A Retelling of Life

The Mystery of Anawangin

Republished from an old travel blog of mine (2008).

I was feeling overwhelmed by work the day I said yes to Anawangin. Usually, I’d have read some blogs already, I’d have seen pictures of the place but I was just too busy to check. Thus, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that I wanted to get away for the weekend, to be able to forget my troubles if only for a short while. And forget them, I did…

I was drowsy from our 4 hour road trip. I sleepily got into the boat but the waves stirred my senses to life. The waves were unusually huge and it was disconcerting to see them have their way with our tiny boat (it could only carry a max of 4 persons!). To make matters worst, Anawangin was too far off to be seen from the pier. It was pretty much an adventure into unforgiving seas. I noticed our boatman navigating the boat, avoiding the rock formations that were around us. The waves crashed into the iceberg-like rocks and gave me an inkling of how our tiny boat would fare against the rocks. That boat ride pretty much summed up our Anawangin experience… a glimpse into the lush, raw and almost violent beauty of nature.

Thirty minutes later, we found ourselves in Anawangin. A wide stretch of almost white sand, alternately lined with pine trees (not coconut trees!) and tents greeted my sight. We arrived whilst another group was leaving. One of them had drowned and had to be rushed to the hospital in town. The fatalist in me didn’t let that incident dampen our spirits.

We hurriedly set up our campsite knowing that it would be dark soon. One group of campers observed our laughable and awkward attempts to set up our tent and came over to assist us. Seeing our difficulty in cooking our rice over charcoal, they offered us the use of their portable stove. Here, the Bayanihan spirit flourished.

There was no electricity in the area, no facilities except for tiny almost-makeshift shower rooms, no cell sites. This was it, the authentic camping experience. With no technology with us, the food and conversation kept flowing. We slept under the stars, sated with the realization that life is truly beautiful.

This was a place where time stood still. I could imagine myself lying on the beach and getting cozy while reading a novel. This was a place for reflection, a place where you could actually hear your thoughts.

Since we wanted to see the rest of the islands, we had to leave early the next day. The waves would be stronger in the afternoon and no boatman would risk a visit to the neighboring islands then.

The next day, we left early for Capones Island, an island that I found was full of contradictions. It was like you had visited three different places and not just one. Not only was there a beach and a small cove but there was a towering cliff where you could view the whole island. Atop one of the cliffs was a lighthouse. It would have been nice to visit the lighthouse but our boatman insisted that it was too dangerous to attempt to cross the waves to get there.

I was reluctant to leave. I wanted to drown myself in the experience. I wanted to get lost and be found again. But reality beckoned. Thanks to Anawangin, I felt my spirits revived. I was ready for the world again.



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