Malapascua, take me back!

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After having my fill of Cebu City, I was ready to take the bus and head way up north to see Malapascua. I’ve heard a lot of things about the place, especially the thresher sharks. Oblivious of what I may find, the first thing I saw when I reached Malapascua was the coast lined with small houses. From afar it definitely looked like any small Philippine village. At 4 in the afternoon it looked sleepy, with the seawater receding gently and not long after the light would slowly turn warm.

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First glimpse of Malapascua

I then noticed a lady beside me on the boat who had several grocery bags. I asked her if it was for her store but she told me it was for the coming fiesta. Wow, I thought to myself how lucky I am to be arriving in time for fiesta. We chatted a little then after alighting the boat, went our separate ways.

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I was heading to Villa Sandra, hoping to have a place to sleep there.

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When I got there the place was full, but this home being not the kind who would refuse a traveling soul, they offered me the hammock area. For that night and for two more nights, I comfortably slept here with the cool breeze blowing at night. I couldn’t find a more amazing accommodation! 🙂

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My “room” 😀 I can have either a hammock or a mattress

The ‘main beach’ where you find the pricier resorts like Ocean Vida and Blue Coral is on the southern tip of the island. Logon village where Villa Sandra is located is on the southwest side. After dropping my stuff and changing clothes at Villa Sandra, I walked around the village and then headed to the beach.

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Walking the entire stretch of white sand made me feel as if I were in peace. It was a place to forget everything and just appreciate the beauty that is upon you.

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There were bars on the resorts and during happy hour you can get cocktails for buy one take one (at Blue Coral, where it is nice to watch the sunset) or at discounted prices in the merrier Ocean Vida resort. Despite this, there is no intense partying in this side of Malapascua. Everything is just chill.

Being in Malapascua was a very unique experience for me. It wasn’t only my first time there, but it was also my first time to travel alone. Sure I ride planes and buses all by myself, but I was always going to a destination where I knew there were going to be friends or family. This time I went to this island on the northernmost tip of Cebu and explored it by myself, not really having a plan (and with limited funds #brokegirltravelsalone).

Yes at first I felt at peace walking by myself on the beach but then at night time, I couldn’t help but feel like I wanted someone to talk to. Back at Villa Sandra it was really so nice of Jean, the guy managing the place, to invite me to dinner together with an international crew. I remember I was sitting beside Kyle, the Canadian guy, on my left and Jean on my right. Then beside Kyle was a princess-like Danish girl; then Jaap (said as Yap) and another guy from Holland; and two preppy pretty girls from Los Angeles and London in front of me.

The next day was the start of my plan to immerse in the island. I had my breakfast at Jimbo’s karinderya haha – cheap but sumptuous! I was so a local haha. I bought a pair of Havana slippers (a Havaiana rip off) for 1/3 the price foreigners would get it, all because I speak Bisaya. I was up early to take a stroll on the beach with my camera. I got a good vantage point at Blue Coral Resort for my shots of the southern coast of the island.

Later on I inquired about a boat that would take me on a daytrip to Kalanggaman Island. Kalanggaman Island is part of the province of Leyte but is only about 1 ½ hours away by boat from Malapascua. It is a small island with a long stretch of white sand bar. From afar, it would look as if people on the sandbar were actually walking on water.

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If there is one thing Malapascua is famous for, it’s diving with the thresher sharks. But aside from Thresher sharks, Jean mentioned that there have also been sightings of Hammerhead sharks. This remains a bucket list for me because getting a diving certification isn’t cheap and to see the sharks you need to at least be certified for open water diving. Jean also mentioned cliff diving at a height that’s not for the fainthearted. That I also didn’t do… yet. One day when I return to Malapascua, I will!

Instead in Malapascua I beach bummed, drank some beer (to the extent that my limited funds allowed me), and went to the fiesta disco lol. Yes Disco, like how my grandma calls it. Every night there was music, beer, and dancing at the town’s basketball court since it was fiesta week and everyone was invited – locals mingling with tourists.

The following day I was debating on whether I should go home or stay one more night. I was glad I allowed myself to be persuaded to stay, for the beach we went to that day was amazing. Jean told us to go to Bantigue Beach and we did – Me, Verniece, Max and Kyle, who was our guide.

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From left to right: Max from Germany, Kyle from Canada, and Verniece from the beautiful country of the Philippines!

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Bantigue Beach

Bantigue beach was so beautiful! It felt like a paradise all to ourselves. That day, no one else was swimming in the beach but us. A wide stretch of fine white sand enclosed by the arms of a rocky cliff, this used to be part of a beach resort several years ago until typhoon Haiyan destroyed it. Now you can see remains of concrete walls and landscaped gardens that were abandoned after the storms wreckage.

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My last night in Malapascua was memorable in a funny way. I have mentioned several times I had limited funds during this trip. To be blunt, I was plain broke. I had with me a pack of biscuits called Sumo and they look like tiny Oreos. I ate that for lunch and I ate that for dinner sometimes too with beer to wash it off. Breakfasts I can’t live without so I always had these at Jimbo’s karinderya – my ever reliable cheap and descent food place there. But on my last night, I decided to really  eat lol. With Verniece and Kyle’s cajoling we went to Kookay’s (I forgot the complete name of the resort though). They have amazing thin crust pizza! I daresay it’s even so much better than Shakey’s or Yellow Cab.

With a full stomach we went back to Villa Sandra. I enjoyed Villa Sandra for one last night and slept in the breezy hammock area. I was up early the next day to leave, not really wanting to but knowing I had to. When I got to the port, where I would catch my boat to my hometown in Mindanao, my mind kept wandering back to Malapascua.

It wasn’t everything I hoped for. I had preconceived notions of what Malapascua would be but I was mistaken. It wasn’t just beach and beautiful sights. It was the people – locals and tourists alike that made it meaningful. I discovered that each beautiful place has things to offer beyond what we imagine. We learn from what we see, we learn from those we meet, and most especially we learn from what we realize while spending time in new places far from our comfort zones.

Until now, whenever I look at pictures of that memorable place I say silently, “Malapascua, take me back!

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