Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action. – Mother Teresa
A Little Less Important Intro
Surely, I need to learn a lot about blogging as much as I need to keep my discipline to blog regularly :). My first supposedly post for 2012 entitled “The Enchanting Isla de Cabra” I realized was left hanging at the draft section. I was reminded upon arrival at the Francisco B. Reyes Airport in Busuanga when I read the welcoming greetings of their mayor: Welcome to Enchanting Coron! Gosh, that was the title of my Isla de Cabra post. Okay, I fall short of my expectations for myself (again). But I don’t lose hope :).
Back home in the Philippines, after several times of returning home every time. There is always something new to experience. Part is looking back and envisioning something in the future. But most importantly, the experience of the present is all there is that matters. Since I’m still on a high with my recent trip to Palawan, I decided to firstly publish it. Another reason for it is I wish to dedicate this post to my mother who had just celebrated her birthday. As my way of honoring her for all the times she had toiled in and given her best to us so we could only have the best a mother could ever wish for her children. This may sound a cliché, but certainly there is no better time than now to spend as much time as we would have with our loved ones.
Revisiting The Place Where I had My First Job After College
Yes, no other than Coron, Palawan! I was fortunate enough to be part of that European Funded Project’s Coron Island Protected Areas Programme. That was pretty years back. And after returning to a place, the furthest place in the Philippines I had reached that time; I was really amazed how this little town in the north of Palawan, part of Calamianes Group of Islands had turned into what it is now. I’ve seen tremendous progress. I used to think that this small sleepy town hides a paradise that is yet to discover by people from all over the world. And now it is no longer hidden I would say. The evidence that is local and foreign tourists are flocking into this place was obvious when we boarded the 60-minute plane ride from Manila to Busuanga (Coron, Palawan) via Cebu Pacific where majority of the passengers were foreigners.
Back when I was still living and working there, there were not so many lodging houses, not too many restaurants and you won’t see ubiquitous of foreign and locals around roaming in town when night time comes. One major change that I noticed when we arrived is the reclaimed area, a few hectares (I don’t know the exact figure) near the public market. The locals call it “Boulevard”. It’s actually a park with benches spreading around and with nicely put landscape of flowering plants and palm trees. This piece of reclaimed area is designated for use of boats to anchor after a day touring the Coron Island and other islands around. The main port however was retained for use of bigger ferries and cargo carrying goods and passengers moving back and forth to Manila, Coron, Puerto Princesa and other points of destination.
The presence of Street Sweepers are everywhere: in the market, in the park, streets etc. The cleanliness and a sense of order amid the crumpled houses in Coron town is impressive. At every corner they have waste segregation bins. It made me think that RA 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Program Act is indeed at work there!
Building infrastructures like local municipal office, trial court, legislative office are undergoing construction. At every point in the road they have built waiting sheds. Schools have been upgraded as well. Even the only Catholic church in town is undergoing expansion and renovation. And what’s more, you won’t get lost when looking for direction as they have built a big sign boards along the road that points to the place where you wish to go.
I have also observed the presence of much more ATM machines now. So you wouldn’t worry when you run out of cash. Provided you have more in your little plastic card :).
And from time and time again, the local’s hospitality never cease to amuse me. I find them, as always, courteous. They will always find a way on how to help you (and not necessarily would ask something in return). I’ve seen how they co-exist with tourists in their town. They are tolerant, respectable and with always smile in their face. In a flash, I was suddenly reminded of someone who had wooed me persistently. Who almost captivates me had I not in a relationship and was head over heels at that time ;).
Coron Island Ultimate Tour
This was the highlight of our trip. We had our assembly at 8.30am at the Calamianes Expeditions Ecotours where we purchased our ticket. The location is somewhat near to the boulevard. We have paid Php650 per pax including entrance fees and complimentary lunch which I would say is totally worth it. The places included in our itinerary were Kayangan Lake, Twin Peaks Reef, Twin Lagoons, Atwayan Beach & Coral Gardens and CYC Island. I have been to most of this place as I have lived there for a brief period. I was actually hoping to see Malcapuya and Banana islands. I’ve read from a fellow blogger that these are really fantastic islands. At the same time, I was secretly raring to go for a day diving to see the WWII Japanese shipwreck. But we were advised to go for the ultimate tour instead since this is a must for a first time visitor like my mother. Anyway, I still have more time in future to go for diving and had I not forget that this trip was a pre-birthday treat for my mother? Hmnn… ;).
Kayangan Lake. Is our first stop. One should not miss seeing this place dubbed as the cleanest lake in the Philippines. It was my third time to be there but every time I go back, I always got a feeling of being a first time visitor. Going to Kayangan Lake you would need to trek the rocky mountain up and then down to reach the lake. It is located in the middle of the mountain. I’m not really sure if it’s in the middle but it is within the interior of the mountain. Whereas the mountain is surrounded by seas. It is such a spectacular site! And poor be my words how I could not describe it exactly in the best way I can about the feelings I am having when I was there. You will just know what it is like once you experience it :).
Twin Peaks Reef. Is our second stop. I had a good time snorkelling there. There is nothing much to say about it except that the underwater world is really fascinating!
Twin Lagoons. Is our third stop. We were about to take lunch at Atwayan Beach when our boatman requested me to ask the group whether it would be amenable to go for another adventure or proceed to the beach directly for lunch. Suddenly I became an unofficial shouter 😉 to a group of about 14 people in the boat. (I had to shout as loud as I can because the sound of the boat machine is really noisy). Well the answer, everybody is up for adventure! Twin Lagoons is really, really amazing! I forgot about that I’m getting hungry. Because while we were approaching the place, it swiftly made me full, I don’t want to miss a single thing. I tried to capture as many photos as I can. This place is breathtaking! What so special about this lagoon is that (if in Kayangan lake you have to trek up and down to reach it) here, you have to swim and pass through a very small opening that would lead you to be able to go inside the lagoon. You have to be very careful because the small opening that you have to pass through is made up of rock formations that if you’re not careful enough could lead to an injury. And while swimming inside the lagoon, I could not stop thanking and praising God for His beautiful creations! I could not show any photos to prove what I have to say because we could not bring our camera inside as we need to swim to reach it. Our boat cannot go inside. Some people in our group are lucky enough to have water resistant camera! I managed to swim the entire lagoon with the help of my recycled life vest. On my way back to our boat my mother had preached me a bit. Why? I realized the group that I had with was not my group. They’re all back. I didn’t know everybody’s waiting for me. I pretended not to hear my mother. I smiled to them, waved and said thanks for waiting! 🙂
Atwayan Beach & Coral Gardens. Lunch finally! What is special about this beautiful place is that it is run and managed by a group of Indigenous People (IPs) called “Tagbanua”. You may wonder how they’re able to manage this little piece of paradise in the island. Indigenous People have the concept of Ancestral Land and Ancestral Domain Claims. Prior to enacting Republic Act 8371, popularly known as Indigenous People’s Rights Act of the Philippines or IPRA Law, these Indigenous People can own land whom they inherit from their ancestors and need not necessary to have a piece of paper that entitles you are the official heirs. They don’t have that concept. We were fortunate to have a bit of chat with one of the IP’s former Barangay Captain Aguilar of Cabugao. He said that, that area was their share from their ancestor that is why they try to maintain and manage it sustainably. We were also told that there are still many lakes up there that is not yet open for tourist because aside from it is risky to trek up in the limestone forest as it is very steep, they considered it a sacred place.
This is where we had our longest stop. My mother even had the chance to play volleyball. I am quite embarrass to admit that she is way stronger than me. I could not play for long because every time the ball would hit my hands it is painful. It was okay at first but during the 8th, 9th, 10th I could not bear it anymore. I could not quite believe what I saw: my mother’s a certified senior citizen and yet very, well, physically fit. I could nap but I won’t. I laze around and just enjoy the water, the sand, the mountain, the trees, the blue sky. What a wonderful world indeed!
Shortly, we headed to the Coral Gardens and had snorkelling again. This area is a little deep as it is quite difficult to see what is below. I have to swim a bit further, nearer to the mountain where the water is turning from bluish to greenish. There I was able to swim with beautiful fishes and nice corals.
CYC Island. Is our last stop. CYC stands for Coron Youth Club. It is quite saddening to see the plight of this little island. Hopefully, it could be saved sooner. By the way, this island is no longer part of Coron Islands and as such I’ve learned from our boatman that there is no one taking care of the island. It is beautiful but full of garbage, plastics, cans, bottled beers, gins, whiskies. There is only a monkey and a cat in the island. We were told they were left by someone who had visited and had long been staying there. I keep my fingers crossed that this island would be revived and would leave up to its name: Coron Youth Club.
Mother And Daughter’s Bonding
It was our very first trip together. Just me and my mother. Well, I would be very honest to say that I was a bit hesitant to push through this trip when I learned that no one from my sisters could come. They either have to work or have exams. We have had an overseas trip a year back but it was with sisters and it was a great time for us all as it does not happen everyday.
I have to confess that growing up, my mother and I had not always met face to face. I was pretty rebellious in my teenage life. I have caused her so much pain. I even ran away from home. No, I was not a bad daughter and she’s neither, as a mother. But I was really, really stubborn. I want to become independent. I want to stand on my own. I think that’s the downsides when you grew up well pampered. My father, when he was still alive, was a very protective father. He always insists that’s because we are all girls. And he just wants to protect us. Because he loves us. Our mother has a way spoiling us and giving everything up to the point of deciding (almost everything) for us like what course to take in college, which school to go, what major to take, which company to work for after graduation, what master’s program to pursue, when and when not to have a boyfriend and so on and so forth. Well, these are all family dramas. And I was not an exception. It was yesterday. And today is what matters most. I’ve learned from all those years of growing up, failing, committing mistakes and getting up again and just keep moving forward. We are a family. It’s not perfect. But it’s the best that I could ask for. I would not have been who I am now shall it not from the values that was rooted from my family. And I’m really, truly, undoubtedly grateful because I grew up in a family who knows how to value what really matters in life.
The time that I spent with my mother is something that I will always treasure in my heart. Even when the time comes that I get to have a family of my own. Because there I have discovered that I was a lot like her in so many ways. I can attribute my being an intrepid explorer to her. Here’s a brief scene of the first night of our arrival when we’re about to sleep:
Mother: Anak (daughter) why didn’t we accept the offer of our host to roam around town?
Daughter: Ha? I thought you turned it down because you were tired!
Mother: No. I NEVER get tired.
And a lot of pretty little things happened during our escapade.
We were not used to saying I love you. And I will refrain from it. But I look forward to have as many of this kind of trip in the future when time permits. XOXO