Island in the Sun

I was convinced I was going to die before I could even get to Calaguas.

The two-hour boat ride from the Vinzons fish port turned into a violently windy journey lasting for almost four hours. I was in a small and roofless fisherman’s boat that could hold a maximum of only ten people. Yes, it was that tiny. Worse, I couldn’t spot any nearby island because of the dense fog and heavy rain. I could see the boatmen struggling to keep our wooden vessel on a straight path. One of them even apologized because we kept veering to the right. I kept shaking from the cold and felt dizzy from our erratic up-and-down movement as we were tossed around by large waves. At some point, I accepted my death and prayed for it to be quick and painless.

Thus, it was a relief to have arrived at Mahabang Buhangin in Calaguas safe and sound. But perhaps, I did die, because I found myself in heaven. I was greeted by white, powdery sand made for walking barefoot, crystal clear water with no sign of anything to mar its clarity, gently rushing waves crashing in the shore, and a peaceful atmosphere far removed from stress and pressure. No resort, no electricity, no phone signal, no huge crowd — just nature and me, together for a long and lazy weekend, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Looking back, it was only fitting to set foot there for the first time on a Valentine’s day because I fell in love with that beach the moment I laid my eyes on it. It has been a couple of years, and yet my love affair with Calaguas is still going strong. I found myself coming back for more; in fact, my most recent trip was just this summer. I’ve even grown to love the long bus journey and adventure boat ride. I guess it really must be love because I learned to accept its flaws.

If I sometimes find myself wondering if this country is still worth fighting for, I remember all the places I’ve been to around here, especially this beach, and think that yes, yes, I’m not going to give up on you, my Pilipinas.

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