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Potipot: An Island in the Rain

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It was a wet Friday night and the coldness of the June evening persisted as we loaded our belongings into the vehicle. Located in the province of Zambales, driving more than 200 kilometres northwest of Manila to the town of Candelaria took at least five hours via SCTEX. The sun was already out when we reached Dawal Beach Resort. This resort serves as the drop-off point on Potipot Island with boats ferrying passengers to and from the resort for a fixed price. There were various types of rooms: from dormitory dwellings to standard huts fit for a small group and fully-furnished two-storey beachfront houses. The resort also boasts a swimming pool, a billiards hall, an entertainment area and a restaurant with decent bar ran by pleasant staff.

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Although it was already nine in the morning, rain clouds loomed overhead, hinting that today might not be the best day for frolicking in the sand. The sea was not exactly peaceful — the waves grew to a few feet or so as the wind blew stronger by the minute. There were still people swimming in the shallow part of the beach, enjoying the water, diving under the breaking waves. Even though Dawal has grey sand, it was fine and pure unlike other beaches with jagged stones and itchy dried leaves which hurt as you walk barefoot.

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From Dawal’s beachfront, it was quite a treat for visitors to see the sun appearing every now and then over stretches of sand and visible green trees. I would be fine not to go for a swim and stay for hours lounging near the sea but the water was such a tease, with the waves dancing flirtatiously, inviting you to abandon your things on dry land and dive into the water. At that point, we could see Potipot Island in a distance, a green oasis in the middle of the restless sea.

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We waited while the first group of people made their way to the island in a motor boat. The island still looked so glorious amidst an impending storm. Despite the waves turning into a rollercoaster ride for us, the view of the island was enough of a motivation. 

Potipot Island is beautiful. Apart from a few scattered huts and communal restrooms, the place is practically untouched. The picnic tables and chairs are even suited to its rugged look, and for me, it’s another island’s charm. One’s vision is assaulted with a divine image: pristine white sand, clear waters, and healthy-looking trees and shrubs. The familiar scent of the sea is invigorating, and seeing the cerulean waters in this part is truly a reward after the fairly long travel. Not taking a dip would be a challenge, but walking around the island is a must, which would take roughly 20 minutes. During our stay on the island, the sun came out for a couple of hours, and made us feel as if we’re in the middle of our summer vacation even though it was the onset of the rainy season. As we were becoming more comfortable in that kind of weather, rain clouds began to form, which then quickly turned into a storm.

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We sought refuge for a while under the trees. When it stopped, we relocated to an isolated side of the island where the sand was finer. It was a good decision and we stayed there for a couple of hours until the rain came pouring again; but this time, it was non-stop. While it was an experience swimming in the warm sea under the rain, rolling in the sand and feeling the raindrops on your face, it became tiring after a while; then you finally feel pins and needles all over your body. We had no choice but to ambush one of the nearby huts with our belongings and tried to warm ourselves before returning to Dawal. When the boats came around after an hour or so, we started scrambling towards the boat to join the first group headed back to the resort, but still, we came in the same order that we had in the morning. It took time for our boat to come back for us. At this point, we were already shivering from the cold.

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The boat ride in the middle of a downpour was surprisingly smooth. The sea was calmer than the time we set out for Potipot Island. All we could see was a thick blanket of fog. Seated near the bow of the boat, I could not even see Dawal in the distance. I kept looking back at Potipot to catch a glimpse of what it looks like in a storm, but there was a thick mist surrounding the island as we pulled farther away from temporary paradise.

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With much suave, the boat slid into the beach and we thanked the boatmen who took us back and forth. All of us were itching to take shelter, so we all scampered for dry land. I ran towards the gate without a second glance at the island and in that moment, all that I have with me was a dazzling memory of an island in the rain.


Dawal Beach Resort



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Author: Tito Quiling Jr.


All photos courtesy of the author




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