You are floating on your back in the shallow waters near the most gorgeous beach you have ever seen. The sand is powdery soft and has an almost golden twinkle to its colour.
You look up and the sky is as blue as ever, with white fluffy clouds ambling slowly across the wide stretch of space.
The smells that surround you are a mixture of saltwater, fresh flowers and the waft of delicious barbeque aromas that have caught on the breeze.
You feel a sense of peace.
This is your getaway.
No thoughts, just being. Feeling. Floating.
It’s how my perfect afternoon begins.
For years I lived on an island called Siquijor. The island of Fire. Of Magic. Of Mystical Wonder. It has been called many names. But to me it is the Island I call home. While there has been many times the island has been flocked by media darlings, by those who want to capture a sense of its alluring mysteries, I feel that so far no one has truly been able to explain its draw on people on paper. Though I am certainly not attempting to outdo them, I feel the need to express how I feel about the island. I’ve met people who have told me that they just couldn’t leave. Or couldn’t stop coming back.
So what is it, that this paradise offers so different from other islands?
Is it the people? I drive around in my memory and recall the smiling children as we hobble up the mountains in our jeepney. I recall an elderly lady at the market as she helps me choose the most fresh and thus most delicious fish I can cook for that night’s dinner. I am swept back to a time, when I stood in the basketball court during fiesta, where dancing is a passion of everyone, even the oldest got up to dance.
Or is it the landscape? There are the central mountains which oversee the rest of the island, they look out of place and yet belong at the same time. The roads leading up to them smooth and winding. Then there are the beautiful stoic cliffs of Maria bay, that dare the seaside adventurer to climb them. As I move about on this island in my mind I remember the beaches. The long stretches of white sand surrounded by the swaying coconut trees, which only reinforces more this paradisiacal image I have of the island. All kinds of environments seem to converge on this one island, with forests going on and on for acres, to caves as deep as one can imagine, and then to of course the beaches flanking the outer edges of the island. It seems to have it all.
Could it rather, really be a magical ingredient that one cannot ascertain?
An indescribable, intangible, unbelievable feeling one gets when coming to the island. A sense of peace. Of knowing. Of coming home.
Whatever it is, Siquijor is where I see having my perfect afternoon. It begins at the beach with so much more beckoning to be explored around the island. It’s beauty stays with me. Haunts me. And I know I will be returning.