Day 1, 12:00:00 PST
We’re alone, the two of us aboard the 9 seater charter plane, 2 pilots and a longing for a secret to be revealed. What lies in an intimate getaway? What is the allure escaping to a far off island ? What lasting charm holds out for couples settling to tie the knot in a tropical paradise? We were about to get married in a year on an island and I embark this trip to Amanpulo, Pamalican Island, Philippines as a kind of research. Anxious to find the answers and committed to heighten my senses.
Day 1, 14:20:00 PST
I caught a glimpse of the surrounding islands and was pierced by the turquoise-crystal blue corona. Up above, the blue below seemed untouchable. My eyes lingered.. we’ll be landing in 10 minutes.
Day 1, 14:30:00 PST
The plane got nearer and nearer the ground.. specks became trees, and people where awaiting at the end of the hangar. An array of tropical foliage was outside the plane window. I couldn’t wait to brush my toes in the crystal blue waters.
Day 1, 15:00:00 PST
We were welcomed and driven by a golf buggy. A small amount of rainshower swept the place momentarily, and when we arrived our casita, the misty glass windows separated the white sheets from the bed to what seems like tropical lush vegetation. I was in an isolated place presented with exotic cuisine, materials and furniture that completely touched and tasted differently (from its scent, to the palms of my hand and bare feet). Surely it was never an everyday thing for me to taste star fruit or take a sip out of a chilled glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Day 1, 15:55:00 PST
The rainshower was going farther and farther away from the island like a veil being blown to the far depths. I could see the trace of rain walking away gently as we decided to explore the island a little bit. A sweet Filipino treat awaited us on our last destination. Merienda is a Spanish term for eating in between lunch and dinner. What we had was a Filipino puto (steamed pandan rice cake) and turon (fried sweet crepe filled with plantain). The cold ice tea was a refreshing drink, a subtle wash from the sweetness of the food and the salty breeze of air at the tip of my tongue.
Day 1, 16:20:00 PST
We decided to dip in the waters until sunset. The water was so quiet and welcoming. I closed my eyes when i pierced and did my first swim. Looking up, the sky was experiencing a frenzy of colors: the lavender that the rain left us brightened to a soft salmon pink (a hint of a setting sun), the water reflected a pale blue, and beneath it was warm water.
Day 2, 09:00:00 PST
Our first day in the island started off with a friendly greeting by our golf cart. We drove to the clubhouse to have breakfast. I opted for the Filipino menu: Garlic rice, crispy fried salted milk fish bathed in white coconut vinegar and pickled sweet papaya on the side.
Day 2, 10:00:00 PST
The dive masters where kind enough to take us to the heart of the sea to snorkel. The sun was high up and the sea blue water was striking. Getting into the sea, the yellow striped fishes were luminous from down below. I had seen these fishes at the California Academy of Science in San Francisco, CA. It was a blessing to see them in their natural habitat.
Day 2, 14:00:00 PST
We decided to walk our way to the beach with wine glasses, snorkels, sunblock lotion and a camera. He was mesmerized by the fishes, and I was at the shore walking around quietly, spelling my name with different shells. We each had our won space. Quietly enjoying the ripples of water, the white corals, transparent fishes, the sunshine on our own. It seems like for the first time in a long time we seem to be in the moment, distracted by the moment and enjoying the moment. Each on our own, with the other on hindsight.
Day 2, 16:30:00 PST
All of a sudden I had the compulsion to go indoors. I walked to our casita on my own, and wanted to enjoy a bath. The bath gel was a citrus scent that almost mimicked the fragrance of freshly pressed towels. I enjoyed the silence, this hideaway, and the bubbling water. I sank in the tub and stayed there for a couple of minutes. I found some answers to my quest. A binding ceremony on an island creates a special proximity with the people you love. Far away from the usual, and cut off from distraction, the ceremony becomes personal and extra special with the abundance of the flaura, fauna, water and sky.
Day 2, 18:20:00 PST
The sun was setting, and candles being lit. A special gift was brought to us on a small woven box. Pastilyas De Leche, sweet and soft milk pastilles that melts in your mouth. The box was discretely placed in the room – sweet surprises.
Day 3, 08:20:00 PST
The morning was greeted with a mellow cool breeze and fresh tropical fruits on my plate. Mangoes, Papaya, lychee, mangosteen…yogurt with honey on the side…freshly baked bread and home made butter. I realized fruits become sweeter in warm tropical weather. It’s probably the humidity. The level of sweetness and the scent of fresh air tickled my palette as the sweetness rolled into my tongue. At this point, I was ready to jump into the water once again.
Day 3, 11:40:00 PST
It was amazing how blue can turn into white then fade into green. It was right in front of me. The sky was perfectly above me, and the water was below. We swam and laughed like a bunch of kids. We took our time, and savored every minute. The happy thoughts take me to my family, the other loved ones 300 km away, and some thousands km more. If we could bring them all in one special place, a tiny place where we could announce our mutual exclusivity and have their blessings… then have a vacation together.. it would be our happiness escalated multiple times.
Day 3, 15:40:00 PST
It went by so fast, almost like a dream. All of a sudden we had a flight to catch… the people were shaking our hands, I was holding on to my rattan hat fighting off the wind blasting from the plane engine. I stepped inside the plane, buckled my belt and the velocity escalated lifting us up.. as trees became smaller and smaller.. the island became a mere speck. Somewhere in the far depths (360 km south of Manila) lies an island, sustainable, luxurious, with the bluest of blue, the greenest of green, whitest of white, the brownest of brown. It is a memory now – and all I have left are photos, stories and a sunburn. This is just one of the 7,107 islands that encompass the Philippine archipelago. It is a diamond embedded in my memory.. like the one ring on my left hand. Travels and escapes are symbols of transition, a shift from the ordinary.. and most certainly, the day you tie the knot is a monumental occasion. I had complete understanding on what makes ceremonies on beaches have their allure. It lies on nature itself as participant: unabashed, genuine and reverberant.