Saturday, May 28, 2005

Pandan Island, Goodbye Paradise!

As if on queue, as we were converging at the bar with all our belongings, we could see and hear our boat from a distance already approaching the island. So after everyone breathed a sigh of “bitin”, we all accepted that we were about to go away from this island.

The going away is not that easy if, like me, you have a “weak heart”!

Yes, as is common in many a resort in the Philippines, the boat crew will (with all their might) attempt to haul all your things from the resort down to the boat. But not in so many resorts all over the world will you see almost the entire crew dropping whatever it is they do then rush to the frontage of their resort just to bid adieu to as few as four unwilling souls. And all were in their uniforms when they come to hug us goodbye. Probably it was because we were the four out of five guests in the resort that they all had time to come bid us a final farewell! But it doesn’t take the melo-drama away from my heart. For me, it meant we were special. It meant they really cared for us so that they were there to wish us well as we departed.

Beso-beso and warms hugs from virtually everyone with the four of us. Everyone’s message was “take care” and “come back soon”. There was of course a firmer hug from someone amongst the crew with a whispered “we will still be here whenever it is you plan to come back”. Oh what an ugly feeling this was, and on an idyllic morning on a white fine sandy beach. Saying goodbye to the place and people where a visitor had an enjoyable stay is a common downside for many a tourist. But doing so in this island makes it even more difficult since the crews seem to do too much of the personalized service. They don’t just give you want you need, they become real friends during your stay. Gosh, I must say even more than friends, almost family!

Topping the goodbye scene was the arrival of the resort’s boat that went out to fetch fresh water and the church-goers. We could see them all jumping to the beach and running to us like we were movie stars or politicians. All in the wish to just very personally say farewell to us. I was so touched here. No one even bothered to secure their boat’s rope to some tree or anchor as is customarily done. Well, I thought to myself, there were no waves to push their boat astray anyway. Another round of hugs and beso-beso. Some of them were surprised we were off to leave the island, others were sweetly protesting. And the ugliest part was a little child about 9 or 10 years old in her Sunday Mass garb approached us cheerfully saying (in English) “come back soon so we will have playmates again”? At this point I was already running a stern command in my mind that said “don’t cry here and now”! I really hate goodbyes. I’m not cut for it.

Off our boat went as about 20 or so of them crews and owners of the resort waved farewell to us. And that must have been about five minutes with them just standing on the beach waving at us for I saw that we were already halfway to Sablayan in the 10-minute boat ride when I saw their little bodies from the distance started to go in different directions from where they were gathered to bid us goodbye.

Oh Pandan Island, I love everything about you!


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