantic boulders, and climbing the steep rock formations were among the challenges. I’m glad my first spelunking activity was a success. That is despite my injury.

I wonder what it would be like if all of us had this for a door,

There is a crack in everything. That is where you see the light.

Proving our vanity even in the middle of a cave.

Tired is the word.

This part was the saddest, the part where we had to pack our things and head back home. One thing I hate about vacations is that I know at the end of it, I’d be enveloped by nostalgia. I mean after all the fun, the frolicking, and the making of great memories eventually everything will come to a stop. And you suddenly snap back to reality and realize vacation’s over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: beach, budget, friends, iloilo, isla de gigantes, philippines, summer, tangke

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