I’ve always wanted to visit this place since a friend of mine posted a photo of her in Siargao on her Instagram feed two years ago. Yes, I know I am lame for not knowing about Siargao but did you know that not a lot of Filipinos have heard about this place? To tell you honestly, the first time I heard the word “Siargao” was in a Philippine advertisement song sang by various Filipino artists. The line was sang by Jessa Zaragosa (if my memory serves me right) that goes “Mag diving sa Anilao, Mag Surfing sa Siargao.” My knowledge stopped there though. For non surfers, Siargao is only coming to fame these days due to the exploding number of travel blogs on the internet. People often confuse it with Surigao because, well, they sound alike. I guess you cant really blame Filipinos when the country consists of 7, 107 Islands (or is it true the count is now 7, 641?), right? Anyway, since it’s not too popular (yet) plane tickets aren’t cheap. Normal rate is usually above 7,000 pesos round trip and they rarely go on sale. When me and my friends booked our flights, Cebu pacific was offering it on lower rates so we booked it right away.
This blog entry is not a travel guide to Siargao. You already have a lot of blogs in the web to teach you the DIYs. Unfortunately, my immune system failed me during my first week in the Philippines and my tonsils decided to betray me while I was in Siargao so I wasn’t able to go around General Luna as I planned to. Sorry, I am probably the last person you can ask with regards to exploring the area. Anyway, this blog entry is more of a reflection of how being in Siargao made me realize that I can be genuinely happy with living the Island life.
Siargao is probably the “chillest” place I have ever been to. People are not chasing anything except for waves. I am surprised to see people who aren’t in a hurry as if Time doesn’t exist. It’s a place where people aren’t bothered by the world. Born and raised in Metro Manila and currently living in London, I have always been fighting with Time and, of course, Time always wins. The boring routine of the city and work just slowly kills. I mean…honestly, how many of you set the alarm at a certain time, wake up, take a bath, miss breakfast, brave heavy traffic, experience panic attacks before work, stretch all your physical and mental capabilities to the limit while in the office and finish the day so uninspired? If you are one of the lucky ones who have it all figured out and living in financial security, good for you! But most of us have to deal with the hardships of life everyday. It’s a painful reality but that’s how life rolls, right? After a tiring shift, at the end of the day, what do you do? You set the alarm again to fight the same routine the next day. The cycle gets so distressing that you feel so numb with the topsy turvy if it all. I guess that situation is what lured me to love Siargao. I feel like the people here have the capability to control their time primarily because they live simply and are completely satisfied with their provincial life.
I am only saying this from my point of view, though. I only stayed in Siargao for four days with most of the nights spent on bed due to fever. I can’t say much but this tear drop shaped island is the only place I’ve stepped on where I can (strangely) immediately call it home. I feel like this is the place where I can just blindly throw myself out and it is ready to embrace me with pure acceptance. Siargao is my element. There are barely any cars on the road as the main mode of transportation is the motorcycle. There are no fancy hotels. Coffee shops are everywhere. People don’t mind if your skin is burnt as hell. The sea water is crystal clear. It’s cheap. Foreigners are everywhere and they seem to love the locals. It may not give you the nightlife of Boracay or the many Island hopping El nido and Coron have but Siargao is simple and there is something so special about its simplicity that unexplainably attracts me. I am not even a surfer! But my attraction to this place is so intense!
The vibe in Siargao is something special for me. It’s like music I’ve always been yearning to listen to. The music that resonates with your heart and make you dance. This is a place where, I believe, I can live and become more and more less discontent. Ahhhhhh what a beautiful life that would be!!! I honestly think Siargao is a training place to help me love what I have and accept but still find satisfaction in what I cannot have. It’s an ideal place for me to be fervently alive.
In siargao, I learned that I want to live a life away from the city. Away from what I was accustomed to – the skyscrapers, the heavy traffic, the malls, the latest trend and electronics etc. Honestly, being in the city makes me materialistic. I guess it’s unavoidable when you’re surrounded by people who want those designer bags or highly priced clothing collections and new shoes released by popular brands. I am not denying the fact that I am itching to have all of them but I just wish I didn’t. Being a millennial, I tend to be magnetized to having unrealistic dreams and hooked with all the social networking and marketing. Not that it’s bad! I just feel like sometimes, my generation is out of control. Everyone is in competition. Everyone seems to be acting so fast. It’s even difficult now to know what it means to live in the moment. Do you?
Observing the way people lived in Siargao changed my plans in life. When I was in my teens, the big dream looked something like wearing heels and working in the corporate world, earning 6 digits salary, living in a well known private village where the rich and famous are, dining in the fanciest restaurants every day, having platinum credit cards in my wallet, spending the weekends in luxury hotels, driving sports cars and having the money to mindlessly shop in high end malls. These all came shattering down like broken glass. I told myself, now that I have met people from all walks of life, that’s not really how I want live. I’m not saying dreams like that will make you a bad or a selfish person. Everyone would love to have a luxurious life. I just realized that I’m not meant to live that way. I always remind myself of what Rick Steves said in one of his TED talks:
You don’t want to be filthy rich in a desperately poor world. It’s not a pretty picture.
It’s not that I have lowered myself and stopped pursuing the bigger dreams. It’s just that there’s a sudden change in my perspective. I feel like I would be at my happiest if I am surrounded by people who are contented with simple living, with those who find happiness in the silliest of things and who have unending passion for people and places.
Now my dream is to learn how to ride the waves and feel the sun on my face. I want to constantly hear the waves hit the shore. I want sandy hair and salt on my skin. I want to walk and see footprints on the sand. I want to live without caring how burnt I am from staying under the sun . I want to wake up in the morning and know that there isn’t much to worry about because I have what I need.
As I grow older and *ehem* more mature, I get more longing for simplicity rather than superficial success, material possessions and competition. I just want to settle somewhere where the sun shines brightly and where people are honest. I want my own nipa hut and hammock and spend the entire afternoon reading books and drinking coffee. I know it seems like a life of a 60 year old who just retired from work but this is the dream I’d like to achieve in the near future. I hope I can earn enough money from my own hostel, learn how to market and expand it in order to sustain my everyday living. I want to meet people from all over the world, share stories and experiences and, eventually, gain life long friends.
This is a life of less. Less debt. less problem. But this is also a life of more. More time. More meaningful relationships. It won’t be a perfect life and probably not an easy one but I am saying 100% yes to this because this is where I find myself in sync with. I don’t want to chase a certain path that doesn’t make me happy.
I just want to work my ass off at this point in life so I can buy a land in Siargao. I’ve even thought of just being a surfing instructor. Students/ Tourists pay them 500 per hour. I mean, really?! That’s a total of one day hell in the hospital (Philippines salary). I might lose my career growth but I’d rather live a life of peace and simplicity than climb the ladder to the executive level and eventually lose myself. I don’t want to see myself stuck in board meetings and endlessly trying to chase the highlife just because everyone around me does. I don’t want the price and name of my bag or shoe dictate where I stand in life. I don’t want to wake up one day and not know what’s important anymore.
I know this plan isn’t reachable for now and probably a little bit crazy. The plan can change. But at this point, I hope this is how I’ll be able to spend the rest of my life. This will be my choice of happy ending.