Isla Naburot, Guimaras, Iloilo, 2013
A rock flies out of the darkness and hits the A-pillar of my pickup. A loud metal clang fills the cabin. It was so loud that I set aside the desire to check out the damage out of fear that it might be a carjacking gimmick. The road was dark and the night, long. Stopping was out of the question. Unnerved, that I was,Â toÂ put itÂ mildly. So unnerved and scared about the damage that I slept on it and just decided to check it out when I reached the office the following day. Talk about rocking the vote. May 13 literally rocked my car. Bastards.
I was hoping that the jolt back to reality wouldn’t be this sudden or severe but the gods can really have a sick sense of humor. I was still in cruise mode prior to this with a golden tan still intact from a really cool vacation a couple of weeks ago. I’m not sure that I would have been this disturbed if I came from some “resort” chic or otherwise. The transition would have been really easy and I’d be brushing off this incident like how an apostle would shake the dust off his feet after several repeated failed attempts at converting a non-believer. But this was Isla Naburot. Paradiso for those who could not care less about cellphone signals, wi-fi, or electricity for that matter. You dock in Isla Naburot and you can’t just wait to take off that watch and forget about time altogether.
We were kind of hoping that we’d have the island to ourselves. Isla Naburot isn’t exactly a popular summer destination. For the rates that they’re charging, you don’t get wi-fi, electricity, or airconditioning. What you get is a bare bones cottage, a mosquito net and the resident gekko that’s guaranteed to wake you up every hour on the hour… sort of how Leica charges you an arm and a leg for a camera that doesn’t autofocus and only produces black and white images but I digress. It is a summer destination nonetheless and we had to shareÂ 2.5 hectares of bliss with a newly wed from Australia. Boo-hoo-hoo right? Of course I exaggerate. There was enough beach for both and for some reason, we hardly saw them except during meal times so it almost felt like we had the place to ourselves. Plus they were nice and had a very interesting background so conversation on the dinner table was always a pleasant experience.
Isla Naburot has been under the SaldaÃ±as care since 1980. It was and still is a family affair with no grand plans of expanding beyond the 6 cottages that strategically dot the small island. Why 6? Because it was originally intended for the SaldaÃ±as 6 children; for them to have a spot of their own and their families.
I asked Tony Araneta, a family member tasked to run the place, why they never bothered to increase the number of cottages. Well, from our conversation over a glass of rhum coke and peanuts, they really just couldn’t be bothered. First of all, they didn’t want to tax the island. Secondly, it was just unnecessary stress for them. You can’t just hop off your jetski and casually stroll in and askÂ for a room. Many have tried and many have been politely turned down although they have been known to accommodate the weary traveller hankering for a Guimaras mango or two.
It is exactly this demeanor that makes me hesitate to classify this place as a resort. ItÂ really isn’t. It’s home where you’re treated like family once they decide that they have a room for you. Tony was quite the gracious host and the patience of Job where my daughter was concerned. It is no different from how a very good friend would treat you in his/her house. Very attentive but without being intrusive.
My daughter wanted to extend forÂ a week which was quite a surprise for a girl who cannot live without her ipad. I wish I could extend but work did beckon. And with a loud metal clang at that.