By the Sunburnt Explorer
As I sit at Red Pirates, chugging my vodka tonic and smoking a cigarette, I find myself drawn by the erratic blows of the wind, driven by the southwest monsoon—or, as the old folks call it, the habagat. Now I feel it dashing head on, rousing my mind with a treasure chest of memories.
Oh! The wind. It’s the only thing that’s constant on my beloved paradise island … and the one woman who holds my heart.
Suddenly, the thought of that woman made the vodka tonic taste so much better than before. Sparkling water trickling down my throat and the aftertaste of vodka rejuvenated my senses, drawing me exactly seven years back to the moment I first laid eyes on her, Delilah.
It was 2005. I would say it was the last year of Boracay’s golden age—the year before beachfront establishments panicked from climate change and began erecting seawalls; before the Cagban Jetty Port replaced the three boat stations on White Beach; before the environmental fee was implemented; before typhoon Seniang hit the island and triggered a bad architectural facelift among White Beach establishments, from bamboos and cogon to hollow blocks and corrugated roofing; before Bolabog Beach became the recipient of the island’s sewage water; and before the lush nature around the cliffs were torn down to make way for more concrete buildings.
I was younger back then but with the same moustache I have now and the same thirst for life and drive for passion. It was at a grand birthday party on the beach when fate appeared to me. I was lounging on one of the bean bags, watching a reggae band play Bob Marley’s “Is This Love,” when a vision of long black hair near the stage caught my eye. I arose from the bean bag to get a better view. It was Delilah, dancing in surrender to the song. I didn’t know anything about her; all I knew was that she embodied my fantasies and from that night on, she haunted my dreams and my every waking hour.
We became lovers in the eyes of no one but us. We would bump into each other on the beach in daylight and pretend that we were acquaintances. But at night she would sneak into my room. We would make love and engage in lots of pillowtalk like a newly married couple excited about venturing life together.
A year later, she just stopped seeing me. She left the island without explanations or a farewell. I didn’t bother reaching her. I simply let the situation speak for itself. Still, deep down, I hoped that she would come back.
Soon I found out that she was to marry another man. I was shattered. It was such a big blow to me that I left the island to free myself from memories shared with her. It pained me to swim at sunset or walk on the beach under the moonlight without her.
After more than a year, I returned to the island. It was the habagat season again, and I spent my first few months on the south end of White Beach, reveling in my solitude. I read books, picked up the trash blown into the shore by the southwest current, sit on the sand to watch the sunset.
Then one afternoon, as I settled myself on the sand for my sunset ritual, I saw a bikini-clad woman walking toward me. She looked confident and graceful as she walked, her hair swaying below her hips. She reminded me of Delilah, but I couldn’t be certain because of her burgeoning belly hanging below her breasts.
I lost interest in the sun that was dramatically descending in the horizon, with my eyes set instead on the pregnant woman. It was Delilah. She looked the same as before, beautiful and youthful, wearing the same familiar smile. She sat beside me on the sand, gazed at me, then turned away to stare at the sun. We sat there in silence until the sun disappeared.
“I’m happy to see you,” she finally said, breaking the silence. “I’ve thought about you these last years. I want you to know that you’ll always be a part of me.”
Before I could say a word, she looked at me again with those bewitching eyes. They reflected what I was feeling, a deep longing to taste her lips again. She planted a kiss on the edge of my lips, a kiss so soft and quick. She then pulled back and walked away. She left me speechless with a thousand questions in my mind, but seeing her again and hearing her sweet voice say the words I longed to hear were enough to fill the void of the last years.
One might say that what had transpired between Delilah and I was a romantic story for the books, but it was really the magic of Boracay that had brought us together.
I still think about her and her four-year-old child growing up on our small and overdeveloping island—the same island, but quite different from the one that Delilah and I enjoyed as lovers. I often wonder, “What could fulfill the promise of a happy and healthy life for her child and other children born and raised on the island?”