The opening line of a short story I wrote many years ago: “It is not easy getting to Antulang. Thank God for that.” In 1982 I spent most of Holy Week with friends camped on a lonely beach at the end of a horrible dirt road an hour south of Dumaguete, a spot ignored by foreigners and known only to the local villagers. We dove incessantly in the emerald, teal, and cerulean water, gathered fish, knew every coral head, sang at night, and befriended a Witch and her malnourished grandchild.
I swore I would return to this magic spot someday, and finally have, though, like the ocean that is rippling past the cliff edge this afternoon, nothing stays the same. Now there is a resort perched on raised limestone cliffs; the beach, like many, is narrower; small homes of fisher-folk dot the back-beach where once we slept on sand and mats. Many fewer fish dart around the reef; the fishermen are better at their craft and this particular area has not been designated as a sanctuary.
But the water is the same iridescent prism of greens and blues, and when Julie and I snorkeled this morning I found the massive coral head around which I swam so many times back in that day. Big thunderheads grow slowly during the day, south over Mindanao.