destination: Palawan (Calauit) Day 3/6

Officially our first day of community immersion.

We listened earnestly as the Tagbanua shared the stories of their land. They showed us their village as they continued sharing their stories

We found students reviewing for the upcoming national achievement test on a Saturday. Some of the mothers were tending to the school gardens while the fathers were busy repairing the classrooms and the arm chairs. Once a month, the parents allot one Saturday to help maintain the schools. This is bayanihan. The younger children play in the school yard as they waited for their parents.

It seems that no matter how remote an area may be, there will always be a basketball ring or a makeshift court somewhere. The children played with a now worn basketball on hardened earth unmindful of the dust clouds formed as they played on.

Climbed another mountain. In here, taking a hike is simply a means to get to a usual destination. It’s like riding a jeepney in Los Baños. It’s not a hobby. Nothing special about it.

One of the guides joked about the mountain being the Mt. Tapias of Calauit, only instead of concrete steps it had a rough rocky trail and it had no rails. It wasn’t a hike for the thin rubber slippers most of the students favored. The view – I’ll rave on and on about the -scapes in this place. I know, I’m being redundant. I just have to.

Somewhere in these fields are markers for the trees that the Tagbanua planted as part of the reforestation efforts of the community.

Our students at work. Manong Roy, the community leader, explained the Tagbanua efforts in preserving the natural riches of their land.

The students worked. I played documented as they worked 😀

Late in the afternoon, we chanced upon a small octopus or pugita (or dinner).

Octopus/ "pugita"/ dinner 😀 This one's dead by the way. Weighed about two kilos. The fishermen were just educating us on how they catch pugita.

The fishermen explained how they catch pugita. They use a squid doll bait.

the bait

The pugita attacks the bait and smothers it with its tentacles mistaking it for a squid.

Reenactment. I found it more amusing to see the fishermen "play" with our dinner with a blow by blow account of what happens when they fish for pugita. Of course, the actual fishing takes place in deeper waters.

Late in the afternoon, just as it was about to get dark., I found myself wandering in the other side of the island. From our host Nanay Carmen’s home, we always went to the right side to get to the guest cottage where the rest of the party was housed. I wondered what was on the other side. I notified a member of the party where I was headed just in case I didn’t return (darn those horror/thriller movies!)

Found it a little eerie especially with the sun setting. I took comfort in faint house noise and conversations as I made my way farther left. The sound of waves crashing through reefs was getting louder. The sand grains, which were actually crushed corals and shells, became more coarse and were bigger as I neared the clearing. And then I saw a bit of the beach just at the end of this view.

It was darker when I took the photo.

I wanted to run to I could reach the beach with greater light but the shore wasn’t friendly to running. The bits of and even whole shells and coral were sharp and pointed – not really ideal or safe for a run especially a fall.

This was what waited for me in that clearing.

I know I’m not the first person to set foot in that area or the one who first saw this view – but it gave me that sense of discovery. I found something not advertised or recommended. I got somewhere from curiosity. To take in the view required some time and crashing waves – I found the source of our evening lullaby. Strange how a crashing sound can be relaxing. If I could just hit a record button in our mind so I can keep this view in my memory and play it back on loop, it’d be great. I tried sharing this but it dulled the experience. The 15 minutes I spent there made all the travel time and expense worth it.

It was getting dark and I had to head back. With careful steps, it’d take ten minutes to get back. I had to go farther tomorrow. I invited other members of the group to test the waters the next morning. Plus ‘Nay Carmen was also going to accompany us.

Later that evening, we went firefly watching in the mangrove forest about 15 minutes boat ride away from the dock near the guest cottage. No photos for this activity. The guides explained that the number of fireflies we saw were nothing compared to what they witness during December. To think that I was already amazed in seeing trees lit by scattered golden glow.

I saw this evening scape where the the two side of mangrove forest framed the star filled sky. I know there’s a lot of stars. But seeing them scattered in a cloudless (and smog free) sky is quite an experience. I only see this kind of scene in movies.

I need to go back hopefully on a December to witness what firefly season is like.

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