Thursday, September 4, 2008


Of all the resort beaches in Lianga, the stretch of white sand and thundering surf in Sitio Lawis near Barangay Banahao just a kilometer or so north of Lianga is probably the least known to outsiders and, in fact, has been opened to the use of the public only recently. But for many natives of Lianga like myself, it has been a favorite haunt for decades and has its own particular allure.

Pugad Beach on the other side of town is the best known weekend destination for holidaymakers and beach lovers from all over this part of Mindanao. It has has been that for more than a decade now and it shows when you go there.

Pugad's beaches have already a cowed, subdued air about them, the once dazzlingly white expanse of fine sand seemingly stained now a light grey by the churning of countless feet over the years, the helter-skelter outlines of the profusion of beach cottages along the entire shoreline masking the once tranquil and languorous quality of the same beaches I used to walk and play on as a young lad.

Nowadays it's our own version of Boracay except it is not, in any way or by any stretch of imagination, as grand or as expensive. But the crush of people on weekends, the din of loud music and unrestrained merriment, the sense of constant and frenetic movement are the same albeit on a much smaller scale.

The beach at the Kansilad Beach Resort, especially at high tide, can be picture perfect. But the white sand and calm waters have an artificial, posed quality about them, as if nature had been whipped and coerced into cooperating in the creation of someone's idea of natural, pristine beauty. The sight is pleasing to the eye, uplifting to the spirit but falls short in nourishing the soul.

Lawis, on the other hand, is still largely wild, untamed and consequently finicky and unpredictable. It's waters can, on rare occasions, be placidly calm, a flat mirror of bluish-gray glass marred here and there by an occasional ripple or two. But it can also be surprisingly violent and restless, sending out meter plus high waves topped by white and angry crests, rampaging one after the other and ending up smashing into flat, wide fans of hissing, foaming surf on the wet sands.

On most days, however, the waves are gentle, docile creatures that roll gently from sea to dry land at almost regular intervals. Yet there is always that aura of impetuous uncertainty and once in a while, as if to make a point, a monster of a wave suddenly rears up as if to remind bathers that this is still untamed waters that can be dangerous if taken lightly.

Yet Lawis is gradually becoming an alternative destination for many weekenders who do not fancy the often crowded chaos in Pugad during weekends and holidays and who do not have the inclination to travel the extra four dusty and bumpy kilometers to Kansilad. A half a dozen or so beach cottages now dot the once empty spaces between the coconut trees that line the grassy high ground beyond the sand and surf. Change and the opportunity to make something of itself may be at hand.

Perhaps in time, it will attract its own kind of crowd, those not fazed by a little wind, frisky wave action and lots of surf. Perhaps surfing or windsurfing enthusiasts will finally discover it and put its name on the map. The tourism industry in Lianga would benefit greatly from such a thing happening in the near future.

In the meantime, Lawis will remain for me a favorite place to visit. There on weekdays, amidst the still largely deserted beaches, the moody, temperamental sea, the magnificent, wild scenery and sense of majestic desolation, I find myself cleansed, inspired and revitalized. This is nature still at its most natural and primordial and I intend to enjoy it while it lasts.

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