Thursday, July 01, 1999


As published in The Cutting Edge Magazine/ July 1999

It beckoned from a secluded cove on Samal Island, a mere 45-minute boat ride from Davao City. So I followed the Siren’s call. But unlike Greek heroes who often met their tragic deaths, I found a slice of heaven instead.
From the hotel where we were staying, it was only a matter of getting to the Insular Hotel Davao, which is the departure point for Pearl Farm trips. For those coming from Manila, add another 90 minutes for the airbus ride and another hour for the trip to Insular.
White sand beaches, turquoise water and innumerable tropical fish lie in wait for all beach enthusiasts. A swimming pool that seems to meet the ocean reflects the clear light blue sky. Rows of native-inspired rooms stand on bamboo stilts over the water. It only took 10 minutes for my mind to register all of this as our boat approached Pearl Farm’s landing dock. But since we were only staying for the day (an option for those whose pockets are not deep enough to handle an overnight stay), I didn’t waste any time.
9:30 First a quick tour of the room we’d been given for the afternoon. The room itself was decorated sparsely. The only signs that I wasn’t in a kubo were the television set and the softly humming air-conditioner. I was tempted to crash on the soft bed and sleep the day away. Indoors at a resort? I think not!

White on wood deck furniture sat invitingly on the balcony. The balcony that not only looked comfortable enough to be the actual room but also stood over the water so we could see corals and tropical fish without having to leave our room. Once again the temptation to make like an iguana and just sit in the sun.
10:00 But I didn’t go all the way to Pearl Farm to watch fish from afar. I headed to the beach with a quick pitstop at the restaurant to ask for stale bread. A quick change and a slathering of sunblock and I found myself floating in warm, blue water watching little yellow Moorish idols take bread from my hand. A quick flick of my flippers sent me hurtling towards yet another school of fish. (Much later on, I told myself I would trade my snorkel for a regulator, my bikini for a wetsuit and go on one of the resort’s scheduled scuba dive trips. By the way, if you don’t have your own equipment, the resort has an aqua-sports rental shop.)
12:00 Determined to make use of all the facilities, I finished off the remaining bread in a cloud of soggy crumbs and hungry fish. It was time for some freshwater swimming. There are two options – the romantic Mandaya pool on the south side of the resort or the “infinity” pool fronting Maranao restaurant. Seeing that a late lunch wasn’t too far away, I opted for the infinity pool. I quickly parked my gear at the first set of available chaise lounges and hit the pool. The pool is an optical illusion and photo-op. The far wall is built to water level so it actually looks like the pool doesn’t end but actually meets the sea at some unseen point.
12:30 My skin was turning a nice shade of bronze when the smell of freshly cooked food started to waft from the Maranao restaurant’s buffet table. Lunch is included in the day trip fee and I am not one to pass up something I’d already paid for. Goodbye chlorine, hello second servings!
1:00 Stuffed to the gills and a little sleepy, I headed back to the room for a quick nap under the sun.
3:00 I overslept! The soft wind and warm sun – and heavy lunch – had all conspired to keep me in hibernation. The boat that was going to take us back to Davao would be arriving at 4:30. I hadn’t checked out the other facilities like the speedboats, waterskis and windsurfing. I had planned to try my hand at tennis. And worst of all, I missed the scuba-diving trip! My only consolation was that I was several shades darker.
4:30 We’d boarded. The boat slowly pulled out of the dock. The row of native houses became dots on the horizon. The wide expanse of water stretched out on either side. A day trip to Pearl Farm was an enjoyable experience on its own. But I can’t help thinking that an overnight stay may be even better. I think it would only be right if I tested that hypothesis out one day. One day soon.
Until such opportunity arises, all I have is the still haunting call of this Siren’s song.

Other Pearl Farm facilities include: tennis courts, a gameroom, darts, billiards, fishing and karaoke.


Post a Comment

<< Home