I am now living in a beer commercial. Those are my feet in the photo above, and just past them are the sands and waters of Alona Beach on the island of Panglao, a satellite island of another island named Bohol, which in turn is one of the islands in the Visayas region of the country where I was born: the Philippines. In the distance are catamarans which take tourists farther out to sea to visit some of the neighbouring islands or go snorkelling, scuba diving or dolphin watching. Above me is the welcome shade provided by palm trees. To my right and out of the shot are a couple of ice-cold cans of San Miguel beer.
The view above is the fulfillment of a promise I made to myself when my view was the one below:
This view is from “my hospital week”, when I spent in the ICU shortly after getting separated (“dying of a broken heart” is no longer an abstract concept, as far as I’m concerned). Fever-induced delirium — and hey, I’ll admit it, fear also played a role — makes you do things you normally wouldn’t, and I remember putting together a mental list of things that I would do if I got out of the hospital alive. If you noticed that I’ve been living larger than usual over the past several months, you now know why.
One of the items on the list was to visit the Philippines and go to a beach there with my family. My prior situation was such that I’d made peace with the fact that I’d never see the homeland again, but after twelve years, I’m back.
I stayed at Amorita Resort, which is located atop a cliff on one end of Alona Beach. The photo above shows a view of the beach from the resort.
The photo below was taken from the same vantage point, just with the camera panned slightly to the right:
The months of June through September are the lean season for this area; June is the start of the wet season as well as the school year here, so there’s elbow room aplenty. For every occupied lounge chair on the beach (which are mere steps from the water, yet quite well-covered with shade), there were two free ones.
There were more boats moored offshore than there were people swimming. It was probably as close as I was going to get to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s private beach setup (he just bought most of the Hawaiian island of Lanai).
I took the photo above from the same lounge chair where I took the first photo for this article. Amorita Resort is at the top of that small cliff.
As you walk farther down the beach, you’ll see all manner of places to eat. Most of them are cheap, cheerful and locally owned — no chains like McDonald’s here — serving a mix of Filipino food as well as half-decent approximations of “foreign” food. A couple of places are owned by expats who married Filipinas, moved here and set up shop, so there’s a place that bills itself as a bierstube as well as a joint run by a French guy who includes crepes suzette and coupe denmark (which is really just a French fancypants way of saying “chocolate sundae”) on his menu.
If dining on sand and patio furniture is too much like roughing it for you, there are other places on the beach that might be more to your liking.
Sunset happens more quickly as you get closer to the equator, and the effect is kind of magical. It’s even more so on the beach.
At night, the restaurants turn on the lights and the beach becomes a patio party.
We had dinner at one of those cheap-and-cheerful places on the beach. This one has plenty of freshly-caught fish on display; you could point at one and they’d happily grill it for you. I picked out a red snapper and fifteen minutes later, it came to me simply and perfectly grilled with a bowl of a soy sauce/fish sauce/chopped tomato/chopped onion mixture and a heap of garlic fried rice on the side.
This was my view at dinner:
All in all, a very nice Tuesday.