The term "pugad" is one of those rare words that mean the same thing in both the Bisaya and Tagalog languages. It actually refers to a nest, particularly those marvelous creations of grass, leaves and fiber ingenuously made by birds to shelter their eggs and eventually their young offspring.
In Lianga, just mention the name Pugad and it points to a small village or hamlet situated just over a kilometer to the west of the town and which also happens to be the location of a long stretch of white sand beach fronting the coastal sea that is a popular destination for weekenders from all over the surrounding towns and cities.
When I was just a young lad in the 1970's and early 1980's, Pugad was one of those special, hidden and isolated places one can only go to after a hard trek through a small trail through coconut trees and wild vegetation. There was already a rudimentary dirt road servicing that small coastal community but most of the choice areas in the wide expanse of beach could be more easily reached by foot.
My memories of those times were of dazzlingly white sand and crystal clear, blue-green waters peeping through the trunks of ancient coconut trees. And the seemingly endless curve of of the wide expanse of the sand that swerved like a long, elongated J into the what seemed like the far distant horizon.
There were no local tourists at that time yet, just local residents occasionally sampling the sand and surf amidst the rather decrepit and run-down houses that marked the small village that ran along the edge of the shoreline. Quiet and idyllic times that were apparently never intended to last.
The 1990's came and landlubbers from many of the towns around Lianga discovered the beaches of Pugad and the owners of the beach properties in that area rushed to accommodate the sudden influx of vacationers and visitors. Small sea cottages and eventually more elaborate structures began to appear along the entire length of the main beach.
But everything there has a rushed, unplanned and even haphazard air about it. As if the cottages and buildings were simply built overnight and with nary a thought for aesthetics or long ranged planning and development. There is a helter-skelter quality about all of it that depresses and disturbs the soul.
Silt from the construction of a nearby shipping port and pier have imparted a slight, darkish tint to the once flawlessly white sand and instead of the quiet and serenity that one seeks to find in communion with the sun, the gentle breeze and sea, one has to contend with the blaring noise and thumping music of makeshift karaoke bars raging on throughout much of the day and often late into the night.
Nowadays the best time to visit the beach is in the middle of the work week and during the early morning hours of the day. It is during these times in the muted light of dawn when one catches glimpses of the magnificence and the echoes of the glory that Pugad once had. Then the dawning light of day suddenly comes and the harsh reality is suddenly laid bare for all to see.
Pugad still remains a popular weekend destination for a lot of people starved for a chance to frolic amidst the sun, wind, waves and surf of the fidgety sea. But I could not shake the deep seated feeling that it could have been something more.
Like the town of Lianga, with which it has always been identified with, one always gets the notion that a lot of pent up potential is there. Yet by the collective will or intransigence of its residents, it simply chose to take the easier and more convenient path to progress and development.
And thus settlling merely for the tempting yet paltry rewards of the fast and easy way rather than the harder and the more difficult road to becoming what it can truly be - a true haven and refuge from the vexations and frustrations of modern life, where the beach and sea are the really main attractions rather than merely the sideshows to a noisy carnival on the sand.