It’s not my first time going to Boracay during the rainy season, I mean this is the time when there are less people around and the prices are lower as compared to when going there during summer. In any case, I was here to attend the 18th PSITS-WV Regional Convention, a bi-annual gathering of IT students and faculty from schools around the region for talks and friendly competition. But who cares about all that boring stuff, right? It’s all about the school-sponsored travel in a tropical paradise!
The first 2 days was mostly spent attending the convention at Boracay Eco Village Resort and Convention Center, not much to talk about here. The food was alright, but it really could have been better.
We stayed at a place called Noe’s Cottages, along station 3 of the island. The place is alright, it’s pretty clean and comfortable, not to mention affordable. The rooms on the 2nd floor had a mini terrace outside a sliding glass door, convenient place to hang your wet laundry and everything. I forgot to ask the regular price though as we booked in bulk before getting there. It’s a nice place to stay and all but accessibility-wise, the road going towards it is absolutely narrow! It’s actually commendable how the drivers maneuver their vehicles to fit two ways despite the very little space!
Speaking of roads, on the two times I’ve traveled to Boracay during the rainy season, I really despise the flooding. The local government should really do something about the drainage system on there or at least find some solutions to minimize that. Though, there may be some unavoidable cases like the parts of the main road where it slopes down, then upwards again, forming a basin where the water would collect.
Food-wise, we didn’t get to eat at any fancy restaurants or buffet places this time because we we’re on a tight budget. Just the usual affordable places like Andok’s and Mang Inasal, not that I’m complaining. I mean, I’m not really a big fan of seafood—which there are a mighty abundance of! In buffets even!
The third day on the island, we decided to try some activities, like the ever so popular package of island-hopping and snorkeling! It’s my second go on this activity, and I wanted everybody to experience what I had the last time I was there. Thankfully, the day was sunny and there didn’t seem to be any sign of rain clouds, so we pushed through with the plan.
There were about fifty of us, so we parted into two groups and rode different boats to start the island hopping. We stopped halfway by one area on the other side of the island and had a look around as well as took pictures (like the picture above). I didn’t like that area though because the shade was quite far from the shore, not to mention walking through the searing heat of the sun. After a few minutes of picture taking and buying some hand-made souvenirs from the locals, we headed back to the pump boats for the rest of the island-hopping trip and the snorkeling.
Our next stop was a place called Crocodile Cove, presumably because of the crocodile-shaped rock formation. Here the boat stopped at one point and prepared our snorkeling gear and life vests to keep us afloat. Everybody, of course, was very excited and immediately put on their vest and gear and jumped off to the water.
At first I really had no intention of going into the water so I can watch over everybody from above, since technically we faculty are held responsible for them. Not to mention, in my haste I actually left my swimming gear back home! But after much persuasion from my students since the night before, I actually bought some cheap swimming shorts for about P50 (~$1) just in case!
Alas, the temptation got the better of me. As somebody can’t resist the beach so much, I grabbed a life vest, put it on, and went right into the water! The depth on those parts was around 10-12 feet, but the people who man the boat don’t really bother whether you put on the life vest or just swim on your own. They were also short on snorkels and goggles, which I didn’t really mind since I kind of already know what to expect when I look down.
Everybody had fun swimming and taking pictures until it was about time to leave. The facilitators of the activity finally called us to get back on the boat as we were about to head back and end our trip. I floated by the side of the boat and watched to make sure everybody got back in, I mean if I was going to be responsible, then I should be the last one to go up, right?
That’s when I saw this one student who was swimming back towards the boat, but the current was pushing him back, making him really just stay at the same place. He was one of the students who didn’t put their life vest on. It didn’t worry me much because I know for one that they’ve been required swimming lessons and that this experience would be a good time to exercise what they’ve learned, but I guess he just swam a little too far off the boat and is now struggling to get back. I observed him for a few moments thinking he could make it, but he finally gave in and raised his hand for help, almost drowning. That’s when the adrenalin kicked in; I’ve never had swimming lessons in my life, I just know because my uncle taught me a few things, but now I’m in this position where my actions could change the outcome of an event like this! There was no time to think, I immediately swam after him and told him to grab on my life vest, at least even if the current will push us away, we won’t drown. Another student who was still in the water also rushed in and helped, we managed to stay afloat but the current was still pushing us away. I told them to keep kicking and paddling, but the waves were just stronger, not to mention the weight we’re carrying. That’s when I realized that getting to someone who’s drowning is easy, but getting back with all that weight to carry is hard! So I finally just told them to calm down and rest since it’s no use swimming, thankfully the crew noticed us shortly and threw a line at us and pulled us back up. On the way back, I sat with four of my students at the front of the boat, panting hard and still catching my breath as I told them what really happened.
At last, we were back on shore! That sure was one experience I won’t forget anytime soon. We headed back to the place we stayed at and got fixed up, letting my co-faculty know what had happened and talked about it until dinner. After that, she imposed rules that nobody goes out night swimming or anything that could endanger anyone.
“There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for.” – John Keating, Dead Poet’s Society
I was talking to that student that night as we strolled along the beach. I understand that sometimes we do get the urge to be daring—do something to try and prove ourselves, but there are times when we should also consider what may happen if what we’re doing goes wrong and it ends up not worth the trade-off. I asked him if he’d do it again, to which he actually said yes. Made me laugh, but I know he learned to be a little more cautious next time. In any case, I’m just glad it didn’t end up as a traumatic experience for him.
On the last day we packed up and headed on the long trip home. I didn’t really get some souvenirs besides my sunburned arms and back. We reported everything to the Dean when we got back, and he was thankful everything went well with, as he’d put it, “zero casualties”. He also commended my “heroic” actions, but heck I’m just glad that my instincts won’t let me down in the face of a real-life danger scenario. Overall, it was a great experience that I’ll surely look back into!