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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, April 20, 2012
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The Good Life
with Eli F.J. Tajanlangit

Crocodile island

The Good Life
with Eli F.J. Tajanlangit

It was lying there quietly, calm in the dying light of day. The sea was rolling quietly, and Inampulugan island’s crocodile outline was all the more emphasized from where we were at the tip of the Pulupandan port. A little to the right of the island was the setting sun, a huge fiery gold ball that was bouncing streaks of yellow, orange and magenta on the clouds and the sea.

Inampulugan and Isla Natunga were so near you could almost hear the monkeys there – of course that is an exaggeration – but it was that close and near. Why don’t we go there? asked Good Friend C, an urbanite through and through, who is starting to explore the province. My other friend C has plenty of boyhood summer memories in that island, and had long wanted to go back there and so, of course, he said yes.

And so it was that the three of us rose early yesterday morning, and by close to 9 a.m., met up at a private quay in Pulupandan to begin the trek to the island – one C to see Negros Occidental and its environs beyond the shopping malls and restos of Bacolod, the other C to revisit the summers of his childhood, and me, the writer, who’s just discovered, in his middle age, that its about time to go back to the sun, sea, sky, and see the world beyond the asphalt, glass and concrete structures of  the city.

The seas were not exactly calm, but neither were they too choppy for the ride, just enough to keep in a slow, low rollercoaster ride that had a nice rhythm and a low trance music-like cadence. At some point, the island looked so much like a giant croc, the contours of its mouth, tail and body perfectly outlined. As we drew near it, however, and we could already make out the tall and gangly coconut trees in the island, the crocodile shape started to “melt” into one lush vegetation, with giant rock formations on its feet formed by giant boulders the seawater ceaselessly lash at.

Soon, we were dwarfed by the island, and the scenery altogether changed as the outline of another protrusion behind the croc’s head appeared. That’s what you call the “li-og li-og,” C called out. “That’s where the main village where the islanders live is located.

Our banca turned and the waters calmed altogether – blue, like we were riding through glass. More massive rock formations, and then the stretches on beaches. At one point, there was this stretch where stone steps were being constructed to serve as protection from erosion.

A little further was the Bamboo Beach, so called because the cottages were built among stumps of bamboo trees in the seafront. We docked at a floating bamboo bridge and walked past a giant stone helipad.

A few meters away, we walked up the pavilion, made in the middle of bamboo groves and coconut trees. The entire structure was made mostly of bamboo, and several posts were made of live coconut trees. The owners have these cleaned of flowers regularly, let them grow into coconut fruits and fall on the nipa roof and into people.

We took in the scenery before us – the quiet blue of the beach, with small waves lapping on the shore, the swaying bamboos, with the rustle of their leaves and grazing sound of their poles as they moved and we decided this was one place where man is trying to live among nature’s blessings, and not the other way around. All structures and trails for example, were made in consonance with no or as little impact on how nature intended things to be in this part of creation.*

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