This Is Why You Should Always Have a Back-Up Plan When Travelling (And Also Why You Need to Talk to Strangers)

This was the closest we can get to Palompon Island

I was turning 21 in 36 hours. I was counting on having the best birthday salubong ever. We were holding on to a 350-peso roundtrip ticket to Tacloban we purchased a year ago. We didn’t have the best flight, it was actually the worst. We had the mid-day flight which arrives at Tacloban at 1PM. We needed to travel for three hours to get to Palompon, where the jumpoff for Kalanggaman Island is. It was 350 pesos, what did we expect?

We had our fingers crossed, all right. But that didn’t give fate the excuse to fuck us over: our flight was delayed, our shuttle was held for too long at the terminal, and to top it all off, rain poured. It was terrible.

I felt hopeless yet I remained optimistic. I kept on hoping we would catch the last bangka ride to Kalanggaman; we had to. Our trip runs for only 3 days and 2 nights and would definitely waste half of it if we won’t be able to get on that boat. Let me spoil you: we missed it.

I was disappointed. We spent the night at one of Palompon’s hostels, Whispering Beach Resort. Nanay was a darling but their comfortable beds were no match to Kalanggaman’s billion-star accommodation. I thought it was okay, I’d be fine. I can still get to revel in Palompon’s finest tomorrow. Boy, was that a vision to hold on to before closing your eyes shut.

I woke up the next morning feeling giddy thinking I’d get to see the enchanting Kalanggaman Island. It felt surreal. I had to see it with my own eyes, it can’t be that pretty! Those photos are too good to be true! I hopped out of bed and got my water bottle refilled. I strapped my backpack ready. I’m going to see Kalanggaman today! Let me spoil you: I didn’t.

We went to the local market to buy our food (there aren’t any available at the island). We headed to the tourism office next to secure our boat ride: we still had to look for a group to ride with. All boats were reserved as it was a weekend and it was a holiday the previous day. We found one and agreed to camp overnight. Leaving by the end of the day makes no sense when you can get to sleep in an amazing island. I was ecstatic!

We left again for the market to buy our food for the night as we only got food for lunch. We got to the tourism office only to hear this statement: “Have you heard? All boat rides to the island are cancelled due to strong winds.”

I was in utter disbelief. It was 9AM and there we were, boat-less without a back-up plan. I have to be honest: I was devastated. I booked the cheap ass flight to Tacloban to get to Kalanggaman, not someplace else. I was ready for it, I can literally see it.

We stayed for a couple minutes more, pondering what to do next. This can’t possibly happen to us, this can’t happen to me! I’m turning 21 in a few hours! But it did. The universe didn’t care. I wasn’t special.

We had to think on our feet. We left the tourism office and headed to the terminal. We needed to go somewhere, we had to leave this heartbreaking place. We decided to go to Sambawan, the other sought-after island you go to when in Eastern Visayas. There we were, with our disappointed asses at the terminal, wishing the shuttle would leave soon. We were running out of time. And then a group of people got in too. I noticed them as they were left heartbroken by the island, too. They must have decided to go, too.

Remember when your parents told you to not talk to strangers? They will take you, they will do something bad! We didn’t think of that. We quickly asked, “saan po kayo pupunta?” and the empathetic “sayang po ‘yung Kalanggaman ‘no! Balikan na lang po natin next time!”.

They then responded, “Cuatro Islas!”, which is another tale to tell.

We went with them, is what we did.

Let me spoil you: I had a blast.

 

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