Palawan

Culion Island: Do yourself a favor by doing nothing

The latter part of 2015 saw me almost living off my suitcase—all because I decided to take the risk of throwing my security blanket out the window (employment) and tossing myself into a blender (read: the freelance life).

When I left the newsroom with only a bag full of notebooks (I’d like to report that my handwriting’s gone from bad to dreadful), news clippings, and magazines accumulated in my almost seven years in the publication, I was a cocktail of emotions. I felt a heady mix of happiness, relief, excitement, anxiety, nostalgia, fear, and dread. Mostly the latter, because for somebody used to a steady stream of work, I suddenly had nothing.

Turns out all my fears were unfounded because the last six months have been the busiest—deadline demolition even happens on weekends now *cry*—and it wasn’t until a November book project prompted me to extend my trip in Palawan (I was in El Nido for a friend’s wedding) from four days to eight (work was in Culion), that I realized how truly necessary it is to insert “DOING NOTHING” in my agenda.

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Technically, I did not really not do anything in Culion.

I was there to cover community development work, but a great deal of my time was spent alone, beginning with the 24-hour journey it took to get from El Nido to Culion Island.

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I left El Nido early morning to take an eight-hour boat ride from one seaside town to another, stayed the night in Coron because I got there before sunset (cut-off for outbound boat rides is at five), and left early morning for Culion, which is just an hour away.

It was a tiring journey, but the scenery along the way more than made up for it.

From El Nido to Coron, you’ll pass through open sea, as well as Linapacan Strait, which I’m told has the cleanest waters in Palawan as most of the nearby islands are uninhabited. (Led me to ponder on how many years of hard work and no eating it will take me to buy one of them islands)

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From Coron to Culion, you will spend the entire time in awe. You’ll see gorgeous limestone cliffs, pearl farms, and the clearest waters everrr.

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When I finally checked in at Hotel Maya after the long journey, I was several shades (I refuse to say fifty!) darker than usual and, even as I was tired to the bone and had stuffed my face with food, I felt lighter and happier and so utterly relieved that I had to break my no-selfie rule :D

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Making that journey alone is probably the highlight of my year. For one, it was the longest boat ride I made alone. And second, I was really apprehensive about it because early that week, it was reported that a storm was on its way to the Philippines, supposedly set to pass through Palawan, which meant a rough ride across an angry sea. I guess I’m one lucky duck because the exact opposite was the case—my entire trip in Palawan saw nothing but really sunny, breezy weather.

Upon arriving in Culion Island, once the infamous site of a former leper colony (it is now 100% leprosy-free!), it proved to be the perfect setting to just forget everything and enjoy the art of being still. When not out in the field, I spent a chunk of my time sitting by the al fresco area of Hotel Maya, doing nothing but marvel at the gorgeous view before me.

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Added these sunrises to my collection, too:

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My first day there, I woke up after an afternoon nap, stared outside my window, and found myself facing the most magical sight: the moon rising beyond the horizon. Phone camera does not do it justice at all.

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Definitely counting my lucky stars that this trip sprung up at the last minute. Posting more about Culion soon…Enjoy the last few days of the year, y’all!

-T

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