Puerto Galera, etc.
July 24, 2016 § 3 Comments
The three of us huddled at the back of the passenger jeep, shivering from the cold and pouring rain. As the vehicle made its way up the slope of the road, I thought about the other crewmen left to unload the diving gear and how long it would take for their other jeep to reach them at the shore. It’s all in a day’s work for them I guess. “You and your ideas”, Ama finally told me while still visibly shaken from the whole ordeal. “Basta ako, my idea of a vacation was to relax inside a resort sleeping and reading a book”, Gab followed through. “Whaaat? I didn’t know there was going to be a storm”, I answered while seriously considering where to have lunch. A few minutes later, my dad vomited out some of the snacks he had on the boat. Looking back, it was a very fortunate day. The wind had been strong this morning, but the sun’s heat radiated through a relatively cloudy sky. Gab and I clocked in two dives – good ones at that (I had never seen that much giant clams in a single area; and there was a pawikan sea turtle as a bonus). But after surfacing from the last dive, as if on cue, the storm came pounding in. Our boat made its way against the current and we were repeatedly tossed by the waves as the rain whipped us on the trip back to the main island. It was quite an experience, but I was too busy trying to remember if I had experienced worse. The sensation of nausea and the desire to end the ordeal was familiar. Thankfully, we all got back safely and right on time for lunch. If we had needed to wait out the storm and thus delay lunch, it would have probably been worse.
Though I wanted to go elsewhere for my recent trip back home, Ama was hesitant to book flight tickets because July is monsoon season. I grudgingly complied and proceeded to look for nearby options and settled with Puerto Galera. Our trip started at 4:00 am at the JAM bus station in Buendia where we took a bus straight to Batangas port. We arrived before 6:00am to find out that they had canceled their early (yet published) trips since it was low season. Ama and Gab were not exactly amused that I woke them up too early just to wait in the terminal. The first boat was to leave at 8:30am but thankfully the terminal was clean and comfortable enough. I booked our stay at Aninuan beach, which was one of the more quiet options in Puerto Galera. It wasn’t the optimum location for diving, but I figured Ama would appreciate the more rustic and rural environment. We stayed at Bamboo House Beach Lodge & Restaurant where the staff was very nice and the food was also good. Their restaurant/lounge was a nice place to sit at, and they had hammocks by the beach where I spent some afternoons reading. They also had kayaks that could be borrowed for free, though you needed to drag them out and return them by yourself. I did not however find the bathroom comfortable – and it didn’t help that I’m very particular about bathrooms. Aninuan beach sat right at the foot of a low mountain (the name of which I am not aware of). The beach was a mixture of sand and polished rocks – not particularly amazing yet clean and pretty enough. The isolation from the usual tourist traffic may be appreciated by some. Most resorts were ran by families, where they did everything including the cooking. Food was usually prepared right when you ordered it and we had a satisfactory dining experience overall. I also noticed an ubiquity of Italian restaurants in the area, perhaps signifying a lot of Italians who found the place conducive for settling, and thus a prevalence of authentic pizza. My dad bought one before our trip back home. A pizza that he had to run for under the rain in order for us not to miss the boat – only to find out that the boat trip was canceled due to the inclement weather. This resulted to more than 15 hours of travel (van-ferry-bus-car) as we had to go to another port where bigger boats set off from. By the time we got home, I was thankful of finally being able to use our own bathroom and sleep on my own bed. Oh, and the pizza was quite good actually. I would have eaten more if not for the fact that the van trip from Aninuan to Calapan made me dizzy as hell. As we only spent a little more than a day in the actual island, we weren’t able to explore much. I would definitely consider going back as Puerto Galera did prove an easy place to go to from Manila, a good jump point for scubadiving, and a pleasant respite from the city.
The rest of my trip back home was filled with meeting friends and family, which is always good if not for the heavier traffic nowadays. It was painful to be on the road any time beyond 6am. We even got into a minor road accident (a motorcycle hit and dented the car while we were stationary in traffic, and he just rode off). I didn’t get to meet everyone I would have wanted to, but I was thankful I finally got to visit Sheena (I couldn’t make it to her wedding last December and she’s now radiating with a baby in her womb). I was also thankful that Ama insisted we spent more time visiting Grandpa and Mama Mila, as well as Lolo. It wasn’t until now that I actually thought about how fragile they are now, literally and figuratively. Two weeks seemed a long time removed from my research, yet it felt too short to actually feel like I was home. I was finally able to start a compilation of Ama’s funny quotes though, a project I’ve always wanted to document a long time ago but just never got around writing. My brother fortunately stayed home longer as he was in-between jobs. At least this time around, Ama didn’t have to take us to the airport together.
my two grandfathers toasting bananas for the happiness of being with family