Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘sea’

Releasing the Inner Mermaid

I was always fascinated with the sea, but I always ended up on the shore because of the fear of drowning. Swimming, I thought, was only for fishes and mermaids. Only realized recently that swimming is a necessary life skill. Actually, missing a number of cliff jumping moments during travels has triggered me to enroll in a swimming school…finally.

Among the swimming schools I’ve looked into, I prefered Swim Central. Students can choose their preferred time and venue. Basic lessons cost only Php3,920 (US$75), but it took me two years to overcome my stingy ego. The best thing about this package is that it includes survival lessons, which I badly, badly need.

T’was a cheery, sunny day to swim at Ultra in Pasig. Just get ready to have a perfect tan.

The coaches are always on time. They help improve every student’s skill level even though everyone in the class have different skill levels from one another. You might think they are leaving you alone after teaching the skills for the day, but they’re actually watching over you. I get a lot of corrections after finishing a few laps, to which have become very helpful.

Every class was an agitating moment for me. I actually felt like a newborn thrown into the water at first (actually, newborns might be more fearless than me). The coaches would always assure us we would not sink, especially during the survival phase. Deep inside, I was freaking silently, especially when the coach told me to let myself go into the 14-feet pool. I had to jump into the water over and over again until I felt comfortable in the deep. The downside was that I kept of dreaming I was swimming upwards. I guess I wanted to dive into the water more.

The 14-feet pool at Mares in Makati. For now I find this comfortable because the deep is placed in a controlled setting.

I have this sense of fulfilment after learning a new skill. After a few weeks, I have learned to befriend the water. I have to let go of every anxiety because I was determined to become an improved human being. As one coach said, people don’t die because of the water, but because of the fear. We only drown in the water when we’re heavy with panic. I don’t have to envy my friends who know how to paddle like a dog (because I can now do that, too :D) nor do I have to worry that my head will bump on the side of a cliff if I try to do some tombstoning.

Let’s go to the beach! This time, I’ll dive without a lifejacket. 😉

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​Breathing Adventure: Crashing Into the Waves at Dingalan, Aurora

Having a dose of vitamin sea is never too late when taken on a fair but moody October day. It can be maddening as it can become a concoction for excitement and anxiety. You will never know when the weather might throw some tantrums at you. But it did not matter. All I wanted was to see the clear, blue waters and feel the summer jive of Dingalan, Aurora.

Known as the Batanes of the East, Dingalan is a paradise of tropical beaches, sleeping caves and emerald green landscapes. It’s your preferred breakaway from the toxic city life. Travelling there from Manila would be four hours at most. It is recommended you take along a big van and a battalion of friends to get there.

Travel cost was around P1300. That includes van, boat transfers, lunch, and tour guide. It would be best if you leave at around 1 or 2 am, especially if you’re planning a day tour for this one.

From Dingalan Feeder Port, we were transferred to Dingalan island. We left our bags there before heading off to the Lamao Cave.

On the boat with our tour guide, Kuya Bong Reyes (in grey shirt)

While the others were freaking, I could not help but raise my arms in anticipation at the humongous waves cradling our boat. All I could hear in my head was Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries while we were flowing with the giant tide. The cave was not too far but even so, we had to swim at the mouth of the cave because the boat couldn’t dock near it.

These rocks look pretty but they are actually painful when stepped on…ouch!

Rock climbing (and picture taking) is a must at the Lamao Rock Formation. Just take caution because some parts of the rocks are edgy and sharp.

We decided to leave the island when wild winds were already blowing. Five of us were on the boat when the weather had thrown a nasty fit. She made the boat spin a bit wildly until one of its outriggers was broken when it crashed unto the rocks.

I was calm all along because I trusted in God’s saving grace. The other girls wanted to jump off in panic but I waited for the right timing to jump off the boat. Leaping at the wrong time could lead to something even more fatal. Fortunately, another boat had rescued us back to the island. All that time, I could not help but think of His promise that He’s keeping us sheltered under His wings.

 

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The nasty wound I got from the rocks…I was literally bleeding when we were already on the boat…ouch!

We were all a bit shaken but I could not help but be amused by the thought, “This is more thrilling than Survivor.” A little food can ease the panic off. Maybe a boodle fight of the best seafood and the freshest fruits can do the trick.

But nothing could be worse than a shipwreck than wrong expectations. I was too foolish to expect this was all sand and sea (because I overlooked some details of the itinerary). The highlight of this tour was the Mountain View Deck and it could only be seen if you take a little trek going there.

It would have been an easy thirty-minute trek if it were not for the mud caused by that morning’s rain. As expected, I was already grumpy, mostly when I had to take my slippers off (wrong footwear, folks. Just. Wrong.) Still, just like every other climax, that view of the Pacific can take all despair and breath away.

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And not to mention the lighthouse on the other peak.

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Muddy and tired, we had the tour capped at around 4 pm. If I could take home something, that would be some nasty wounds, sand on your flip-flops, and a good story to share.

I will never expect my adventures to be the same again. They’re not textbooks outlined with the same pattern because each has a different impact in our lives. I was amazed I was calm in the midst of danger and I kept myself levelheaded during a crisis. An adventure would never be an adventure without some thrill in it. We need that to break our mundane life. We need a little bit of test to improve our resilience in life.

But next time, I hope my next trip would be a bit more peaceful.

My regards to Khaye Satur for organizing this trip, as well as to our tour guide Kuya Bong Reyes for being such a caring guide for such a mountain slowpoke like me. Also, our trip could not be even spicier without the Hugot Van Manila of Kuya Gherz.

 

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A glimpse of that awesome hugot van…you will find more lovestruck hugot when you jump into the ride. 🙂

Watch out for their next trip through Khaye’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/khayesatours/) and Gherz’s page (https://www.facebook.com/gherz.brizo).

​Breathing Adventure: Swimming With The Whales (Lost in Cebu Part 3)

The roar of the sea waves was like a bewitching song entertaining us as we dined on crunchy danggit (salted, dried fish), fried rice and fried eggs. It was our breakfast on our first day, rather night, at Oslob. We had arrived at the southern tip of Cebu after a long ride from the city, a trek from the mountain and a wandering search for our guest house while riding a tricycle. Locals seem wary of foreign visitors who curiously poke their noses into their laid-back, rural lifestyle while children were the first to jump in to guide oblivious tourists like us. Just like any other barrio (little town), eateries would close as early as 8pm expect for Paul and Madz which served a satisfactory meal paired with orange juice and hot chocolate. 

A meal of danggit with friend eggs and rice, paired with hot chocolate and orange juice.

The roaring sea waves made me more thrilled to see whale sharks or the butanding the next day. These gentle giants have made Oslob a popular tourist destination as tourists are allowed to see them up close and personal (but no touching is allowed). I love animals and the butanding itself is a fascination to me. However, the weather, gloomy as ever, was threatening to cut operations early. The caretaker of our guesthouse has told us the Coast Guard has called off the whale watching operations by 9am that day due to dangerously strong currents. Supposedly, operations end by 12nn.

We were hopeful, still. After a strong downpour during the early hours of the morning, we headed to the whale watching station before operations start at 6am. Foreign tourists outnumber local tourists in jam-packed queues which was beginning to grow longer because cashier windows were not opening yet. An operator told us the Coast Guard was still checking if it’s safe to hold operations today because the winds and the waves were strong. By that time, I was already assuring myself there’s always a next time to go back to Cebu.

Boats gathered at the whale watching site.

It was past 6am when operations were allowed to begin. Before I’d forget, whale watching costs about Php300 while swimming with the whales is at Php500. That’s for the local rate. Foreign rates are more expensive. You can go for the first option if you’re seasick (which one of us did not realize until we were at the sea). The second option will provide you not only a close encounter with the butanding but with other sights hidden in the sea. We thought we’d miss the opportunity of capturing moments with the butanding because we do not own a GoPro camera. We were able to rent one at the whale watching station at Php550.

Me, along with my friends, swimming with the whales.

I’m not a good swimmer, but I would love to take a dive into the sea. I admit I was scared of diving especially when the boatmen told us to remove our life vests so we can sink into the waters. Non-swimmers are advised to hold unto the rafter so we would not sink. But these guys are ready to save you before you float away into the sea. 

A fisherman feeding the butanding which was swimming beside his boat.

The fishermen were feeding the butanding with a breakfast of alamang (krill) when we came into the sea. I was fascinated by how its huge mouth was slurping the waters and munching its food as it moved towards us. There were about five six boats with us and some of the tourists were already taking pictures in a short distance away from the whale (because as I’ve said, touching is not allowed). I guess there were two or three butandings that were swimming among us. Thirty minutes were the only time allowed for each group so we had to jump into the waters to meet the whale!

The butanding ignoring me as I wave behind its back.

When I peeked into the sea, I was marvelled at the size of the whale which was about 5 to 6 meters long. The boatmen told us it was just a baby whale and the mother whale has not visited the area for a long time (hmmm…she might have flipped our boats by then). More fascinating were the fishes called alumahan (a type of mackarel) that were following the whale wherever it swims. The waters would have been clearer if the sun was shining by that time. But we were fortunate to see the whale that day despite the low pressure area that was threatening Cebu for a week. Besides, we were not burned by the heat of the sun. The wearing of sunblock or sunscreen is not allowed because these might become toxic to whales. 

The alumahan swimming with the butanding.

By the time we left the waters, the rains outpoured again. I believe the Lord has favored us by letting the rains stop for a while so we could see the whale. We were thinking of a plan B because this does not seem to be the right time to visit a nearby falls.

Yours truly posing at one of the restaurants by the sea.

Another breakfast of danggit.

The view of the sea at the restaurant.

I was languishing myself on a breakfast of danggit and mango juice because we only had a few hours left in Oslob. Check out time at our guest house, Chateau de Tan-awan, should be at 12nn. Even a night of staying in this place was memorable because it’s clean, quiet and peaceful. As it stood beside, the sound of the waves had lulled me to sleep.

The lounge area at the guest house.

The little souvenir shop at the guest house.

So we had to travel again to find another tourist spot. We barely had two days left in Cebu so we were not leaving without seeing much of the island. We got options though. We’re willing to risk for these options for the sake of collating beautiful memories.

Breathing Adventure: Walking On Dry Seas At Dalahican, Quezon

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The shores of Dalahican, Quezon in the morning

Doing out-of-town television production has always been a love-and-hate moment for me. I’d hate it whenever I had to be separated from my mom, my bed, and my cozy little space. But this little resentment vanishes whenever that fresh, provincial air refreshes my soul, and every tree, rock, and un-Manila matter reinvigorate my eyes.

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The Badjao community in Dalahican, Quezon

The quiet, little barrio of Dalahican at the province of Quezon was just like any seaside community. Most of those living here would have the sea and its riches as their source of living. Cramped in a portion of this shore was a little community of a tribe called the Badjao. It is their story and of a teacher’s everyday heroism that was what we were here for. Should you miss tomorrow’s episode of Tapatan Ni Tunying, you can watch it here.

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What the sea looks like at low-tide

I have this secret fancy of the sea and its mystery. For three days, I could get the chance to hear the sound of the soft, rolling waves on the shores. I even dared myself by diving into cool, salty waters along with the other Badjaos (who pushed me back into the boat because I was too heavy…waaaaah). All these are too priceless compared to what the city can offer.

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I can walk on water (when dry)

But the best thing for me was the freedom to walk on dry seas in the morning. When the waters are pushed back, amazing sea treasures are revealed. The first streaks of dawn reflected the skies upon the waterless sea. Starfishes and sea urchins peeked together through the growing seaweeds. Shells littered along the dunes lined upon the sand. These are simple joys that I’ll never find in Manila.

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Sea urchin and a starfish in a sea scramble

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Say hello to Mr. Starfish 🙂

If there’s something I’d like to take home, that would be the memories of once being here in this wonderful place. That’s why, I could not help taking pictures while sticking around with the cameramen. And oh, I couldn’t help also but pick up the prettiest shells I’d find. 🙂 If I could, I’d like to come back…just to see, breathe, hear, and feel that I am alive. 🙂

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