The Bakhawan Eco-Park is just a few minutes away from my home so when two of my good friends visited me from Manila, that naturally became our first destination. The place is filled with mangroves, vulnerable and imposing, depending on what time of the day you choose to visit. There's a little stretch of river cutting in between the forest and you have to cross a bamboo bridge to pass through.
At the end of the trail are small cottages that you can rent for the day. By 'cottage,' I mean an open-air gazebo area and not an actual house, but it's roomy enough for five-six friends to just lounge in. I would often pack a few sandwiches for the trip, because the walk (although leisurely) can be a bit tiring, especially if you visit around midday. The last time I visited, the cottages were perched on the water's edge (the mangrove forest was found by the bay), so you could sit on the bamboo floor and dangle above the water if you were feeling adventurous.
But that was two years ago, just before a devastating storm brought raging mud and water through our province. The mangrove forest had acted as catch basin of sorts then, letting the mud settle where the water once was. Now, rows of new mangroves have been planted on the reclaimed ground, and there are plans of extending the old trail to cover this area. It's a little heartbreaking to see soil and trees where I had expected water, but it's good to know that the area has been re-purposed in a way, and that the result still makes for a lovely vista. That afternoon, a few teenagers were hanging out at nearby huts (and singing some World Cup song, according to my friends) but the place never lost its idyllic charm. I could really spend hours here just writing or painting or pretending that the 'art' I do can matter to someone else.
Sometimes it feels that I'm living in a place that time forgot, but can you blame me for not wanting to leave? I've grown to love so much about my new home and I was glad that I was able to share a little of that with my friends. And now, you. When you visit, bring the rain.
All photos were taken by my friend Nina, except for the second one, which I took in 2008. Other pictures can be found on Flickr, through Cla's photostream.