A Backpacker’s Photo Diary: Siquijor
On the ferry that took us to Siquijor from Dumaguete, my friends and I talked about how this trip felt like it had already happened before. Our plans had brewed over the course of three months that by the time we reached that dock, it was as though we were now retracing steps that had been carefully distilled, and previously taken. Have you ever daydreamed about a new destination so much that when you do get there, you feel like you’ve become a returning visitor?
Our group then stayed in a hut where we had everything all to ourselves—secluded cove, white sanded shores, and slow, quiet sunrises. I was so stoked to have a chef with us; our friend Kimong made the fluffiest scrambled eggs I’ve ever had. That particular breakfast would always be seared in my mind. My friends and I didn’t say much, took our time with drinking our coffee, and had the shared feeling of being in a good place.
For such an unhurried weekend though, I remember dancing a lot. I did a little jig every time I tasted fantastic food, when I cheered for my friends as they leapt from the ledge and into the turquoise waters, when we all gathered around a bonfire at night, and everyone raised their drinks to the stars…
…and when we arrived at Cambugahay Falls after taking a quick trek into the woods.
The Philippines has 7,107 islands, and offers so many options from which you can choose. But as we left the place, it was comforting to know that Siquijor stood out from the rest; it would always be there beckoning for me to come back, patiently waiting for an old friend.
Brave the waves,
Hidden Black Sand Coves
Reaching a destination at night, one that you’ve never heard of before, always held surprises. You never truly find out what you’re going to get until the sun comes up. Imagine waking up one overcast, misty morning, expecting the usual sleepy seaside town, and being greeted by this stunning black sand cove instead.
I knew that Albay in the Bicol region belonged to the Pacific Ring of Fire, and had a couple of volcanoes in the area (Mt. Mayon as being the most iconic). But I was only able to check out the main thoroughfares and tourist spots in past visits, so it was my first time to explore its municipality, Tiwi, and understand how volcanic activities shaped its terrain. Because of the surrounding volcanoes, the region was dotted with natural hot springs, rock formations, and coves like this one.
Pristine white sand beaches have a universal appeal, but I think that stygian shores are in a league of their own. Particularly because I used to play in black sand beaches when I was growing up in Davao, and seeing this certain dark shade brought great memories.
I was sent to Tiwi for work months ago…and I could never forget how startled my officemate (a Bicolano local) was after seeing just how much excitement I had when this cliff yawned before us. She had shown me around with such an unassuming air, sheepishly declaring at one point that this was all they had. Hearing this made me go soft inside, because her humility intensified the beauty of her hometown.
With its quiet, tree lined roads, isolated beaches, and calm waters…Tiwi didn’t seem to realize just how arresting and gorgeous it was, which made it all the more memorable. Going there with no expectations, and being pleasantly surprised was the best way for me to discover it for the first time. And if you happen to find yourself on this side of the island too, if I may suggest—hold back from doing any research in advance, and allow Tiwi to slowly reveal itself to you.
Brave the waves,
To All The Bridges I Crossed
The more that I cared about something, the more likely I’d experience a certain kind of hopefulness that used to make me guarded. I’d hide my optimism for safekeeping—in my pocket, under my feet, between my fingers. Maybe if I acted like I didn’t want it as badly as I actually did, it would just work itself out.
After an opportunity would present itself to me, I’d have missed chances because I’d wuss out, choke, or wish that it would just happen without any effort. You could just imagine how those instances turned out. So, I made a conscious decision last year to be completely present in the moment, even when emotions and problems got too palpable that confronting them would be terrifying…
And especially when I had to acknowledge that I had my heart on something important. Perhaps it was just me, but opening up, and letting the world know what I really wanted would scare me—because if I’d fail, the gravity of the disappointment would be magnified.
Declaring my dreams aloud also meant that I had to work twice as hard to achieve them because I now felt accountable to the people who knew about them. Which was why my 2013 annual list of goals resonated with this theme. Even if there were times when I wanted to give up, these helped me soldier on:
This year, I continue to attempt to reach these goals daily (with some days harder than the rest), and they motivate me to have more faith. As to having high hopes and letting everyone know about it? I now wear them on my chest—never scar free (when I do get hit with setbacks, I hurt a billion times worse, and that’s okay). Staying shamelessly (grossly, really) positive got me to all the bridges that I’ve crossed. And while I’m far from having arrived, I’m closer to where I need to be.
Brave the waves,