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“Bakhaw Beach po tayo, Ma’am,” suggested the habal-habal driver, in a tone of excitement, as we rolled along the pleasantly paved main highway of San Francisco, a town in the Camotes Islands, Cebu.
I answered him with a quick “Yes.” Who was I to refuse? He knew Camotes Islands better, and I’m sure San Francisco has a lot to offer. Just the day before, I had a great time frolicking on its famed Santiago Bay. Now I couldn’t wait to explore another one of its beaches.
So we turned left from the main highway and passed through a dirt road lined with coconut palms and bushes. It was reminiscent of the dirt roads we have in my beloved Northern Samar.
When the habal-habal came to a stop, I instantly knew I had found another paradise. Right in front of me was a vast blue skywith streaks of white clouds, a long stretch of white sand lined with coconut palms, and turquoise water just waiting to be enjoyed. The stunning scenery was enough to persuade any visitor to immediately put on his or her favorite stylish swimwear and go right into the inviting water.
Bakhaw Beach is a welcome oasis for weary souls. It is perfect for those who want to escape the daily grind of city life. It is away from a madding crowd, unlike in some well-known beaches. We went there on a holiday and it was a weekend at the same time, but there were only a few locals swimming.
Bear in mind, though, that Bakhaw Beach is a public beach. There are no facilities yet in the area other than some modest cottages that charge PhP100 for use during the day and a resort, at a considerable distance, that offers accommodation. There are also no commercial establishments nearby except for some small stores, so bring your own supplies.
My stay at Bakhaw Beach was short, but I immensely enjoyed it. Simply being there is definitely another addition to my growing definitions of summers. I would love to visit it again, and I hope it remains for many years a beautiful, unspoiled, clean, and quaint place.
Posted 2 years, 10 months ago at 3:08 pm. 11 comments
Bask in the sun. Swim. Let the wind play with your hair.
Enjoy what’s left of summer.
Posted 2 years, 10 months ago at 8:10 pm. 6 comments
Crossing the Camotes Sea with new-found friends
I squinted my eyes as the boat was about to dock. We weren’t docking at a port, I thought to myself. It was just a small strip of shoreline lined with small houses. Our boat had to dock there because it ran out of gasoline.
The place was Barangay San Isidro in the town of San Francisco. We were told by the residents that we had already passed by the place we were actually going to which was Barangay Santiago. They were wondering why the boatmen had to take us to Barangay San Isidro when we could have taken directly to Santiago which was nearer. The residents were also concerned why we dared ride on a very small boat when the sea was rough.
It wasn’t really part of the plan. The plan was to travel from Cebu City to Danao and from there to take the ferry to the port of Barangay Consuelo, also in the town of San Francisco.
But it was Maundy Thursday, a holiday. And everyone was headed to Camotes Islands (okay, that was just an exaggeration). Danao port could have made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for its suuuuuuper looooong queue, and that was just to get what the shipping company call “priority number” before you could buy a ticket. By the look of it, it would be impossible to cross the Camotes Sea by ferry before 10PM, and we were there as early as 8AM.
Another option was to go on a boat. Two men who were traveling with a little girl agreed to go with us. The boat’s charge was split among us.
So off we went on a boat: an itsy-bitsy-teenie-weenie outrigger, so small that two persons cannot sit side by side. I looked at the water as the boatman started off the engine. It was calm and crystal clear. I looked up and saw blue sky studded with soft cottony clouds. It was going to be a peaceful ride, I thought to myself. Or perhaps I was just trying to convince myself because admittedly I do not know how to swim and there was no life vest in the boat.
One hour into the trip, I noticed the waves were getting bigger. The boatmen tried to manage as we were going against the flow of the swell. Then the engine conked out. Once. Twice. Thrice. The boatmen tried to revive it each time. Apparently, a small part of the engine kept loosening.
The waves crashed into the boat many times; seawater splashing up on us. I held on tightly to my backpack which I put in front of me. I covered it with my jacket to protect my camera.
The fourth time the engine stopped, the boatmen told us we ran out of gasoline. Luck was still on our side because we were already near the shores of San Francisco. The boat made it to Camotes Island safely. The three and a half hours trip left my things wet. Everything. Except my camera which I wrapped in a small plastic sando bag.
The next day, a habal-habal took us around the town of San Francisco. The driver told us some tourists from Manila also dared to go to Camotes on a boat the same day we took the trip, only that they left Danao a few hours later than we did. The boat capsized as it was nearing the shore. Fortunately, everyone was safe as people from a nearby resort came to the rescue.
Next post: Santiago Bay
Posted 2 years, 11 months ago at 3:07 pm. 7 comments
Like many Filipino girls, these girls go to school. But unlike many Filipino girls, these girls live in school—them and about three thousand more. They are from the Sisters of Mary Girls Town in Talisay, Cebu.
They were sought out by the Sisters from the poorest of the poor families in Visayas and Mindanao. Here, they are taught academic subjects as well as technical-vocational skills. After high school, most of the girls get an NCII accreditation from TESDA, preparing them for a life in college or an opportunity to land a job after high school.
The girls attend classes almost year-round. They only get a two-week vacation during the year. Sometimes, many of them choose not to return to their homes for vacation but instead stay in the school dormitories.
That day—the day I took these photos—was a special day for the girls. It was the day the school campus was filled with smiles and laughter, and some crying, too. It was the day the school ground turned into a big picnic ground. It was the day—the only day during the year—the school opened its gates to allow visits from the girls’ families.
I saw mothers and daughters hugging and laughing and crying together. I saw fathers and daughters hugging and laughing and crying together. It was a happy day for many of the girls.
But when I happened to pass by one of the dormitories, I heard some sobbing. I couldn’t help but ask some of the girls walking by me about the sobbings I’ve heard. “Ate, wala po kasi silang bisita eh.” “Bakit?” I asked. “Wala po sigurong pamasahe ang mga kamag-anak nila para pumunta dito sa Cebu,” they replied in halting Tagalog.
It broke my heart because I knew how they felt. During my four years in high school, I had to live with a relative in Manila so I can continue my schooling. I only got visited twice by my parents. Well, thrice, if I were to include my graduation day. My worst enemy at the time was homesickness. Also, I had no one to turn to when I needed comforting. The only means of communication I had with my family back in the province was snail mail.
I admire the girls for their determination and I admire the institution for caring for these children. But I wish there will come a time when no girls would leave their homes just to have the opportunity to attend school, receive nourishment, and endure homesickness for a chance at a better life.
Posted 4 years ago at 7:52 pm. 14 comments