Longing for an Island | Siquijor, Philippines

We hardly ever stop wanting as we lay steady in the daily. But who are we to blame? When pastel hues of sunset, blissful amounts of sunshine that feels so damn good to the body, excellent company in fleshy and tanned forms, laughter-induced walking and eating and sitting, contemplative night under the starry, starry sky present themselves as memories from a summer weekend, who are we to blame?

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None, and no one. So let me just take you to memories (that mostly betray and leave me earlier than desired) and bear with the reminiscing of the excursion in fragments.

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Saturday began early and I was giddy upon the thought of traveling with my lifemates. I was the early bird at the airport which was unsurprisingly packed with people raring to sizzle in summer getaways. One by one, the girls arrived and eased their way into airport procedures. By the time we settled into our cheap plane seats, I felt the good pain in my stomach from laughing so intensely from stories that accumulated over the time we haven’t seen one another.

It was my 9th day of meditation trial in the recently explored Headspace app. I loved how it was immensely helpful and friendly in guiding meditation and mindfulness in my daily schedule. I inserted my earphones, closed my eyes and delved lightly into feeling my body and the surroundings around me. Random thoughts visited my sleepy head like the clouds that float outside the window plane but I found calm in the vastness and certainty of the “blue sky”.

*silence

We arrived in Dumaguete with the sun cooperatingly leading us to paradise. Before leaving for Siquijor, we wandered aimlessly near the port of Dumaguete and searched for a breakfast place. All we needed was to brave crossing the street and we were saved. Hungry hounds as we were, we ordered rice meals suited to our own preferences, coffee, and the seemingly bottomless coconut water and meat. Catch-up chat and laughter resumed in the table. Nothing really beats the Breakfast Club. The conversation continued inside the port as we waited for the departure of the ferry that will take us within an hour to Siquijor. In between the waiting and the traveling, there were exchanges of reading astrology signs and horoscopes by Susan Miller, venturing into various investments for the future, and lusting over Brandon Boyd and his legit bohemian girlfriend as well as drooling over their bohemian lifestyle.

Living the life arrives in waves but life itself remains as the ocean.

Here we are finally making it in the stretch of San Juan beach greeted by the blues and greens,
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DSC09238DSC09157DSC09153and the shiny happy people amidst the blues and greens.DSC09162DSC09155DSC09161DSC09152

We settled our backpacks in our rooms, changed into bikinis, and camouflaged with the paradise.DSC09177DSC09172FullSizeRender (3)DSC09151

When in all directions this island generously bursts its colors, who are we to blame?
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Generous hues of pastel swirled in clouds before us, with the dogs of the island playing literally under the magic, teaching us the great lesson of being content and thankful for that moment which forgets everything behind and disregards the anticipated steps ahead. The pace was just right, enduring in its flow.

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We turned to the right side and the view was as beautiful, pouring out from the sky a shift from pastels to fiery colors of the sunset.

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Before everything went dark, we decided to eat dinner. And sure we did in blissful mouthfuls and gulps. We then slacked off for the rest of the afternoon…

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….and evening. That starry, starry night came to my spirit like a gush of wind as I am typing these words. We placed our sarongs back on the sand and positioned ourselves comfortably. It was a good start for the good conversation that will transpire. I remember Faye telling her life journey for the past year when her dad passed away and when areas of her life weren’t as neat and cheerful as she hoped it would be. People disappointed her but she learned to let the control and anger go. Of how she came to embrace the ups and downs of that period and of the bigger life she holds amidst the imbalances is a truly admiring movement. I remember Abby sharing her experiences about love that uprooted and swayed her in some unwanted directions. Nonetheless, she learned a great deal and she is still bravely learning along the way. She is mending her precious life by seeking light in her new profession and by slowly but surely loving herself above all. I also remember asking a question to Faye and Abby (Jamie was napping at that moment) about death and which image they would like to see before death nudges us to shut down our organs, to draw our breath, and to finally close our eyes. Abby chose the ocean for the inexplicable joy and peace it brings to her. For the last 15 seconds of her life, she imagined seeing her closest friends to her left and her family to her right. Faye took a few seconds to answer but she dreamily decided on the spectacle of sea and stars. When it was my turn, I easily answered a sky full of stars, a sky like that night-sky before us, so deep in its darkness, so infinite in its pool of lights, and fully unencumbered. What will be yours? (I am truly curious about your answer, send me yours please. Let’s discuss!)

The next day, we were up early. I stalled for a few minutes and decided to proceed outside to finish my last day of meditation trial in Headspace. (Other meditation apps recommended are Calm and Sattva, but also feel free to explore on your own pace and style).

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I looked for a decent place to meditate and sat cross-legged on the fine sands. I took a few deep breaths, observed my surroundings without judgment, and listened to nothing but silence and the slow paddling of fishermen on their distant boats as I gently shut my eyes. I felt my presence in the different body parts and slowly sank into serene depths.

*silence

Halfway through the meditation, I felt an alien existence brushing on my skin. Imagine the slight shock. I knew it was the dog sitting nearby earlier so I moved myself a little away from the gentle animal and decided to direct myself back to meditating. After a few minutes, I opened my eyes anew and ready to inhale the wonderful world before me.

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We ate breakfast with these fascinating blues becalming our morning moods and then explored the rest of the island in our red old mini-van ride. We passed by the century-old balete tree with a nearby spring where visitors can dip their feet into the water and experience an instant fish spa straight from nature. Within the area, there were goods varying from love potions, healing ointments, shirts, and woodcarved keepsakes.

We decided to check out the spot for a while and after a few minutes, gave in to iced candies. As we returned to the red mini-van, Jamie got curious and asked questions about mangkukulam (witches) and dark magic. Kuya (the driver) laughed loudly but didn’t seem surprised as we were throwing one myth-related question after another. He narrated in elaborate detail the existence of old genuine healers who lived in the mountains. Their healing practices were transferred to the younger generations who were part of their family. However, when these genuine healers died, intentions altered and selfish reasons got in the way of good old traditions. More and more webs of made-up stories spiraled and reached across the provinces which made Siquijor a “horror” destination.

But truly there was just plenty of paradise surprises here and there. Next stop was Cambugahay Falls.

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We stayed longer here and dipped in the cold water. We strayed away from the mass of people and situated ourselves among the slippery rocks and exposed our bodies under the unhesitating onrush of water from the falls a bit smaller than the main one. It poured forth its strength and my body felt refreshed and alive and belonging in this body of water, among the trees and rocks.

Next stop was Salagdoong Beach. We imagined ourselves stretching on the shore and soaking on the sun and the view. Nowhere did we find what we imagined. A huge wave of tourists were flocking all over the beach. We all then agreed in a heartbeat to return and spend our last afternoon in San Juan Beach. There lies the priceless joy of singing to lyrics of songs we don’t memorize and humming to ukulele strings and outdoor vibes.

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From this trip emerged a fascination from the faraway time and space wherein I see myself settling down with l’homme de ma vie, a small but spacious home filled with books and sunshine and postcards and love, a rustic living of waking up to the smell of brewing coffee and omelette and salty breeze, the sounds of crashing waves and of non-apologetic, loud laughter of children born from the sea, and the ever-pleasant touch of sand in our feet. An imagination so sweet I felt its taste while sitting under the palm trees. How serenely delightful it was to imagine that dream and to hopefully contour it into its realization in the coming revolutions. I hope the galaxies open its dreamy doors when the fascination came to land up to the heavens.

But I remembered suddenly a poem by Jack Kerouac, embedded deep within my soul than the young emergence of that dream:

The world you see is just a movie in your mind.
Rocks don’t see it.
Bless and sit down.
Forgive and forget.
Practice kindness all day to everybody
and you will realize you’re already
in heaven now.
That’s the story.
That’s the message.
Nobody understands it,
nobody listens, they’re
all running around like chickens with heads cut
off. I will try to teach it but it will
be in vain, s’why I’ll
end up in a shack
praying and being
cool and singing
by my woodstove
making pancakes.

For now, and for that moment, it was already heaven of sorts. The words chase me like there’s a mad race behind. I inhale, I exhale and remember the unrushed, organic becoming of that beauty that knows no time. The essential is being sifted. How wildly beautiful it was to rediscover the infinitely interesting in one of the 7,107 islands in the Philippines.

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There is nothing that divides the horizon of the sky and the sea. If so, there is nothing that divides the dream of going places and the realization of being there. We will be back soon. For now, we will be graceful in the spectrum of longing and befalling.

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Longing, felt fully, carries us to belonging. -Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance

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