Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Siargao Island: the general gist

SIARGAO
2000 - present

This intrepid wanderer first heard about Siargao through an assignment for a travel magazine. I flew out knowing only two things about the island: 1) it was very far away from Manila and 2) it was (apparently) a famous surfing spot. Little did I realize that this one freelance gig would turn into a love affair with an island that keeps me coming back.

Since 2000 I’ve been back every year, making it my annual pilgrimage. I've taken over 300 photos and written almost a dozen articles about it. And since then I’ve also come away each year with new discoveries bits of information that deepen this ever-increasing fervor I feel for the island.

The dress code is “half-naked” and the edict of the day is “chill out.” It is the anti-thesis of Manila. So you've been to Boracay and you've watched the sun set beside Willy's Rock while you sipped on your mocha rum shake. Good for you. That still cannot come close to the beauty that is Siargao.

The island has yet to be marred by gaudy souvenir shirts and merchandise. You know the ones I’m talking about. They have the sun in the sky and a silhouette of a palm tree and are tacky, tacky, tacky. No one will offer to braid your hair or sell you an anklet. Tourism has been slow to make its mark in the area, lending a welcome un-commercialized touch to everything you do.

It isn't for everyone... not all whose feet have made imprints on the land are touched. But for those fortunate few... the island becomes the mundane infused with magic.

The best way to see Siargao is to rent a motorbike and go exploring. On my third trip to the island that’s what we did on our way to the airport. We saw the island unfolding alongside us. I had never seen this side of the island before. All of it was beautiful.

The lazy barrios dotted with sari-sari stores, the occasional chicken and the ubiquitous basketball courts. The wall of trees fighting for purchase on a hillside. The paddies carpeted in green, giving way to the cranes and egrets which hunted for fish among the stalks. Around one more bend, across one more dirt bridge and we came upon the mangroves, tiptoeing in the brackish water.

Further along we saw that the locals had decided to move off-shore, choosing to build their houses out on the water. The huts, simple in design, stood on stilts over the ocean, connected to each other and to the shore by planks.

One more turn on the twisting road and there was the airport. An open-air tiny cement structure fronting a grassy field. We’d been told that sometimes people have to chase carabao’s off the runway before a plane can land. I wouldn’t change it for the world though. It is part of the charm of being in Siargao.

Surf, dive or kayak. Sleep under the stars on the beach or laze in a hammock at the five-star Pansukian Resort. Cap every evening off with a cold beer. Forget time. Welcome yourself home.

For photos of Siargao through the years: http://www.pbase.com/kage is where you'll find the various galleries.

2 Comments:

Blogger zoe said...

kage, this sounds absolutely wonderful and when i can, i very much hope to visit this special part of the world - it sounds just up my street (although are the motorbikes noisey ?).

you write beautifully - keep it up, lady.

1:03 AM  
Blogger cat-ing-ka said...

wow kage, your writing just brought me back to siargao. even for just a moment. i am dying to go back to siargao or samar, i can hear them calling me... seriously!

much love, cat

1:41 PM  

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