It’s been 25 days now since I got home from my three-week backpacking trip in the Visayas. I spent four days in Bacolod, a night in Dumaguete, one week in Siquijor, and two weeks in South Cebu.
I missed my family, my bed, and all the comfort I didn’t get while I was away, but I didn’t miss the heavy traffic, the cityscape, and everything about the exhausting urban life. No day has ended without wishing I was back in the realm of South Cebu, eating chorizo in Samboan, watching the sun set in Lambug Beach, swimming with the sardines in Moalboal, and passing through the coastal road from Badian to Oslob.
You are home, South Cebu, and I want to leave Manila for you.
I want to leave Manila for your scenic routes. People who have traveled from Cebu City to South Cebu would understand how the scenery slowly changes from buildings to mountain peaks to coastal roads. The three-hour road trip from Badian to Sibonga, and the two-hour road trip from Badian to the jump-off point of Osmeña Peak both entail sightings of vegetation and mountains, while my favorite two-hour road trip from Badian to Oslob has a long coastal road fenced with trees that make me raise my hands and get my head out of the car to feel the cooling air, get blinded with the waters, and smile to every passer-by there is. It feels great every time. Its scenic routes always leave wonder in my eyes, and I long for such views whenever a part of my life gets wasted in Manila’s heavy traffic.
I want to leave Manila for your water world. I love the water, but there’s a big problem: I’m not a good swimmer. I don’t even know how I passed my mandatory swimming class back in college where the only stroke I can do was freestyle while holding my breath on every lap. I never learned how to stay calm when my feet can’t feel the floor. But that changed on my third visit in South Cebu in April. I slowly established my relationship with the sea for two weeks. I got to know its waves and what lives in it with my life vest on, until I finally learned to lose sight of the shore and discover what’s underneath, with only fins, snorkeling gear, and one breath to entrust my life with. There, I saw and ate a number of sea urchins, swam across a walo-walo, and picked-up as much marine debris as I can.
To be caught in the middle of a dark blue sphere makes me feel alive by terrifying and comforting me all at once. What I thought would kill me made me stronger. Every dip feels like a homecoming to the sea.
I want to leave Manila for your provincial life. I like the slow paced life, waking up to the sound of the waves, ending my days with a sunset show, and watching adults become children again. The simple life is just humbling. When I stayed longer in Siquijor and in South Cebu last month, my visions of building a hostel (and settling down) on either of the said province islands (or both) became clearer. I can see string lights, wooden interiors, white-washed walls, huge windows, naturally lit rooms, dancing canopies, strangers turning into friends, and my future kids running wild, free, and naked.
But how will I do it when I can’t even buy new clothes? How long will it take me to save up for it when I don’t even have a regular income? How the hell will I get married when I can’t even give up my solitude??? I have no idea, but one thing’s for sure: I’m going to make it happen.
I’m leaving Manila for you exactly a month from now. Not for good, but we’ll get there.
All my love,