like seeing a long-lost friend

i promised jeff i’d take him to bantayan island. he’d never been. neither had may-ann and the kids. so we hit the road and drove north. well, my dad drove and to be honest, i felt really bad about it. i didn’t want him to get tired from driving. i could’ve drove myself but 2 years in australia had made me scared of navigating the roads in cebu when before, i could ace it with one eye closed. okay, i kid, but you catch my drift.

i have become a sissy. i guess that’s what happens when you get accustomed to the proper way of doing things and putting safety on top priority. i looked for pedestrian lanes when there was none. i expected road courtesy in favor of pedestrians but who was i kidding? sometimes it feels like it’s a dog eat dog world out there. everyone’s out to save their own skin. people give way to bicycles who give way to trisikads who give way to motorcycles and tricycles who give way to cars and jeepneys who give way to trucks. in short, the bigger the vehicle, the more “power” is assumed on the road. but that doesn’t only apply to size because the flashier and newer the car, the more entitled their drivers feel. these are things i have seen and noticed even before i came to live in australia. the very same things that still bothers me after the fact.

so, anyway, we drove up north. all the way to the tip of cebu before jumping on a ship that would take us to paradise. but before that, we stopped for some bingka (rice cake) hot off the makeshift oven. steaming right in front of your eyes.

cebu, philippines

with the number of stalls selling the exact same thing all clustered together, i don’t know how businesses thrive. that’s the funny thing with the filipino culture. when one business is doing good, all the neighbors will be into it as well. overkill.

on a side note, i wouldn’t mind having some of those bingkas right now.

bantayan island, cebu, philippinesbantayan island, cebu, philippines

if i remember correctly, it takes about an hour or so to cross tañon strait from daanbantayan to bantayan island itself. one hour of trying to entertain the growing restlessness of a toddler sweating in the heat; breastfeeding her until she finally falls asleep, thank god!

all in all, raven’s a pretty easy kid to travel and live with. but, you know, she’s a baby. at some point, long distance travels take its toll on her. good thing they’re not strict with car seats over there so she wasn’t really restricted to move around, in a sense.

bantayan island, cebu, philippinesbantayan island, cebu, philippines

from where you’re sitting on the boat, you’d know when you’re almost there. it’s hard to miss. the island’s white sand is blinding under the sun. the waters, with its different shades of green and blue, are clear and inviting. you’d wanna jump right in.

i have fond memories of the island. it’s one of the places you and your friends go to for that first out-of-town adventure, granted that your parents give you their permission. or if you’re a goody two-shoes to ask for one, like i was.

i remember playing silly games in the water in the middle of the day with college mates, boisterous laughs echoing into that space we momentarily claimed as ours. yen2 jumping from a riprap assuming there was deep enough water to cushion her dive. miscalculated. a very shallow fall into nothing but sand and maybe about an inch of water, if at all. one of the greatest mysteries of the random and funny things she gets herself into. us crowding around her and gently palpating the bones in her elbow to check if they were broken. a short, temporary scare before the next round of crazy.

good times. great memories resurrected from their graves at the sight of coconut trees and their branches casting shadows on powdery white sand. it was kind of like saying hello again to a long lost friend after more than 10 years.

she’s still as beautiful as when i saw her last.

bantayan island, cebu, philippines

we stayed at anika island resort. it had some pretty good reviews online and was relatively cheap too. i was particularly interested on how they used shipping containers for their rooms and you know what, with the right layout and a bit of creativity on interior design, it’s actually not bad at all! they’re like tiny houses, pretty much. except that you won’t feel too closed in because of the openness of the veranda where you could lounge around or hang wet clothes in, like what we did.

although the first room they assigned my family to was a little too small, considering that i specified that we would be getting extra mattresses. those extra mattresses wouldn’t even fit what tiny space was left between the double-sized beds that were already there. but they upgraded them to a much bigger room though, so no dramas.

bantayan island, cebu, philippinesbantayan island, cebu, philippinesanika island resort, bantayan island, cebu, philippinesanika island resort, bantayan island, cebu, philippines

of course, it helps a lot that they had all these plants strategically located to guide you into the beach where lounge chairs under a huge canopy await for you to sit down and take in the beauty that made this corner of the earth famous.

too bad it rained on the first afternoon that we were there. not that i’m complaining. the sound of it pattering on the roof was very soothing to my ears, like a gentle lullaby that softly rocks you to sleep. and with nothing to do because the resort’s wifi sucked to hell and back, i listened to it like you would to meditation music with the sound of bamboos and chimes and running water as if you’re in an enchanted forest or something. you tend to let that shiz wash your senses until your soul feels completely refreshed. the only thing missing then was a massage therapist giving me the tender ministrations my back needed.

bantayan island, cebu, philippines

their restaurant was alright. i mean, the food was pretty basic. nothing much to say here, really, except that hands down, australia has the best pizza i have ever tasted. and i’m not talking posh italian restaurants. there’s this guy in doveton who makes a mean vegetarian pizza. jessie’s pizza is the name of the joint. jeff orders there quite a lot he’s now chummy-chummy with the couple who owns it. one time, we needed a witness to sign for raven’s passport application and since the shop was close by, the guy happily autographed the legal document.

all because of pizza. and my lack of cooking skills as well but we’re not talking about that right now.

anika island resort, bantayan island, cebu, philippinesbantayan island, cebu, philippines

when the rain had stopped and raven was awake, we hitched a ride with the resort’s van to take us to town so we can have a look around. it seems to have grown. little cafes and restaurants everywhere. foreign nationals scattered about — sipping beer and having relaxed conversations outdoors, riding bicycles, doing touristy stuff, etc etc…

it didn’t used to be like that before. but then again, i can barely remember what it was like in the first place so my memory of that particular part of town is not very reliable.

bantayan island, cebu, philippinesbantayan island, cebu, philippines

had dinner at chef panyang whose tarpaulin boasted of asian/american/international cuisine. my parents were unimpressed. they thought the food was underwhelming. so-so.

i, on the other hand, thought it was pretty good. but if you’ve been reading my blog for quite some time now, you know what that means. and usually it means what it means: that it was pretty good.

vague is my middle name.

*raven at 1 year and 3 months old

2 thoughts on “like seeing a long-lost friend

  1. kuyawa bitaw lagi sa dinrayban sa mga tao dire jan. hahaha.. shet. fighting bouts of flu and a strong lack of desire to risk my life in cebu traffic. haha. life.

    beautiful photos. 🙂 did may-an and jeff enjoy their first time? hope you guys visited the other side (kota and budyong beach), that area is my favorite. I checked in Anika in 2013 with officemates from Doha, the shore then was not that good kay makita man ang pier. and gikan pud to bagyo, so not as clean. but at least good running water that time.

    1. i loved budyong. that was where we stayed the first time we went a loooong time ago. i was still in high school.

      next time maybe we’ll stay there again. i wanna go to virgin island. we didn’t go ‘coz raven was too young to be in a pumpboat.

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