Iloilo Trip 2020: Day 2 ~ Aboard to Islas de Gigantes

November 22, 2020

Note: This trip happened in early 2020

It was heavily raining the previous day so we were a bit worried on how this will affect our planned island hopping activities. We asked for advice from our resort if this could push through on this day. We were all kinda hopeful that the day would bring a better weather, given the beautiful morning we witnessed at the resort.

We had a short morning walk around the resort because we weren't really able to look around the previous day. It was noticeable that there were a lot of constructions going on around the resort, mainly because there were areas that were destroyed by previous typhoons and also with the fact that the resort is really expanding and improving its facilities.

While waiting for the resort's advice regarding the snorkeling activity, the five of us (Steve arrived last night) went to the breakfast buffet and indulged  ourselves with a bounty feast!

We did get confirmation later that day that we could proceed with the tour activities. Excited we were, we prepared our things and went to our tricycle that would take us to the tour group.

We were in a joiner group, meaning different groups would be with us in a boat for the tour. While in the process of registration and orientation, the heavy rain and winds were still continuously pouring outside. Our tour guide instructed us to wait while they check with the coast guard if the tour can push through that day. I think we waited for more than 30 minutes. As the clock ticked on, some groups withdrew their participation from the tour. They thought that the rain would just continue on and it would just be dangerous to push through with the activity. The overall mood of everyone was anxiety, and I can't help but be affected by that energy also. I was proud with our group because we were determined to continue as long as the tour guide says it's safe -- as not pushing through with this activity on this day would ruin our plans for the next days to come. 😅 And so we patiently waited.

We entertained ourselves by taking lots of selfies and playing games while we waited for the organizer's advice.

At last, the coast guard gave their green signal, and the remaining groups in our tour proceeded to go to our allotted boat. The skies were not really fully clear, and I guess the organizers just wanted the tour to push through that day, with minimal rain. Well, we didn't know were all in for a wild and wet ride! As the boat progressed onto the sea, the winds and the rain continued, and I was just so thankful I didn't have a full stomach or I didn't feel dizzy. The motion of the boat was crazy, I felt like I was riding a roller-coaster in slow motion. The splatters of rain continued on, and it was so hard to keep my eyes open. Every person on the boat had their own strategies to protect their faces from the rain and wind -- some faced the other way while most used their  life vest as cover for their faces. For several minutes I was only using one hand to cover my eyes from the splatters of the rain (which really didn't do anything 😂) while the other hand was tightly gripping the bench in front of me so I don't fall off the side of the boat and into the ocean. 

After several minutes in this gesture, I had a realization, why was I resisting? It was what it was so I should learn to accept. Remember the bamboo that bends down over strong winds? I felt that this situation had a lesson for me. I was deep into my meditation journey at that time. Isn't it that a yogi can meditate under a waterfall all because of the gift of intense concentration from the practice? And so I changed my stance and relaxed my breathing. I lowered my other hand and just placed it also on the bench so that I could have a firmer grip onto the boat (😂) and then I just closed my eyes. To an outsider, I would look like I was sleeping amidst all the chaos of the rain and the wind on the boat, but actually I realized that it was actually easier that way. If previously the splatters of rainfall felt stressful and irritating on my face, now they just felt like soft tickling sensations. When I stopped resisting, I felt more relaxed. I felt one with Nature as I went with the motion instead of going against. Looking back to that moment, I realized I liked being in that zen mode. I was glad I was able to put into practice the meditation techniques that I have been absorbing in my (almost) daily practice. I'm ashamed to say that as of this writing I wasn't able to retain that habit, and recalling that experience makes want to go back again. Maybe this is the Universe's way of reminding me? 😊

Because of the persisting waves in the sea, our tour actually skipped most of the islands that were included in the tour (HUHU). We even didn't have a chance to do snorkeling as the waves were too big and the current too strong. We arrived at the iconic island of Isla de Gigantes and went up that cliff (with the view that you see on most Google images) to take photos. This is where I learned another lesson -- having no photos of a moment should not lessen that experience's value. I had all my belongings with the tour guides on the boat, as they secured them so that they won't get wet on the boat. I didn't have the chance to retrieve my things as we went down the boat. I had nothing with me. I looked at the island and those stacked stones along the shore really took my attention. My first reaction in this situation was "Dammit I wish I had my phone with me. This should have been a great shot... and this.. and that too!😭". Then, I had a second calmer reaction. Again it was what it was. I learned to accept how the situation was, and I spent more time to appreciate the scenery before me. I looked closer at the stones, even building my own stone stack (which later on tumbled down because of the winds). I just absorbed my surroundings through my senses and I truly believe it was the best way to enjoy and be connected with Nature. Especially at this age of technology, I was so used to having a camera with me, and I guess this was another lesson for me for that day. I need to spend more time in experiencing the world first-hand through my senses, not second-hand through the lenses.

Krishan had a water-proof camera with him, and that's the one we used in taking our photos around the island and up that cliff.

It was just a short stop at the island, as we had to move on to another one where we'll have our lunch. OMG the scallops were to die for! Even if it we had a bit of bad luck in this tour (the bad weather, fewer island stops, and no snorkeling), having been able to taste their scallops trumped all of it (insert Food Wars happy energy here). It's the best kind I have tasted in my life. The were so fresh. The boiled scallops were flavorful in its own. 

We socialized a bit with the other groups that we got to share lunch tables with (mostly it was Krishan talking to them 😅). After that lunch (they ran short of scallops for us huhu), we went back to the boat to go back to the island. Unfortunately, this was the end of the tour. The waves were not that strong on our way back (Krishan gained a new friend along the way 😁) As for me, it was the same setup -- with closed eyes and gripped hands, the boat sailed away back to where we started.

For sure, it's not the typical Islas de Gigantes experience, and that's what made it memorable and special for me. 💓

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