travel

Created not by accident

4:47:00 AM

Apo Island was one of the stops during my week-long vacation. Since it was my first time and I didn’t speak the local dialect, my friend Hannah (who generously shared her apartment with me for a week) brought me to the port where I needed to take a boat to the island. We took a 45-minute bus ride to Dauin, a small town south of Dumaguete City, and we got off at Malatapay.

A pearl in the Orient.
(image from the internet)
It was a Wednesday, which is public market day. Things like dried fish and handmade bags and accessories were sold there. My other friend Jerry told me that Malatapay had the best lechon (suckling pig) in all the land, and he wasn’t kidding - my knees turned to jelly at the first bite!

At the port, Hannah and I met Karen, a backpacker slash pre-school teacher from Manila. It was my lucky day, because I got to split the tab for the boat with her. We set sail at around 10am, and we got to the island about an hour later.

It was so beautiful. The water was so clear, you can literally see the ocean floor even if you don’t jump in. On the coast, the sand was white, coarse in some parts and fine in others. Trees were everywhere. There were boulders that looked like tips of icebergs made of dark, solid rock. Wooden boats were everywhere, as it was the only means to get to and from the island.

Karen and I went snorkeling right away. Our guide, Sydney, brought us where the turtles were. After only about five minutes of swimming, we saw our first turtle. It was feasting on some seaweeds on the ocean floor when we saw it, and after a while, it swam up to the surface to breathe. It was an incredible sight.

During the course of thirty minutes, I saw three more turtles. Two were actually a couple, and they were happily swimming together. Apo Island was a sanctuary, and the locals there are well-trained in taking care of marine life. Sydney reminded us more than once that we are not allowed to touch the turtles, and of course we obeyed.

I hurt my foot when we took a quick break from snorkeling; I stepped on the sharp tip of a dead coral, and it cut me so deep that I couldn’t walk properly for the next couple of days. But I managed to ignore the pain. It was easy - I just had to concentrate on all the beauty that my eyes could feast on, and I forgot about the wound.

We had our lunch of pancit (noodles) and lechon by the shore. Karen and I swapped stories of our lives, and I have to say that I really, really admire her. She’s the epitome of the seasoned traveler that I want to become. She’s been to so many beautiful places in the Philippines (on a budget, if I may add!) and she has no plans of slowing down. I got lots of travel ideas from her, and now I totally plan to visit the places she mentioned (Coron, Palawan being her favorite).

Sunbathing was a must, of course, so we walked over to this small resort on the other side of the island. I had softdrinks, she had beer, and together we soaked up the midday sun until our skins were golden brown. Sydney came back at around 2pm for our next snorkeling session, this time to see the coral reefs.

It was not your average secret garden. For starters, it’s underwater. And it’s definitely more colorful! It was a shame I didn’t have enough money to go scuba diving, though; I was told the colors are even more vivid as you go deeper. But it’s okay - the beauty from the surface was more than enough for my first time.

A typhoon in December 2011 destroyed some coral reefs, and for that reason, the marine sanctuary was closed for a year. I promised myself that I will come back when it opens. Next time around, I will definitely go scuba diving.

At around 4pm, we headed home via the same boat that brought us to the island. The waves were bigger, so the ride was shakier, but my soul was so calm (and I was a college varsity swimmer) that it didn’t matter at all. And the view was just as incredible: the upper part of the mountain seemed to float on thick, white clouds, which is exactly how I pictured Mt. Olympus when I was seven years old, the first time I read Edith Hamilton’s Mythology.

Karen and I took a bus back to Dumaguete City, and when we got there, my friends Jerry and Carla brought me to the hospital to have my foot checked. Because the wound has been exposed for hours, and there were actually sand particles stuck inside for quite some time, the surgeon gave me anti-tetanus shots after he cleaned and bandaged the cut. It was painful, but I survived.

The whole experience reminded me of two things: that there is a God, and that God is awesome. For the record, I’m not religious; I don’t go to Church, I don’t read the Bible, and I don’t pray regularly. I have my doubts about organized religion, but I never had a doubt that God exists.

The world is just so incredible that it could not have been created just by an accident (what happened to my foot is an accident; life is not). Sometimes, we just need to experience beauty to believe. Now more than ever, I believe in the story of Creation. God made everything, and he made everything beautiful.

isawisay

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Hello, reader! Thank you for wasting your time reading my blog. I do hope you enjoyed whatever you stumbled upon. :)