we can’t ever go back to old things or try and get the ‘old kick’
out of something or find things the way we remembered them.
We have them as we remember them and they are fine and
wonderful and we have to go on and have other things
because the old things are nowhere except in our minds now.
Hemingway to Bill Horne, Paris 1923
For most beaches I know, a thing is true by daylight but at the end of the day it becomes a lie, except for one island…Apo Reef .
I secretly wish the gloomy sky would lighten up after all we paid a hefty Php7,000 for the boat. Good thing we chanced up on a team of divers on a late holidays, so the fare was divided into 2 groups. It was a grueling 2+ hour boat ride. But before we even came to that, it was a 2+hour bus ride to the port, 2+hour ferry ride and another 2 hour bus ride to Sablayan, Mindoro the gateway to Apo Reef.
The cloud shrouded the sky above the Golden Bridge, no it wasn’t gold it was in fact red. Slowly, I took a few steps, imagining I was alone crossing the bridge. But I wasn’t, I’m with my friends; Marcos, Darwin and Marky and we’re off to the island to camp.
At first sight, it wasn’t like the paradise that I expected. I was craving to set foot on a powdery white sand surrounded by a turquoise beach and a cloudless blue sky plus a turtle down the water. Blame it on Angel’s photo of Apo Reef which was inscribed in my mind.
At first sight, Apo Reef is like any other white sand beach in the Philippines nothing extraordinary, huts tucked in the island surrounded by trees and one huge cabana where the rangers orient the tourists about the island. We unpacked our things, Marky started preparing our food while Darwin hopelessly tried to fix his camera.
A beam of sunlight suddenly emerged out of the gloomy sky which brought a smile in my eyes. I grabbed my camera and run into the shores with Darwin. While Marcos and Marky waited for our turn to snorkel after the divers raise out of the underwater.
In Apo Reef, diving is not a requirement, but with an island considered as underwater wonder of the world like, you’ll regret it if you don’t dive! Well pretty much like us. Apo Reef National Park is Asia’s largest atoll-like reef and the World’s 2nd largest after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It is not surprising that is considered a mecca by divers. But even inexperienced snorkelers like us can glimpse a magical array of coral, fish and other marine life.
As we walked farther along the shoreline, the island’s pulchritude was slowly unveiled to us. The beach turns green and bluish farther down the horizon. The white washed modern lighthouse added more drama to the tranquil surroundings and pristine waters. Rock formations are clustered at the edge of the island adorned with verdant foliage.
I lied down on the sand under the shade of a scrub bush. The sand pinkish orange up close. “I know Apo Reef has more to offer than this. The weather must be better tomorrow“, I tried to convince myself. I fell asleep in the bare sand.
I heard scratches of the twigs followed by some footsteps. Darwin came back after browsing the edge of the island. We went back in time for snorkeling. I didn’t like the way they handled the snorkeling though, we were left clinging into a bamboo while a smaller outrigger boat pulled us. It was tiring, not to mention it was too deep for us to see the marine life clearly. Good thing, the next day, we’re able to snorkel freely (and not pull us with that bamboo) into a boat wreck somewhere in the midst of the sea. Apo Reef has something more to offer aside from its legendary underwater and long coastline of white sand and pristine waters. But I’ll leave you hanging for now.
Maybe at first sight I wasn’t that impressed with Apo Reef, but its charm was gradually introduced to me. Besides, this is my ideal trip; just bumming around the island without thinking of moving hurriedly into the next destination like we normally do.
At the end of the day, we were sitting in the sands watching the one of the most breathtaking sunset our eyes have ever laid on. The sun is visible nowhere but it looks as if it’s rising from an unusual direction. The sky illuminated rays of pink and orange curtain-like lights reminiscent of aurora borealis (polar lights) that couldn’t be justified by my photo. While on the other side, the bright bold moon is making its way up in the sky. The mood looks as if there’s a war between the 2 gods; who will take home the crown for the most lovely scene. I will always vote for the sunset though. Not because I am lonely, but because I am fragile.
My first sight of Apo Reef has thought me one important thing: the real voyage of discovery consist of not seeking new landscape but having new eyes.
I look forward to the day that we return to her womb and dive, hoping to regain what we’ve lost…But for now, all we have left is the indelible memories of Apo Reef…