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Guimaras on my mind

October 12, 2006

By Niño Manaog, Contributor

I FIRST saw Guimaras in 2004, the very day the tsunami left thousands of people dead in the various parts of Southeast Asia. The day after Christmas, my wife, my brother-in-law and I went to the island on a pump boat.

Approaching the island, we passed an old mill, an edifice on its last legs perhaps, more dilapidated than it appeared—much like those detonated in a Steven Seagal or a Van Damme film. From the boat, we saw a towering white cross rising above the lush foliage. Such sights immediately reminded me of many things, and the fresh wind that rushed towards us did more than cool me down, as if I had not been through a hectic Christmas week.

In Alubihod Resort, we swam the whole day, having found the waters soothing. Nothing could have soothed our frayed nerves more than the wind, the waves and the warm seawater. The Guimaras waters did not only rejuvenate our nerves; the experience entirely renewed our spirits.

On our way back to the Jordan wharf, we dropped by the Trappist monastery; and we talked with the monks there. The monks, we found out, live quiet but not necessarily esoteric lives. Though clad in brown cassocks (just like the ones you see being projected by the Gregorian Chant albums), they are not the century-old hermits and mystics who distanced themselves from the world to know the essence of life. Perhaps just like the Gregorian Chant singers who make covers of Dire Straits’ or Sting’s classic songs, they live like the rest of us, keeping themselves busy doing handiwork and crafts to augment their sustenance. But I thought the monks really had to live there because of the peace and quiet the place forever renders to those who make nature their dwelling place. The sprawling hills, lush vegetation and pristine shoreline, at the very least, can afford anyone the peace and quiet—needed to contemplate on the world (and its ills).

When I saw our pictures later, I saw that the island—the beach, the waters and the people—looked like parts of a breathing organism, with a life of its own. If anything, to me then, Guimaras was a living Eden.

(For the full story, click Daily Tribune, Oct. 12, 2006.)

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