“Where do you prefer to go? White Beach or Sabang?” the petite woman in front of us asked her boyfriend.
I poked my husband’s arm and whispered, “Are they any different?”
Clueless, my husband turned his head in the direction of the ticketing office in Batangas Port. It was 2009 and the availability of fast internet service to do rush research was next to impossible. We were too busy with the wedding preparation and worrying about my mother’s deteriorating health so the trip to Puerto Galera was actually a last-minute attempt to consume our honeymoon. We originally planned to go to the island in the Southern Philippines but I scrapped the idea because it would have been harder for us to get back to our province should my mother needed to be confined in the hospital again.
In Batangas Port, there were two queues: one was for those going to the White Beach and the other one was for those who wanted to go to Sabang. I asked an elderly man in front of us which one was better in terms of adventure and without batting an eyelash, he suggested Sabang.
“If you want to try scuba diving, Sabang is the place to go,” he said.
I saw the petite woman with her foreign boyfriend again. They were already buying tickets for Sabang. The line going to the White Beach was getting longer and longer and I did not have the patience to spend another hour just to get a ticket so I thought that maybe, we should go to Sabang instead.
The waiting area inside the port was clean and spacious. Instead of airplanes, you could see large boats floating on the blue seas. After 15 minutes, they allowed us to get loaded on the boat. My husband and I were the first passengers for us to choose the best spot. The boat kept dancing on the silent waves of the water, I started to feel sick. Motion sickness has always been my problem so I was nauseous even before the boat started sailing. The petite woman with her boyfriend seated on the other end of the boat. Most of the passengers in our boat were foreigners.
Travel time from Batangas Port to Puerto Galera took 45 minutes. It was windy but cold sweat formed on my forehead due to seasickness. I saw a school of flying fish swimming after our boat, I wanted to dive in the water if only to reduce my seasickness (anyway, I was wearing a life vest). Not even the strong citrus scent of the local oranges eased my nausea but as soon as I saw the island, I felt a little better. How I managed to walk later without falling from the plank of wood was a miracle because I was dizzy.
While I was naturally systematic and organized, there was a time when I preferred to be spontaneous. When I say spontaneity, it means that when we arrived in Sabang, we had no idea what kind of accommodations they offer there. At the port, a woman asked if we already had some place to stay while in Sabang. She asked us to follow her when we told her that we were looking for a place to stay. (Again, the paranoid me would never do that in the present time)
We checked in at the Steps Garden Resort. The resort was elevated so we had a fantastic view of the seas. I stayed in the balcony to shake off my seasickness. It took me until dinner to finally let go of my headache.
I didn’t know the kind of nightlife that they offer in White Beach but in Sabang, the ambiance was similar to Olongapo. More foreigners were roaming around than locals, some with a can of beer on their hand. The next morning, we explored the island and found a shortcut leading to a beach in front of a Korean restaurant. We found that the rocky beaches in Sabang were not ideal for swimming so we must be patient in finding a smooth spot to swim.
We explored the market and the grocery store to compare prices because foods were a little pricey at the resort’s restaurant. We ended up buying grilled plates of seafood from the eateries outside of the resort.
To fully appreciate Sabang, we availed of the tour package with free snacks and lunch. We were in the company of an older couple and an American guy. The woman who assisted us in our hotel accommodation was the one who arranged for the tour (I forgot her name). Her nephew named Marvin was our tour guide. We took a dip at the Tamaraw Falls and had our lunch in their simple gazebo. We went to see the river (I forgot the name) but decided not to swim because the water level was too low as it was summer season. We had a carabao ride on another site when the rain started to fall leaving all of us wet. We went to the Mangyan Village and crossed the hanging bridge there for souvenir photos.
It was one hell of an experience at the tail-end of my spontaneity and being adventurous. Two months after that trip, I lost my mother. From then on, I couldn’t afford to be gambling again on my safety or future.