While watching the waves of the Pacific from General Luna beach, feeling the warmth of the sun embracing my skin, the salty wind brushing against my face…. I whispered – “I can live here”.
For almost two weeks in late February this year, I stayed in Siargao and I really fell in love with the place. The calm and chill vibe of the island was a welcome respite from the chaotic mess of Manila, the city that I live in. Life moved at a slow pace. Nobody was in hurry. Everybody was friendly. The children were always smiling and ready to greet you with their hellos.
Food was affordable. One time, I was grinning from ear to ear when I bought a fresh tuna for just P150!
There was no traffic. The motorbike is the primary mode of transportation and there were no huge trucks. No noisy sirens of ambulances. Aside from the beach in General Luna there are other hidden beaches around the island, still untouched by commercialism. Even the airport is so small that it doesn’t have a radio tower. It only has a small runway, that can only accommodate propeller planes.
Night life is vibrant but not rowdy.
Siargao exudes a way of life that perfectly fits me. Simple.
During my stay, the weather was generally fair and sunny, with a few thunderstorms in the late afternoon or early evening. But when I left, it was raining very hard, the island seemed sad that I was leaving.
My trip to Siargao was two years in the making. I first booked a flight in 2015 but had to cancel because of work and budget constraints. I was again able to book another flight in 2016 for only P2000, more or less, thanks to a seat sale by Cebu Pacific. I again met with Alexis, my friend from Spain. He was in Siargao a week before I arrived but he had to leave for Thailand for visa purposes. He came back two days after I arrived.
After Alexis settled at Paglaom, I accompanied him to have a haircut at the local barber.
For almost two weeks, I beach bummed and roamed around the island without an itinerary. One day, we would go island hopping, and the next, we would be exploring the other parts of the island via a motorbike.
Siargao is internationally known as a world class surfing spot but I was afraid to scratch or injure my legs or feet, so I passed on that one.
I lost track of time when I was on the island. So I cannot give a chronological account of the things I did and places that I visited. I will just post some photos and give a short description.
I stayed in Paglaom Hostel owned by Cocoy and Sanne. Aside from running the hostel, the couple is also involved in some charitable works on the island. Sanne is the founder of a non-profit organization called Nature Kids of Siargao, that aims to teach the kids of Siargao to be conscious of the environment and help protect Mother Earth. I support Nature Kids through their Facebook page and it was a delight to finally meet Sanne in person.
On the second day that I was at Paglaom, Sanne invited me to go visit some of the kids at their school. Through a penpal project, the kids of Siargao wrote to some children from Sweden a few months back. On that day, Sanne was to deliver the reply letters that the kids from Sweden wrote. The teachers of the kids also showed us an on going project to build a play house made of recycled plastic bottles. After the showing of a audio visual presentation, where the kids of Sweden showed snow and their school, the letters were given to them and it was time to leave.
Going back to Paglaom Hostel, just like the other hostels that I am used to, it’s a no frills and basic place to stay. For 12 nights, I paid for a bunk bed in an open area dorm for more or less P3,500. It was well maintained, with a staff that cleans the place three times a day. It has a kitchen where we cooked all the stuff that we bought from the market to save on cash. The bunk beds come with mosquito nets. The kitchen has a fridge where you can store perishable food. So if you don’t mind a few mosquito bites and no hot shower, but great company and an awesome chill out place, Paglaom is for you!
What made my stay at Paglaom very memorable were the people that I met. Mon-Mon, who manages the hostel was warm and looked after all the guests like a big sister. All of us bonded quickly and treated each other as if we had known each other for years. Paglaom is PaglaHOME. We became family, an instant family. All of us are now friends in Facebook and still get in touch with one another.
(click on the photos to enlarge)
During my stay, I was able to go island hopping, go to the rock pools, went to Sugba Lagoon, saw the mangrove forest, ate pizza, tried the local delicacies, went to the market, and so much more.
Here are some photos of the places and people that made my stay at Siargao even more memorable.
Along the way going to the rock pools, is a new attraction in Siargao called Tayangban cave pool. It is located in a private property so there is an entrance fee of P70.
Writing this entry, and seeing the photos of Siargao again, is a bit emotional for me. My stay on the island was filled with fond memories. I will come back for sure. And I pray that someday, my wish to live there would come true….. until then, you will be in my mind and heart.
And please don’t grow up too fast. Don’t let the big hotels and resorts invade your shores. Maintain your innocence and small town charm. Okera Siargao!