It was 7:30 am the next day when my friend and I headed down for breakfast without waiting for our French friend who was still sound asleep. A Badjao man approached us while we were eating, offering us pearls and pretty stones. I bought a pair of pearl earrings even if I knew I could buy one in the city as well. The charm of the beach worked on me and it would be my personal souvenir for this trip. The three of us finished eating on time as the tours always began at 9 am. We paid for our Eco-Tourism Development Fee and joined the rest of the tourists in the boat.
Our tour guide was a funny guy who started off with telling us about El Nido and its meaning, “bird’s nest” as its locals hunted for a certain birds’ nest made of saliva. It was a source of living for the people as these nests were edible and can be sold at a high price. Later on, he would just approach and talk to any of us and all the while giving a brief description of each island we went to. Honestly, I was too amazed at everything I saw to pay attention to most of what he said about the places but I took note of each name of the island.
(c) M. Florendo
The Seven Commandos Beach and Secret Lagoon were our first two stops. The former was a normal sandy beach on an island while the latter had a lagoon (hence, the name) and a beach filled with nice locations for pictures. Afterward, we headed to Shimizu Island where we did some snorkelling and stayed for lunch. Amazingly, our tour guide and the rest of the boatmen can cook too and they prepared a lovely feast for everyone, with presentation and all.
After that awesome meal, we went back to our boat and visited the Big Lagoon and the Small Lagoon. Their names were pretty straightforward. However, seeing each place is always a different experience altogether. We also passed by a narrow way where the water was shallow and magnificent rock formations surrounded the boat on both sides. The view all over us, from the water to the surroundings, was just picturesque.
After the boat made its way, we stopped by somewhere on those rock formations and got the freedom to snorkel and explore the beauty this time, found under the waters. It was one of the most beautiful snorkelling sites I have been to, and remains to be my favorite from all that we have seen during the entire trip. Everything was alive down under. It was alive not only because of the swimming fishes and moving anemones but also because of its vibrancy and color and purity. The corals ranged in size and shape. Some are large and round, some in the shape of a brain, some in the shape of a rose, some like mushrooms, and I could just go on. Starfishes, blue and bright, were pretty to the eye. The fishes were blue, silver, black, light green, pink and orange and white – yes, we saw Nemo and Dory too. A small jellyfish, about the size of a calamansi, was swimming right in front of my eye, only separated by the snorkelling mask I was wearing. To have it all so close to me made me feel as if I was part of the water too. Perhaps, this was what it was like to live in a mermaid’s world.
(c) M. Florendo
Along the boat trip, we made acquaintances with our fellow tourists – a Chilean couple was on their honeymoon and Palawan was their last stop. One thing I could not forget about the couple was when they told us that they were like living in a dream and when they go back to Chile, it was going back to reality. I am quite happy for them though because they were able to take a video of a sea turtle swimming underneath the waters, only wishing that I could have seen it too. We also met a German couple, not married but have been together for seven years. The girl was half-Filipina so she had Asian features and reminded us of another German friend whom we met in Taiwan years earlier. She seemed to like our company that we spent our next evenings having dinner together.