GOING SOLO: Galera on my mind

Talipanan beach, Puerto Galera
Talipanan beach, Puerto Galera

It just turned Friday and I found myself feeling upset. There was only one thing, or more appropriately, one place, that would make me feel better. So impulsively, I knew I had to head to the beach come hell or high water. I packed my backpack Friday night and brought my things with me to work. I planned to head straight to the bus station after I punch out Saturday morning, and I did.

The sun was barely up when I left our office along Paseo De Roxas in Makati. It was my first solo trip, not counting the numerous times I’d fly home to Bacolod alone. This time, it was different. It felt as if I was breaking free, running after myself, and chasing the sunrise all at once. It was nerve-wracking, exciting, and a bit scary, but it was what I needed.

Saturday morning on my way to Batangas port.
Saturday morning on my way to Batangas port.

Five minutes past six, I was already comfortably seated on the second row of the Ceres Liner bus, bracing myself for the unknown. I whispered a short prayer of guidance and thanks, and I was ready for whatever my solo trip was about to bring. The bus conductor asked me where I was headed, and instinctively I replied, Batangas port. At that moment, it felt surreal.

The two-hour bus ride brought me to the bustling Batangas port where I was to hop on a boat that would bring me to Puerto Galera. The moment I stepped off the bus, barkers of all sorts approached me asking me all sorts of questions. Instinctively, I plugged my earphones so I can pretend I could not hear them, then smiled and waved to turn them down politely. I headed to the terminal three and looked for Galerian Lines, the boat suggested by my friend, which would bring me directly to Talipanan beach.

I had to endure an hour and a half of rough seas until I caught a glimpse of the beach. I had to keep reminding myself that the bumpy ride was part of the adventure, and the only choice I had was to enjoy it. The long ride gave me ample time to start focusing my thoughts on the matters I needed to face head on, and the boat engine’s duet with the clashing waves was a calming background to the noise inside my head.

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We disembarked the boat one by one, and the moment my feet kissed the water, my heart lit up. I walked to Luca’s Miramare Lodge which was situated at the farthest end of the Talipanan beach. I was thanking the heavens so much because I made it to Galera safely, and that the lodge I chose was beautifully located. It was more than apt for some alone time, it was perfect. I think at that moment, I fell in love.

The accommodating attendants at Luca’s led me to my room and offered me assistance in any way possible. The room was cozy and homey which I really appreciated. It gave me a sense that I was still home, even though I have traveled a bit far from my comfort zone. Since I came from night duty, I was so sleepy I knew I had to hit the sack first. Come night time, I dragged my lazy and tired ass out of bed to feed myself and to check out the beach.

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It was what I wanted — no noisy bars, no rowdy crowd. Luca Cucina Italiana, owned by an Italian who married a Filipina, was my very own dining place during my stay there. I had picked two favorite spots –one where I can eat breakfast and lunch, while the other table closer to the waters was very apt for dinner and a bottle of beer.

The hours went by unnoticed as I sat there, enjoying my beer and the view. I felt as if the party, or chaos, whichever you’d prefer, inside my head subsided. I was there alone, but not lonely. I was at peace. I was happy.

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The next morning, I decided to catch some sun, walk by the beach, and swim. But as I was enjoying the clear waters, I noticed fishes jumping out of the water. I’m not usually paranoid but I think too much National Geographic and Animal Planet has gotten into me, I got out of the water thinking that if the fishes were jumping out, there must be something big chasing them. Okay, okay, I’m paranoid, I know. At least when it comes to fishes, I am not dense.

I decided to spend my afternoon just lounging by the beach, but Kuya Eric, a local guide, encouraged me to visit the Talipanan falls. I was reluctant at first, primarily because I suck at outdoor activities – but eventually I agreed. My guide said we had to walk to the falls, but he did not say we would be climbing and jumping off rocks! Halfway up the mountain, I told him I was not sure if I’d be able to make it down or maybe he could just push me off the cliff and I’d just roll down. Reaching the falls made me think it was indeed worth the climb. The only problem was, how to make it down, alive and unscratched.

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After the death-defying (okay, maybe for someone who is not that equipped with outdoors skills like me) climb to the falls, Kuya Eric showed me the other stretch of the beach and introduced me to some of the locals.

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And as night fell, I again headed to the resto by the beach, sat at my favorite spot, enjoyed a sumptuous Italian-inspired dinner and just stared at the vast sea. When people started hitting the sack and I had the beach to my lonesome, I sat on the sand near the water and under the stars, with a bottle of beer to keep me company. The contentment and peace I felt was beyond words.

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Monday morning was the moment of truth — I was heading back to reality. I forced my sleepy self to get out of bed to witness the Galera sunrise, and I was blown away. It was simple, but it’s simplicity was perfect.

After breakfast, I sat by the beach again, as if whispering my goodbyes to the very tempting-to-stay Puerto Galera view. Two locals who both sell accessories by the beach, Nanay Miling and Kuya Hasel approached me and engaged me into conversation. They told me random stories about how life in Puerto Galera has been expensive since it became a tourist destination, how different typhoons have caused the tides to reach the homes, and how they struggle daily to survive. I was touched how these strangers treated me as a friend.

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I bought a few items from them, given that I was also on tight budget, and they were really thankful. Before I left, Nanay Miling and Kuya Hasel went out of their way to each give me souvenirs, which according to them, are good luck gifts from friends. I was so thankful I had to stop myself from crying. Yes, I’m that emotional. It was so touching. At that moment I thought wishing me luck was very fitting — I was bound return to reality, and there was no turning back.

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Contacts:
RESORTS
Luca’s Miramare Lodge 0916.417.5125
Mengie’s Resort (Look for Ate Aya and let her where you got her number) 0906.298.8399

GUIDE
Kuya Eric 0912.460.8170

GALERIAN LINES
JR de Mesa 0906.388.6572

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If you have questions or you think there’s anything I can help you with, you can drop me a line at the comments section or email me at [email protected]

-H

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