A day after the CAMACOP general assembly in Iloilo City, I find myself traveling in a van with my parents, my brother Joseph, the Alliance Gospel Church pastoral team and a couple of students from the Alliance Graduate School. Our destination is the Numancia town in Aklan, where friends from the church have built a new home. The church’s pastors were requested to bless the house, and so we hightail it to their hometown via a road trip in Antique province.
Then just before sunset we travel again to Caticlan to board a ferry to Boracay, that small speck of island off the coast of Panay. After a decade, I’ve finally set foot on the island again.
Boracay, the poster child of Philippine tourism, has become a polarizing destination. It’s the epitome of what goes wrong when the prospects of capitalist gains overpower the noble idea of environmentalism and social responsibility. In short, it’s too crowded and overdeveloped.This is what comes to mind when I encounter the endless strip of commercial establishments and a sea of tourists near the beach.
But I brush it off even for just a few days. For now, it just feels really great to be able to hit the road again. Life has been quite demanding recently, and I really need the opportunity to chill down and simply appreciate life. This trip is a chance to recapture that vibrant spirit to travel I once had, but had lost as I tried to grapple with other things that forced me to reorganize my priorities. That certain nomadic spirit has been slipping out of my grasp for the last few months and I’m resolved not to surrender it.
“It’s not really about the place,” Joyce says one evening as I lie on the sand with her and Ate Wowie. “It’s about the memories I make with the people I’m with.”
The more she talks, the more this island seems to become endeared to me. I’ve started this trip with the hope that it will reignite my desire to regain that sense of wonder. And now I’m being reminded that the sense of wonderment in traveling isn’t limited to the places we go to. It’s also ignited by the people who are linked to the essence of our experiences, the people who help change our perspectives on who we are and why we do the things we do.