Remembering My Life In Siargao

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I was originally going to share this entry as a an update about my first three months in Siargao. I was hoping to have a series of entries about my life there but sadly, I decided to call it quits and fly back home. I had so many things planned and I was super happy with my life there but some things happen that make us change our plans. So here I am writing an entry about what life was for me on the island. Most photos were taken with my phone.

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I can still recall how I felt when I was leaving our house. It  was a mix of excitement and sadness. I had with me a one way ticket to a place where I only know a couple of people. I was excited because it was going to be something new for me and sad because I wasn’t sure when I’ll see my family and friends again. I booked myself a ride to the airport and hugged my dad good bye. I even took a photo of our compound just so I won’t forget what it looks like when I leave. I was chatting with my friends on the way to the airport and I was telling them “this is it!”

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MOVING IN

I arrived at the airport and got all my things checked in. I had my fingers crossed because I wasn’t sure if my bags were too heavy. Thankfully they weren’t! After getting my ticket, I patiently waited for boarding. I texted family telling them good bye and I’ll see them again soon. My flight to the island was delayed for an hour! What was going through my mind was “Oh no. Maybe I shouldn’t leave?”. It was definitely a mix of so many emotions. After waiting for about an hour, our plane was finally boarding. This was it. I tried not to be too dramatic about it because I can always fly home. I couldn’t help but think about how quiet it’s going to be at home now that I won’t be able to see my family for a while. 

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I arrived in Siargao and the weather was nice. It wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cloudy either. I took the van to the place I’ll be renting for the next few months and got everything settled. I really liked my place. It was small but it felt like home albeit being quite far from the main road. All I can think about that time was how excited I am that this place was my own. I had a small kitchen, dining area, bedroom, and a toilet. I settled down and rested a bit. I walked to the main road just so I get an idea how far I actually am from the main road (It wasn’t bad. I just wished the roads were better.) I met up with my friend, Nat. She took me around town and we took photos. We ended the day drinking coffee at a cafe near Cloud 9. For a few weeks, I was still in a high from the move. I was excited to share to everyone that I finally moved to Siargao. I was even excited to share it on social media that I’m here and I’m staying for a while. It also felt nice to tell people “Oh, I live here!” We spent my first couple of days enjoying and taking everything in. I met up with my other friends on the island, Mark & Jakie. We spent one evening having a picnic by the beach and a bonfire after. I still can’t believe how far away that night was now. 

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MA+D

I started working in a cafe by the beach called MA+D. They taught me most if not everything I know about brewing coffee. I was pretty nervous about serving coffee to customers actually but I eventually got the hang of it. Before you know it, I was making one cup after another. I’ve always dreamed of living by the beach and serving coffee so it was pretty awesome that I get to both at the same time! Ha! Working at the cafe was definitely one of the highlights of my stay on the island. Serving people coffee, taking orders, and chatting with the customers taught me so many new things about myself (plus some random knowledge from customers too lol!). I immediately got into a pattern with my life on the island. I wake up in morning, get ready for work, bike to work (oh yeah, I bought myself a bike during my first few days on the island. Best decision ever.), and serve people coffee. After my shift, I would either sit by the beach and watch the sun set or visit my friends on the island. We would sometimes go out and party but we started getting tired of going out after a few parties. Haha! I was totally fine with my routine. I even started sleeping early if we didn’t go out. 

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By July,  I decided to move in with a couple of friends on the island. It was a good move too as I get to save money. Living with Mark and Jakie was definitely one of the highlights of my stay in Siargao. We would spend days just laughing at each other’s jokes and hanging out. I luckily also found work that let me juggle a couple of things at once and still let me have time to do things that I wanted. We even started attending a weekly trivia night at a bar nearby. It’s one of the things I always look forward to every week.  

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THE LOOP

Sadly though, Nat, my friend who welcomed me to Siargao, finally had to say good bye to the island. It was pretty sad to see her leave as I didn’t really know a lot of people on the island so saying good bye to someone meant one less person to hang out with. Plus I wasn’t sure when I would see her again. Before her departure from the island though,  we decided to go around the island. Jakie, Nat, and I met up with AM and Risa, a couple of our friends who were also on the island. We started the day at the famous coconut mountain view. We were hoping for a really nice sunrise but it was pretty gloomy when we got there. We had our fingers crossed that It won’t rain that day as we had a long day ahead of us. We said good bye to Risa and AM because they weren’t joining us for the rest of the trip. We headed to Pacifico after the mountain view to have breakfast at my favorite Dwayne Wade & Lebron James restaurant (yes that’s the name of the place. And it’s one of my favorite places on the island. Don’t forget to order Mango Graham Shake and Chicken Mushroom if you ever end up visiting.) After having breakfast, we stopped by BigWish to take a nap. Haha! We actually took quite a few naps during this trip. Listening to the sound of the waves crashing is just really relaxing. After our much needed nap, we checked out LOKAL, one of the famous cafes in Burgos. Nat has been raving about it and it made me really curious. I’d like also randomly share that I drove a the scooter for a bit on the way to the cafe! I just freaked out when we got to the famous Million Dollar View haha and I let Nat take the wheel again. We got to the cafe and I immediately ordered the halo-halo (best dessert ever!). It was twist to the classic halo halo. It had coconut ice cream which made it so yummy! We played a couple of round of Exploding Kittens before finally heading further up Alegria! And guess what we did when we got to Alegria beach? We took a nap of course haha! If ever you’re on the island, you should definitely check out Alegria . I think it’s definitely one of the prettiest places on the island. I could probably spend a whole day here. After our second nap, we planned to watch the sunset in Santa Monica but we were quite worried that it might be already too dark when we drive back to General Luna. We ended up just enjoying the sunset on the drive back to town. We stopped by Dapa town to have a quick meal since we didn’t really get to eat lunch.  We finally got back to General Luna at around 6PM. We were so tired from the whole trip that I think we already passed out at 9PM. Haha! When I think about it, I still can’t believe that we actually got to go around the whole island! Hay, such good memories.

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A FRIEND FROM FAR AWAY

Luckily when Nat left, my friend Anna, who I met during a trip in Indonesia last December, came to visit! She has been backpacking around Asia and she wanted to just take a break from all the travelling. I told her maybe she should come and visit me on the island and we can both do nothing together. I was so excited to see her because it was the first time I’m going to see her since we met up back in February in Kuala Lumpur. She spent quite a few days on the island and I tried my best to bring her around. I just wish I was confident enough to drive her around. I guess that’s for another time.  We did spend a day checking out the three islands nearby. We had the best time drinking mango graham shake and coffee mango shake from Guyam island. We also tried a bit of snorkelling but the weather wasn’t amazing. We did get to see a few fish though! There’s something about snorkelling that I love so much but at the same time it scares me. Sometimes I’d imagine that a giant fish would just appear and freak me out while I was swimming. But I can’t help but feel in awe at everything you see underwater. Everything is just so colorful and beautiful. 

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Anna and I spent our last few days together just going around town, walking, and catching up with everything that has happened so far during her trip. By that time she’s been going around Southeast Asia for 5-6 months already. Super proud of her for being so strong and brave going on this trip. Sadly, after 10 amazing days with Anna, her vacation on the island had to end. It was still awesome to be able to spend time with her even just for a bit. She’s definitely one of the people I’m super thankful to have in my life. Hopefully our paths cross again in the future (We actually saw each other in Thailand again before she flew back home to Barcelona!)

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LIFE AFTER THE CAFE 

After leaving the cafe’s bar, I focused on working on their social media page. I also helped with a friend’s project with thinking of concepts etc. Basically, I had more time on my hands. I had time to do what ever I wanted to do. I even finally got to enroll myself in a gym (although I was really bad at it and I actually just used the elliptical + an app on my phone). I barely got to go though. For some reason, I wasn’t doing much but I felt so lazy to go haha! Jakie and I started learning how to cook— well, Jakie mostly did the cooking. I just helped. I think what I miss the most about the island is how I can walk to town and also walk home. I miss being able to just bring my bike and explore town when I’m bored. From time to time, we’d go out and take photos together. We’d watch the sunset or hang out at the beach. There was even this one time where the power was out the whole day so we spent it at the beach… napping. Haha! I think that’s one of the things I miss the most about being back in the city. Having the ability to just sit by the beach any time I want. The three of us (Mark, Jakie, and I) even figured out our routine. I would wake up earlier than them (I sleep a lot earlier than them too lol!) and I’d make myself coffee while I wait for them. I try and see what I can do while waiting. I would usually just catch up on reading or see what’s new. I also liked spending my mornings checking up on friends and asking how they were. As soon as the two wake up, we’d head to our favorite carenderia for brunch (Please make sure to try it when you’re on the island. Affordable and yummy food! It’s between Boyum’s and Isla Mercato). We even have our default orders. We would all get spring rolls. Jakie and I would usually share the pumpkin soup. Mark would get spring rolls too and whatever he feels like eating that day. After eating, we’d usually just walk home if it isn’t too hot. 

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AUGUST

I can’t believe how time flew by so fast. I was just telling people that I just moved and now I’m telling people that I’ve been on the island for two months. I loved my time in Siargao that I actually got myself an underwater case for my camera. I tried taking surf photos. A friend who shoots surfers inspired me to try it out and I have to admit that it was not an easy feat at all! There were times that I felt like I was in a washing machine. The waves were crazy but I have no regrets doing it. At least I can tell myself that I gave it a shot and tried. Maybe in the future, I can pick it up again. 

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August also meant that it was going to be my birthday soon. I didn’t really want to make a big deal out of my birthday since back in Manila, I don’t really celebrate my birthday. But this time, a friend came to the island to visit and celebrate my birthday with me which was really sweet. We woke up early on my birthday to drive up north to Pacifico and Burgos. Basically we did half of The Loop. Jakie and Mark tagged along the trip too. We didn’t really have anything planned for that day. I guess we just wanted to spend the day outside of town. We got to Pacifico, had breakfast and rested in Pacifico before driving further up north to Burgos. We had to stop by LOKAL of course. We had snacks and drinks while we were there. We didn’t really do a lot of things that day. I’m just glad that we were able to spend the day together. It was a simple day but I really liked that day a lot.

After my birthday, I was just waiting for September to come. I had a planned trip to Thailand in September so I was really excited about that. I get to pass by Manila for a couple of days so I get to see my family too. During my last couple of weeks on the island (At that time I didn’t know that I was leaving for good.) we did our normal routine. Joined the weekly Trivia Night. We even got to place 2nd in one of the nights! I actually wanted time to go faster. It felt like forever while I was in the island. I think thats what usually happens when you’re excited about something. 

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HOME

Finally, September arrived. I finally fly back to Manila. I was so excited. I even had my bags packed early. I was so excited to see my family and friends. I arrived in the afternoon and got picked up by my dad. I was so happy to see a familiar face. After months of being away, even if I hated the traffic, noisy streets, and overcrowded malls, Manila was still home. There are so many things about Manila that I probably love but I end up focusing on the bad. But being back even after a few months away felt right. Funny thing is I never really told any of my family members (except dad of course) that I was back. I was watching Netflix one night and my cousin texted me asking if I was at home because someone was watching TV in my room. Haha! Busted. I honestly didn’t want to tell anyone I was in town because I was only there to catch my flight to Bangkok. But of course I missed them and couldn’t wait to spend time with them. After talking with them, my plans changed. I made a decision to come back to Manila. I used to feel disappointed at myself for leaving the island. In a way I felt like a part of me gave up but as cliche as it sounds, I came to Siargao to get to know myself more and I wanted clarity. You know the usual soul searching stuff. Lol. I think my time on the island helped me get clarity and helped me heal. And I felt that it was time to come home. My sister who has been away for 5 years was also visiting so it was an amazing opportunity to see our family complete again. I’m just glad that people on the island were very understanding with my situation. I don’t regret going back home. I miss a lot of things on the island but I’m happy to be back home. 

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Things happen and plans change. I came to Siargao in June hoping to call it home. I’ve always dreamed of living by the beach so living here was a dream come true.  I loved my life in Siargao. I was with my friends, I was doing something I really enjoyed, and I met people who have made a big impact in my life. Sadly, it’s time for me to move on to another adventure. My time in Siargao was short but sweet. I’m forever grateful for all the laughs, smiles, and tears shared. I’ve learned so many things about myself and I’m glad that I let myself experience this adventure. I’m hoping that my next adventure will bring me as much joy as this one. I’ll see you again soon, Siargao! Salamat Karajaw!

Jelito de LeonComment