By the time we reached the island, the taste of brine was thick on my lips, my eyes felt like they were on fire, and my clothes clung to my skin like wet rags. The two-hour trip aboard a fishing vessel from the port of Paracale in Camarines Norte to Mahabang Buhangin Beach in the Calaguas group of islands was a reminder that the sea demands respect.
Our boat was tossed along the lurching swells of unseasonably rough seas. Since I sat at the boat’s bow, I faced the full impact of the ocean’s wrath in the form of frothy cold saltwater sprays. I thanked the travel gods for the fair weather and imagined how fishermen braved the seas during inclement climate. “Wala ito,” said tourism officer Angel who was seated next to me. “May isang beses, 3 oras kami sa dagat kasi ang lakas talaga ng alon. Halos mangiyak-ngiyak na yung mga tao sa banka,” she said before she dozed off.
Once the island was in sight, I understood why people would brave hell or high water to get here. The island’s raw beauty is the stuff of dreams. It makes you wonder if you’ve drowned during the trip and are setting foot on paradise itself. Continue reading