Memories like these are the ones capable of making you smile…
Reminiscing them during post-graduation times is like travelling back in time…
But you know what’s best in this kind of travels?
You learn the best lessons life has to offer…
‘Cause appreciating the beauty of God’s gift is just one thing…
Doing something for nature is another…
We only have to keep in mind that taking care of our home should be our gift to Him…
The first moment that the Prietto Diaz tour was announced to our class, excitement and anticipation was an evident atmosphere in the room . We first heard of it during our third year and at long last, we finally had our chance to visit this marine sanctuary. We knew what we would be up against since there was a half-day lecture held specifically for our tour. We knew that we will be gaining new knowledge, that we will be learning about a different environment and experiencing a closer encounter with sea creatures for the first time.
But what we didn’t know was, everything that we had anticipated and expected was only a fraction, that all those photos of mangrove, sea grasses and coral species the speaker flashed to us during the lecture was nothing compared to the real thing. The place captured our senses, the knowledge we have gained were embedded in our minds and everything we saw, heard, felt and learned was held dear not just in our thoughts but also in our hearts.
August 2, 2012
We planned to leave by 8:00 am, but plans can’t really be relied on too much. Not everything goes the way as planned, and usually the best experiences happen when they are the least bit expected. I’ve always wanted to travel, but I’ve never been the best traveler, not when I often experience motion sickness (especially on air-conditioned vehicles). I wasn’t able to talk much, every time I wake up from my forced nap I feel as if the bus was still going in circles. Dizziness set aside, I was glad when we finally stopped and arrived at our destination.
We arrived by noon and we waited until the food was ready. We were even getting impatient though the wait proved to be worthwhile, it’s because the food tasted great. Having been told to unpack, we were glad that we decided to bring the tent with us. If we hadn’t brought it with us, we probably would also be one of those who had to draw sticks to determine if we will be sleeping in the quarters or not.
Right after lunch I felt a little better, the dizziness was probably also caused by hunger. Everyone was so excited when the President of the Seamancor and Sir Roco said that we need to change and get ready for our first activity. One paragraph can’t describe what we encountered in Prieto Diaz.
It was the first time that I went on an overnight tour and our destination is at sea. We left a cloudy Legazpi, but Prieto Diaz during our two-day tour was really sunny. That afternoon the sun particularly took a liking to our group.
I’m a physical science major and all those talk of species and scientific names got my brain all worked up. It was a foreign language to me, but I could never deny the fact that what Sir Roco was sharing to us is unparalleled information, after all, everything around us is a gift from God.
Behind all those scientific complexities of how each those sea grass species were named and what their characteristics are, each of them plays a vital role in the balance of nature. Who knew that because of these three marine ecosystems (sea grass, coral, and mangrove) the residents were shielded against strong waves and tides, a natural defense system against the wrath of the sea.
Although I never knew that corals could be so sharp, almost all of us got souvenirs in the form of scrapes and cuts, a few even got pricked by sea urchins. Luckily, I wasn’t one of them and I had to give it to those sea urchins though, they sure have nasty thorns which you can’t possibly get rid of (my friend had to wait before the pain and swelling subsides, unfortunately there’s no way to remove the thorns). We were given a sneak peek of the coral reefs ecosystem, and we were even more excited when we were told what we have on our next agenda.
August 3, 2012
My friends and I only spent a few hours for sleep, but I don’t really care ‘cause that was the first time I get to camp under the stars. The moon shone bright above our tent, the sea breeze got its fill on blowing on our damp clothes (the ones we used when we visited the marine ecosystems), and our classmate’s singing voices were eagerly rising above the crickets’ chirp. We ate marshmallows and chips while we enjoyed a conversation with one of our professor, we were laughing and joking and sharing our past experiences with each other. What more could a college student on a camping-tour-trip ask for? We said we wouldn’t be sleeping, but that really didn’t happen, the instant I rest my head on my pillow I was immediately boarded towards dream land.
The second day of our trip was even more challenging. I didn’t know that life vests were made of Styrofoam, I thought it would be made up of something else, a sturdier material I suppose. We all looked like a member of the marine’s while wearing those orange vests, surely an outsider would have thought us ignorant with our smiling carefree faces. I’ve always wanted to snorkel and look at corals while I’m swimming in the sea. We had to make sure though that our feet are nowhere near those group of sea urchins. If the hairs on my arms weren’t wet, I’m sure they would’ve risen from the sight of those black prickly thorns.
I was trying to remember everything while writing this, but I just can’t get rid of the feeling that the more days pass, the lesser details I will be able to remember from that tour. We may have all visited the same place, but I’m certain that we won’t be parting as the same person we once were when we arrived in that humble barangay.
I never once thought that I would be walking on a sea grass bed which is almost one kilometer (okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration). No, it’s not about how tired and hungry we were trying to ask each other how much longer are we going to wade through those grasses. Sure, we got tired while walking on sea water up to our knees with sea grasses that stick to your toes and unexpected mud holes that try to bring you down. Tiredness and hunger are just passing feelings, we were able to rest on our way home and we ate our fill when we had our chance. What I’ll never forget was how we tried to hold on to each other, our hands never losing their grasp with a nearby friend while occasionally shouting in surprise each time our knees or the sand holes give in.
We spent hours under the sun (and we have the sunburns and skin darkened marks to prove it). It’s not really healthy to get burned by the sun. Although I don’t suppose that the sunscreen really did its job in shielding us while waiting for the second batch from the sea coral area to arrive. Still, all those make-shift gowns and get-ups are priceless. Not in a single day in my life will I ever forget how we became stylists with nothing but white sand as bronzer and our own clothing, scarves, cap and sunglasses as resources. Our usually camera-shy friend even transformed into a (camera-loving) confident poser person. Hmmmm, how can we call it again? Right, his poses were ‘epic’.
Those cuts and scrapes? Really, those were nothing (although I can’t say the same for the sea urchin thorns). I would never trade those small cuts for a safe steady footing on ground, not when along with those cuts and coral slices, I was able to experience how to eat merienda on sea (while riding a boat).
That was the only time in my life that I’ll ever see a bangkero throwing a glass of orange juice because the sea splashed its salt water inside the glass. I wish I was able to take a picture of that exact moment. That was hilarious. Lucky for me my orange juice wasn’t as salty as the others.
Our hearts were all touched by those experiences, but I can never forget the solemn expressions of the people around me every time we see plastics entangled on the roots of those mangroves. I was astounded to hear that the sea urchins were indicator of pollutants, after hearing that, we finally understood its role in the environment. I also realized that despite the number of those fascinating sea sweepers they can never compete against the neglect that we humans have for our environment.
We were all given the chance to catch a glimpse of the beauty of nature, and it’s in our hands if we will play blind while our own actions destroy these precious creations little by little. It’s up to us if we do something about what we saw in that marine sanctuary. And it’s also up to us which of these two things will we choose. Treasure the memories and just be contented in taking pictures of these beautiful places or… act and do what should really be done for these priceless gifts…
“Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, and leave nothing but footprints”… Let’s all hope that the footprints we will be leaving are footprints of changed persons, determined to become real stewards of the earth.