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Subterranean not-so-homesick blues

It's more fun...

PHILIPPINES | Sunday, 12 June 2016 | Views [233]

Atè! Atè!’

Here they come.

It’s 4.30am, the house already smells of frying fish, lumpiang gulay; the excitement coming from the other side of the door is evident before I have even opened my eyes.
Atè! Family bonding day, it’s here!’
I roll over on my wooden bed to find my roommate completely comatose. She isn’t great at mornings.

ATE!’

And in they come, a small army of over-excited Filipino children to drag us out onto the boats ready for adventure.
Having lived with the family for a few months, this day is what we have all been waiting for; a family (and by family, I do not only mean the kids, parents, perhaps a grandparent. No. We’re talking Aunty Sheena’s–uncle-by-marriage-plus-the-dog, type family gathering) day out at Alaminos city’s pride and glory; The Hundred Island’s National Park…
After months of every bloke with a boat offering a trip at ‘the best price in town, for you ma’am!’, we were finally going to see what all the fuss was about!

Into the narrow, low lying old school catamaran style boats we crammed, 10 to a boat with an entire fleet of Filipinos in life jackets made of cloth stuffed with polystyrene, we journeyed down the river as the sun rose, glinting off the mirror-patchwork of the surrounding salt farms, interspersed with mangrove forests, their tangle of roots thickening into the silt of the river banks as we neared the open South China Sea. 
‘Atè, excited?’ Perched next to me on the boat are three of the children, excitement written all over their grinning faces. ‘Atè, I am so very excited about all the foods, so very masarab! And swimming and jumping…

As the boats trundle on I can see green jewels popping up over the turquoise horizon. Why it’s called Hundred Islands is clear; As we approach, the water around the boats becomes clearer, the undercut blobs of remaining limestone capped with luscious green, with the occasional golden beach glimpsed in a cove, rise up around us. The excitement on the boat could be felt through the fidgeting of excited little bums on the seat next to me (I’m blaming the kids, I was darn excited too by this point). Beautiful beaches, stunning scenery. Sounds like paradise, right? So of course, the only way to enjoy this imagination-capturing place was… ‘Shark attack’.

This very technical game involves approximately 15 Filipino children and 1 baffled foreigner (or, the shark), attempting to ‘attack’. Que Jaws theme music.

What can I say? It’s more fun in the Philippines!

Tags: island hopping, living with locals, philippines

 

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