Malapascua is an island part of Daan Bantayan, North of Cebu. For Cebuano’s Malapascua is not an alien destination as it is very known to boast a next-to-Boracay Paradise without being overrated and as tourist infested as Boracay is. Going to Malapascua is a 5-hour bus ride from Cebu City where you will be dropped to Maya, place in Daan Bantayan where you can catch a 45-minute boat ride from there to the white sand coast of Malapascua.
5:45 AM Saturday morning
We grabbed our backpacks and headed for the North Bus Terminal, where the assembly place is. The agreed time was 6 a.m. Irik and Karmil were the first to arrive there.
5:45 AM Saturday morning
We were the second to arrive, Glin and I at about roughly 6 am. We waited for the remaining of the group to arrive, Fatrik and Cilishti. The supplies and our food were with Cilishti. Fatrik was to help in bringing them.
6:45 AM Saturday morning
Still no sign of either two, the four of us were impatient to get to the weekend ahead of us and still no Cilishti or Fatrik in sight. Karmil, Glin and I then decided to grab a bunwich to fill our empty stomachs while waiting for them. Meanwhile, Irik impatiently called Fatrik in the office only to confirm that Fatrik was still asleep. Somebody was asked to wake Fatrik up.
7:10 AM Saturday morning
Cilishti and Fatrik arrived carrying the supplies which consisted of 3 big water containers each full with 5 litres of drinking water, canned goods, junk foods, a tent and some hammocks.
7:20 AM Saturday morning
We were then all set and were in good spirits getting ready to board the bus toward our November-weekend-to-remember Adventure in Malapascua. The memorable quality of that island adventure could be attributed to some silly, funny and memorable things that never ceased to plague our trip from start to finish. This is how it all started.
Episode 1: Bus Driver Fight. The bus drivers had this fight over whose bus to board and even a bit forcefully persuaded some of us to board another bus which resulted in getting us and our belongings so disorganized that the half of us boarded this bus and other half boarded the other bus. But eventually were able to agree on one bus. Whew, what a really a chaotic way to start an island trip.
7:30 AM Saturday morning
The bus we decided on started its engines and we were finally heading towards Maya. While the bus continuously headed towards the North, we were also content to happily watch reruns of Commando and Rambo at the bus’ plasma TV. Even though we groaned at the antics of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, we were nonetheless blissfully occupied with the scenery and the “classics” we were watching. In no time we arrived at the wharf in Maya where pump boats bob peacefully at the shore. We grabbed our belongings backpacks, litres of drinking water, canned goods, drinks, tents, hammocks and all and boarded the soonest pump boat for our island destination.
12:00 NN Saturday and the Rest of the Day
It was really a bumpy boat ride as there has been news of an impending storm. For us new to such strong current and thick waves, it was really just so marvelous to stare into the ferocious dark blue green sea. Nonetheless, the boat ride was filled with our incessant chatter and bubbling enthusiasm that never ceased to amaze the other passengers. As the island of Malapascua came nearer and nearer into view, the water became tamer and the waves were nowhere to be seen and soon after, the sparkling white expanse of the Malapascua Southern Shoreline winked a welcoming glitter.
We disembarked via a 1-foot wide plank and touched our toes to the hot, fine and pristine white island sand. We arrived at about past twelve not really caring what time it was but our hungry stomachs clamored for food. Heading towards the Tropical Beach Cottages- the least expensive beach front accommodation, we passed along a few of skimpy bikini clad tourists sunbathing along the shore. It was then when it finally dawned that indeed our island getaway has officially started. Upon reaching the cottage, we deposited our belongings and unanimously agreed to feed our stomachs first. We proceeded to Cocobana, a bounty beach resort offering a variety of mouth watering foods at a hundred plus per serving. We then hungrily ate our food mindless of the sky soaring price for each order. Even tap water was sold at 7 pesos per glass without ice. Maybe it is because fresh water and electricity are so hard to come by. Malapascua has no electricity during the day and powered by generators during the night. Electricity only lasts from sundown at until about 10 or 11 pm.
After eating, we began to set up the tent and hammocks that we brought along and slackened for a while. At about 4 pm, we proceeded to the Sunsplash floating bar, just about 25 meters from the shore. We were just in time for the happy hour where all drinks can be obtained at half the price. We lazed for a long while, sipping rum coke and taking in the afternoon view of the island. When we were just remarking about how great it is being away from everything else while leisurely enjoying the unhurried and nice little chitchats, guess who boarded the floating bar… it was our bosses, Nik and Tobi, ready to take their afternoon swim. We later found out that they are regulars at the island after all.
After a while we decided to head to shore again where we dipped, swam and relaxed into the afternoon water. The sand was really so white and the view was just so unspoilt that even a simple afternoon swim could ease all your worries. Then just as time flies so quickly it was time for dinner again, we were forced to take our dinner early as the way of life at the island is just as early as it would again be lights off. We changed our wet clothes and gotten ready for dinner. We ate at Ging Ging’s, a garden eatery which boasts of home cooked Filipino food. The prices were reasonable as the food were also just like ordinary home cooked food. But don’t get us wrong, the food was OK but they were not what we were really looking for. That night, there was a town disco in preparation for their upcoming fiesta celebration, but we decided against it as going there would require a long hike towards the other end of the island. We all voted for relaxing session near the shoreline.
A sleeping bag was laid near the shore with some lounge chairs and a tent and we began pouring the gin and biting lemons and eating junk food and at the same time counting falling stars, Glin and I have counted a total of about 10 falling stars that night. Cilishti and Fatrik were enjoying a silly game about things in a store together with Karmil and Irik. We all laughed our hearts out and contentedly enjoyed the fun-filled and outrageously nice night we are having.
We then prepared to retire after two hours of fun — eager to rest our weary bones. Just as we were about to sleep, the sounds of slapping here and slapping there, itching here and there awakened our drowsy selves. Oh, did I mention that the island also abound with a gazillion of blood sucking mosquitoes? In fact every cottage has an installed mosquito net at every bed as a desperate act to ward them off. But still, I guess their mosquitoes are hybrid or have just been toughened up by the mixture of blood they have sipped from foreigners, to locals to even us. Not surprisingly, they have gotten past the mosquito nets and have never ceased to suck our blood till morning.
The second day was another fun filled lazy day; we woke up very late in the morning, not caring what time it was and ate breakfast which the owner of the cottage prepared for us. This is when the second episode of our a-November-weekend-to-remember adventure began.
Episode 2: Island tour. A local named Jun-jun offered an island tour for 600 pesos that would last for 2 hours which we graciously declined for another offer of 500 pesos for an unlimited time presented by another local who happened to overhear the initial island tour offer. By then Windil who was scheduled to arrive came and together with the rest of the group planned for the afternoon ahead. We were really excited for the afternoon in front of us and we were so thrilled to explore the rest of the island and to go snorkeling above some known boat wrecks.
Come lunchtime, the food was superb as a freshly caught fish was sold to us and was natively yet deliciously cooked by none less than the owner of the cottage. After taking lunch and enjoying the afternoon siesta, 2 o’clock came and our scheduled island tour was about to begin. A big tube of Sun block was passed around, sunglasses were readied, hats and caps as well as goggles and snorkels were carried. We went to the shoreline eager to board the Yahoo, the boat we are to use for the tour and to spend the afternoon snorkeling and exploring, only to find out that the Yahoo is still happily anchored at the shores of Maya. Such a disappointment, but that could not succeed in washing away the excitement of the group; especially Cilishti’s who at that time was halfway to being very very drunk.
After deliberating what to do, we again proceeded to the floating bar, since it was not yet time for the Happy hour; we just sat there and expectantly waited for any signs of the boat. After being on such good terms with the local bartenders due to Cilishti’s unabashed friendliness, we learned from them that the local named Basik, whom we negotiated with, about our island tour, was a bit of a scatterbrain and we entrusted our plans for the afternoon in her hands. What a waste, indeed! Luckily someone in our group was persistent enough to negotiate with another boat owner for our intended island trip but their boats too were still in Maya so we waited and waited at the floating bar until it became so straining to the eye to squint for an incoming boat.
That was when we thought to forego that doomed island trip. We resumed our bar hangout and some swam while the others just sat down and killed the time with endless gazes towards the island and still reeling from the fact that our island trip was never going to come true after all the preparations and the excitement and the endless squirts of the sun block we applied.
Late afternoon came and we headed back to the cottage where some local masseuses have waited for an hour or so. By the way, I forgot to tell you that we have arranged with some locals for an afternoon massage of an hour per person to be done after the planned island trip, but the island trip was cancelled so we proceeded with the massage. That’s when the third episode struck.
Episode 3: Masseuses fight. We learned that while we were at the floating bar, the masseuses were having this great disagreement because we haggled for the price of the full body massage from 200 to a hundred and fifty and some of the masseuses agreed just so they could have clients. But, the other jealous ones were so furious and indignant and were planning to report us to some local authorities because of the lowered prices. That was when we concluded, that we sure could stir some excitement of an otherwise boring masseuse’s life.
Yet, Boy, was the massage heavenly, yes it was … It was every bit as relaxing as it should be. The massage certainly managed to knead our tensions away and ebbed all the frustrations from that cancelled boat trip.
After the massage, we were again psyched up for the evening. Eager to take away the thoughts the impeded island tour behind us, we ate our dinner and filled our minds with plans for the night ahead. That night we planned to go to Maldito’s a famed local bar which boasts a big platform of cushion with pillows where you can practically do whatever you want. A huge flat screen monitor is strategically placed in front of it. Lying back, you can either watch TV, watch the people playing billiards or look at the shore while lazily sipping your drink. We played billiards, laughed a lot, posed for pictures, ate pizza and ordered endless shots of tequila, rum coke and baileys and simply had a helluva good time with the cool breeze blowing and the intoxicating feeling of exciting contentment. By the way, did I mention that Cilishti was left behind because the combination of alcohol she earlier drank and the relaxing massage sure did put her to sleep? We regretted leaving her behind though as Maldito’s would sure have been triple the fun if Cilishti’s boisterous laugh filled it halls. Then again 2 or 3 hours, it was time to head back to the cottage again as the breeze was almost intolerably very cold even with all the alcohol and the euphoria.
On the way home, we met Cilishti at Sunsplash, a restaurant where she ate late night dinner. We joined her for a few moments and some stayed and the rest headed back to the cottage to prepare for the long night of being mosquito food again. Indeed the mosquitoes never ceased to disappoint us. They showed on time, just when we were about to doze off, the buzzing started as well as the constant slapping of skin and mosquito. But that night, Irik and Windil decided to fight against our dreaded bedmates, they bought a whole pack of mosquito killer and some repellant lotion. That was when we were able to finally sleep at peace.
Morning came and it was time to go home. We ate a leisurely breakfast and packed everything up after that. A storm was threatening to blow but still we are headstrong in our decision to go home and to resume our much loved office work. Nah…not really, we were so afraid to be stranded at the island with having consumed all our supplies and with very little money left. So we stubbornly made arrangements to go home despite the weather.
We contacted a local boat man and he informed us that the pump boat could not get us to Maya as the coastguard would not permit pump boat travels due to the approaching storm. They said that they could only take us to Talisay instead, a place a bit far from Maya but we could also get a bus from there towards Cebu City. So we agreed, we trotted our belongings carried our backpacks and proceeded to what I may call the bumpiest and scariest boat ride I’ve ever been to. The waves were hungrily lapping at us, while the wind whipped incredulously. We sure were glad to have finally reached Talisay alive after an hour or more. Luckily none of us were with motion sickness as it would have completed the excitement of that boat ride. Upon reaching Talisay, we then learned that episode four hit.
Episode 4: Never Trust Anyone. We were tricked again. We found out that it was just permissible to travel from Malapascua to Maya but the boatmen who proposed the Talisay route just needed passengers in going to Talisay where a foreigner couple awaits their service. That was really underhanded but we were just so grateful to finally have gotten over the big waves so it was a little okay even if a boat ride from Malapascua to Talisay took longer than a boat ride from Malapascua to Maya.
After Talisay, we boarded the bus towards our normal life again.
That 3-day weekend adventure and episodes in Malapascua sure did heal our boredom of the everyday office routine and renewed our eagerness towards life. It is so amazing how a single island trip could bond people like all seven of us did and could be as fun packed as it was. It is such a wonder how a 3-day relaxation renew your positivism towards everything and happily say that when things get too rough or too boring, all it takes is just a hop to the bus and a 45-minute boat ride to feel so alive, so young and so renewed.
Note: The author decided to change the names of the persons in this article to protect their interests. But if you would want to reveal their real names, you can simply change a few consonants and vowels to make them sound more civilized.