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,
Coming Out of The Water
I spent the past year swimming through monumental highs and lows, monstrous fears and self-doubt, and extraordinary love (magic!) to get to where I was today. Somewhere in the middle of it all, when the struggle was at its peak…I ran out of air and lost my voice. I collapsed inward, and stopped doing one of the things that I loved the most—sharing stories.
By some miracle (and lots of answered prayers, rain dances, stars aligning), I could breathe again. The words that I needed to say were patiently waiting for me; I just had to travel back to them. Funny how, even if I was halfway around the world now, regaining my voice was able to give me a sense of homecoming.
For the past month, I’ve been getting settled in the U.S., adjusting to the new environment, people, and culture. Have you ever gone through this huge a change as well? I moved here to take up postgraduate studies in the University of California, Los Angeles for a year. I’ve still been trying my best to get used to things here…Although it hasn’t been easy, undeniably, it’s been a dream realized.
The break thankfully made this clearer: Brave The Waves would continue to be about my loved ones who helped make all of this happen, the places and experiences that urged me to have more courage to swim against the tides, and the challenges that kept me grounded…
And the thrilling, life-changing milestones that have been waiting in the wings, taking shape, poised to take flight.
I have so much more to share with you. Thank you for standing by me as I strove to come out of the water, just so I could return to it once again—healed and whole.
Brave the waves,