Of empty soda bottles and angry waves

Published June 15, 2021, 4:42 PM

by Rom Mallick

An unplanned weekend excursion to Anilao, Batangas

It was a quick trip. Two days, one night. It was also quickly organized. A message from a friend inviting me to spend the weekend at the beach with three other friends, I said yes without hesitation. Perhaps I needed the vacation. Maybe I needed a breather.

BLUE SKIES, BLUE SEAS. Anilao has one of the best dive sites in the country

In any case, I said yes and met with my friends on a Saturday after going for a last-minute grocery trip to pick up some things needed for the trip. I had no idea what kind of beach we were going to, to be honest. All I knew was it was the weekend—Independence Day, in fact—and I was going with my friends for a quick “vacay.”

The trip to the beach was interesting, too. A couple of stopovers later, we were already in Batangas. Then I noticed something peculiar in one of the houses we passed by. Perched on the gate were a couple of empty green soda bottles. I thought it was just a one-off thing, but several houses later and there were more gates that had these empty soda bottles. Curious, isn’t it? Some houses even had the entire length of their gates and walls decorated with them.

I don’t really know the reason behind this practice and I didn’t have the time to talk to any of the locals about it, although I would’ve very much liked to have done so. In any case, it seemed like a custom among the people of Cuenca and Mabini, Batangas.

A little over two hours since we left Manila, we finally made it to our destination, a beautifully quaint resort called Pacifico Azul. After taking our stuff to the room assigned to us, we immediately set about preparing our food for the evening—one of my friends brought liempo and fish for grilling, the other had spare ribs.

Pacifico Azul, I later found out, was a dive resort owned by Jess Lapid, yes the cousin of Sen. Lito Lapid. We weren’t prepared to have a diving lesson for the weekend so we didn’t do any of that, but I did witness Tito Jess (as my friends called him) give an introductory diving lesson to another group of tourists. I love the very relaxed atmosphere of the place. We were fortunate to have been given tables beside three hammocks, which were easily one of our favorite things during this trip. Nothing beats lounging on a hammock facing the sea, watching a glorious sunset on the horizon. Safety precautions were also strictly followed in the resort.

GLORIOUS SUNSET. With clear skies, Anilao has one of the most beautiful sunsets one can view

Our first night was spent without any swimming because it eventually started raining. My friends and I bonded over food and alcohol (not of the isopropyl kind) instead. It was an interesting night, to say the least, spent mostly chatting and eating and drinking, punctuated by the occasional singing on our makeshift karaoke machine, i.e. my iPad and YouTube.

Oh, and I also got to shower under the rain, something I haven’t done since I was in grade school. One of my friends, a girl with a very outgoing personality, invited me to shower under the rain that evening. It was, admittedly, very refreshing and fun—definitely, for me, one of the highlights of this weekend trip.

The next day, after a good night’s sleep and kapeng barako served in tea bags, we finally decided to give the sea a try. It turned out to be not such a good idea because it was still high tide and the waves were rather strong. No surprise we were the only guests (trying to) swim at that time. Still, we persisted. After being pushed by the waves back to the shore several times and toppling over once or twice, we finally decided to throw in the towel. One-zero, in favor of the sea and its strong waves.

WAVE-Y. During a high tide, Anilao’s waters can be quite turbulent

Originally, we were scheduled to go back to Manila around 3 p.m. on Sunday but we decided to extend our stay for a few more hours, choosing to travel back home at 9 p.m. instead. An overnight stay, obviously, wasn’t enough. But it was all we had, given our busy schedules. We took the opportunity to escape from the city and spend quality time with friends. With traveling still largely restricted, a quick trip to any of the nearby beaches around Manila is all that many of us could do. It was certainly a welcome respite from our new normal lives.

You can check out Pacifico Azul Dive Resort here.