1. Sunset Cruise
Offered by tour operators, it involves just chilling out on a boat in the middle of the sea, with a bottle or two of beer and some packed barbecue, while the sun sets in the background. Quite a normal activity one would say, except they add a twist by putting you on a small outrigger boat – with a bottle of San Miguel beer, dare I say.
I have never done this.
I lived in El Nido without really going into the details of actual fishing. The most common I encountered was something they called kawil. “Teacher, nangawil kami,” is what my students used to tell me. It involved putting a bait on a hook and just waiting for the fish. The usual, except one had to catch the bait first, and they weren’t worms. During low tide, the sand and rocks get exposed and sea creatures would get trapped in holes in the sand or in spaces in between rocks.
During the months of February, March and April, the El Nido horizon would glow with a multitude of lights. One of the teachers even said it made her think Manila was just nearby as she had thought the lights were coming from Manila. The lights in truth came from the lights of fishermen catching squid.
If there was something I regretted not having done, despite the opportunities to, was go out with the fisher folks to catch squid, or at least watch them do it. The catch sadly did not reach the shores of the town, as they were sold right then and there to Taiwanese merchants aboard their own ships.
What I did do was go out with my friends Likha, Derick, and Eric, to fish as the sun was setting.
What we did first was catch an octopus stranded in little holes in the sand by leaving a trailing bait out on the beach.
I liked going out to the beach when it’s low tide. We saw different kinds of fish, sea cucumbers, starfish stuck all over the place.
We sort of owned a red paddle boat. The “sort of” came from the fact that it was a boat by Kuya Loy, singer-musician of the group who called themselves Islanen and played regularly at Balay Tubay. He and his wife owned a small sari-sari store round the block where I lived. One can buy nearly everything in that sari-sari store. The paddle boat was kept in Caalan, at Rose’s house below, and we only had to push it into the water every time we wanted to use it. Kuya Loy never charged us for the use. He is very kind. I love him and his wife Ate Mavic.
Derick, in addition to being tour guide and operator, diver, and owner of a boat he named KoolFox that can accommodate 10-15 people, also owned a little paddle boat. Since each paddle boat can only accommodate a maximum of two people, Likha and I took our red boat and Eric and Derick took the gray one, and we took off to fish in the sunset!
This island, also called Helicopter Island because its limestone cliffs resemble that of a helicopter when it is viewed from a considerable distance, has a beautiful white sand beach stretching to some 300 meters that is ideal for picnic lunches during island-hopping trips. There is an underwater tunnel at its northern side and a fringing reef on its southern end.
This was the first island I ever set foot onto when I arrived in El Nido May 2005. In my 2010 visit, there were boxed turtle nests on the beach, a program to protect turtle eggs from being trampled or preyed upon, implemented by El Nido Resorts.
El Nido Resorts ensures the safety of turtle nests from monitor lizards (bayawak) as well as tourists and other “predators” by enclosing nests in boxes and making sure that the eggs get to hatch and make it to the waters after.
This is box #7, of about 12 scattered all over and up and down this beach, with about 80 counted eggs.
The first to hatch in the entire nest, the tiny baby hawksbill turtle wait inside the box for the rest of its siblings, before they are let go on the beach to be on their own.
Bon voyage to you little one! Hope you make it out in this big, big, big world! And may you have little ones of your own in the future.
*The above photos were taken by a Nikon D40 borrowed from my sister and first appeared in blogs in a travel site I used to have called onetravelstorydotcom. I have since discarded the travel blog as the time and effort involved in maintaining too many sites took its toll.
I took pictures of the sunset almost all throughout the trip and left the fishing to the others. (Click on the thumbnails to view full sized version/slideshow.)
Though the Pentax Optio WP served its purpose most of the time, it had its own share of faults that were most evident in these photos.
“The quality of the photos are only average at best. Despite the 5 megapixels, significant detail is lost in the capture of the photograph. Noticeable fuzziness exists on the perimeter of all photos. Close inspection (zoom in with your favorite photo editor) shows a great deal of pixelation (read interpolation).” – R.A. Gibson, Customer review on Amazon
But how beautiful the El Nido sunsets are!
Two days ago, I came up the overpass to cross to where my village is, and looked up to see a glorious sunset. Much like my sunsets of old, my sunsets in El Nido – though less spectacular, glorious nonetheless. It was not as red, nor as pink, nor as deeply hued. I could not see the purples, violets, or fuchsias. It was a patch of colors in a sea of galvanized iron sheets.
I could remember how for countless times, I sat down on the beach and gazed on shimmery magenta and carmine skies, feeling lonely, missing love. Now I have love, plenty of it, but I am missing passion. Trapped within concrete, no opportunity to be carefree. No more sleeping on sandy sarongs. No more lying on my back in a bed of water. No more gazing at a canopy of stars. No more double rainbows. No more rushing waves. I have love aplenty, but my world is lacking in beauty. It is ugly.
Looking at my patch of sky, my piece of sunset, I cannot help but think about the sunset someone somewhere is having. For after all, it is the same sun, and it is the same sky. It is a thousand different sunsets for a thousand different emotions, and a thousand different thoughts. This is mine and I am sharing it with you, in the hope that you can understand who and what I am.
My sunset would be the same as yours, if you happened to catch it at the same time I did, but your feelings will nowhere be near mine. We may be looking at the same sun, same sky and see the same colors but you have your own sunset and this sunset is mine and mine alone. – Your Sunsets and Mine, September 8, 2006
Did I catch a fish? No. I was too caught up with my sunsets. I was sunset fishing. Will I ever be able to do this again? I hope so. Though I know the sunset would be different. And I would be too.