I asked them how many islands were going to visit. They just answered “How many do you want to visit?”, I replied “How many are there?”. They answered “A lot”.
“We can travel as much as you want, we can do this til evening if you prefer that.” That was a reply that I was not expecting. The island hopping that I’m quite accustomed to would be formal, with a certain a number of islands and a precise amount of time that you can spend on each one. This was nothing like that, it felt like I was riding a taxi, except that it’s in water and the destinations are islands.
The second island that we went to was bare nothing was on it, just rocks that line up the shoreline. It was beautiful in its own way, being the only ones there felt like I own the island. The first thing that they do when we dock is to secure the boat, after that they search the shore for something to take home and cook. I’m just amazed at how well they know these things, at one glance they can immediately spot if theres something edible and they pick it up and put in a old plastic can, then they tell me how it can be cooked “This is good with soup”.
Then I go on doing my thing, looking for decent angles to take a photo of the island or take a self-portrait (not a selfie!). Then I started to ask “Lolo” about the island, as to why its so bare. He told me that this island disappears during high tide and they have a name for this island (I can’t recall what the name was but it has something to do with strange spirits tricking you, why?) Fishermen who go to this island tell stories of finding foot prints of children here early in the morning when the water has already subsided, which is clearly impossible.
Then Lolo called me and showed me this, when I took a photo of this creature I had no idea what it was neither was they but they told me that it’s very expensive and that it could fetch up to 5,000 php per kilo. Later on I found out from an acquaintance that it’s called an “Abalone”.
The third island is quite popular, hence I called it the “Pop Kid” island. Actually it’s really name is “Minasawa”. If you search the net about Polilio most likely images of this island will pop out. Well it’s a beautiful island and its a protected bird sanctuary which adds to it’s attraction.
Lolo’s apo asked me if I want to go inside the mini forest, there’s just one answer to that and you guessed it. It’s a “Yes”. As we were walking inside it he told me that when he was younger he and his friends would often go inside of it and play around. At one part I noticed some debris from what looked like an old concrete shelter, so I asked him what where they. He told me that those were the remains of a building that was built here with the intention of putting up a business. Videoke, food and the usual stuff that you see in popular places, then I asked him “Why was it removed?”. He then told me that the majority of the people didn’t like the idea of someone living in the island as it was not good for it. Upon hearing that answer I realised how much this island means to the people here.
While we were travelling to get to another island I heard an explosion. Lolo’s grandson looked at me and said “Did you hear that?” I nodded. I knew at the corner of my eye I saw a big splash, he then said “That’s dynamite fishing.” and then he frowned. I looked at Lolo and he had the same disappointed look that his grandson has. I asked “That’s illegal right? Who allows them to still continue doing that?”. I found it quite ironic that I have just been to a bird sanctuary then not that far there’s illegal dynamite fishing. Lolo then said “It is illegal on certain parts, on some parts it depends on the local government. They know what’s going on and they just let it, but in our sitio it’s illegal that’s why they don’t do it near our place.” I felt sad hearing this.
I’m glad that during the rest of our boat ride there were no dynamite fishing explosion anymore. We then went to the island which I consider the most unique at the same time my favourite. By this moment is was already around 3 pm and I have to go back to the lodge to arrange my documentation for the day, I was partly hesitant to actually land and visit it. Lolo asked me once if I wanted to visit and land on it, the first time he asked me I said “I think I will just shoot photos of it from the boat.” because I thought that it was just full of sharp rocks. Then we got closer and I saw that white patch of what seems to be sand. And he asked me again, “Are you sure you don’t want to check this island out?”. Needless to say I changed my mind.
One of the most striking features of this island is how sharp the rocks are. They were just ridiculously pointy and one wrong move and you will surely have a cut. But those sharp rocks are just teeming with life, there were all sorts of tiny little creatures from crabs, birds, and then theres this some kind of fish that jumps from the water and just hops in land, I even saw a bird catch a fish by diving to get it.
Hiding behind those sharp rocks would be this view. I was simple breathtaking, it looks as if some landscape artist went here and designed the whole place. Was trying to get a really good angle for a photo when I turned back, I saw this!
Just like what the photo caption said… It was amazing. The sharp rock formations was just awesome, Lolo told me that it was shaped by the harsh conditions of the Pacific Ocean and waves can reach up to the highest pointed rock formation. I want to capture how grand everything was so I started to walk the water that is in the photo. It was very warm and very relaxing. Every step that you take, small creatures would quickly dart from one place to another, everything was just alive.
I can’t help but admire everything that I see in that island. When I asked Lolo it’s name he said “You can come up with one if you want.” Apparently these islands are so remote they don’t even have names, how cool is that?
It was getting late. I really wanted to take a photo of the sunset somewhere, but I still have to go back and write about this day. So I told Lolo that we can visit one last island then we can head home. As much as I would like to visit more islands and know what it feels like being on a boat at night, I had to make the hard decision of ending the day early.
The last island had a hole in it, a very big one. Lolo took me closer to it, surprisingly it’s pretty shallow so I was able to walk around to take some photos. But it was a slow, very careful walk as the rocks were very sharp.
As always Lolo and his grandson was off collecting delicious sea life, when he shouted “Climb that rock ledge so you could feel the cool breeze”. So I did, he was not kidding about it being “cool” as the hole seems to funnel the air causing it to give a tremendous gush.
Time to go back. I didn’t feel like a tourist being with these wanderers. I learned a lot from them, their place, their way of life and their perspective in terms of traveling. You can’t buy this experience nor can you read these in travel manuals and for me that is what makes these kinds of travel a “once in a life time experience”.
After the last island they took me to a port that’s near the lodge so I can easily get a ride back. I thanked them for the amazing time and for taking care of me up to the last minute. When people ask me how I travel I usually tell them “Don’t just travel for the place, travel for the people too.”