Paradise, that is the only word to describe this laid-back island in the Philippines. Nestled at the Northern tip of Cebu Island, this island is only 2 kilometers long by 1 kilometer wide. But in that small bit of land mass lives a thriving community of people who’s livelihood depends on the ocean for survival. Now tourism has stepped in also to help.
We had an amazing air-conditioned bungalow, 100 feet from the blue waters of the Visayan Sea, nice veranda, hammock, and palm trees. Hell, we even had our own dog, Lobo, who adopted us and would sit on our step every morning waiting for us to wake up. She would follow us all over the island, than sit under our table as we ate. She was the best. We tried to adopt her and have her shipped home, but hurricanes and bureaucratic red tape made it impossible to do.
We were lucky to be there during a Lawihan Festival. It was a multiple day festival ending with a boat armada containing every boat on Malapascua and surrounding islands. Everything from little fishing boats to large diving boats cruised all the way around the island. We were invited on to one of the larger boats which was packed to the gills. I have never been part of such a cool event, everywhere you looked were boats, hundreds of them. After the village became a huge block party with dancing, drinking, and talent contests.
The best part of this island were the actual locals who lived there. We met so many great people, were invited into their houses, had dinner with them, and welcomed like old friends. The children were everywhere and always so curious with giant smiles on their faces.
For divers the biggest draw to this lovely paradise was the thresher sharks, who congregate on the edge of a deep water canyon. It is one of the few places in the world where you are almost guaranteed to see them. I enjoyed diving with them so much that I actually took a drawing tablet down there and sketched them, 90 feet under the surface of the ocean. Beside the thresher sharks the reefs are really beautiful here and full of life. I dove ten times, and I was never disappointed. I saw sharks, sting rays, cuddle fish, eels, squid, and octopuses. On the smaller side I saw frog fish, sea horses, and nudibranches.
In 2012 Malapascua was hit with Hurricane Haiyan. Everything on the island was completely flattened, but amazingly no one died. But everyones homes were destroyed, and it was a massive crisis. Do the aid of many charities, Red Cross, and Rebuild Malapascua, and the hard work of the locals and tourist alike, they rebuilt their communities. It just shows how amazing the people are here. For more on this you can check my blog as well as Rebuild Malapascua website.
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