Paradise and My Wandering Soul

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Hi reader. I’m going to take you back four months ago when I was still a bum with some serious self-esteem problem. It’s good that I can actually write about it now since anyway time had passed already. Well, I can say that I am that kind of writer, I let a story develop and go through time first before I share it with anyone.

So going back, as I said, I had no job and I was in a state where I wanted to get away. I was burnt out for four years in college and I felt I needed to find inspiration first before I go through another few years of stress and hard work.

Honestly I did not know what I wanted to find and then I thought maybe I did not really want to find anything but instead, I wanted to get lost. The right opportunity came and there I went leaving everything behind.

A high school friend of my mom suddenly visited her and after a few conversations, I was already set to go with her to Polillo Island in Quezon province where she lives. Mom can’t go because of work and my siblings were too busy with some other things. It was a hasty decision but it was something I’m glad I did.

We departed the night after her visit and we rode a rented van to Real Port in Quezon where we rode a wooden passenger boat, “Lantsa,” to Polillo Island. It took us 3 hours to reach the port and during that time I can’t get to sleep with all the thoughts running in my mind. I felt nervous at first because it was the first time that I didn’t have a mother who will prepare all my travel needs for me or look after me. I also doubted if I will have fun since I didn’t have sisters or friends who I can share beautiful experiences. But I was still determined to be anywhere far from the busy life of the city.

We arrived at Real Port at 3 am but had to wait because the first travel of the boat to Polillo was at 5:30 am. On the boat, the film Around the World in 80 Days was being shown. It is about a London inventor who circumnavigated the world and engaged in an adventure that discovered the most exotic places in the world. The film brought up the exciting and adventurous vibe to my trip. I finally started to relax at that moment. The beautiful sunrise and the morning air that wildly blew my hair as our motorized boat went farther to the sea calmed my mind. That was more than enough to feel good.

After an hour, we were already in Polillo Island. Tita Myrna, my mom’s friend, is the cousin of the mayor of Polillo and so I had the privilege to live inside the house of the mayor for a week. Tita Myrna wants what’s best for me obviously. The mayor, Tita Cristina, has a resort and that’s also where her house is. I had the most comfortable and fun time there with all the fishing, kayaking, and seaside dinners that I had.

Tita Cristina and her family are really simple and down to earth. Their house looks like every normal house that you would see in Manila and they dress up like every normal resident of the island. I hope every politician in the country and their families could learn from the simplicity of the ones in small provinces and probably avoid using the people’s money on unnecessary things.

The islands in Polillo are mostly untouched which makes it a paradise for beach bums. White sands, large coral reefs, and the clear water are just some of the things you should expect when you get there. The allure of the island triggers a lot of story ideas for a writer like me. I was in awe to witness these heaven made places that it’s such a shame not to tell stories about it and share it with people. I hope modernization will never find out about places like this and will forever be a place for escape.

Burdeos, the town next to Polillo where we went island hopping, is just as pristine. Other than white sand beaches, there are also spectacular caves, underdeveloped waterfalls, mangrove forests, fish and bird sanctuaries and pearl farms resting on its islands.

Burdeos is an hour drive away from Polillo. It could have been shorter if the roads aren’t rough and bumpy. Anyway, we then arrived to Sabang Pier where island hoppers get boats and boatmen for their travel.

So our boat finally sailed to the islands of Burdeos. I imagined it like I will sail around the world and the islands will be like the continents. It was surreal. Our first destination was Pulong Buhangin. From a far, you would immediately recognize it with the coconut leaves that were put up to look like a resting area for visitors, though you could hardly rest under it. The islet disappears during high tide and looks really isolated from the others. I kind of felt at home at that small piece of land because just like it, I felt isolated from everyone at that time.

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Pulong Buhangin

The next destination is the famous Anilon Island. This island is a must for island hoppers in Burdeos because of the scenic tunnel-like cave that has a natural beauty of a panoramic perfect arch view. It also has a long coastline of golden beach sand and a wide plain of sea bed rocks that is home to rich aquatic life. We walked through a small forest before reaching the cave and I was quite surprised to see inhabitants and a few wooden houses in an isolated island like that. If the world gets really cruel, I think I would just live there too.

Anilon Island

We had lunch at a nearby island, Anawan. It’s just 30 minutes away from Anilon and you could actually still see the famous cave from there. Anawan is famous for its very fine white sand and it’s actually considered as the “Boracay of Burdeos.” But better be extra careful here because it is also believed to have snake inhabitants.

Anawan Island

After Anawan, it was a long boat ride to Malaguinoan Island Grotto. I took pleasure in watching the sea bed as the boat run through it. It is such an unbelievable thought that I was actually above a world where amazing species are living and along with a classical tune by Joe Hisaishi for one of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, I felt life was so magical right there and then. Did you ever felt grateful just to be able to open your eyes and marvel at such wonders?

Going back, Malaguinoan Island Grotto features the rock formation (stalagmite) that resembles the face of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the most visited site in the town during Lenten season. I just felt sad because some of its rock formations have vandalism. My name, “Kimberly,” was also written as a vandalism but I swear I had nothing to do with it. Why do people even touch things they do not own? Nature was never ours and it will never be ours.

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Malaguinoan Island

The last island is Binunbunan Island or what they also call, “The Burger Island.” It is a round shape island surrounded by golden sand. They say that it has the best swimming spot among the islands around. I took a walk on its long sandbar and took pleasure as the incoming high tide swallow it and at that moment, I wanted to swallow me as well, as I fear that my travel will end soon and I had to finally leave that place.

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Binunbunan Island

Anyway, island hopping was a success!

The night before I went back to Manila, Mayor Cristina was invited to a wedding and she tagged me along with her. It was really cool to see that this kind of wedding is still held today. It was like a fiesta. The festivity went with me to sleep until I woke up to pack my bags and head to the port.

The boat ride away from Polillo was more beautiful than the one going there. I stood on the deck at the back of the wooden passenger boat where you could see the whole Polillo and Burdeos Island while the sun is rising behind it. It was one of the most handsome sunrise I have ever seen in my life. It felt like a new beginning for me. Finally, the start of my adult life. The whole view was as if telling me, “Goodbye for now, I hope I made you happy. I hope I’ve given you joy and memories that could fuel you whenever life gets hard from now on. You’ve rested well, now go and do what you have to do, but come back the next time you have the chance. I’ll be here. Just forever here.”

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I send my love to that paradise and to all the other paradise I will discover next. I’ll work hard I promise until I have enough money to stay there forever.

 

 

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Mt. Pulag Hiking Experience

Hey! So we just got home from a two day mountain hiking experience in Mount Pulag. Mount Pulag is still the official second highest mountain in the Philippines and it already became a National Park and also a tourist spot since a lot of people are climbing it to camp out.

BEFORE THE HIKE

I was with my family and a few of my mother’s officemates when we went there; we’re actually a group of fourteen people all in all. We spent a night first in Baguio and then next day early in the morning, by 6 am, we were already travelling to Mount Pulag. We hired a jeep from the people in the ranger station because obviously only the locals there can possibly drive to the scary roads we went through. It was a two hour near-the-cliff zigzag road travel we did to DENR and you bet we all felt dizzy after. Good thing the view of majestic mountains kept us sane.

In the DENR office, we had to log in because you see they make sure that they keep track of the number of people who go up there. It’s actually a sacred place for the natives that’s why it’s not good for it to be too crowded. Then after signing in, we had a little orientation. They showed us a video explaining things about the trekking and they told us the things we shouldn’t do.

After that, we still had to travel for an hour to get to the ranger station and that’s where we started the hike. Before going up, we ate lunch at one of the houses there. The ranger station is actually like a “village” of the natives.  The native people are really quite but indeed very nice.

THE HIKE

I don’t even know how to describe the hike. Bittersweet I guess. It left me dead tired but it showed me incredible things. We’re just climbing the first slope and we aren’t even climbing that long but I was definitely catching my breath already. That was maybe because I’m not really that athletic and it was my very first climb. But you know what? I got used to climbing slopes immediately and I really felt like a “pro,” knowing that in our family I was the fastest and the one who can control the right breathing better. My mom was the worst. But what do you expect? She’s almost 60 and she’s not really thin you know. She’s kind of chubby. For every five minutes she stops, then it became for every two minutes and our other co-hikers already left us behind. But even though we were the slowest because of mom, we still made it to Camp 1. On the way to Camp 2, mom already told us that my sister and I should leave her and my brother so that we could go fast to the campsite and prepare our tent.

Before we go to the campsite, I would just want to tell you what I saw during the hike up. On the first part of the hike, we went through the mossy forest and as the name says, there are a lot of mosses. They say that there are leeches but we saw none, thankfully! There are a lot of different kinds of trees and plants but one thing I noticed is that all their leaves are pretty small. There are also a lot of different red flowers that I do not recognize. But never mind not knowing them, they’re all exotically beautiful in my eyes.

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Camp 2 is where everyone builds up their tents. Even though it’s still not the peak, it’s already higher than the clouds. When we got there we immediately took some pictures, because it’s almost sunset and we want to capture it beautifully. After the “photo shoot,” we arranged our stuffs, ate a little bit, then we doze off to sleep. Immediately when the dark came, the cold took us off guard. I was so cold that I put on four layers of cover on my upper torso, 2 leggings for my legs, two socks for my feet, gloves, two bonnets and a scarf around my neck. I also covered myself with a thick blanket and it still didn’t beat the cold. If I’m not mistaken, by nine in the evening, someone outside was saying that the temperature went negative already.

I didn’t have a good sleep. I wake up every two hours and nap a little in between. By two in the morning I already gave up. I decided not to sleep. Anyway there’s only one hour left before everyone goes up to the summit and welcome the sunrise. I went out by three in the morning, and yes the cold was a pain in the ass. But I tried to stand it since what I saw outside surprised me and I can’t take my eyes off it. The stars in the sky, was extra huge and bright. It felt so close when you’re on the mountains. Then when you look north, you’ll see Baguio with all its dancing city lights. Good Gracious! This was more than what I expected. Actually.

Now, move on to the hike to the summit. It takes an hour to go there and if the hike to camp 2 was filled with mossy trees, the way up to the peak was forest-free. It’s called the “Grassland,” because it’s filled with grasses! DUH! Haha. I felt like I was in New Zealand. It’s like a scene in the Lord of The Rings.

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The trails to the summit were the steepest I’ve ever seen! I’m literally almost crawling! But everything was worth it because the summit has the full view of the vast sea of clouds. Good thing the weather was very nice since yesterday.

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A few minutes after we reached the peak, the morning sun already came and it’s the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen. Seeing the morning sun with the sea of cloud felt so perfect. I couldn’t thank enough the big guy up there for this wonder that He gave us.

Well, I feel like I have to wrap this up. Our way down was easier but it felt more tiring, maybe because we’re already very tired even before we got down. But one thing about it is that we’re happier on our way down because we already have with us the incredible wonder that Pulag gave us.

I’ll definitely try more hiking in the future.