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A Much Deserved Retreat

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Finally I got to visit what is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful virgin beaches in the Philippines – the Calaguas Group of Islands. I’ve read that if you wanted to catch the islands in their full untouched glory, the time is now because capitalization is rapidly catching up with the place and soon enough it might turn into the next Boracay. And we all know that once investors start developing the place (unless it’s developed like El Nido) then we might say good bye to such untouched pristine wonders.

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Thus, in the middle of Holy Week, and braving huge Pacific waves, we crossed the narrow sea to these famed islands. We had a packaged tour so I won’t be listing here any expenses or itinerary. A packaged tour from a reputable group is the most wise and practical thing to do especially if you’re in a group. A DIY trip is now nearly as expensive as a packaged one so trust me, you’re better off with a group who will provide you with everything – van transfers, boat transfers, food, tents, and everything else you’ll need. All you have to do is enjoy, relax and savor the beauty of the island. The group we got was actually very helpful and professional – we felt safe despite an impending typhoon when we visited Calaguas.

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The travel to the island is not for the faint of heart. For more than two hours we endured tired butts as we sat tight through rolling waves that splashed us with salty water. I dozed on and off and wished the agony would soon be over. Just as we started to catch glimpses of nearby islands, I thought our pain will finally draw to a close but NO – we had to pass these islands, all with white powdery seashores as we continued with our travel to Calaguas. I was half doubting why I came thinking I will never go back.

But lo and behold – the moment our boat landed and I saw how majestic the island was, all traces of pain was forgotten and I was thankful I had come. I couldn’t wish for a better retreat. No cell signals so no one can bother me. No electricity so gadgets have to be used to really just take photos lest you drain their batteries away. It was paradise.

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We had an entire day and a half to do practically nothing but swim, hike and enjoy the commune with nature.

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As soon as I got my stuff settled, I wasted no time jumping in the clear water. With complete disregard over the hot sun (after all I intend to get a tan), I swam, float and dove to my heart’s content. The white sand was perfect – compact where the water touched it and powdery otherwise. The water was clear and clean. I felt like I was in a nature-made infinity pool.

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We also went island hopping (not to be missed) and visited nearby islands where we hiked up hills to better enjoy the view. The climb through the scorching afternoon sun was worth it when you get to see the majestic views.

There was also a portion where rock formations abound and we had fun posing for photos around the area.

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And not to be missed was the sunset which we watched from another island.

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It would have been the perfect escape had it not been for another boat who opened their night lights and flooded the entire beach with artificial light for the whole night. The semi-full moon would have provided ample light. Another party inconsiderately polluted the night with blaring sounds. I also noted that one side of the beach had been significantly developed with a resort complete with developed cottages and a generator-powered electricity system. Ah. Development is indeed slowly catching up with the island.

The next day we had to cut our vacation short as the local coast guard visited the island urging tourists to go home because of the impending super typhoon. But despite the short vacation, I was blessed to have spent such precious moments communing with nature. It was indeed a much needed break and relaxation from the hectic work life I’ve led back in the city.

Would I go back again? Definitely!

Did I wish my stay was longer? Perhaps. But I am a self-confessed workaholic and overnight vacations in remote far-flung places are usually enough to satisfy my wanderlust.

Photo Credits: Macky Garcera

Tour Guide: Beach Bliss Travel and Tours

Letters

People write letters. Then they write open letters. 

Wrote a really long letter today. Felt very articulate I must say. Felt very introspective too. It’s not everyday you get to analyze why someone behaved the way they did because of how I myself behaved. 

So here’s a portion – admittedly edited for public view – just because I like writing (and sharing) so much. 

You challenge, frustrate and inspire me at the same time. 

Before you came I had no one at par with my skills. I was, unconsciously, the star. But you came – smart, well-versed, experienced, skilled – and suddenly I was no longer the star. You knew what I knew. You’ve experienced what I’ve experienced. Every discovery I make, you knew beforehand. 

You were even better than me. And I felt challenged. Finally, a stimulant. 

But you have the irritating manner within you where you have to pop my bubble with every exciting discovery I make just because you knew it already. I proclaim my discovery only to be met with dissent because you knew it long before I did and apparently it ain’t as great as I thought it is. 

Hence my aggression which I knew aggravated you. 

I concede. You are smart. You are well-travelled. More experienced than me. Knows more than me. You’ve touched more lives than I did. 

And that is how you inspire me. For despite the irritating and frustrating challenges I find it inspiring that someone my age could have achieved as much. Have been to places I want to go. Have experienced things I want to experience. Have touched people’s lives the same way I want to touch other’s lives. 

So I look forward to learning more from you. For yes, you are a worthy adversary but more than that you are a great source of learning. 

Just one favor. Don’t pop my bubble too often.