It was one fine day on the 1st of April in Coimbra.
While walking on the street towards a Chinese store, he sent her a text saying, “I found something! I want to give it to you.” She replied with excitement, “What is it?”. “Wait a second”, he said. “I was just pampering it because the lighting was a bit bad.”
That had her wondering what he was up to. Until he sent her a photo of a beautiful flower he saw on the street. He added, “A beautiful flower for another beautiful flower.” Oh, she couldn’t help but paint a silly smile on her face. Then he said, “It’s a very tiny one – the size of a nail, but I noticed it and thought about you right away.”
When talking about summer, beaches always comes to my mind. Everyone is on the “salt in the air, sand in my hair” feels, and so am I. Going to the beach doesn’t only mean getting a nice tan. It is a great place to free your mind from all the daily stresses, to find relaxation, and just feed your eyes with the view of the sea and the clouds.
However as time went by, people are more inclined to traveling. The beaches in the Philippines has been one of the go-t0 places by travelers – local and foreign ones. As they say, it is always summer here in the Philippines. Beaches started to get crowded, especially the famous ones and it has become a place for drinks and parties. Luckily, living in a country with 7,107 islands (and counting), I could just go on an hour bus ride and find a beach somewhere. Without spending too much, I can get a beautiful, relaxing view away from the crowd. If you feel like getting more adventure, island hopping could be one for you.
One of the best things I was able to do this summer was, yes, beaching. This time, with a little taste of adventure. As usual, I joined another group of travelers going to Oslob, Cebu City. The town is best known for the whale watching adventure and the nearby Sumilon Island.
From Dumaguete, we went to Sibulan Port and got into a ferry boat going to Lilo-an Port. And yes, the 6am view at the port was beautiful.
After 30 minutes on the ferry boat, we were welcomed by this amazing view at the port. I wanted to jump into the water right then and there! Good thing we have a bus to catch going to Oslob where the whale sharks were waiting for us, or I already took a dip into that crystal clear waters.
A 30-minute bus ride from Lilo-an Port got us at the briefing and registration area in Tan-awan, Oslob for the whale watching adventure. I was told that there might be quite a lot of tourists going to the place during weekends, but I was not expecting that we will be welcomed by a sea of people! Because of that, we have to wait for a couple of hours to get on the boat.
After two long hours of waiting under the scorching heat of the sun, we finally got into the boat going to the site. Whale sharks, here we come!
And there goes Mr. Whale Shark! This friendly giant was definitely worth the wait. The thrill and the excitement every time they pass by in front of me was just priceless. It was very tempting to touch them, but I wouldn’t risk paying 20,000 to 50,000 pesos as fines for touching the whales, or worse going to spend some time in jail. They said that whale sharks are pretty sensitive that touching them wouldn’t be good for these gentle giants. So, nope! My eyes are already satisfied just by watching them swim right by me.
Yes, under Republic Act 9147, an Act for the conservation and Protection of Wildlife Resources and Habitats, it is illegal to maltreat or kill endangered species, like the whale shark. The penalty is three to six months in jail with a fine of P20,000 to P50,000 for maltreating an endangered species. A longer prison term and higher fine is slapped for killing and destroying them.
We were on the site for 20-30 minutes and then we went back to the briefing area. Swimming with whale sharks was an experience of a lifetime. Although I am not part of their food chain, seeing these gentle giants up close with their mouths wide open as they were being fed was terrifying. However, they seem very calm and kind.
He was once young and innocent. Not a single day that passed that his father could walk his way home without throwing himself into a bush or tripping on a plain road. What kept him going? Hope…that someday his father will change his ways.
He was once young and full of dreams. Always striving for learning. His brothers and sisters fled out of town to pursue their aspirations in life, but he chose to stay to look after his fragile mother. What made him stay? Hope…that one day, he will have his own time.
His parents could not afford to send him to school, so he worked hard and studied harder at the same time. He never lets poverty to be his reason to stop him from learning. What inspired him to be diligent? Hope…that one of these days he’ll obtain the knowledge he sought after.
Time went and he became a man and built his own family. He worked even more hard night and day! With nine healthy kids and a lovely wife to feed, who wouldn’t? What was his inspiration? Hope…that his family won’t be able to experience the struggles he had to endure when he was a kid.
From being a sugarcane field foreman, he worked his way up to becoming a bookkeeper. He was able to send his nine children to good universities on his own. It was never easy to send nine children on your own, but that didn’t stop him from sending himself to a university as well and finish a degree. What had him strive for learning? Hope…that his children would be proud of him.
He once dreamed and hoped. Now he is old and weak, yet fulfilled and peaceful.
The ruins of an old church in Camiguin Island, Philippines. One of the oldest churches that was built during the Spanish occupation in the country. It was constructed in the 16th century at the island’s Spanish era capital called Cotta Bato. In the 1870’s, the eruption of a nearby volcano shook the town pitilessly until all the houses and the structures went down to rubble.
Although the walls of the building was the only structure that was left by the devastating incident, it has continued to be a sanctuary to the people until this day.
The old church might have been abandoned by time, but it was never abandoned by it’s people.
Of all our differences – be it in the color of our skin, the language we speak, the community we belong, or the culture we embrace, music is one language we all understand. It is something everyone can relate to, a universal language for all . For every note, there is emotion and passion. For every lyrics, there is a story to be told.
There are those moments that we just could not find the words to express ourselves. Happiness, sadness, excitement, anger, disappointment, pain – music know them so well. It is an escape for every emotion that is buried inside us, and it reaches a place where words could not.