Living in El Nido and working for the wonderful couple that we fondly called Ati and Koya was one of the best things that happened to me. Koya principally looked after the school while Ati’s official work was at the resort. So on weekends, when Ati had time, we we’re off island hopping or going to the resort with their kids Pat and Jam, and the other teachers. It was always fun!
We’d take off with Kuya Mesach in the Geographic, a bright yellow boat that was so named because it appeared on the cover of an issue of National Geographic, and have a day off in the water and sun!
I do not know how many times I have been to Lagen, Miniloc, as well as Pangulasian – another island that had a resort that originally opened in 1992 but burned down shortly after Lagen Resort opened in 1998. Pangulasian, also known as the “Island of the Sun” will open its shores again starting this May with its canopy, beach and pool villas. Read all about it here.
Going to the resorts was always a welcome treat, especially if it involved eating. I had absolutely loved the buffets at the resorts. For me, they are still the best so far, even though I have been to many other resorts and hotels.
When H came over to visit, we were treated to a trip to the resorts. We first dropped by Miniloc because it has a wonderful beachfront with its own snorkeling area. All one needed to do was jump over the breakwater and there they all were. (Click on the thumbnails to view full size.)
Miniloc Island Resort is very laid-back. Compared with Lagen Island, it has its own beach and has more sand than concrete. It’s very ideal for groups of friends who are out to just relax and have fun with areas for beach volleyball and billiards, with a bar on the beach to boot. In my visits to the resorts, I tend to see more people walking about in Miniloc than in Lagen. Lagen tends to cater to honeymooners who would rather be left alone or, out and about on the other islands, looking for beaches and little coves where they can be all by themselves. Lagen also has higher tarrifs compared to Miniloc.
After we were done snorkeling in front of Miniloc, we we’re off to Big and Small Lagoons and Simizu Island for more swimming and snorkeling, before going off to Lagen for our lunch. This was during the time when people from town were still allowed to go to the resort to eat. Or at least people who were not guests of the resort but were friends of Ati and were aboard the Geographic were allowed to go to the resort even with Ati not being personally there. I’ve never been to the resorts without her and this was the first and only time we we’re allowed to.
Lagen always had the best food! Their lunch buffet is superb but their dinner buffet is exceptional! When I think about good food, I always tend to think about the El Nido resorts food. When I go to other hotels and resorts, I also always tend to compare the food to that of El Nido Resorts’.
Lagen was always eerily quiet every time I went there. I remember too the last time I was there, it was Koya’s birthday and we stayed over for dinner. The resort goes out of its way to give a cake and sing to their birthday celebrators. We had one for Koya while at another table, they were singing Happy Birthday to a popular Korean actress. I recognized Kim So-Yeon from watching All About Eve too much shortly before going to El Nido in 2005. The actress, whose birth day is November 2nd, was mistakenly thought by the staff as February 11th because Koreans write the numbers day first before month (e.g. 2-11-80 vs 11-2-80).
I have not been able to take photos of that visit to Lagen because my camera was in Hong Kong for a repair. My friend Derick and I went to this barrio fiesta in the interior and I took too many photos in the scorching heat, causing my camera to break down. I got the camera back some time in March 2006.
Lagen also differs from Miniloc in that it has a swimming pool. This pool is especially beautiful when it is decorated with floating candles and the buffet is set up next to it. It gets really romantic.
There are many ways to get to the resort. Usually, the resort picks up the guests from the airport via boats. Back then, there was no ramp yet on the beach front and the guests boarded the boats on the river at the back of the airport. Sometimes, when the tide is too high or the waves are too rough, resort guests are picked up from the airport by a jeepney and brought to the port in town. From there, a boat awaits to bring them to the islands.
When guests do not fly in directly from Manila via Island Transvoyager Inc. (ITI) or Seair planes but instead go through Puerto Princesa and take the land travel to El Nido, they are also picked up at the port in town.
This is what we did on this particular trip to Miniloc one November day. Instead of going to the resort aboard the Geographic, we boarded the resort boats with the other guests.
I love looking at these photos of the limestone cliffs (locally called taraw). I can always tell whether it has been raining by the lushness of the foliage; and judging by how green they are on this day, I can say it had been raining a lot! When summer draws near, the cliffs get more brown and some of the leaves actually turn red. It looks nice too, almost like it’s autumn.
It was in El Nido that I learned that the best spot on a boat is at the bow. We would take turns sitting on that spot because it was everyone’s favorite.
I remember that on this trip, we did a lot of snorkeling in front and had drinks at the bar after. Eric took a lot of photos of me. I was 23. I think I weighed about 95 lbs and I was having the best times of my life!
After having some drinks in the bar, we all went about for refreshing showers and quick changes for some dinner. I think we we’re celebrating someone’s birthday again, I just can’t remember whose.
Afterwards, we went to the bar again for some drinks and may have had one too many because I can also remember being on the boat back to town all dizzy and Joy, and maybe Grace too, were already fish-feeding by the time we got to town!
I realize now that there are some things you take for granted just because it’s there. I am also glad I took a lot of photos, because as years pass by, I tend to forget more and more things and photos help to remember. I just realized how important photos are when I was going through my mother’s numerous photo albums at home. My sister said my mother was really into taking photos so much, and I’m thinking, among all of us siblings, am I really the one who took after her that much?