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EVERYTHING IS BETTER BY THE BEACH

Location: Palawan, Philippines

Today it’s just me, my disconnected phone, books and the sea.

Is the beach, or the ocean-vibe in general, some kind of addictive drug? Whenever I feel the urge to think through the things happening (and not happening) in my life, I picture myself talking it all out with mother ocean. A long time ago, I’ve claimed her as my mother, my real self mother who knows every nook and cranny of my being, holds no judgment against my choices and dreams, and only wants what my heart desires. And so, the ocean is where my thoughts and genuine feelings clash with the waves. And as if mulling over a nice name, it’ll roll it over into the sea, into the far off horizon. I will never be sure when my thoughts and almost half of my being will be brought back to the shore but with mom, I could rest happily they’re safe.

After a couple of minutes running away from the sunrise, we reached the opening to what is the most beautiful and captivating public beach I’ve ever seen. The waves are high and strong, the water is clearer than any mind I know. The trees are abundant both on ground and on the mountains and the people are nothing but happy on a Saturday morning. The wind caresses your face as if it’s the most fragile thing in the world but I enjoyed it, I enjoyed taking in all the cool, soft winds I can.

Truly, everything is better by the beach.

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I’m no swimmer. Whenever my family or friends hit the beach, instead of a swimsuit, a book is always at bay for me. I’ve gradually embraced this fear and accepted that I’d really have to learn how to swim to overcome my fear of the depth of the ocean. But fearing it doesn’t make me love the sea any less.

There’s something about the ocean that makes me connect with my higher self, the one who doesn’t like talking a lot, the other self who speaks a different language, a different heart. Maybe she’s somewhere deep within the ocean and we could only reunite whenever I visit a beach. Ah, a life of mystery is what keeps my soul going. With looking to the ocean for almost half an hour, the line between sky and sea blurs down, and everything starts to become quiet and peaceful.

I zone out every once in a while, but just like how it is in meditation, you could never will your mind to go fully blank. It will inevitably wander through the many streets of your thoughts but it’s not particularly a bad thing. I went along with the traffic my thoughts are creating and let my mind wander to where it wishes and I’m just standing by looking at how it’s doing.

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By the beach, reading and writing is always a treat, for me at least. Nagtabon Beach especially do not have wifi nor signal for your service providers which makes it the perfect getaway or a chance for me not to be disturbed by unnecessary notifications off my phone. I walked along the right side of the beach to take a couple of pictures then when I tired of it, I just retreated and headed out the other way scouting for a place to create a little home.

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We found a friend who loves the beach (and lives our dream of living in one)

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The water of the ocean that morning was colder than my heart, as if it holds no emotion at that moment, no anything. It’s still asleep, I guessed. Nothing to worry, our talk could come in a little later.

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My side of the beach

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Finally, I saw a little spot under a cashew tree and decided to plop myself with its gorgeous views and medium temperature right in front of me. The sand in this part of the beach is a little whiter (or ‘beiger’?) than on the right area. I took out my paperback (re-reading about the toughest 15-year-old in the world by Murakami), my black journal, the chips and biscuits I bought, an iced coffee with my heavy bag beside me. I opened my book and started devouring each of Murakami’s words, little by little, as slowly and as vivid as I can imagine all the scenes and characters he offers. I’d eventually start seeing the real world evaporate into thin air and I’m Kafka lugging around my heavy bag on my shoulders all my life with me. I’d start seeing Japan instead of the sea and people are mere background music.

This side was practically devoid of people except for the occasional local or tourist who winds up here to take a couple of pictures. But they were quiet, so I didn’t really mind. Sometimes I don’t even notice them walking past me. I forged on reading my book or writing on my journal all the while listening to the heavy waves the ocean is endlessly creating.

Just as I was about to jump off to the next chapter of Kafka’s runaway story, an old man walks toward in my direction and the paranoid that I am, thought of different ways to get myself back to where our group was staying. He was wearing deep red shorts that hung up to his knees, wearing a cap and eyeglasses that seem to be a little out of place. I initially planned of just ignoring him but he coughed a little too loud to get my attention so I reluctantly raised my head up to look in his direction.

“First time in Nagtabon beach?” the old man asks me. “No, not really.” I defensively replied so he doesn’t know I know next to nothing about his place. “Be sure to dab yourself some lotion because there are quite a number of insects around.”

“Yup, all done!” I replied with a flash of smile then he goes away. I sigh a little relief and continued on with my writing and reading. In retrospect, I should’ve just gone on a conversation with him. He holds a universe upon himself, a universe where Nagtabon beach is a home and a place full of adventure he could’ve shared with me.

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Most of the next few hours were uneventful. I’d switch between reading and writing when I felt like it and grabbed some chips when I’m feeling a little hungry. Before I knew it, I was reaching for my headphones and played Oh Wonder tracks because they seemed perfect at that time – and they were. The ocean waves provided a deeper background to the songs and the singers softly whispered the lyrics into my ears as I sit back and gathered my thoughts on everything and anything.

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My beach essentials: a Murakami book, my journal, some chips, iced coffee, hat and my cover (which doubled as my seat)

The strong winds were perfect for thinking. Aside from being at peace that I cannot swim, I also knew I would like to spend most of my time here alone. There were dreams inside me that needed some thinking through, a lot of demons waiting to be confronted and accepted, and a lot of flaws that have been lurking around with lessons in store for me.

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My view as I read and write

Occasionally I’d look into the far off horizon thinking what could be lying there. I could glimpse on a little island smacked in the middle of the ocean and nothing else. Has the ocean always been this lonely, with the very few off the surface lands or is it a wild party down there? I’m leaning towards the latter simply because it makes my heart leap that mom is enjoying herself deep within her and not the pretentious kind.

Little by little I’m working towards my way to this kind of happiness as well. I’m starting to accept facts about myself that I usually shove down before like how there are people like me who needs very little dopamine to feel complete bliss and contentment (probably why I haven’t gone clubbing before). Sometimes I’d forget about these little life goals, shoving it back into my library and never touching it again for a few months. But I’d eventually come around to it, I should.

I hope I get to visit mom again in a few weeks from now, before everyone feels that tickle of summer in their veins. 

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How to get there

If in case you’re interested in visiting Nagtabon Beach when you happen to be in Puerto Prinsesa, you can do so by renting a van at P2,800 for a whole day. We did rent one and the driver waited for us to go home because public transportation isn’t available right at the entrance of the beach. Taking a van would be suitable if you’re travelling with a group.

If not (either you’re on a budget or you’re travelling alone or both!), according to Maxtermind, you can take a bus from the city at around P30, and get off at Bacungan. From there you’d have to ride a tricycle which costs at around P100/person. We initially planned on taking the public transportation but unfortunately, we have to be back by 4PM. Also, the hotel staff informed us that there’s a rough road going to the beach which might be difficult for the tricycle to pass through which is why renting a car would be better.

PS If you have beach recommendations for me, preferably those ones without a lot of tourists and can be traveled to by land outside Metro Manila, I’d love to look into them and visit one of these days!

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Sanctuary

Back & forth the waves roll in
Challenging the beach
The foaming surf offers up a dream
That so far is out of reach

I wish I could live among the waves
Like the seal that I’ve just seen
Without a care for what comes next
Or for what has ever been

To swim among gigantic whales
Majestic in their song
Content with life – to carry on
Knowing they belong

To fly up high above the swell
Like the seagulls do
Playing in the clouds of spray
They all know the truth

Happiness is a gift

That we can not take for granted
In the profoundness of the ocean
Seeds of hope will now be planted

Back & forth the waves roll in
Their cycle never ends
My life continues to evolve
The sea will help me mend

– A poem from HelloPoetry by Pixievic

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4 Comments

  • Reply Apple

    Ahhh beautiful pictures. <3

    March 9, 2016 at 11:55
    • Reply Patria

      Thank you, beautiful soul. <3

      March 9, 2016 at 12:26
  • Reply Louise Ramos

    Your photos are lovely–and everything feels so fresh. I also tend to be a little paranoid when strangers start talking to me. Haha. Somehow a side effect of living in the Philippines where it’s hard to trust just anyone. Anyway, beaches nearest Manila would be in Batangas, or try the north like Bataan, Zambales, and LU. :)
    Caffeine Rush

    March 5, 2016 at 00:50
    • Reply Patria

      Thank you, Louise! And thanks for dropping by my little universe. I checked out your blog post about a beach resort in LU and would love to see it for myself soon! Sadly, yes that’s an effect of being on guard 24/7 when you live in the Philippines especially when you have to commute. Haha

      March 5, 2016 at 10:57

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