14 July 2019

TakLong way to go

Of all my travels, old and new, this one is among my favorites for one special reason: experienced it the most inconvenient yet best possible way. I would, in any day, give this a perfect score. While it’s true that there is so much in store for Iloilo or in other parts of Guimaras, our itinerary favored a rather unusual route, a road less traveled so to speak. 

The story started in the usual fashion; departed from Manila then boarded a plane straight to Cabatuan. But instead of taking the usual course to the renowned Gigantes Island, we opted to catch that 20-minute boat ride headed to Jordan via Ortiz Wharf. Shortly after, braved that long fx ride to the south end part of the island to take a leap of faith to Taklong Island. The story from there on was a little embarrassing. But looking at it from a brighter perspective, it’s actually a feat unmatched so far. This experience that we succumbed to was an accidental kind but a breakthrough one.

It was past noontime when we arrived at the tip of the Nueva Valencia tail end, gateway to the Taklong Island aka South Point Islands. It turned out the island wasn’t supposed to be open for visitors during that time and prior arrangement with the UPV Miag-ao Admin Office is necessary. With the mobile signal in the area scarce, we found ourselves clueless of what to do next hopelessly getting ourselves into that bitter pit of a situation. Clearly, we were on a brink of a massive adventure failure barely looking at our deplorable position. 

Goodness gracious, we were able to reach the right person to make this nearly impossible stint become possible, after several communications with the locals. As it turned out, our saving grace was a UP Visayas professor who happened to be a project leader of an ongoing research at that time in pursuit of the rehabilitation of the area after the severe oil spill a couple of years back. Guess the UP card worked its wonders and saved the day.

The rest of the day was spent over a short island tour course, which was more of the reflection kind of afternoon. There’s something special in the place more than its devastated beauty that got under my skin in the best, and at the same time, hard way. Traces of the recent tragedy still linger all over the place – black oil residues embracing the coastline rocks, helplessly damaged and lifeless corals, and the memory of a thousand hermit crabs that never made it alive during that dark chapter – the most precious things are indeed those those that are helpless. The spot itself speaks volumes of its truth, an undeniable story of grief, painful enough to be overlooked. All the more it hurts with the fact that humans, the supposed protectors and preservers of this gift, were the root cause of this trouble.  

The sun was about the set towards the end of that short roundabout. Too ironic how such wonderful sunset graces such broken things reassuringly exclaiming loud peace in the midst of the silent chaos, momentarily covering up all the crimes of the past. I took my time appreciating the rocky outcrop curves and edges, the exquisiteness in the outstretch of sandbars, and the lush forest of mangroves. The sun rays candidly kissed the soft sea breeze echoing a resounding hope for the each and every part of that ecosystem trying to recover from the sorry heartbreak. I wish people could be like all these things – able to recuperate gracefully amidst the adversities. Sure it is a long and enduring process but really, all we need is all the help we can get from those who cares, and a considerable amount of time.

Here’s also to low-key hoping that people would be more forgiving to others and to themselves. Sure it was someone’s fault that what happened has happened, but we also have the choice to make a better case out of the situation. May we all find peace and courage in fixing broken things and patient enough to allow whatever wounds there is to heal properly. We deserve it and we owe it to ourselves.

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