Knowing my roots in a deeper sense might just have made me one more element complete. It stuns me how one thing leads to another, and I haven’t expected I would be in a position to write these things (surprise me again, Masbate) since I got slightly numbed out from my recent small travels. And now, came rising sepanx (separation anxiety) and my guilty longing for it. More than a week has passed since those incredible few days and I just brought back something from home: it’s almost always how you are received in a place that makes you love the place. Yes, it is a common rediscovery waiting but I will never tire of spreading this magic.
It was one night in Altamar Beach Resort, but the total experience made all the difference. This was as personal as it could be.
After the two-hour boat ride from the port of Masbate, we arrived on the island of Ticao, San Jacinto. Viewing the place from afar, it looked like one of those private, quiet, and fancy resorts cleverly developed in a chosen island in the middle of the vastness of the sea comparable to the ones I saw in Siargao and Palawan. The staff were waiting on the wooden bridge, approached us with smiles and good morning greetings, and even eagerly offered to carry our bags and trays of food. It felt weird and pleasant at the same time. I’m not really a big fan of resorts since I usually like it rustic and raw. But this was one time when something tickled in me, that it’s okay to try this, to explore what we’re gifted with at the moment. Because which hypocrite would complain?
We were welcomed with warmth and personality and fun and creativity all rolling into one, abounding on our plates and beds and views and conversations. Kuya Rex (one-of-a-kind beach resort manager) tickles you with his charm and humor and wisdom and never-ending stories about his personal and professional experiences, his plans for the beach resort, and the interesting people he encountered while managing the place. It feels like you’re visiting a friend and the catching up begins but seems to never stop.
Upon arrival, our prepared trays of food were brought to the Yellow House and served on a huge table. Handshakes, names, and smiles were exchanged. But the formality was easily cracked by Kuya Rex’s funny jokes and easy demeanor. In a few minutes of arrival, we knew we were in good company, eating good food, and witnessing this wonder.
We toured around the house and adored how flexible and cozy this particular accommodation (also called the Villa) can be. In front is a stretch of the horizon slicing the beach and the mountains. The pastels envelop the view when the sun sets. On the other side is a hilly terrain where palm trees keep the land shaded and cool. The beds in each room felt intimate like home. My favorite part was the basement, a living area sprawled with comfortable chairs and an obviously wide collection of books arranged in a massive bookshelf. Ahhhh, you can leave me here and I’ll be happily floating away with all the stories.
At the balcony, Kuya Rex was mentioning his grand dreams for the resort. The potential is undeniable and I’m sure Kuya Rex is the right and only person to make those dreams happen. He pointed to an ongoing construction beside the basketball court. They are building a convention center which can accommodate around 200 people. With that, he wants to increase the number of rooms so that more people can stay and enjoy their time, whether while doing business or spending vacation. A swimming pool and a long bar near the court are also in the making soon. For now, people can enjoy activities such as kayaking, playing in the basketball court, snorkeling, and even scuba diving. You can also jog or stroll around the area, I’m sure it will be a treat with nature surrounding you.
Minutes later, he led us to our rooms (the Habagat cottage) and found our sweet-smelling beds and clean bathrooms. After settling our bags (and by settle I mean dump everywhere), we abandoned our rooms and stayed under the shade of a tree where a hammock and two beach lounge chairs await. I am amazed with this location – seen on the far left is Mt. Mayon in Legazpi, at the middle is Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon (the one I can’t stop looking at). The 11-hectare area is a walking paradise of white sand, palm trees, grassland, and mini hills. I feel like I can live here for an indefinite time. I can write prose and poetry and read many books and stare at the sea and think about nothing and everything on this exact chair where I am sitting and laze my days away without any worries of tomorrow. Can I just say, Altamar Beach Resort is easily a favorite place in my hometown.
While relaxing our afternoon under the tree and talking about random stuff, the Italians worked from a distance, swam in the water after a while, and resumed working again. The sun had started to set and we walked around to capture more of how beautiful the place is.
While waiting for dinner, conversations flowed under the cosmos. I was mostly talking with Joro, one of my closest friends, and at the back of my mind I was sending my thanks to the Universe for our friendship and how it distinctively evolved because of our travels together, also inevitably shaking and expanding our own selves along the process (naks). We opened up our deepest desires and dreams of saying goodbye to the comforts of our home, work, family and friends, of leaving and not being left this time around, of overcoming barriers and fears, all while being melted with Ben Howard’s songs. I was even gladder to get to know the others too. Being with them in a span of three days meant everything. I felt thankful to be surrounded with this set of people. I never expected such an effortless friendship with everyone, given that we came from different backgrounds and places and professions, but breathtakingly united with the love for travel, for creativity, and random things in between.
Pia, sincere and nice and caring to be with like she’s your longtime friend (we came from the same high school but never really talked before), and sometimes in the middle of the conversation we suddenly burst out laughing and get confused as we interchange talking in Masbateno and Tagalog; Jaz, kind and approachable, undeniably responsible in her words and actions, that night in Altamar she tells me of her dreams to put up her own accommodation business with her family; Jonas, making me (and I’m sure everyone) laugh with his jokes and express “Awwwww” at his hugot lines any time of the day and making summer even brighter than it already is; Dave, knowing how to listen all the time, witty, sometimes quiet and sometimes talkative, whose unique laughter highlights the group conversation; JR, with his superb social skills, both professional and personal, it looks so breezy and effortless on his part you wonder how he does it; Eli, glowing in her artistic aura and sweet smile and her sweet haircut that she looks like Amelie in my eyes; Simone, always laughing so easily like a child (when I’m not sure if what I’m saying is even funny) and getting touched deeply with small gestures; and Fabio whose character reflects that of Joro (hello, sarcasm) that they are like brothers in a dangerous way. These beautiful people are cherished in their own, wild and weird ways.
Plus let’s not forget those epic vegetables for dinner. food
We headed down to the shore where a tall bonfire was waiting to warm us in the cold night. More of getting to know one another, lying down on the sand, and staring into the sky – stars were visible but the moon was showing off its brightness – questions and answers in between, like our versions of epic fail travel moments and life-changing adventures. I loved listening to them speak in the dark. We have no idea where the Italian gang was, we supposed they were also busy working in the magic of the night. We planned to play games and drink alcohol but we ended doing nothing except talk. Everybody seemed tired. And anyway, conversations in the dark awoke my spirit everytime.
My alarm echoed in the coldness of the room. I went to the bathroom and decided to go back to sleep again, but then Pia rose up from her bed, looked outside, and mentioned the sunrise. I searched quickly for my camera. Early bird catches the worm, in this case, I caught and captured a memory of beauty.
Pia called for us to prepare and eat breakfast, as fast as we can. Time was running out and we needed to leave early since we will be visiting another island called Burias. We ate breakfast, drank coffee, talked, caught the rising of the sun, talked more, returned to our rooms, arranged our stuff, said goodbyes and exchanged many thanks on the bridge, talked a little, and squeezed back ourselves on the boat. Another four hours on the sea. We sailed away full and happy and excited. value for money
Hold your breath, hold it in, can you see how clear the water is? Yes, can you see the stars twinkling on the surface? Breathe now, slowly. Something shining on top of another that shines. It is like silver, placed upon another silver, but fluid and alive and twinkling. You’re an ongoing event, a home for a day and a night, a memory embedded into a brain that is admittedly flawed and impermanent but an experience that lasts for as long as the good vibes spread and reach people who wish to wander.
Find yourself sun-bathing on the shores of Altamar, drinking a glass or two of your favorite fruit shake alone or with loved ones, inhale the salty and fresh air, and enjoy the mountains, the sea, the hills that naturally open up wonders inside. Experience doesn’t cost a thing.
Disclaimer: This stay was complimentary but opinions are my own.