How come we city dwellers show so much awe at farm fields as far as the eyes can see, or by hearing the crashing sound of waves against the shore or merely breathing fresh air at any time of the day? By all means, island life in its purest form is heaven on earth, a paradise simply put. Being in a busy city is all about spontaneity, urgency and façade which ushers in temporary pleasure or a lost sense of contentment. Siargao, bless the island, is not like any other island or tourist spot in the Philippines. Siargao has so much to offer more than its perfect surf waves or friendly faces, Siargao has a humble un-spoilt thriving island life and breath-taking sceneries that will certainly serve an amazing escape experience that can last a lifetime.
Here’s the Part 2 of 5 of my Siargao travel experience, recounting surfing under ruthless rain and then going solo to Magpupungko Rock Formations and Maasin River. Just like the Part 1, this is not just me sharing a travel guide but rather my travel perspective.
I was really looking forward for a brilliant escape to Siargao. I checked Accuweather two weeks and also several days before the trip, it showed a sunny promise and I kept on brushing off a foreboding thought of thunderstorms and was in denial of a coinciding local typhoon landfall, still I brought several tank tops and a lot of sunscreen. Sadly, my hopes of a bright sunlit image of the island slowly dwindled down following a bumpy (more like turbulent) plane landing, dark cloudy skies in the afternoon, then a rainy evening and a dull morning the next. I’m crushed, people.
That first day, instead of sulking around I managed to get myself acquainted to Ven, the receptionist for that morning at Tres Islas Hostel where I’m staying. I sort of asked for assistance from him to put me to some activities with some of the hostel guests since it would be cheaper. Ven was kind enough and introduced me to Mara and Carol, both Germans and to Rafael, a Filipino who are planning to go on Siargao island-hopping despite the possibility of it being cancelled already due to the storm. We guests then took the chance and we were joined by Keith, co-owner of the hostel, he was generous to offer and let me ride his motorcycle, since I didn’t rent one, to drop us off to the boulevard where boats used for island-hopping are docked. I can’t remember when my last motorcycle ride was, it’s been years since and really hoped it was my last. It was a spectacular road trip quite frankly, my fear of speeding thru the road, likelihood of me sky-rocketing to nowhere if we got hit, getting all sorts of bruises and pain – were all blown away by the exquisite and charismatic view of Siargao roadside with Keith giving me a brief tour and background of Siargao.
We then got to the boulevard and as expected, all island-hopping activities are cancelled for the whole day as we were told, so instead we then decided to go surfing at Cloud 9 which should be the best thing in Siargao as of the moment. But guess what? It was my first time to surf and by the time we are about to start, heavy rain poured in, damn it I should’ve worn some aqua shoes. Looking at the rocky shores and solid waves brought by strong winds I had to really toughen up my nerves and excitement at the same time, a similar feat when I tried diving a couple of years back, it was also raining back then and it was a bit dark underwater. Of course I had to get a quick surfing lesson first from an instructor for Php 200 and rent a surfboard for Php 300, both good for one hour. There is also an additional charge of Php 300 should you want to have photos taken by other instructors, the price was steep for me plus the bad weather that we have, the photos wouldn’t be that good I thought, that should explain why I don’t have even a single photo here.
The lesson was brief and I thought it would be best to put out what I learned to the open water, so as to make use of the one hour better. We stayed at the foreshore with the waves breaking on it along with probably 20 more people who are both surfers and instructors. The waves were rough and they were good waves for surfing but it’s the rocky bed I’m more worried about, it is uneven and there sharp edges, one needs to be really careful especially when falling off the board. I didn’t get to stand on the board for like the first five attempts, either I’m being stubborn or overthinking or simply making excuses in my mind hahaha! A few of my challenges were balancing my weight while lying horizontal on the board, my body placement which should be towards the end of the board and of course balancing and maintaining upright on the board, all three are disciplines and should always be on top of your head.
A couple of things to note thanks to my instructor: first, once you are immersed, do not turn your back from the water, because you won’t be able to tell what is coming towards you; second, do turn your surfboard (pointing back towards the ocean) when the wave has passed, if you do so during a wave, the surfboard would likely hit you. Another thing, if it is your first time to surf, make sure you have a good upper body strength, standing up from a lying position requires you to push your body up, a maneuver that is similar to push-up exercise. So if you are repetitively doing it while surfing the first time, prepare your entire upper body to get sore until the next day. Towards the end I managed to stand on my surfboard and roll, if only there weren’t ominous dark skies and moderate visibility due to the heavy rain, the experience would have been perfect. I got a couple of scratch/minor bruises on my left arm and right leg but what is a first time without some battle scars eh?
As expected, my shoulder and arms were sore the next day, I didn’t do much but just dropped by the wake park, view of coconut tree farm and then back at Cloud 9 accompanied by Ven and Chris of Tres Islas Hostel. On my fourth day, thank God the local typhoon Samuel has passed the island and we felt the warmth of sun rays every once in a while. It was mostly cloudy and drizzling still but at least there is no heavy downpour. It was an hour before lunchtime when I thought of going to Magpupungko beach, most of my roomies have been there and I can’t let another day pass without seeing the rest of Siargao. I didn’t wait long for my driver and guide Kuya Bert to arrive, we head out immediately as it would take an hour to get to Magpupungko with travel cost of Php 500 going to and same going back for a total of Php 1,000.
I really hoped for sun, sun and sun during the one hour trip to Magpupungko and thank the heavens for granting it! Upon entering the resort, the view is already majestic, you get to see the entire length of the beach with lines of coconut trees on both sides and of course the magnificent waves breaking at the beige sandy shores. It was already high tide when I got there and the ocean water has already covered the rock pools (one of the famous spots in Siargao) on the far left but I still got to see the other rock formations by the beach, and just like in Cloud 9, they are uneven and a bit sharp. Although the current was somewhat strong I got to swim for a bit and watched out for rocky beds. It was already late in the afternoon when we left and I was the only guest left on the beach. It’d be great to spend your day at Magpupungko, there are food stores and washroom around so you can definitely just chill and enjoy the beach.
There goes the Part 2 of my Siargao travel experience with three more parts to come featuring my larger than life stay at Tres Islas Hostel and the island-hopping experience at Naked, Daku and Guyam. Thanks for reading!
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