As the small prop plane descends over palm forests and rolling green hills, I already have a good feeling about this spot.
We stay at a homestay run by a local surfer, his wife, and their six biological children and several unofficially adopted ones that have come to stay with them for various reasons, some forgotten, over the years. Surfboards for hire line the common eating area and more are hung at the side of the house. We rent a motorbike with board racks for the next ten days of surfing; some breaks are only a few minutes drive, but depending on the wind and weather, we'll cross the island or catch boats for others.
Brightly colored laundry hangs to dry, criss-crossing porches and yards, blowing in the breeze like Tibetan prayer flags. Children stop whatever games they're playing to run to the dirt track road waving and yelling, reaching tiny hands out for a high-five. Once a particularly bold little boy, thinking himself unseen by any adults, smiled, turned his back to us and gave us his best full moon.
You can tell a lot about a place by the health and disposition of its dogs. I've been places where the dogs are rough, not the kind of characters you'd want to meet alone in a dark alley; where friends are few and foes many. Siargao dogs have little in common with those gnarly mongrels, apart from a bit of mutual DNA, we're talking apples and oranges. Dogs here have succumb wholly to the island mentality. Not to imply their lives are without strife and sorrow, but they seem aware of the relativity of matters. They've got it relatively good and there's nowhere else they'd rather pass their flea scratching days.
The rains come unannounced. Not altogether unwanted, but like your slightly annoying, ill-times friend that swings by a little too often; but hey, he brings the good beer. It pulls the heat down with it, resetting the day to a bearable temperature. If I'm surfing it's a real treat, a fresh shower to wash the crusted salt water from my eyes.
On an early morning walk I marvel at the simple, natural beauty of the island. This place may soon be the next Bali, resorts have begun dotting the coastline as surfers and tourists alike flock here for their piece of paradise. One Australian couple who have lived here for fifteen years are planning their next move; they were drawn to the rural and rustic island life, and now that there's a paved road and a small airport, they predict more 'progress' will soon follow. A bright butterfly lifts from a bush as if a flower taking flight, and I think of the impermanence of it all, not weighing in on the good or the bad, just aware and accepting that this moment is in fact all we have.