I walked through the airport doors as the heat of the city stuck to my skin. I looked around for my father in the crowd. The last time I saw him was almost four years ago when he visited us in California. Before that it had been 6 years since we last saw him. Then I heard him calling, and there he was. Amidst the crowds of people is my father towering above them all. The same man with the same feet that I would step onto as he led the dance when I was a little girl. I found myself in his arms again and let his presence fill my consciousness. There is a piece of a girl’s heart that is waiting to be tamed again until it is graced with her father’s presence. It felt surreal yet blissful to be back. I am finally here. In the land where I took my first breathe.
My journey in the Philippines started with a place that I have gravitated towards to ever since I saw it for the first time in pictures as a child. I flew to the south with an old friend of mine. There I found limestone cliffs hovering over islands with sands that felt like chalk powder. And unbelievably clear turquoise and sea foam green island shores. With emerald green lagoons hidden inside that made your eyes so wide it opened up the depths of your soul. I found paradise of all paradises… Palawan.
On our first day we kayaked to the other island. From the distance we could see a tiny strip of beach… our destination. We paddled through the currents until we floated through the turquoise waters and sunk our bodies into the sea.
As I set my body afloat, I gazed at the blue sky painting itself above me. The heat of the sun kissing my face. And felt the gentle waves take me away. Then I hear the heartbeat of the ocean. And with all my senses, I see, hear, taste, smell and feel all that surrounds me. The oneness in everything. The oneness that connects us all and leads our inner dance.
Our days were spent hopping from island to island and lagoon to lagoon. I have never seen islands that are more beautiful in my life. The unseen energy that radiates from the paradise we found filled our souls with bliss and our days with breathing dreams.
Heaven is a state of mind more than anything. But here in this place, I found heaven. An emerald green lagoon heaven. Sometimes I felt the need to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming. Or if I had fallen into a blissful death.
We swam under a hole that led to the small lagoon. Then swam across to enter a cave. Inside, I sat on a rock as a ray of lighting shone upon me from the hole high up above. I kept that moment as if it was a secret I could hold forever. I felt like a mermaid, another being, something. Something that wasn’t me. It was magic. And you know what they say about magic. The more you try to hold on to it and describe it, you lose it. So I’ll leave it at that. And I wish for you to find that magic, perhaps in a different place and a different time. And when you find it you will understand. You will see.
Each morning we would wake up with the sun and walk towards the other side of the beach. We would sit on the bamboo hammocks and dangle in between the trees as we looked at the perfect placement of the sky and the ocean. As if we were at the very edge of the world and beyond it was infinity.
We would think through ink and paper and spilled our thoughts with writings. We would let the present moment intoxicate us, drink it for what it’s worth and let our spirits live through each of our breaths, each blink, each heartbeat. These were our moments.
And I know deep down that there really is no other place on Earth quite like my homeland. No other place at all. I’m here now. And I can feel the restlessness of my feet. Yet somehow I feel grounded with each step.
My journey back had just begun.