Last Holy Week, I was supposed to go to Bohol with Laida and her sister, Kaye. I arrived at the domestic airport 30 minutes late and missed my flight. Although Laida came in later than I did, Kaye was there on time. Apparently, though, Cebu Pacific overbooked the flight (or prematurely gave away the seats to chance passengers). As a result, Laida and Kaye got left behind, too, but they managed to secure seats in the next flight (as well as one-way ticket to any destination in the Visayas. Dang! Kainggit!). Meanwhile, I was left alone to risk getting on as a chance passenger for the same 11AM flight. And even if I succeeded in doing so, I would’ve had to pay an additional P3000. That was just outside my budget, so I grudgingly gave up my long anticipated R&R; in Bohol.
On my way home, I kept thinking about how to salvage my Holy Week plans. It was going to be one of the longest holidays ever (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the weekend, plus the Bataan Day/Day of Valor celebration = FIVE FREAKIN’ DAYS!), and I didn’t want to spend it quietly in my Quezon City home.
I started contacting friends who might have alternative plans to offer me. Norman was going home to Gapan, Nueva Ecija. While I’m sure he would’ve welcomed me, I didn’t want to be a burdensome houseguest who needed looking after when he intended to go home and relax. Skeeter and some of her friends were going to Caramoan in Bicol, but she wasn’t sure there are available tickets for the bus commute. They booked theirs much earlier. I knew that was going to be my biggest obstacle. It was Thursday morning, and everyone with plans to get out of Manila are now flooding the bus stations and airports.
My last chance for escape relied on Sherlyn who was scheduled to go to Boracay that same day. She was going to take a Negros Navigation ship to Caticlan. She wasn’t going there for vacation, though. She was moving there for good. Good for three months, at least. I wasn’t too excited about Boracay because I’ve been there countless times before. Then, I thought, the ship was a much cheaper alternative. There’s also bound to be room in it. And I remember loving the experience the first time I went on one. More importantly, I’d be spending it with Sherlyn who’ll be gone for at least three months. Spending the long vacation with her would at least compensate for her long absence.
I called Sherlyn up and asked for Negros Navigation’s number. I hastily made arrangements to reroute my Tagbilaran-Manila return ticket to Kalibo-Manila instead (it was a miracle I succeeded considering the circumstances). Once done, I headed for the Manila North Harbor, met up with Sherlyn, and was soon on my way to a long vacation in Boracay.
Although the novelty of my trip to Boracay had worn off, the fact that it was Sherlyn’s first time made it interesting. We had a blast roaming around the ship during our 13-hour sail. Once we got to Boracay, my first order of business was to find considerably cheap and decent accommodations. It was Holy Week, after all. The peak of the peak season. The worst time to be going to Boracay without prior arrangements. Nevertheless, thanks to a newly-met acquaintance named Kuya Bong, I was able to find a room at the Boracay Peninsula. It was quite expensive for the quality of room and service they offered that I ended up transferring to La Carmela the following day.
Sherlyn hoped to spend her first few days going around the island as a tourist, but her boss asked her to work immediately. Hers was a 9 to 9 job, with attendant meal breaks. Left alone, I spent most hours of the day in the hotel. I wasn’t too keen on roaming around the island in the day. It was just too hot and I’ve seen almost everything there is to see anyway. It rained occasionally, but getting caught in a downpour while having a stroll didn’t make going out any more enticing for me.
Sherlyn decided to sleep in my hotel room after getting off work to keep me company. She’d wake me up early in the morning so we can avail of our complimentary breakfast. Then, she’d go to work while I went back to my room to sleep or channel surf. She’d return around noon so we can eat lunch. She’d then go back to work while I went back to my room to sleep or channel surf. Finally, she’d return after work. After sleeping the entire day, I’d have enough energy to get my ass of the bed and experience Bora. We went around, had dinner, coffee, dessert, and partied around enough to keep us contented. I also visited the Mandala Spa for the first time.
We got on the ship on Thursday afternoon and arrived at Boracay Friday morning. I left Boracay on Tuesday morning. It was one of the longest vacations I had in recent years. All in all, it was the holiday I had wished for. Rest and relaxation with the right amount of partying to spice it up. Compared to my other trips, it was quite uneventful, until I remembered what made me decide to go there in the first place.
As Sherlyn was sending me off at the Cagban port in Boracay the morning I was leaving, she welled up and unabashedly said she was sad. She realized she wouldn’t have a friend there anymore. I suddenly felt for her. Unlike her, I was going back to my normal life. With my departure, her last link to her former life would be gone. I was going back home, she had just officially left it. We had another picture taken. I promised her I’d be back, wished her well, and finally locked in a tight embrace.
That’s when it hit me that I was sending her off much as she was sending me off.