To pass the time, I ambled around the island. I was told that I could circle the very tip of it in less than an hour, so that’s what I did, though the most exciting thing I found was one red, hairy hermit crab and a curiously vibrant yellow thing that, upon closer inspection, was really just a leaf stuck on a rock.
Back at the resort, I chatted amiably with the caretakers, who spoke a mix of Cebuano, Surigaonun and Waray. There were entire stretches where I didn’t understand anything they were saying, but my oh’s and ah’s were enough to carry me along the conversation. They served me adobong saang (spider conches) and plenty of rice, and seemed amused that a city-dweller like me knew how to eat with my fingers, which is, I guess, the reverse of my own previous patronizing attitude.
And then they mentioned that the stingless jellyfishes are really only abundant during the summer months—a fact that tour packages conveniently don’t mention—but that there might be some now at the nearby lagoon. I stopped eating and stared at them. The jellyfishes are actually within walking distance of where we were all along? In less than a minute, I was off.
The lagoon was about 500 meters from the resort, hidden by the curve of the land but easily reachable by following the shore. With just 10 minutes of walking, the area has already changed: now that it’s not as exposed to the Pacific, mosses grew on the jagged rocky path, the water has turned crystalline, and slowly, more life could be found—sea urchins, sea grass, 6-foot long sea slugs, and some sporadic corrals.
There was a small island in the middle of the water’s entryway to the lagoon, where two crows squawked and flew from treetop to treetop. Thrillingly, one side of the entryway was blocked by a cobblestone wall. Climbing over it, I found another land where I was met by the voice of Eddie Garcia.
Across the lagoon—perhaps 200 meters away—there was what looked like a rest house where inside was playing, by the scratchy sound of it, a 1970s film about some secret love affair, in full volume. It was fantastic. Instead of spoiling the place, it actually made it more surreal. Here, the water was a brighter blue, the corals more colorful, and fusiliers and Moorish idols darted in the water. There were no stingless jellyfishes, but what of it? In the background, Eddie was saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Please believe me, I’m sorry.”
I went to the water and just let my body float. For the first and only time that trip, I had what I didn’t know I came for—a world of my own.
Gabriel is a graduate of UP Mindanao’s Creative Writing Program. He currently works as a web content writer. He actually went back to Bucas Grande recently, this time with his family, and had a much better experience.