The boat operator must have sensed my hesitation to leave the island. "Why don't you stay longer?" he asked. "We have work to do back in Manila, if we stay longer, we might lose our jobs", replied my companion. "Well then, if you lose your job, find another one! There are plenty of jobs for the talented and the industrious", he quickly countered.
His words made me ponder, as if they were keys that opened the locks guarding my hidden desire to leave my corporate "comfort zone" and simply follow my passion to roam. I have heard stories of backpackers who bravely left their jobs and explored the world. Some ended up working in one of their "pit stops" temporarily to earn enough money to enable them to continue traveling.
I need not look far. On our boat ride to the island, we had the opportunity to talk to an American girl who claims to have stayed in Malapascua for almost 8 weeks already. She just went to Cebu City to process her visa extension that day. According to her, she fell in love with the beauty of the island and decided to stay longer. She left her life in the US years ago to travel and live in Asia. Currently, she's a dive instructor in Malapascua.
There's another Swiss-Italian young guy whom I talked to. He's been in the island for more than 3 weeks. I asked when does he plan to leave (Malapascua) and go back to Europe. He simply replied, "I don't know!".
I wish I could have that courage to do the same. Three to five months of roaming around Asia would be enough, I guess. I will miss the Philippines, of course. But I must travel to learn and experience more. Maybe next time, when I book that flight somewhere, I will never buy a return ticket, so I won't be compelled to go back home on a specific date. But then again, where is "home" for a restless soul like me?
Some Sights on the way to the Lighthouse
Children of the Sun, Sea and Sand.
How lucky they are to have such a vast playground!
What's for Dinner?
Bayle sa Plaza!
The Men and their Cocks!
Cockfighting as part of the local fiesta
Malapascua is an island at the northernmost tip of Cebu (the island). It is best known among divers from around the world (yes, most tourists who come here are divers from Europe, US, Japan, Korea, etc.). In fact, when we arrived on Thursday, we never saw Filipino tourists. The locals told us that Pinoy travelers normally arrive on a weekend for a short break. Divers come here to see the legendary Thresher Sharks and some marine wonders such as manta rays.
From the city proper, take a bus at the North Bus Terminal that will bring you to Maya Port. Airconditioned buses (fare: 170 pesos) take longer -- around 5 hours -- for it will pass by several towns. It's more convenient, though. Once you reach Maya Port, there are boats / banca (fare: 80 pesos) that will bring you to Malapascua Island. It's a short trip - around 20 to 30 minutes. The water is shallow and the island is visible from the port.
Accommodations are cheap. A fan room (small dorm type) where we stayed (Purple Snapper) only costs 250 pesos / person. I prefer fan rooms in an island, to really feel the "island ambiance". After all, I am out at the beach most of the time, so getting a room with A/C is just a waste of money for me.
Food is cheap too. Just look for "carinderias" where the locals eat. A complete meal of rice, veggies and fish/meat only cost 40-50 pesos. Ging-ging's is popular among the foreign tourists. They serve a wide variety of meals. A typical Pinoy meal costs 80-100 pesos.
Electricity has improved. No more (or very minimal) power interruptions, as some travel blogs claim. Some resorts offer high-speed internet. Phone signals are strong as well (both Globe and Smart).
Oh, the locals are very courteous and friendly! The children always greet you with "hello" without asking for money or anything. They just give you a warm smile, instead. How precious!
Don't expect five-star services in the island. This is not Boracay.