I am no swimmer, but I do love the sea. That and boat rides. There is something about being in the middle of the sea--right smack in the middle of nowhere--that evokes a certain calm. As long as the sea is calm, of course.
And last Wednesday, it was. En route to Sto. Nino, a smaller-than-small island that is only accessible by banca, the sea was at its summer best. Mount Mayon was picture-perfect: I've seen it countless times from the air and on land, but never from the sea. And it was just beautiful!
On the hour-long ride to the island I remembered other boat rides: chasing the whales in Donsol, going after dolphins in Bais, innumerable trips to virtually unpeopled islands. Always, it never fails to put things in perspective.
Sto. Nino was a grounding experience as well. One look at this makeshift schoolhouse, and I thought that this could probably run on a single semester's tuition at Ateneo. Just about everything was improvised, and somehow, there was a sense of urgency in its construction.
When I saw some of the inhabitants, I understood the urgency. With virtually nowhere else to go, most of them married young, ending up with more children than they can probably afford to have. The one-room schoolhouse was some kind of reminder that there is a much, much bigger world out there.
Beautiful though it was, there was something constricting about the island. I saw this in the 21-year-old cradling a one-year-old and who had a four-year-old clinging to her skirt. In four months, there will be another baby, and I doubt if it will be the last. I saw this in those who practically bumped us off our boat to take advantage of the “free” ride to the mainland.
When it was time to leave, I was only too glad to return to the sea … and home.