The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing near and a wistful silence lay over the small, dusty wooden shack facing the road. With a printed burgundy top tucked under a slightly frayed midriff jeans, gladiator sandals and a travel bag hanging on my back, I stand, staring blankly at the street while waiting for the jeepney to arrive.
It is past seven in the morning of May 4, 2016, and the striking rays of the sun begin to flicker. Its light being the softest thing that warms up my soul. I raise one hand to block the stream of light blinding my vision and shortly, a sound of a clamouring engine comes louder.
A journey begins.
I have the opportunity to an educational tour in Sarangani with my block mates for our English 5 subject. It’s a long drive from General Santos City to the province of Sarangani and I am patiently waiting. The thought of sleeping comes into mind but I chose to stay awake and grant myself the humble views offered on the ride. The slow bidding of goodbyes by the city with all its tall and grandiose buildings, the swaying of grasses and leaves of trees, the discreet movement of the clouds and the peeping sun seeming like a moving painting over the light blue skies shifting to darker hues in time, the long winding road.
We stop once in a while to visit some of the Legends of Sarangani. Few hours more and my back starts to throb and I sit here, calm and silent still patiently waiting. I close my eyes and suddenly, the salty scent of the ocean slips through my nose, lingering and sparking nostalgia. It’s been years since I went to the beach, perhaps three to four? I really cannot remember. The demanding college and corporate life changed our customs. The image of my family swimming in the sea starts to flash on my mind. We love the beach. When I was a kid, we used to visit the ocean at least twice a month, on weekends and holidays. It once had been our tradition to go swimming on vacations when in Davao City. I remember the times when my father taught me how to swim. If only I could marry the sea then I really would. The sea cannot be mine to call but I am bound to be his. We are more like lovers but only temporarily drifted apart.
I can now feel the cool breeze coming straight from the nearby sea. And the last time I checked, I woke up from a light nap, tilted with all my weight on one side, the insides of my stomach turning upside down, ecstatic due to the thrill caused by the rash, short rollercoaster trail.
I’m on my way to the paradise. My forgotten paradise.
Past one in the afternoon, we arrived. With only fifty (day tour) to seventy pesos (night tour) for the entrance fee and a variety of cottages ranging from three hundred (open cottage) to two thousand pesos (air-conditioned), the place is perfect for everyone. Fortunately, our group, having such a large number consisting of more than forty, managed to get a cottage for free.
After unpacking and putting all my things to the cottage fronting the seashore, I wandered the premises.
“Smells like teen spirit,” I blurt out as I come beholding the horizon of Isla Jardin del Mar Resort of Brgy. Gumasa, Sarangani. The vast, tranquil aquamarine sea, the powder white sand and the splendid pastel tinted sky. It felt like nirvana. With the wind breeze blowing and rustling through my ears and sweeping my dress, I ran. Ignoring the clothes that I still had on getting soaked in the water, I ran. Forgetting the fact that I did not bring any clothes to change after, I ran. Against the wind, I ran as fast as I could, racing into the sea which my skin, year-long pleads.
And finally, I am reunited with the waves.
The tolerance I had on the drive, as well as all the strain gained from work, has paid off with sweet smiles, a light heart, body and a sound mind. It is more than what I could’ve wished for.
I spend the rest of the day swimming, diving, and meandering. And by past five in the afternoon, I begin to prepare myself for the dusk. I walk, barefoot, on the path leading into the place inside Isla Jardin that is meant for watching the sunset, the sunset that I am about to witness. The earlier light blue skies have turned into a range of yellows and gradually into orange. The anticipation is agonizing yet I wait, sitting on a rock in front of the sunset until the sun painted the sky with blood red. The shift of colors from bright to dim visualizes the mixed emotions i feel from the joy and delight of my arrival to the pain of my having to leave.
It is time. The cold wind seems to hardly kiss me goodbye. I started packing up together with the rest of the group and wandered one last time before heading home. “One day, I will return. I should.” I thought to myself and I walk towards the jeepney where everyone is already waiting.
I may leave nothing but footprints yet I will forever take with me the experience I had at that paradise with my childhood lover, the ocean.