Into TGL: A Day in Paradise

December 22, 2016

Ben Pablo

Tigman, Aborlan, Palawan, Philippines

(A Day in Paradise is part of a multi-story series documenting the author’s visit between November to December 2016.)

5:45 AM – Someone from across the room shuffles in their bunk bed. I get up and hurry out to catch the sunrise.

6:15 AM – There’s a lone tree in the distance, on the left side of the beach. The sun begins to rise on that side and starts filling the early morning sky with a soft glow.

6:25 AM – The beach is lined with countless pebbles and shells. There are fishermen loading up their boats.

6:30 AM – I sit on a wooden bench. It’s unstable, and I knock over the cairn I erected two days ago.

6:35 AM – The sea is still, it has a dull blue color reflecting the sky, like a vast skating rink.

7:00 AM – White specks of crushed seashells reveal themselves in the light brown sand. The sun is up.

8:00 AM – Our simple breakfast is served. The pancakes are fluffy. Fresh fruit is plentiful: banana, pineapple, and watermelon. Black coffee for me, always.

8:30 AM – The landlord’s farmhands harvest the coconut trees in the property. They use a long bamboo pole with a blade at the tip, extending it with shorter poles as necessary.

9:00 AM – Volunteers scatter to their respective projects.

9:30 AM – Recess. Teacher Rachel’s 2nd graders are a loud bunch. They race around the schoolyard.

10:00 AM – A man walks on the beach with his child, no more than a year old, probably. He dips the child in the sea a few times. It’s a swimming lesson. They laugh together.

11:05 AM – The volunteers from the Environmental project are back. They’re working on mangrove reforestation. Their clothes are covered in mud.

11:20 AM – Lewis takes a hammock. He just finished some Kerouac and is now getting started on some Thoreau.

12:00 PM – Lunch is served. There’s the famous Philippine dish of adobo, some beans and squash, and tofu to keep the vegetarians happy. There’s more than enough rice.

2:00 PM – The sun is hot, but there’s plenty of shade. I pick the hut closest to the beach and read a few pages of Fr. James Martin, SJ.

2:10 PM – Finn, the house mongrel, keeps me company. He crawls under the table and digs a couple of inches into some cooler sand. These beach dogs spend half their days taking naps.

3:00 PM – Time for a dip. The water is warm. It’s clear enough to spot jellyfish. There are none.

4:00 PM – Peter returns from construction and pours himself a drink. The sea is calm, now taking on a deep blue color, the sky with its own light shade.

4:15 PM – The cool breeze is refreshing from our beachfront hut. Some of the boys take a sarcastic jab at how they have the same breathtaking view back in England.

4:30 PM – Some ladies hit the beach to catch some late afternoon sun. An adequate reward for the day’s work. Another group lays out yoga mats for a workout.

5:45 PM – The team goes for a few moments of silence while watching the sun set. Never gets old.

6:00 PM – Dinnertime. There’s fish, noodles with plenty of vegetables, and spring rolls. Fruits for dessert.

6:45 PM – I get into our tiny bathroom and wash the day away. I need to get the salt water out of my long hair.

7:20 PM – We discuss weekend plans over drinks. Some will head to town for a supply run. Others are choosing between a hike to the waterfall or a trip to the sandbar. Tough choices.

8:00 PM – Karaoke music can be heard from the plaza a few meters down the road. The town’s basketball league is in full swing.

11:00 PM – I brush the sand off my legs and get into bed. The air-conditioner hums me to sleep. Tomorrow’s another day in paradise.

Ben Pablo

Filipino writer who calls the road home, eager to tell the stories of the world—from sea to summit, small towns to big cities, cultures old and new. Enjoys drinking IPAs while watching his favorite sports teams lose. Contributor at Lost at E Minor. Minimalist.

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