"a caterpillar doesn't just grow into a butterfly. a caterpillar must undergo metamorphosis, and a cocoon is where a caterpillar risks it all: enters total chaos, undergoes total rebuilding, and is born to a new way of living. only in taking the risk of entering that inert cocoon can the caterpillar go from dormancy to potency, from ugliness to beauty."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

babuyan memories, part 1: post travel thoughts of a sunset-chaser

"We do not remember days, we remember moments."
--Cesare Pavese

friday, flint, fire, fireball and a bit of rewind | memories of a sunset-chaser

there was kat, there was mati, there was i. there was also bren and there was sherelle. the five of us were huddled in a circle, taking turns trying to start fire using flint and steel. not too far away from us, there was a game of frisbee and some late afternoon photography. there was bryan, there was yanyan, and there was jb. somewhere not too far away, too, were our boatmen -- kuya totoy, kuya jayjay, and zombie.

it was just us and our boatmen, there on that wide stretch of white sand where we chose to camp and stay overnight, back-to-basics style. the place breathed simplicity and serenity. it was enveloped with that aura of being untouched, unexploited and, at that time, it was all ours, just ours.

the place is called naguilian, a seemingly quiet barangay of camiguin norte island of the babuyanes. in the afternoon sun (and always -- i'd like to believe -- no matter what time of day), it is pretty and welcoming. we met some of the residents there upon our arrival and they were good-natured and accommodating, telling us directions to their abodes so we'd know where to find them should we, in the duration of our short stay, find ourselves needing help. this, even before we needed anything. they're grace -- unmerited favor -- in the flesh.

it was friday and it was late afternoon when we arrived in naguilian. we -- our group of eight with our three boatmen -- had just spent the earlier part of the day traveling from sta. ana, cagayan in mainland luzon to camiguin norte. the sun was up, the skies were clear, the sea was a beautiful blue, and the normally big waves were moving just right in our favor when we crossed the babuyan channel on board a motorized banca.

camiguin norte and dakkel nga balay, the most prominent volcanic peak of camiguin norte island as seen from our boat

it was friday and it was late in the morning when we got our share of dark clouds as we entered the aquatic territory of camiguin norte and, eventually, we also got our share of some pitter-patter. by the time we docked in pamoctan island (pamuktan in ilocano), the sun was with us again as the clouds and fogs multiplied and hovered in the distance, darkening the numerous peaks of camiguin norte but sparing pamoctan and sparing us, granting us good light -- just exactly what we needed for good pictures and a beyond awesome marine life-watching experience.

pamoctan island

that the seawater in pamoctan island is very clear, it's no surprise to me. most places that are seldom reached often keep their pristine status. what really impressed and truly delighted me was seeing a healthy marine ecosystem right there from the shore, no snorkel and mask needed. it was my first time to see such colorful, such lush, such diverse natural show of underwater creatures and elements that did not require me to step into the water -- because... one moment i was standing on dry white sand. the next small step i took, the water was up to my ankle. the two next steps were not necessary and called for caution because the corals and fishes were already there -- they're that close to the shore!!! but i did swim and i did use my snorkel and mask so i could check out the impressive underwater showcase in the deeper portions of the area. awesome is not enough to describe the sight and the experience!

proof of how clear the seawater in pamoctan island is!

it was friday and it was right after having lunch when we left pamoctan island and headed off to camiguin norte's brgy. balatubat, location of the nearest coast guard station and where we needed to register. there in balatubat, we met the coast guard personnel and the barangay chairperson. they suggested naguilian to us.

as already written, it was friday and it was late afternoon when we arrived in naguilian. from balatubat, we -- our group of eight with our three boatmen - got to naguilian by boat. the beach was pretty from afar and it was prettier up close. with the afternoon sun shining down on us and the rest of the day still before us, as soon as we reached the shore, we excitedly got off the boat and unloaded our stuff. a busy rhythm typical to travelers and adventurers prevailed upon us all as we set up the tents, enjoyed the taste of fresh buko juice and young coconut meat (jb and the boatmen did some short distance hiking in naguilian and came back carrying the young coconuts which they got for free), took pictures, walked, looked beyond the vegetation that separated the beach from the barangay road, among other things. the rhythm was neither fast nor slow but just right -- right for discovering, experiencing, living in the moment, getting things done.

so there was kat, there was mati, there was i. there was also bren and there was sherelle. we were literally playing with fire, taking turns to start one using flint and steel -- the game went on for ten, twenty, around thirty minutes with no success. never mind that the boatmen gave us a box of waterproof matches and mati had with him a lighter. not too far away, there was a game of frisbee. there was bryan, there was yanyan, there was jb. it was friday, it was late in the day, and it was again my turn with the flint, my turn to play. it was then that i became successful in starting a fire -- our fire, the fire that provided comfortable warmth and light to whoever among us moved close enough to it and it lasted until the next morning.

it's probably nothing to most other people but it's something of a triumph for me -- i managed to start a fire using flint and steel! the rewarding joy was definitely something more than i could ever get if i worked on the fire using the usual match or if i sought the convenience of using a fuel-loaded piezoelectric lighter. both alternatives were available, yes, but, from the first moment i saw the flint (kat's flint), such was my tenacity to see it work over the familiar and the convenient -- a tenacity that didn't disappoint. i was, of course, elated that i was able to do something that i so wanted to do and something that i've never done before.

i was in that elated state when i turned to check the horizon and saw the fiery colors of sunset starting to appear. no way was i gonna miss watching that day's battle between light and dark. so i rushed towards the sunset, camera in my hand. i rushed towards the sunset but only went as far as where the sea would not eat me up.

our boat and the sunset in naguilian

sunset in naguilian

today, i remember that it was friday, i was there in naguilian, and i experienced one of the most beautiful summer sunsets i've laid my eyes on. :-)

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