It was mid-May of 2014 when I went my way and joined a trip, all by myself I braced the “timid me” with a good deal of guts, only that. It was actually the first trip in my 41 years that I will be away from family and friends, and colleagues without a steady communication, the very first trip I’ll be with people all strangers to me and the very first time I’ll spend more than a night aboard a ship. So how was that for the unsociable, non-swimmer, clingy me?
Because I thought the trip would be a good avenue for me to set-foot at the famed Palawan without letting go of a single cent, I grabbed the opportunity despite the many what-ifs I had in mind. I was troubled for nights thinking of what will my 3-days would be, I was like backing out at the last minute but what the heck I’m no longer in my twenties and even thirties for this kind of panicky, I won’t be at where I am right now without that extra courage I’ve grown over the years, I won’t be at my toughest if I haven’t developed the spine, I know I’m ready for it and for all the challenges abound, so be it!
At KM 0 during that humid afternoon participants for the immersion started to pile up, I was more than ready to start a short convo with people I’m seated at but something was holding me back, I was still shy about the idea. Anyway, during the shuttle ride at the port area, I was fortunately seated next to a nice lady who came all the way from Cebu. Like me she was on her own, so I assumed easily that we’ll gonna be buddies at that time. The tour at the port area wasn’t boring, it was rather educational for me because I don’t get to see that kind of scene everyday and yet my work requires that I need the important details of how we do imports and its kind. I was more than ecstatic after the tour as we board 2GO’s MV St. Augustine of Hippo. In the past I’ve rode roro’s and pump boat going in Mindoro so the boat ride wasn’t really new for me except that this time the ride will be more than 24 hours. Holy Cow!
I thought I was dog-tired already upon entering our cabin because the first few talks during the course was tiring already, so I was telling the self I’ll probably doze off too early, I was so wrong because I remained wide awake the entire night. Sleep was nowhere and I was like floating in limbo waiting for the crack of dawn. At 4AM, I found myself hitting the shower to kill time and to avoid the queue soon as my cabin-mates rose up.
Coron was mesmerizing, even from afar it captured my heart the very way Boracay did, tho Coron really stands out because of its lush covered mountains and blue waters, it was so serene and unsoiled and everyone aboard was enthralled.
And a selfie is a must. Hehehe.
We didn’t really spend too much time in Coron; all of us participants of the immersion were requested to get off the vessel for a quick photo op at the port area. Just that and we boarded back and continue the sail to Puerto Princesa.
It took us another 17 more hours before finally seeing the city lights of Puerto Princesa, that far. And tho busy with the conference the entire day, I became impatient of this trip, at the back of my mind I wasn’t focusing anymore because I want to go home, I want to know what’s happening home but because we’re at the middle of nowhere the entire day, signal was very bad, mostly dead spot.
One of the immersion speakers from REID Foundation
The topics also became redundant for me especially that I’m doing a lot of reading and self-study during office hours, insert the reason why I’m always browsing the internet, hehehe. I was expecting to hear new things and capture new ideas that I could probably apply back at work. The only topic that moved me from my seat and awakens my heavy-eyed was about the government infrastructures and economy; I was never interested of these things until then because the speaker was so lively and knows how to play his power point presentations. Sometimes, it really helps that the visual aid is well-thought-of. I’m just saying.
Sundown on 17 May 2014
By 11pm of May 17, finally we come ashore, it was too dark already and all I wanted that time is a nice and cooler room and a comfy bed. I’m so dying to have a decent sleep. I forgotten already the name of the villa we checked-in but not the commotion that happened while we’re trying to secure our room keys. I bet the owner of the villa missed Customer 101 and totally forgot that we’re customers, paying customers per se. For a while I worried that we might get kicked from this place and my delusion of sleep will be dismissed. Hallelujah for peace keepers!
The villa’s cold aircon was a nice retreat after almost suffering heatstroke from 2GO’s busted aircon the entire trip. Just when I thought I could sleep longer, we were advised that call time the following day is at 6am and we have to leave by 7pm, sharp! I remember getting a straight 3 hours sleep this time and the rest was like rushing things again, packing and getting ready for our supposed pleasure trip.
Part of our 3 day conference was the Honda Bay Tour. Now, that was everyone was looking forward to. We we’re picked by a van together with our tour guide. At the wharf area, we went on different boats, I don’t remember how many but we’re 12 in our motorized boat. I feel safer despite the husband’s absence; I was telling the self to just enjoy the company of new-found friends.
The first stop was the Pambato Reef, there was no land or sand to walk to here, it’s just a floating cottage with bamboo boardwalk. We had a quick briefing upon arrival and learned that the spot is a marine sanctuary with scenic underwater life –corals and fishes.
They offer snorkeling and fish feeding activities, the former was tried by one of our colleagues and she was in awe telling us how beautiful it was. Well, don’t expect me to dive, I’m no swimmer and besides the operators told us about the sightings of sharks around the area but assured us that those mammals were vegetarians.
Next was the Starfish Island, there’s was nothing much to see here except for the abundance of starfishes and pristine waters where you could swim. There was a sandbar too, I suddenly missed the husband at this point because if he was around we could stroll together and make funny pictures and I bet I couldn’t stop him from his usual nosiness.
Sorry for my boring photos, I was a bit shy to our boatman. 😀
The last and final stop of our tour where we had lunch was at Cowrie Island. Because we were all famished, we proceeded at the buffet area right away. Buffet rate is P250 and for lunch we had soup, salad, steamed rice, pancit, a vegetable dish (kangkong if I remember it right), mussels, shrimps (not the big one tho), pan-grilled fish, banana, coffee jelly and iced tea. I wanted to go back for a second round but the long queue of diners that day stopped me, plus I feel so sticky, I really wanted to go for a dip but our time was too short.
Anyway, if you have the luxury of time while at Cowrie you can pamper yourself in an open air massage cabanas, you can also do water activities like banana rides, jet ski and kayak. There’s also a beach bar where you can hang out, and the place is perfect for group activities and even intimate weddings and gatherings. Because we couldn’t do too much we just walked around the island and played a bit with the crystal clear water, and took a lot of photos.
Before we were chauffeured at the airport we had a quick stop at the LRC 908 Market Mall; it’s a Pasalubong Center where you’d find all sorts from food, magnets, t-shirts and pearls. I hoarded cashew nuts because it’s cheap, and rewarded myself with a real South Sea Pearl in champagne. Happy because I get to shop a bit, hehehe.
Our flight back to Manila got delayed after some hiccups regarding our group booking, excess baggage and so on and so forth; I was so tired to mind all the happenings. All I can remember –I was seated at the waiting area, ate a delicious puto (steamed rice cake) given by one of our colleagues from Jollibee, airdrop photos to my seatmates who became my buddies (from Gothong, Magsaysay and Republic Chem) during the trip, exchange numbers and emails, rode the plane and had a great convo with Gel of MICT and before I knew it I was back to realism and my husband was welcoming me at the arrival of T3 as if I went away for years.
The immersion may not be as culminating as I picture it to be, there were some so-so speakers and topics that I’m already expert at (naks!) other than the experience was a new whole thing for me and I was a revelation to my own self. I can in fact exist in a sea of crowd and make new friends easily, and a short convo with strangers actually were not that awkward. And just because I subsisted the challenge of travelling all alone I joined the 2015 immersion once again, tho uncertain yet again I made it, I enjoyed the ferry ride, I made new friendships and most importantly I collected new experiences.
This time from from The Queen City of the South, Maayong Adlaw sa inyong tanan! ♥
P.S. Will write about Cebu soon…