Falling in Love with Paradise-Bantayan Island, Philippines

February 21st, 2017

PhilippinesTravel Writing Award

Falling in Love with Paradise-Bantayan Island, Philippines

It was the first white sand beach I ever set foot on. It was known by the locals of Cebu, but not by Manileños, back then. Seeing the island for the first time, in 2001, was like seeing paradise.

My colleague Ritz, who was based in Cebu, told me to spend the weekend there so we could visit one of the islands. I rebooked my flight and we went to the Cebu City North Bus Terminal and boarded a six-hour bus ride to Hagnaya Port in San Remigio. We reached Hagnaya port before lunch time and we ate our lunch while waiting for the ferry boat to Sta. Fe Port. It was an hour-long ferry ride, during which I finally got to see Bantayan island, with its pristine white sands and clear blue waters. And it was love at first sight.

Yes, I fell in love with Bantayan Island, the province of Cebu and the white sand beach. I travelled a lot because of my job, I do side trips to the different cities and provinces that I went to. Bantayan Island has been listed as my number two travel destination in terms of beach, food, resorts and people. I keep on coming back and I would never get tired of going back. It would always be my comfort zone. My first love white beach island. My first ever worthwhile travel and the reason why I started exploring the archipelago and loving my very own country.

I became a beach bum. I don’t mind getting sun-kissed by the sun because luckily I don’t get dark even if I stayed all day into the outdoors. I became fascinated with nature that I started to catch sunrise and chase sunset. I’d talk to locals to understand their history and culture.
There came a time that travelling for me had become a scapegoat. That going to an unknown place is my way of finding myself. Travelling is a way for me to have a peace of mind, to realize that life is not a routine, that I’m getting out of my comfort zone, learning about myself and finding my limits. I would always look forward on my next trip, or plan a trip even two-year ahead.

Everybody has a bucket list. Mine contains all the places in the Philippines where I’d want to go. I’d been doing it since I went to Bantayan Island. I’d crossed the name of the place if I got the chance to see it and add more if I heard of a place worth exploring. This time around my bucket lists are countries I’d want to have my very own adventure.

But yes, I love my country the most. I made sure that before I started globally I could say with pride to everyone that I explored the archipelago. There were only a few places left that I’d want to go to that was still on my list and keep coming back to the usual spots I love. As for the rest of the Philippines, I had memories, stories and experiences I could share. Boarding a plane, a ferry, a boat, a bus, a jeepney, a motorcycle, or whatever means of transportation there is, had become ordinary. Staying in a luxurious hotel, a hostel, an ordinary house or even camping I tried it all. I had my stomach full by eating out in an expensive restaurant, meals offered by locals, food on the streets, the specialty of the place (some places I couldn’t eat their specialty food though.) Every time I’d visit a place whether it’s new or a place I’d been to, I’d always search for a church or a chapel to pray and thank my creator for giving me a wonderful life.

And now, why do I travel? I guess I still have the same reasons when I was only starting: 1. To check my bucket list. 2. To explore the place; the tourist destination, the food, and learn the history and culture. 3. I find myself when I travel. 4. I create memories.
I think, the last reason for me travelling is the greatest of all. To look back years from now, I could say to myself that I’d been there, done that.
And to quote: I haven’t been everywhere but it’s still on my list. So I’d keep on exploring more.

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