It was the dawn of our 3rd day, Palm Sunday, that we woke up at 4:30 am because we were going diving to spot the elusive thresher shark at Monad Shoal. At dawn, they go up to the shoal, from the depths of the sea, to be rid of parasites by the cleaner wrasse who patrol the area. If we’re lucky, we might even see a manta ray or two. So we proceed to the dive shop to meet with the others.
We were diving with 2 young Swedish girls and an older Australian couple. Everyone was excited to see the thresher shark and it’s trademark whip-like tail. Actually, everywhere you go on the island, you’ll see thresher fetish in full blast…
Unfortunately, there’s this crazy German lady who also boarded the dive boat with us. She wasn’t diving , but she just wanted to, “see the sunrise”. According to her, she used to own a resort but it closed down. She kept on twiddling with our dive gear, she made me hold her ciggies while she adjusted her sarong in front of my face (I think I saw some bush at one point), and out of nowhere, she would start hooting like an owl. WEIRD. To cut a long story short, we didn’t see the shark because there were too many divers ahead of us (the bubbles scare them), the current was too strong making the visibility VERY silty, and so we went back empty-handed.
Back at shore, we were starving so we went to our favorite haunt in the island, an Italian restaurant owned by real Italians (as opposed to fake ones?), called “La Dolce Vita”.
Here’s the view looking in:
Here’s the view looking out:
We always prefer to eat at the porch because it has a lovely view of the beach, with the owner’s many dogs and cats lounging lazily around.
And speaking of which, one time while we were eating, one cat suddenly decided to jump on my lap and so I fed it some of the fancy bread we were served.
It was so strange because we’ve been coming to the restaurant so many times but I’ve never seen the cats go on anyone’s lap. I wasn’t even calling it and I didn’t feed it until it was already on my lap. Even weirder, it happened again on another day. It’s as if the 1st cat tipped off the 2nd one to check out the pushover chubby tourist.
The 2nd cat didn’t even take the food I offered it! It just wanted to lounge there, like a tropical sphinx, surveying her kingdom. And enough of the pussies, let me tell you about the scrumptious food! The reason we keep coming back is because of the authentic Italian cuisine. I’m not a big fan of Carbonara (I like cream in my dessert, not in my food), but I swear, their version was really good!
But my favorite dish, which I ordered maybe 4 times the whole weekend, was the fish in lemon sauce (slurp, slurp!):
It was sooo good, juicy fish with the clean zesty tang of lemon, and no cholesterol! Healthy eating never tasted so good. But the coup de grace of every meal was the best tiramisu…IN THE WORLD. I have never tasted anything like it. Usually tiramisu here in the Phils. takes the form of a cake, right? This was like cream and heaven in a bowl. Cholesterol be damned!!!
This is me after every meal:
And what I really like about the restaurant is that it’s along what for me is the best beach on the island. It had the finest sand, the cleanest surroundings, and the most swimmable beach.
The previous day, we met some people from Denmark and Iceland who were stationed in Shanghai. They decided to go to Malapascua (which by the way literally means, “unfortunate Christmas”) based on what they saw googling on the internet. They wanted to implement programs to introduce education among the poor, the kids, even to rehabilitate some of the young prostitutes they met. We became BFF’s instantly, since we agreed on so many things that we wanted to do, not to mention the fact that we enjoy each other’s company immensely and share a common love for 80’s music! We all quickly vowed that they will come back soon, this time with us as their tour guides, and travel together as we show them what else our beautiful country has to offer.
They also brought up cockfights. One wanted to see it, another was appalled by the brutality of the whole concept. So since I’ve never seen an actual cockfight in my life, we decided to check it out and take pictures so we could show them. On our way to the cockfight, we saw men garbed in brightly colored robes. Apparently, they have this custom during Holy Week where these men would walk all around the island, and pray over all establishments, from the decrepit small shanties to the fancy new resorts. It was a beautiful ceremony.
We also came across interesting graffiti. I know this has something to do with pee and the peen, but could anyone tell me what this actually says?
We also saw a couple carrying stalks on their heads. I don’t know what they were (grains? cogon?), but it was a nice image. The photo is pretty blurred, but let me share it with you anyway.
Finally after a long search, we found the cockfight. All we had to do was walk along the path through the talahib and follow the raucous cheers that we could hear from a distance. The louder the cheers became, the closer we knew we got. When we reached our destination, the roar of the crowd was deafening. It also had the air of a somewhat secret society. It was like a fowl fight club. For newbies, the whole experience was a bit jarring. And the images stayed vivid in our heads for hours after. I really don’t like the idea of animals dying for the amusement of humans. But that’s just me…
Most of my shots were done with the camera hoisted high over my head, since there were so many people in front of me. So all my shots were blurry and poorly framed, but the cock shots turned out blurred in a weird, dreamy, matrix-y way. Here’s an example:
After a fully-packed day, we returned to the room to shower and rest. When night fell, we met up with 2 of our new friends at the newest bar on the island called “Maldito”. It had a cool, laid back style that begged for lounging around with a drink in hand.
After a couple of drinks, we met up with the other 2 and ate dinner in a ridiculously affordable eatery called “Ging-ging’s”. We swapped pictures and stories as we enjoyed our final night on the island. Here they are, our new friends and hopefully future travel-mates, from the left: Gregers, Heba, Nana, and Camilla. We miss them already…
The next day, we go home. But the island of Malapascua has already left indelible images and experiences that we will look back on with extreme fondness. New sights, new friends and new adventures. What more can you ask for?
(To be concluded…)