Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Laiya 2016: Years Later, What Changed?

Some places strike me as ordinary
To me, it was all this was before
Yes, it’s the beach, but nothing about it’s noteworthy
Some sand, some shore, nothing more
A little bit fine, a little bit pale, that’s all
I know I’ve been to prettier places
Too proud, too smart, too tall
But that was no excuse to be savage
Looking at you now, things have gotten better
Regretful, I was just blindsided
All these ill remarks, blandness a-waiver
Much was left unexplored, undiscovered
By me, who deemed herself tall
Sorry I looked at you small
Sorry I looked at you small
Laiya is different from the one I’d been to before.

Laiya is coastline pretty, but what good is its long strip of sandy shores if not for some leisurely stroll? We went a number of times during those two days, first upon our arrival early in the night, then a couple more on our second day. We happily went resort hopping, but that was just as far as being able to see the facades from the shore would go. I mean, of course we wouldn’t be let in. Lol! 
The high-end resorts’ frontages really got me wanting to enter them. They were fancy, decorated with deluxe benches, hammocks and lifeguard stations. They were inviting, taking on themed ambiances per resort.  They were intriguing, because if the facades were already that pretty, imagine how much more the rooms and pools could be.
I am not sure how many we were then, maybe around 40 people?! That was a lot. Imagine all of Jason’s clan adventuring together. This was also why we stayed at the budget-friendlier side of the beach (I couldn’t remember the exact name of the resort though), because of the expenses, which was not a problem at all because none of us were finicky. Besides, we weren’t there for the accommodation; we were there for the beach, and the beach was the same anywhere we looked out there.

Well, actually, not really.
I mentioned a while ago that we went resort hopping, right? And since we couldn’t get inside the resorts because we didn’t pay one dime for anything, we just dipped in the saltwater (now that’s free stuff haha, priceless even haha) in between walks to forget the fact that the resorts could stay a mystery forever. So while swimming, I observed how the sand underwater in front of and near our accommodation was fine and a bit rockier on the farther side of the beach where some expensive resorts were located.
And since the last time I had been to Laiya was way back six or seven years ago, I couldn’t help but notice how much has changed. I remember how limited the things we could do around the area were. Aside from swimming and sunbathing, there wasn’t much of anything else to kill time. But that was long before. Right now, an evident improvement in the area is the availability of other activities. Boatmen offer island hopping, parasailing, flying fish, kayaking, and banana boating packages, the last of which we excitedly availed.
Renting a banana boat, we divided our group into four to five batches to accommodate everyone and all our different riding conditions. You see, the oldie aunts and uncles didn’t want to make the boat flip, but us younger ones so wished to fall off it many times. It was already my second time doing this, but the adrenaline rush was still so high. But know what was even nicer? More than the thrill and action, it was the landscape. You might say, “Again?!” But what can I tell you, landscapes are pretty! Some spots in Laiya can only be seen and/or reached by riding a boat. We didn’t land ashore, but we didn’t have to just to appreciate the beauté.
Even without stepping foot on these new shores, I’d still even go as far as saying that maybe the parts I saw could be more beautiful than the common strip of shore where most of the accommodations are situated. Why? Two things: because some look like they are as is, you know, not yet exploited by commercialization, while the others look like they’ve already been bought exclusively and are now undergoing development – two opposing conditions but both promising.
By the way, one can take either of two roads to Laiya: via San Pablo, Laguna then Quezon or STAR Tollway then Ibaan Exit in Batangas. We followed the former which took us about three and a half hours, more or less.
With all that I have experienced in this trip, I feel a bit regretful. Not for this trip but for the past years that I had lived underestimating this Batangueño gem. I was so naïve to think so little of this accessible paradiso. I wouldn’t get so hyped whenever we’d visit here. Conceited me would just go, “Uh, uh-kay.” Wow.

So what if Laiya was a bit raw before? A beach is a beach, something one doesn’t get to see every day in the life.
This getaway wouldn’t have been possible if not for Sir Ronnie and Tita Nida’s outpour of love. You see, it was their 23rd Wedding Anniversary, a feat truly worth celebrating. And since this couple has been in servitude of the Lord for many years already, it’s no wonder they're lasting this long. I can even attest to this couple's being #goals, and not just in the cutesy and superficial criteria but the real deal, as in the quality kind. They put God above everything else. They value family so much. They help. Selflessly, they share, take this outing for instance. Thanks to them for sponsoring and for having us to celebrate their marriage with them.
This has been my second trip this “-ber” season, and I’m just overjoyed because I didn’t expect to have an extra outing in Batangas this year. What’s more is this will not be the last for me this season. Yes, another beach trip is in the works.

*Photos by Ann Alcaraz, EJ Dela Cruz, Ronnie Dela Cruz, and yours truly!

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