We decided to temporarily sideline our original Siargao trip in favor of the more accessible Lanuza. We really had no choice but to do so, because our escape from our busy lives only provided us with limited time.
After hearing and reading mostly positive feedbacks about the much heralded Siargao Island it was saddening that the trip was to be sidelined. The sentiment within our group then was that we were going to a spot which we thought would pale in comparison to Siargao.
We couldn’t have been more mistaken.
Having no prior expectations of the place nothing could have prepared us for what lied ahead for us in Lanuza.
As early as arriving at Agusan Airport, our spirits were instantly lifted when the sound of cheerful ethnic music danced in synchrony welcomed us.
(Butuan locals welcoming us with their tribal dance)
It was certainly encouraging that another good omen came after the first one.
The airport porters enthusiastically smiled when they learned that we were going to Lanuza.
“Of course! You should be excited! Besides the magnificent view, you must also always be on the lookout for beautiful salads while in Lanuza” answering my question.
Upon seeing my puzzled face they continued:
“Salad? You don’t know what salad is? Here in Northern Mindanao salad is what we call beautiful women who are of mixed heritage or descent. They are the daughters of foreigners who decided settle in Lanuza and marry. We bet, like all of us you would fall under the spell of their fair skin and charming smile. “
Maybe Lanuza wouldn’t be too bad, as we all originally thought.
It would take 6 hours of van ride before we have any chance of seeing some salads that the porters can’t to stop to talking about.
(Butuan Airport porters loading our baggage on the van)
The road to Lanuza was a case of opposites.
We saw from the vast country side how magnificent nature is when preserved and cultivated, while on the other we saw the horror of human greed which led to unnecessary desecration and destruction of nature.
It was easy to realize that humans indeed possess Midas’ touch. Man can turn into gold anything it chooses in a snap. Both beneficial and detrimental effects of such power are best manifested by how humanity has decided to touch the nature found on the road to Lanuza.
One hand touched nature through mining, destroying nature permanently for short-term gain while the other touched nature through cultivation and preservation, ensuring that value would still be obtained from it in the future.
We still didn’t know what to expect after what we saw. Crossing our fingers I was hoping that Lanuza was still on the positive side of the flip.
With darkness of the night almost clouding us when we arrived, I wasn’t able to make anything out of the surroundings.
Besides all that mattered to us were the waves that we saw when we arrived, everything else was insignificant during that moment. After being stuck in a van for several hours, we just badly wanted to surf.
In my case, when the opportunity to surf presented itself no one was able to get through me anymore. I just couldn’t hear anything. My mind was completely preoccupied with the sole thought of surfing.
The sound of waves breaking completely removed us from all worldly matters other than surfing
Like a surf thirsty kids, we forgot everything including our bags and settling our accommodation for the night. We just unpacked our surfboards put the fins on and raced towards to first visible surf break we saw.
We even forgot to be on the lookout for salads.
(Racing towards the first surfbreak we saw)
Fast forward to the following morning, our mind was blown by what we saw. Having set no expectations, our awe of Lanuza multiplied several more times than one.
Lanuza is a traveler’s oasis away from everything. A surfer’s playground; there were so many surfing spots to keep everyone visiting entertained.
(Morning view of Lanuza)
(Surfing in front of DOT Surf Camp)
(Surfing Habag Point)
Travelling around Lanuza on the back of a pickup truck, Yum, a local surfer, kept pointing towards surfing spots after every few meters or so we passed by on our way to Magkawas Falls.
(Rushing to feel the refreshing Magkawas Waterfalls)
The thought of surfing these magnificent spot would consume anyone. After visiting Magkawas Waterfalls, we arrived at the marine sanctuary where according to Yum a great surfing spot can be found.
We let our admiration of the great spot consume us as we disregarded the fact that it was getting dark, putting ourselves in unnecessary danger.
(Arriving at Lanuza Marine Sanctuary for the afternoon surfing session)
(Happy times at Lanuza Marine Sanctuary)
After a close to an hour of great a surfing session, we found ourselves scrambling back to shore, unable to see both the incoming waves and the location where we were trying to go back to.
The spot was really secluded thus no lighting was around to guide us. We were paddling blindly towards the shore, hoping that no rogue waves would suddenly surprise us from the darkness and smash us towards that jagged reef.
When we finally reached the shore, we thought everything was alright, only to find ourselves in the horror of not being able to locate James and Camille.
Our surf trip suddenly turned into an all-out hunt. Our flashlights surveyed the pitch dark ocean in the hope that our missing friends would be found.
The fear of losing our friends caused our guts to twist and locating them brought an indescribable sigh of relief.
It turned out that the darkness of the surrounding forced them to paddle in towards an isolated area and had a hard time finding their way back to our location.
We needed to celebrate the new found life for our fellow companions thus we shared the locally made tequila, called locally as “Bino”, among ourselves and with our new found surf friends from Cebu.
Two distinct Filipino cultures were united by alcohol and the appreciation of the Philippine natural beauty.
It was a night of stoke reggae music and alcohol.
Laughing, our counterparts from Cebu asked “Libog ba kayo?”
Instantly stupefied, we didn’t know what to reply, thinking that they were asking us if we were horny.
It turned out that libog in Cebuano innocently means “confused”, completely different from its horny meaning Tagalog.
We answered laughing “ Oo Libog na libog [Yes! Very confused].
Time flies by fast when in paradise, we found ourselves in the airport on the way back to Manila.
(Lanuza local Yum Laudes with our Sons and Daughters of a Beach Surf Group)
The porter earlier in the trip were waiting for us in the airport, smiling with their thumbs up. We knew from his smile that he was hinting silently if I we were able to see some salads.
He saw through my wry smile. He slapped his hands and then clenched his fist regretting the missed opportunity when he knew I wasn’t able to see any.
I guess he really wanted us to see some and hear a description from us.
But as far as we were concerned we saw a salad.
Seeing her was enough to earn our lifelong devotion.
She is gorgeous indeed.
(Nicco Lampa visited Lanuza, Philippines on November 29, 2012 until December 2, 2012)