The Malapascua Experience

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They say that if you don’t know how to dive, you can only see thirty percent of the world. I guess that is true since about seventy percent of the earth is composed of bodies of water. It has always been my lifelong dream to become a professional diving instructor.

Who can say no to exploring diving sites across the world and embracing other cultures, living by the beach away from the hustle and bustle of the city life, and meeting interesting travellers on vacation? If given the chance, I would start this journey by taking my PADI certification on the lovely island of Malapascua.

Since this certification would take months to complete, it would feel like you’d be stuck in an island prison for quite some time. Worry not since there are sixteen other things to do in my favorite Alcatraz, among other things.

Even if you’re a tourist, you can really appreciate the warmth and hospitality of the locals. Let me tell you about my experience. I first arrived at Maya port past six in the evening and I was alone. I approached a group of boat operators who were waiting for guests in a nearby shed and asked for a light despite bringing my own lighter.

This was how I broke the ice with them and then engaged in small talk. Small talk turned to a meaningful conversation and ended in a burst of laughter. We had mutual respect and understanding. In a few minutes, the once strangers became my friends.

This was how I met Dennis, the guy who never backs down from a joke contest. I asked him to be my personal tour guide without pay in my entire stay in Malapascua with which he surprisingly accepted. I also was able to ride the boat to the island for free since he was the one in charge.

I also told him jokingly to find me a place to stay for 50 pesos a night. I tested this guy’s resolve and personality using my abusive haggling skills but still he kept smiling until we reached the island’s bounty beach.

Dennis was a man of his word. He even invited me to his home for dinner. Believe it or not, a banquet was already prepared. As far as I can remember, there was Grilled Barracuda, Chicken Tinola, Pork Humba and Pancit and it was very delicious too. I was impressed! It was as if Dennis knew I was coming. I felt like a foreign dignitary. Haha!

After dinner, Dennis introduced me to Roy, the caretaker of Jonees Camp. He told me that my accommodation is already taken cared of since the owner of the camp was not in the island. Dennis told me that after I got settled at Jonees, that I go back to his house for a few drinks by the disco so that we could get to know each other a bit more.

Everything was too good to be true that I asked Roy if it was always like this every single day. He told me that it was their barangay’s FIESTA and Dennis cooked a little extra for unexpected guests like me. Lucky! Indeed, timing is everything and KINDNESS OF STRANGERS still exists. Faith in humanity restored!

Until today, we’re still good friends with Dennis and Roy. I will never forget the generous welcome they had given me. I can’t wait to go back there and start my PADI Certification.

Now you know why Malapascua is my favorite island. And the gallery above proves it.

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This article was first published on Out of Town Blog.

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