On Keeping Steady: Camotes

Thanksgiving was spent with the panoramic backdrop of the sea and the sky in one flabbergasting frame. The tree lines hid the beach but accented the far horizon where two entities meet. It was full of hues – blues and oranges and sometimes, just plain, beautiful, dangerous light.

Camotes housed us for three days. It was the perfect getaway after we crossed out Vigan from our options. Far but near enough.

“What is it that you like about beaches?” a friend asked me the other day at seven am, before I was conditioned enough to answer any electronic inquiry.

“I just do” was the unwritten answer.

But maybe it was more than that.

Camotes is the stereotypical rustic Philippine island before it is totally engulfed by some corporate carnivore. Yes, they are there already, gradually creeping through, lacing the island with price tags and tourists. But the domination is on the process – felt, albeit subtle.


We met Jim online through Airbnb where he immediately extended his generous personality with prompt answers to our queries. Meeting him and his wife, Suzette, his son, Raphael, Jollibee and little Marianne was a very at-home takeaway. Conversing with folks is easy, making traveling through the island comforting. The distances are quite lengthy and a map isn’t always reliable so turning to locals for direction is more preferable. Gentle people.

Raphael sleeps next to his cousin and mother

And eccentric, some are, indeed. The caveman and I slung our shot at Holy Crystal Cave and that’s where we met the cave discoverer himself – a native who serendipitously uncovered a thousands-of-years-old hole in the ground with its bizarre cast of human bones and crystal formations. Without local support, he pushed the cave’s tourism alone, insisting on keeping it pristine as it was discovered, even disallowing the use of helmets to prevent damage to the stalactites. But we see his point, even when we barely made it out alive. Yet, his dedication, I must say, was admirable.

Food Scouring

As far as my gourmet-conscious companion and my gluttonous self is concerned, getting proper food in the island is a bit of a problem. Our host gladly provided us breakfast and snacks but the rest, we had to get on our own. The town center where the agora is located has some food stalls along the bay walk but there are no available restaurants around. I guess they’re all tucked in the resorts.


What is it that I like about beaches? Or new places? Maybe it’s the wrong question to ask. Maybe it wasn’t the beaches I was after, nor the caves and the roads. Maybe it was merely the calm and the sense of reality (or unreality) and the prick of the needle in our toes, that puncture in the lungs that accentuate uncertainty or maybe it was just the distance. Or the people you are with when you are there.

The Bay Walk at night was a bit populous with the crowded mix of locals and tourists gathering for perhaps a little feast, or quench some curiosities. I felt awful but L helped me keep stable.

The seas and the suns were all the same. The saline scent of sea sides never change. I would feel serene and then pensive and then fearful as I muddle over thoughts and worries and doubts. I try to keep myself stable.

I forget a lot of things. I am never so wise at trivial routines. My memory doesn’t serve me right and I unconsciously put myself into little pains. Can I save myself from myself?

I would never mind not coming back; it was always myself I was escaping from. The photographs don’t suffice anymore when I learned that random discussions about quasars and dichotomy paradoxes could fill my own dearth and deadly silence. I am trying to stand still.


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