This beach trip was 3 years in the making

Finally, Kernan and I can cross out something on our to-do list.

We went to Puerto Galera.


Not for work.

But for pleasure.

Just pleasure.

After three anniversaries, we finally had a celebration we really wanted. We've planned on going out of town so many times but work always gets in the way.

We almost didn't make it again this time. A storm was threatening its ugly head which would make more than an hour of boat travel dangerous. But one phone call to my brother's contact in Galera settled all our worries, the sun was up, the skies were clear and there were no signs of a storm anywhere.

So with very little preparation, we hurriedly packed our bags and boarded the 5am bus headed for Batangas pier.

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(l-r) in the bus, at the pier, aboard the boat

We arrived at the pier at 7.30am, an hour early from the first boat trip to White Beach. More than enough time to have a leisurely breakfast.

The boat ride was very smooth rocking me to sleep on Kernan's shoulder half of the time. We were on the lookout for dolphins but I guess they weren't in the mood to play that day.

By 9am, we stepped on the shores of White Beach. Yes, the sand wasn't very white and the resorts lining the shore weren't comparable to Boracay. But Kernie and I were together and that would make any place on earth paradise.

My brother's contact Shielamae was already waiting for us at the shore and took us for a tour of the different resorts.

Since it was off peak, airconditioned rooms went as low as P800/night. But once you stepped out, you would be greeted by the noise from the stalls outside.

So we chose to check in at this lovely hut up in Lagundian Hills which had a wonderful view of the beach.

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(l-r) Lagundian Hills, our house, the view from the hill

We dropped our bags, plopped on the bed and fell asleep.

By the time we woke up, it was past 3pm and we were so hungry. We went to one of the many restos lined up at the beach and helped ourselves to a huge fried tilapia, red eggs and tomatoes. Yum!

For the first time in years, we had no deadlines looming at us. And all we had to do was enjoy.

We had no plans on how to spend the rest of the afternoon so we just walked along the beach and enjoyed the cool, crisp air.

There were very few people and the island almost seemed desolate. It seemed kinda sad at first, since I was used to Boracay's crowded shores. But since we wanted to relax, I realized this setting couldn't have been more perfect.

With lots of time in our hands, this was the time to do anything we wanted and maybe even try the things we've always wanted to do together, like snorkelling, scuba diving, riding a banana boat, jet ski...

I quickly texted Shielamae to schedule a scuba diving trip early the next morning. She said it was best to do it as early as 8am since rains were expected in the afternoon.

That night, we went to a bar which was surprisingly alive and open despite very few customers. Kernan had 2 bottles of beer and I had a heavenly choco banana shake. Though there was no party or dancing, it was fun just talking and being with each other.

As the night ended, we both agreed we should plan another out of town trip together.

Day 2

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Pics before the scuba trip

We woke up 30 minutes before our scuba trip.

Kernan was excited. I was nervous.

Crazy as it may seem, I kept remembering the movie "Open Water" and thoughts of being left behind by the boat and shark attacks were floating in my head.

Kernan kept assuring me that it's just a movie and there will be no sharks in the water. I kept thinking in my head, "the water is my friend, the water is my friend...."

Since we didn't have any diving experience, the dive master said we would just have an intro dive and wouldn't have to go too far.

I listened intently to every instruction and warning.

"Always breathe through your mouth."
"Keep the water out of your goggles."
"Stop when you feel the pressure and make your ears pop."
"Make the thumbs up sign when you badly need to go up."
"Just RELAX."

After putting on our gear it was time to hit the waters.

The first few minutes were quite hard since it felt strange to be breathing through the mouth. The oxygen also had this weird taste in my mouth and my jaw would tire from gripping at the mouth piece.

After about half an hour of bobbing up and down in shallow water and getting used to the breathing thing, we decided we've seen enough of sand, it's time to see the fishes.

The dive master supported me as we swam deeper into the waters. I knew we were getting deeper as I started to feel a throbbing pain in my ears. I resurfaced two times because I couldn't make it pop, but by the third time I was an ear popping expert.

The sight of the corals were breathtaking.

I mean I've seen them before in documentaries and pictures but it was a wonderful experience to see them up close. I could almost touch them.

As we went deeper, the water grew colder and there were more and more corals. By this time all thoughts of "Open Water" were erased from my head. Even the ear popping came naturally. I was simply enjoying the moment and reveling in the beauty of nature.

Too bad there were some wrappers and other junk among some of the corals. If only people would see what they’re destroying by throwing even just one piece of plastic into the water, maybe they would think twice before they do. How could you destroy this amazing habitat?

I could only imagine how the fishes’ world would be like without the corals. It’s like living in a barren land with nothing but miles and miles of sand. Now that would be sad.

Before I knew it, more than an hour had passed and we headed back for the shore. It was so fun I didn’t realize we had gone as deep as 30 feet! If I had known while we were underwater, I would have freaked out.

The rest of the day, Kernan and I just lounged around the beach. Heavy rain poured mid-afternoon so we stayed indoors.

Funny thing was there was no TV inside the room, so Kernan and I would alternate between sleeping and talking. I guess it was just as well since it has been a long time since we really talked about things not related to work.

Other times, we would sit at the terrace marveling at the beautiful view, munching on rice krispies and uraro.

It's nice how we could spend time together just like that. No need to talk or do anything. We're comfortable in each other's silence.

I guess sometimes you don't need words to say "I love you."

Day 3

It was a bright and sunshiney morning just perfect for snorkeling at Coral Island.

Kernan has been there before and he was raving how the corals there were more beautiful than what we had seen in our diving trip.

This time, we took a short boat ride to the island. We also brought some of the left over uraro biscuits to feed the fishes.

Since there would be no guides holding me this time, I made Kernan promise he would never leave my side while we were snorkeling. I know it's just shallow water and I have a life vest on. But I still don't know how to swim.

I wouldn't want to get so engrossed with the corals that I would drift so far from the boat and get swept away by the water. I know, I'm crazy like that.

Anyway, Coral Island was indeed rave-worthy. Of course, there were corals all over the place and lots of fishes. And I mean lots and lots of fishes. They were literally swimming inches away from my face.

And when Kernan and I sprinkled the uraro biscuits into the water, the fishes went crazy. They were darting here and there and swam after the falling crumbs in a flash.

I wish I had an underwater camera to capture how beautiful it was.

After snorkeling, we packed our bags and headed for home.

The boat ride back to Batangas pier was smooth but dark clouds were looming from the distance. "Mukhang malakas ang ulan," Kernan said. But I prayed it won't. This isn't punishment for enjoying three days, is it?

When the boat was 30 minutes away from the pier, heavy rain started to pour. I kept praying we would reach the pier soon lest the rain hits harder. Good thing the waves weren't that big. We reached the pier just as the rain started to let up.

The bus ride home was a blur as I drifted to sleep. When I opened my eyes, I could see the unmistakable heart sign at the top of our office building.

It's back to the real world, baby.

I headed straight to the office and started working on my script which was due that night.

This trip was three years in the making, but it was all worth it.

Kernan and I are planning to invade Boracay next, and then Palawan, Phuket, Hawaii....(just let me dream, ok?)

I just wish it won't take years this time.

I love you Kernie, can't wait for our next trip together.


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