She was used to it. Having to keep up, adapting to change, and moving on. This would be seamless. From a hike up the mountains, she was off for a downtime at the beach. To transition from a solo adventure to an escapade with good company, a 5-minute walk from getting off the bus to hopping in the car was all the time she had to adjust. Putting an end to one, she started yet another journey. Even with what’s, where’s, and a bagful why’s still left unanswered, somehow she knew. It was going to be a good one.
The destination was Potipot Island, an untouched white sand beach across Candelaria, the tenth town of Zambales, Philippines. It has already been three hours since they left Manila but they were just at the first. They were in for a long drive.
She looked out the window. They were sandwiched by fields of green. Behind them was a busy city, straight ahead was a road stretched out to what seems to be nowhere. A lineup of mountains starts to peek from afar, creating a nice contrast to the clear blue sky. It was a quiet, pleasant ride along the second, third, and fourth.
It was different when they got to the fifth. The music was on full blast and they started to shamelessly sing along songs that were too funny to be mentioned. They cracked jokes and nearly cried of laughter. She looked over who she was with and fell silent. It has been a while but still there was no one else she’d rather be with. She loved going on solo travels but not as much as she loved being in that moment.
It must be unconditional.
The thought lingered throughout the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth.
She was having so much fun, she almost found herself wishing for the road trip to last longer. After the constant inconsistencies lately, she could get used to this. She wouldn’t mind having her sense of permanence in this way.
How timely, it was when they finally got to the tenth town. Having no itinerary at hand, they scouted for a nice place to stay. And for a fair price, they found their home for the next three days— a cozy room just by the beach. They unloaded their things and settled down.
Potipot Island is just a 5-minute boat ride away across the main beach. It was already late in the afternoon, they’d have to wait until tomorrow to go there. Still, she wanted to make the most out of what’s left of the day so she stepped out of the room and went for a walk by herself at the beach.
Even from a distance, she could clearly see the white sand outlining its circumference, as if protecting and hiding its wonders. She couldn’t wait to discover what was beyond it but again, she’ll just have to until the next day. For now, she decided she’ll appreciate and make the most of what she had right at that moment. There was no reason not to, after all. The main beach’s sand may not be as powdery white like Potipot’s but it’s own imperfection made it as special because of what was about to happen.
She sat by the shore and watched the sun go down.
How the sky would get painted.
From solid, bright colors, it would shift to warm shades.
The sun slowly kissed the waters and eventually disappeared.
She stared blankly ahead as it happened. The slow, forceful farewell. A sunset, in its basic sense, signals the end of the day. It concludes a cycle. It’s putting behind a time that was.
How could a goodbye be so beautiful?
She started to drown in her own thoughts, being accompanied by the hypnotic rhythm of the waves. She snapped out of it when she found she wasn’t alone anymore. She looked up and found her answer.
They woke up just in time for sunrise the following day. They got on the small boat and sailed across the waters to the mini paradise ahead.
The island didn’t disappoint. It was just like how they imagined it would be. It had powdery white sand, clear waters around it, and was far from the city’s chaos. It was exactly what they needed—a place of no pressures, no responsibilities, and no anxieties. They couldn’t have asked for more.
The sky was clear, the sun was at its peak, but it was a cold day. Everything was calm and slow-paced. They didn’t even bother to look at the time. They just lived in that moment. To be there, together, was all that mattered.
It was an afternoon of fun, discoveries, rekindled love, laughter, just simply everything they wished to have.
It has been a while since they felt that happy. It was probably because of the island. Or the company. Even the weather, maybe. It was everything. It was all too perfect. They couldn’t remember the last time they saw eye-to-eye. But in that moment, without even uttering a word, they knew they both wanted the same thing—to keep everything that way. But they couldn’t. Like how things have always been, it was ephemeral bliss. The sun was about to set, yet again imposing an ending.
Having no choice, they decided to embrace its presence. Something they’ve always done before.
And sometimes, they’d chase it.
She’s seen countless sunsets and even with a positive outlook, they always seem to punctuate something.
Not this one.
Somehow, for the first time, it was everything but a goodbye. Only they know why.
From all that was and what’s yet to happen from then on, it was worth all the while.
May it be another goodbye or a chance to start over, she knew how to go about it.
It happens all the time. She was used to it. But he wasn’t.
(Potipot Island in Zambales, Philippines | December 2014)