Shame on me!
After having lived in Cebu City for twelve years, I set foot for the first time on one of the most exquisite and celestial places I have ever seen which I will now forever call my veiled paradise, Malapascua! Picturesque, surrounded by many other charming islands, stands this fascinating piece of land, majestically situated at the topmost part of the elongated north coast of the province of Cebu. Although resentful that I had not discovered my heaven earlier, I was ecstatic that I finally stumbled on the most precious gemstone I will ever own!
What is bizarre is that I have gone to countless beach destinations. Not only have I relished Coron, Hundred Islands and even the remotest pictorial island of Cabra near Mindoro, reveled in scores of resorts around the Philippines and cruised around the archipelago, but I have also enjoyed international beaches like Hawaii, the Carribean and the Mediteranea just to name a few, yet none of them can match my experience in this miniscule islet amidst the Visayan waters.
It only took a two and a half hour road-trip and a twenty minute banca-ride from home to get our crew to this fascinating site, which amazingly went by rather fast as we enjoyed the traditional Filipino sceneries on the coastal highway. Barbecued chicken, lechon and puso were abundant on the sides of the thoroughfare and native Visayans welcomed us as we drove by each town.
What astonished me was how the Cebuanos recovered from Yolanda (aka Haiyan). One would think that after the largest hurricane recorded in history struck Cebu, it would still be in shambles even after months had transpired at that time. Astonishingly, agriculture had begun to sprout and rebuilding was well underway! Nevertheless, one could only imagine the devastation this horrendous nightmare had left behind and the immense aid that is probably still much needed even today for everything and everyone to go back to normal.
Malapascua Island was an undiscovered fantasy to me and as we slowly approached the island surrounded by white sand, I could already feel the distinctive aura the island had in store for my ignorant eyes. The charisma that the secluded solitaire offered was fascinating and even if I still had not set my booties on the ground, I already knew this was my reverie away from the hustle and bustle of the real world!
Arriving to the frontage of what was going to be called home for the next few days, was an endless stretch of sand; and in between lay the quaint inate bungalows and low rise snug buildings nestled among the native locals’ homes that instantly drew us in – a warm welcome to the tropical island fenced by crystal blue seas!
Apparently, Malapascua is famous for thresher shark sightings and is now being rediscovered by divers from all around the world as the nirvana of top dive sights. Being deep water rays, these sharks are rare to see but because they are attracted to their cleaning stations in Monad Shaol near the island, it is the only place that they are seen daily. Here, they have a symbiotic relationship with wrasses which clean their dead skin, gills and even mouth, freeing them from bacteria in their body thus enticing divers to experience this unique spectacle.
Aside from this, there are myriads of things to encounter in the atoll. We promenaded all over the ethnic tracks that led to the center of town where we located indigenous inhabitants dawdling around in their leisure isle. We wandered to the other side of the rock to learn that one of the best restaurants was perched on the uppermost edge of the precious stone we uncovered overlooking the gorgeous ocean. We strolled around the burbs and hung out with the fishermen and children innocently playing in the waters.
We made friends too, with local dogs that made themselves at home in our oceanfront cottage terrace steps away from the water, who obviously were there because of the all-out hospitality we offered them – gourmet meatballs, homegrown humba, Spanish tortilla, and other delicacies for their exquisite palate!
I can go on and on about the most utopian place I’ve ever visited and often wondered how life would be if I owned nothing, I did nothing, I thought nothing and only lounged in an island like this. Then I realized how green with envy I was of having too much when nothing to worry about except hunting for my next meal would be bliss!
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