Last Friday, after arriving from the office, I received an SMS from a friend whom I hadn’t seen in almost two years. She invited me to join her along with her friends to a trip to Potipot Island Resort, located within the town of Candelaria, Zambales six and a half hours north of Manila. It would be the beginning of one of the best weekends in 2010 so far.

My friends could not help but be all smiles that day, as we spent all morning on the white sand beaches.

Despite getting held up for over half an hour after my shift due to a crucial meeting, I managed to rush over to the Victory Liner bus terminal in Monumento, Caloocan City where I met up with my friend Madz and her companions Vors, Darwin and Vicky. We were in for a long wait, as the earlier buses were already packed with travelers. We finally left the city at 9:00 AM local time and settled in for a long trip. Along the way, we stopped over at Sta. Cruz, Lubao, Pampanga (Double Happiness Restaurant) and Olongapo City, Zambales (Victory Liner Terminal). Finally, a long bus ride, we arrived at our destination. Or so we thought.

We disembarked at a street corner, far away from the beach at around 3:30 in the afternoon. Our female companions went to the resort they had made arrangements with on a single tricycle, while Darwin and I sat at the corner waiting for further word.

Later on, it turned out that the owner of the resort had in fact lied to us about being located near the beach. It was, surprisingly, a riverside resort with access to the very river we had just crossed on the way there. Potipot Island, it turned out, was a good half hour onwards. Undeterred, we took two tricycles and headed to the row of beach resorts facing the scenic island.

After encountering full resorts for the next several blocks, we finally found Puerto del Mar Beach Resort located towards the far end with a vacancy. Sure, the room was not air-conditioned, but they provided us two electric fans for our benefit. We sat down to unpacking our things and making ourselves comfortable in the place.

Eventually, with evening fast approaching, my friends went off to market to buy food for our stay while I watched over the stuff.

In the evening, we sat down to hotdogs, barbecued pork chops and roasted chicken along with plenty of hot and fluffy rice. We washed this down with lots of Red Horse beer and lukewarm water, while exchanging stories of all and sundry. Afterwards, we shuttled off to sleep, determined to take the boat ride to the scenic island off the coast in the morning.

Potipot Island Resort welcomed us in its warm, sunny embrace upon our arrival to its shores.

Getting up at around 6:00 AM the following morning, we got ready for our trip to Potipot Island and hired one of the local boats to give us a lift. As we approached the island, the white sand, clear water and hubbub from the tourists on vacation greeted us. We hiked around the island for a bit and found a lovely spot beneath a tree right along the beach.

Soon, we were enjoying the water, sun and sand like children let loose in a candy store. I even had the “honor” of being partly buried in the sand to have my body molded into my friends’ quirky fantasies. Needless to say, it ran wild from thereon in.

By 11:00 AM, we had finished our swim and were ready to head back to the mainland. Back on terra firma, we returned to our hut for a tasty improvised lunch of leftover barbecued items and a tasty vegetable hodgepodge, and were soon getting ready to leave for the big city. Other than the exorbitant prices for many of the services the resort was willing to give, the stay was fun overall and we gave thought to coming back to the same resort if need be.

Taking the long drive to the town of Sta. Cruz, Zambales on two tricycles, we made it to the Victory Liner bus terminal and were soon on our way back to Manila. We arrived in the big city in nearly the same time and soon parted ways from there.

While writing this entry, I couldn’t help but think about how close I came to missing this epic outing.

The night before, after being exposed to a sudden downpour while on my way to work, I was feeling ill and I feared I wouldn’t be in any shape to travel to the scenic island resort. What a waste, I felt, considering I just bought brand new sunglasses earlier that evening as eye protection (and a neat fashion statement). Thank goodness my supervisor James bought Vitamin C tablets to give my immune system the boost I needed. Despite the sniffles and slight malaise, I made up my mind to go and have fun.

Financial concerns also hounded me earlier that day and it was thanks to my sister lending me a bit of extra cash that made my participation in the trip possible.

The trip had awoken my dormant wanderlust, and it has gotten me planning again. Some of my planned trips include:

**Alfonso Lista, Ifugao (a personal visit for “closure”, likely within the next month or two)

**Angeles City, Pampanga (the indefinitely suspended “sisig” road trip with my officemates, within the year)

**Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur (another gig as emcee with my friend’s religious concert, early July)

**Batanes (one of those “I just wanna get lost” kind of things, probably before my overseas trips)

**Bangkok, Thailand (visit my best friend and redevelop my sense of shopping, probably next year)

**London, UK & the Euro-Zone (enjoy the Olympics and Euro 2012, hopefully by the said year)

**United States of America (see relatives and friends, probably a year or two after London-Euro)

As my office mate once said, I wonder where my itchy feet will take me this time. Guess I’d better get some real travel shoes then.

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