A boatman's fatherly care: Finding good in our Calaguas misadventures
Below, traveler Mavic Conde fondly recalls the kindness of one of the boatmen she met during a trip to the Calaguas islands. This is her story below:
Now I am convinced that life at its craziest is also at its most instructive. During one of our past trips to the Calaguas islands, there came news of an upcoming storm. We knew that no person in his right mind would cross the sea in bad weather. But we did, despite the news warning people in the Bicol region to suspend any maritime travel due to a coming typhoon.
Our boatman, Mang Boy, assured us that we’d get to Mahabang Buhangin – the main island in Calaguas group of Islands – safely as long as we wouldn’t ride in one boat. He divided our group into two and instructed us to put our belongings in the larger boat.
His knowledge of the sea prevented us from facing a greater danger. Instead of heading directly to Mahabang Buhangin, he decided to take the route that leads to Mangcawayan village. Mahabang Buhangin was facing an open sea and that would mean a dangerous boat ride for all of us.
Learning about him bringing a compass as part of his risk management strategy made me respect him more. The man had a strategy from the very start, and it worked out.
After almost two hours of a traumatic boat ride, things unfolded in ways we never would have imagined.
We had to walk about half a kilometer from Mangcawayan village to Mahabang Buhangin, enduring the curious stares of the villagers, as if telling us we had gone out of our minds for pushing through with this trip despite the bad weather.
Setting up the tents was too much a task due to the harsh wind. Preparing our food wasn’t easy either, because we had to cook the nomadic way, and the rain wouldn’t stop!
During our first night on the island images of the gigantic waves replayed in my mind, keeping me from sleep.
Those were the hard parts.
But we didn’t allow those misadventures to completely ruin our vacation. We had fun, too.
I won’t forget how my travel buddies ran to the shore, giggling and cheering as if expressing their gratitude the moment we set foot on Mahabang Buhangin, as well as when everyone in the group held each other’s hand while playing with the waves.
By reaching out and yielding in to our need for another hand, we were able to enjoy the water even if the current was strong and the waves were not too gentle. Simple gestures could really make a difference.
There were also surprises. Some were unpleasant, but most were simply unforgettable.
We were stranded on the island, were asked to transfer to a daycare room, and climbed a hill to find a signal for communication.
And then, there was also a pig outside the daycare room that tried to enter the door to share our room amidst the storm!
In all those events, there was a man who had been supportive of us and assisted us in every way he could. He was there silently doing his part, showing up when we needed him, ensuring our safety above all else.
He did not leave the campsite without us completely settled, with tents set up, us in dry, comfortable clothes, and food and hot water to keep us warm.
He could have just left us there. After all, his job as a boatman was simply to bring us to Mahabang Buhangin and back to Vinzons.
But he stayed longer than what was required, taking charge of things that were no longer scope of his work. That included ensuring that there was food on our plate, clean water to drink, and a roof to shield us from the storm.
Had he not shown up the second day, we wouldn't have known how we could cope upon hearing the news that we had to find a safer place to stay until the storm was over.
He might not have said it out loud, but we knew he cared. If not, he wouldn’t have given us several minutes to compose ourselves upon setting foot on Mangcawayan village. He wouldn't have brought hot water from a relative in Mangcawayan village to warm our stomachs. He wouldn't have rushed to the daycare center because he couldn't wait to tell us that we could finally go back to Vinzons and head home.
But to me his ultimate act of concern was when he simply let us be and allowed us to learn our lessons without holding our mistakes against us.
To others, Mang Boy may just be a friendly local. But to us he was every inch a father figure – strong yet calm, supportive and dependable, and most importantly, caring.
I know it was far from a perfect vacation, but it’s one of the most unforgettable travels I ever had. I didn’t know that there’s so much that could happen and so much could be learned in encountering a very unlikely experience, like a storm in summer. – Rappler.com