Monday, June 25, 2007

A Visit to an old friend in Dipolog

When I planned my sputnik adventure a couple of months ago, I already had in mind that I’m dropping by Dipolog. Faith, a very good friend of mine,lives there. I thought it was the perfect time to reconnect with an old friend, as we haven’t seen each other for a year.

Faith and I go way back. We’ve been friends for about ten years now. We were in the same batch that went to Seattle, USA for a three-week exchange student program. It was both our first time to travel on our own, without our family and just be with other high school students from different schools. We’ve shared so many memories travelling around Seattle, sitting-in at a public high school and living with a foster family. It was definitely something for the books as the experience helped shape the person that I am now. In the short span of time we’ve shared in Seattle, we were able to build a friendship that will last a lifetime. We were able to keep our friendship intact despite the years that had gone by.

I felt a bit nostalgic on the way to Dipolog. I realised how time passed by so quickly and we’re now living different lives. Faith has her own family. She has a loving husband and a very beautiful daughter, whom I have never met. As for me, I was fortunate enough to have finished my degree in Australia a year ago and now working in media. So many things have changed in the past ten years so I was anxious to catch up with her again like the old days.

We arrived at the pier in Dapitan by noon. Faith patiently waited for us at the parking lot for almost half an hour, as the travel time took longer than expected. It was refreshing to see Faith again after a very long time. She still looked the same, just the way I imagined. If there’s one thing that reminded me of her all this time, it would be the clothing brand ‘Roxy’ as it seemed like she has every design and colour of it. She doesn’t wear anything else but ‘Roxy’. So there she was sitting at the driver seat, wearing a white roxy shirt, jeans and flip-flops. Her first words to me were, "Ronald, you’re so dark already bwahahaha!" Yes, that’s how we say hi to each other. We laugh our hearts out first before asking how we’ve been. Just reminded me of the times before, when we’d be laughing all day and night, along with Tita Cecil, our group leader in the exchange program in Seattle. I surely miss those days.

We then went to Dipolog, which is about ten to twenty minutes away from Dapitan. I finally got to meet Faith’s other half, Jonas. We had lunch at their friend’s house and then went to Faith’s home, where we crashed for the night. I also met her adorable daughter, Chloe, who definitely looked like her Mom and Dad. There was an instance, where I took a photo of Faith and showed it to Chloe, she then grabbed the camera and kissed the monitor and said ‘Love you mama!’ She was the sweetest! It was so moving to see Faith with her daughter as I was witnessing her being a Mom for the first time. I realised that we’re no longer teenagers; we are grown-ups now with our own responsibilities and obligations.

The next day, Faith was so kind to have coordinated a trip to a fishing village near Dipolog called Selinog Island. I’ve never been to a fishing village so I was ecstatic to go. And the thought that we’re finally going to an island that tourists don’t frequent had definitely made me look forward to it even more. It’s something off the beaten path I suppose. The boat ride took an hour from Dipolog to Selinog Island. The sea was so calm and relaxing, so the cruise was definitely enjoyable. Looking at the island from afar, all I could say was ‘Wow!’ as the island looked so pristine with it’s white sand and blue water surrounding it.

The population of the island is pretty small with only 848 people. The predominant source of income in the island is fishing. Electricity in the island is scheduled as a generator powers it. Outriggers were parked near the shoreline and fishing gears and nets were neatly placed on the shore. I said to myself, “This is definitely a fishing village”.

I was amazed to see how the people in the island live their lives--simple yet fulfilling. The fishermen starts their day usually at the wee hours of the morning, as it is the best time to fish. If they’ve had a good catch then they’d sell it to the fish markets in the mainland. The wives of the fishermen spend their morning making hand-woven mats or cleaning their humble houses. While the kids as young as ten-years-old fish in the morning too. In the afternoon, you’d find the fishermen relaxing at the beach, sheltered by roofs made out of woven coconut tree leaves. They occasionally have a few beers and maybe hit a few notes in the karaoke. If you come to think of it, it’s a very slow life they have in the island as compared to the city life where everything seems to be so fast, you can hardly breathe.

The view from where I sat was a stretch of white sand bar and calm blue ocean floor. It was beautiful. The warmth of the sun and the sea breeze were so relaxing I fell asleep atop a pile of fishing nets.

Later that night, Faith decided to check us in at Dapitan’s famous beach resort called ‘Dakak’. Our Dipolog trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting this beach resort. I’ve been to this resort before and I’m glad that they’ve maintained it pretty well. The pristine beach still remained as beautiful as it was before. Although I’ve noticed that the water is greener now, as it used to be in a shade of blue. But the constant downpours might have made it look green. Nevertheless, the water was still crystal clear.

The three days we’ve spent in Diplog were too short to catch up with an old friend. But I’m really glad I dropped by as it was great to see Faith again and finally meet her family.

Dipolog and Dapitan are surely places that everyone should visit. These places are rarely talked about yet they have every right to be explored.

Til then,

The Lost Sputnik

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