April 2014 – Pandan Island (Occidental Mindoro, Day 2)

MindoroHere we are for day two of the Mindoro series! Just to tell you, fresh tomatoes and grilled eggplant don’t leap to mind when I think of breakfast, but after having this breakfast, I suddenly had the feeling that I wouldn’t want it any other way. 🙂

A good breakfast for a whole day of adventuring!

DSC_0104DSC_0103DSC_0109This is Tito Fredo, brother of the Luna matriach Tita Marie, once a native of Mindoro – therefore, our impromptu tourist guide! Haha.

MindoroMindoroMindoroMindoroJust to prove to you that we were actually inside the Sablayan prison compound! LOL anyway, did a little walking around our quarters (our first morning here, by the way) while waiting for them to finish breakfast, and shot a little more.

MindoroMindoroMindoroMindoroWell hello there, little kid!

MindoroMindoroMindoroMindoroYes, it was a still slightly primitive, but still beautiful compound we lived in. Beautiful in a raw way…

Pandan IslandAnd we were off to Pandan Island! I got the jitters again for riding a bangka after being legitimately traumatized by being tossed around in Siargao, and took a few more photos to calm down:

DSC_0129Pandan IslandDSC_0132Pandan IslandDSC_0138Aaaand it’s time to go!

DSC_0141Pandan IslandDSC_0164Look at that expanse of sea. Praise God, He gave us calm waters to travel on. 🙂 This was also my first time on a boat with a glass bottom (actually, more like a glass strip in the middle of the boat :p) which, once we got to the deeper waters, showed us a stunning array of corals, bright multi-colored fish swimming around, stingrays (!) and the biggest sea turtles I have ever seen in my life. (!!) Unfortunately, I didn’t get any of them with my camera, as I didn’t figure out my settings well yet, and the glass was reflecting off too much for a good picture. But, as I believe it, it’s more important that I got to see it; it’s filed away in my memory anyway. 🙂

And oh, we got to see a part where it was corals, and then… BOOM, nothing. A dark, deeper part. The corals formed a wall where they stopped, and it was just a black, deeper part after that. WHOAAAA. It reminded me of a video I once saw of a professional diver jumping off a cliff under the sea into the unknown bottom. Hmmm, not for me. Haha!

DSC_0167DSC_0170My dad and Tito Manny shooting their next campaign pictures. Haha!

The boat ride felt like nothing (with the help of Bonamine, of course :p), and pretty soon, we were at the gorgeous Pandan Island!

DSC_0177Pandan IslandIsn’t it gorgeous? Look at the gradient made by the water, sand, and corals! After lunch, lots of people in our group were still pretty hyped about seeing the sea turtle earlier, and requested a boat ride to those deeper parts to seek it out. For the sake of photography, I gathered up what was left of my courage and went with them… and didn’t regret it one bit. 😀

Pandan IslandDSC_0183DSC_0184Loved this random sister moment.

DSC_0190DSC_0193After this, we got several good looks at our gigantic sea turtle, and even had the privilege of seeing it come up for air. The moment it came up and showed its golden yellow head speckled with black – man, it was magicalJust magical. I soaked in the sight of its head glinting in the sunlight, and would rather have it that way rather than miss the moment altogether because I was too busy fiddling with my camera, attempting to take a shot at it.

Pandan IslandPandan IslandYes, those were the corals! I finally figured it out and shot these from the boat, through the glass – just in time, because the adventurous ones in the water suddenly had the idea to swim all the way to the bottom and have their picture taken. Behold, the attempts:

Pandan IslandPandan IslandAttempt 1 by Juan: failed due to inability to show face

DSC_0210DSC_0207DSC_0214DSC_0214.1Attempt 2 by Maru: just look at that smile!! Hahaha!

DSC_0215DSC_0232.1Attempt 3 by Ms. Ng: being one of the expert swimmers in our bunch, predictably successful!

Pandan IslandDSC_0227.1Attempt 4: my dad, huffing and puffing like the 51-year-old fish (many thanks to my godmother for this term) he is. :p

DSC_0233Pandan IslandDSC_0235Back to Pandan Island itself for more food, and just lounging around. I mean, why wouldn’t you?

DSC_0241Pandan IslandDSC_0245DSC_0249Pandan IslandPretty soon a DENR (Department of Natural Resources) boat came, bringing some guests. They came from Apo Reef, another must-visit place (great for diving) in Mindoro that unfortunately, we didn’t get to go to anymore. 😦

Pandan IslandDSC_0252Pandan IslandDSC_0254Pandan IslandIf you plan to stay there for more than a couple of hours, be sure to reserve a cabin or house ASAP, or you’ll have to make do with hanging by the sand with the limited tables and chairs available.

We got tired of frolicking in the water after a while, and explored the rest of the island… where we chanced upon a part of the beach that was just crawling with hermit crabs. Crawling, yes. I hardly see a hermit crab moving, so imagine seeing a whole bunch of them take over the beach, just walking around! Part skin-crawling, part amazing!

Pandan IslandPandan IslandPandan IslandPandan IslandTook a few more pictures… (because actually, I have nothing more to say, as we did absolutely nothing of importance…)

DSC_0268Pandan IslandPandan IslandPandan IslandAbove is a bed from one empty cabin we visited. So yeah, you get all rustic, ocean air and simple amenities – the mosquito net being quite the essential. Haha.

DSC_0279Pandan IslandPandan IslandPandan IslandMet a few new creatures, like the mysterious bird with the green wings (they’re guessing quail?) and the kalbo (bald)-bottomed parrot, who kept squawking at me like he wanted to say something, but couldn’t.

DSC_0293DSC_0294Pandan IslandGoodbye, Pandan Island! It was nice meeting you!

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