The trip to Cuyo

It’s night-time, and I’m lying in bed in the small room I’m renting, supposedly writing a proper blog post to update y’all. I have my Smartbro internet connection, but everything is still so new and fresh that I can’t examine how I feel well enough to write about it yet, so I’m going to post what I’ve written down in a notebook on the way here. I promise I’ll do better once I stop feeling like I’m still on a ship gently rocking in the water.

Oh, before I go on, let me post a picture of what my sister gave me for a farewell gift. I opened it just before I left:

Canned lychees. And a spoon. Haha. Just to complete the picture, that’s my cousin Caleb playing Digo’s part. And now the Ploning theme song is running through my head again. ūüėČ

If you haven’t seen the movie Ploning yet (why haven’t you?!), this might not make much sense. So go watch it. Now. We’ll wait.

In the mean time, here’s what’s happened so far:

July 17, 2011 3:34 pm

I’m on the Milagrosa J-Cinco, a ship so small I’m not so sure it can be called a ship. There’s a joke going around that the reason it’s called Milagrosa (miraculous), is that it takes a miracle to get it from port to port. Anyway, I’m just glad to be aboard, after getting left behind last Thursday when I read the departure time on the ticket wrong. I know. I can almost see you shaking your head at me now.

We haven’t left the Puerto Princesa City port yet. The afternoon sun is beating hot upon the calm surface of the water. In the distance, white, fluffy clouds tower over the mountains in majestic formations. If the sea remains this calm during the 18-hour voyage, I’ll be one happy passenger.

The view from the docked ship

4:00 pm

Several passengers and I are on the top deck, watching porters unload sack after sack of rice, hog feed, and raw sugar. Despite being already 1 hour behind schedule, we haven’t left yet. Some are complaining, but there’s also a sort of impromptu picnic breaking out on board. Everyone is bringing out their snacks of santol, biscuits, chips, and chicharon while enjoying the sea breeze and the¬†afternoon¬†warmth. Here and there I can hear a few crisp Cuyonon phrases, but I don’t understand any of them. On my return trip, I promise myself, it’ll all make sense to me.

4:17 pm

An incredibly good-looking guy in a military camouflage uniform drives up to the docked ship on a black motorcycle. He stops to talk to the porters unloading cargo, and the ladies on board are definitely enjoying the sight. My first thought was, “Seriously, dude, which action movie did you escape from?” My second was, “Wow, I wish Maan could see this.” For someone with a weakness for men in uniform, this is definitely eye candy. Sorry I didn’t take pictures, ladies.

4:52 pm

Yup, still here. I didn’t misread the departure time again, did I? I recheck my ticket for the nth time. Nope, it really says 3 pm. Oh well. Nothing to do but wait. I try working on the Filipino poem a friend is requesting, but I’m too distracted by excitement to go further than two stanzas.

5: 24 pm 

We’re on our way at last. Yay! Bon voyage, me!

My last glimpse of mainland Palawan under the setting sun

July 18, 2011 9:00 am

If we had left Puerto Princesa yesterday on time, we’d probably be approaching Cuyo by now. As it is, we’re still on the open sea, with only one tiny islet interrupting the smooth line of the horizon. Surprisingly, I haven’t gotten seasick yet, but then the weather has been perfect so far. Thank God.

9:32 am

I’m spending most of my time in my bunk just sleeping, listening to music, or looking out over the sea. A contemplative mood has taken hold of me, and I wonder if I’ll find what I’m looking for in Cuyo. Then I remember that I don’t even know exactly what it is I’m looking for. I guess I’ll find out soon enough. It feels a little strange to be this close to what I’ve only imagined in my dreams until now. Truth be told, I’m a little nervous.

9:35 am

I guess someone has noticed me writing in this notebook now and then, because he came over to make conversation. He asked where I was going and why, and I was stumped on how to answer the second question. I settled for simply saying that this would be a vacation, but that reply seemed completely inadequate. Still, how can I explain something as abstract as a spiritual search? I doubt his casual curiosity could have handled the real, intangible reasons I’m going to Cuyo. As with bipolar disorder, I decided that I’d only open up to people who genuinely want to understand.

11:26 am

I woke up from my nap to find Cuyo Island straight ahead on the horizon. I’m almost there! Yay! I jumped up to take pictures, but couldn’t get a good view. I’ll take better ones on the pier.

That’s the last entry I wrote. After I disembarked, I went straight to the house where I’d be staying and rested a bit. Late in the ¬†afternoon, a new friend I met during my online search for a Cuyonon tutor came to see me and took me for a quick drive around town. I’ll explore a little bit more on my own tomorrow, maybe even go for a jog to catch the sunrise. I promise I’ll write more soon. In the meantime, here’s one of the pictures I took on the pier:

Postcard perfect, don't you think?

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