I know it’s already five months overdue but still, I would like to write a personal post about my 26th year, highlighting the travels I’ve had and the people I met along the way.
Contrary to my 25th year’s travels which were mainly as a solo backpacker or with a travel buddy, 2013-2014 was more of a group travel kind for me. It’s also during this span of time that I’ve met several important people in my life — from CouchSurfing acquaintances to really great friends, and from total strangers to favorite companions and partners in crime. And yes, ’twas also late last year that I met someone whom I’m looking forward to have more travels and adventures with.
As I’ve mentioned before, it takes a lot of willpower and natural beauty for me to be dragged out of bed at sunrise. Luckily, the scenery in Bolinao is one such wonder that I was able to force myself to step out of my room (I had to anyway coz it’s early work day for farmers’ training) at El Pescador Resort and watch the fishermen go about their business. The water was calm, except for the ripples from a fisherman’s small boat and nets being cast in the sea. It was said that before becoming a hotel and resort by the sea, El Pescador used to be a small fishing village, benefiting from the rich marine life of Bolinao in Pangasinan. It’s not exactly a swimming beach, especially with some kind of seawall separating the waters from the resort area. It is, however, still a nice sight to behold in the morning. I wonder how El Pescador sunset looks like, since Bolinao and Pangasinan generally belong to the sunset magic hour area. (Photo taken 08/31/2010)
I like sunsets a lot and while I find sunrises equally magnificent, there were just a few times when I was able to summon willpower to wake up that early, and the chance to see the dolphins of Bohol Sea was one. Twas back in early 2011 when, with a group of friends, we woke up before dawn and set sail to cruise the Bohol Sea and search for one of nature’s darling creatures in their natural habitat. From Alona Beach in Panglao island, it took a while before we reached the dolphins but it was a rather smooth sailing journey (perhaps coz weather in that time of year was [used to be] quite cooperative. The breaking dawn (sans vampires) and watching the dolphins (though they weren’t all jumping/flying up and down) of Bohol Sea followed by a Balicasag Island snorkeling was indeed worth the early morning wake up call!
A Portuguese aristocrat girl falling madly in love with a local Goa fisherman (a love story), then choosing to take her own life by jumping from a cliff when their relationship was forbidden (a tragedy), and centuries after mesmerizing, or haunting, tourists or locals as she emerges from the sea amidst the moonlit waves, wearing nothing but a pearl necklace (a myth) — this is the story of Dona Paula. Well, at least the version that adds a romantic flair to its namesake scenic tourist destination in the suburban district of the capital city Panaji (or Panjim) in Goa, West India. I never really saw the statue of Dona Paula when I arrived at Ashwin and Aki’s place along the Dona Paula Bay with my VSO co-vol/CS buddy Rajie and our Goan CS host Warren, nor did I hear the tale about the statues watching over the Mandori and Zuari Rivers as they unite with the Arabian Sea. However, even when there is already a proven historical account of the life and existence of Dona Paula Amaral Antonio de Souto Maior, I don’t fault the townsfolk or the tour guides if they choose to tell the romantic story instead. While the Dona Paula Bay and its natural beauty can’t be denied, a love story and a little mystery add to its charm, right? :)
It was back in August 2011 during my VSO Bahaginan preparatory training when I first set foot on Lake Island. About 1.5-2 hours from Cubao (due to daytime traffic), this secluded and serene place is perfect for the purpose that it was built — a seminar and conference / retreat center. The Lake Island compound, in Binangonan, Rizal, is surrounded by lush trees, manicured grounds, flowering plants and of course, the calm man-made lake. All of the sleeping quarters are made of native materials — wooden walls and floors, bamboo beds, furniture and pillars, and nipa leaves for the roofing. The food served is always a delight, in its simplicity and freshness. Some of my favorites, I’ve been here three times (this photo taken in February 2014, 3rd visit), are the fried tilapia (pinaputok style), ensaladang camote tops, and the minatamis na saging! So, if you’re a group of friends or family wanting a relaxed and quiet weekend or a company looking for your next team building venue, consider heading out to Lake Island. :)