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Palawan, Philippines Part Three (A Recommitment to Joy)

As I posted yesterday, I’ve decided to focus on my joy as a form of self-care.

The last of my holiday in the Philippines was definitely a time of joy. If ever in Palawan, island hopping and a visit to Nacpan Beach are musts.

I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.

Note: That blue, blue water is from kayaking at the Small Lagoon. The impossibly turquoise blue water inspired my travel buddy to sing songs from The Little Mermaid. Other tourists, smiled and laughed. How could you not in the face of such beauty?

 

Palawan, Philippines Part Two

“She doesn’t have shit anything to say this morning, huh?” I asked, cutting into my mango pancake.

My travel buddy shook her head.

I was referring to who I assumed to be the head worker in Mansion Buenavista while popping a piece of pancake into my mouth. After an eventful night looking for new accommodations in El Nido, Palawan, my travel buddy and I had ended up at a cute place. The night before, though, the head worker lied to us and said the only room available was for that night. I guess she thought she was doing us enough of a favor to let us stay the night when she saw our red eyes and wilted spirits. The security guard, however, had told us that there were multiple rooms available for the entire week. We had to wait until the owners woke up in the morning to be sure, but he’d read the hotel ledgers and noted at least three vacancies.

 

So why would Ms. Candy (a fake name) “read” the books right in front of us and tell us that nothing was available? It had been an awkward midnight moment for all involved. Spliced with Tagalog and English, the security guard backtracked on his story of room availability…and it was clear that he was lying to not sow seeds of discord with his co-worker.

Now here we were sunshine filtering into an open dining area, room booked for five days, and Ms. Candy waving and smiling as if she had done nothing wrong.

Me? I put on all the fake Southern female charm eighteen years in Texas and the Catholic church can engender and waved and smiled right back. I then turned back to my plate and speared a piece of bacon.

“I hope she sees when we give the security guard a tip for helping us out and not her.”

“Agreed,” my companion said.

After discussing how we would need to tell the hotel owners after the fact–not to cause anyone to lose their job but simply because Black folks get tired of this mess…and Ms. Candy is hurting potential business for them while they literally sleep–we made our way out the gate where Jordan, our trike driver, awaited us with a shy smile.

Back to Bayview Hotel we went to confront the hotel manager about why we were able to book online but were told in person that nothing was available. At this point, we wanted a refund, no-refund policy be damned. We had booked while stressed in the middle of the night. Now we’d found hospitable accommodation and we had not interest in staying at the Bayview.

After an hour plus long visit, a 50% refund was promised. We wanted 100%, but my friend would have to go through other channels to see if that would happen.

We then returned to the dirty guesthouse that started it all. I stated that the room was uninhabitable and that I wanted a refund, no-refund policy be damned yet again. I felt a pinch seeing the anxiety in the desk worker’s face, but I had to stand up for myself. Puppy dog eyes never got holes in bathroom walls fixed. The room shouldn’t have been rented to begin with.

After gathering our luggage and returning to Mansion Buenavista, the afternoon was ours. We spent it in the Las Cabanas beach area where a DJ spun and men with mullets obnoxiously partied. After watching them until the sun set, and being asked to join the fun when walking past, I finally had to ask where they were from. Israel.

Though I’ll never understand why a mullet is fashionable anywhere in the world, I could understand the feeling of quiet peace that washed over me as I sipped on a coconut and dug my toes in the sand.

Maybe El Nido wouldn’t be so bad after all.

Palawan, Philippines: King of Beauty and King of False Advertisement

“Get your shoes on. We’re going now,” I say to my travel buddy as a power outage plunges our room into darkness. After a flight from Manila to Palawan and a nauseatingly fast 5 hour drive from Puerto Princesa to El Nido, Palawan, we had finally arrived at our guest house.

Feet sinking into sand in order to reach the guest house’s front door was a positive sign; holes in the bathroom wall and a strong odor that even my allergy-damaged nose could smell were not.

When the lights went out on our side of the island that Travel + Leisure magazine had made a top island destination twice, my friend and I ran for our shoes and purses like the leads in a Scream remake (Drew Barrymore was my girl growing up!).

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To Go or Not to Go to the Philippines

I just got back from a three-week sojourn to the Philippines and Thailand. When a friend of mine said she wanted to visit the Philippines before leaving Jakarta, I jumped at the chance to join her on the trip. In other words, I invited myself along.

The Philippines is a place I’ve wanted to visit since moving to Southeast Asia. I’m determined to see the countries where so many immigrants from my hometown once called home. Along with Vietnam and Cambodia, the Philippines tops my list.

That being said, how could I go to a country where there are extra-judicial killings going on at terrifyingly brutal rates?

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