“Over there you will find a small island worth exploring,” the man said, hand darting towards the edge of a coast. “Right there,” he pressed on when I seemed confused. “You’ll find it near the beach, a land bridge will bring you there on high tide.”
When I followed his gaze that afternoon at Samal Island, Davao del Norte, I saw a smaller island at the tip of a white sand bar.
“Do you see it?” the man said excitedly. I did of course. My students saw it before me, and they already had put down their bags on a small shack where we would take our lunch, and headed to the white sand beach, the property of the Ateneo de Davao University.
Not far from this beach is the St. Ignatius Spirituality Center (SISC). It is a retreat facility in Barangay Adecor, in the Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS). The center is dedicated for the formation of the AdDU’s personnel in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, exclusively for a three, five, or an eight-day individual retreat. But we didn’t go there.
A quick walk from the shack is the long white sand-and-coral bar. Walking toward the smaller island requires aqua shoes, or the least that we’ve got was our flip-flops. We were very careful not to disturb the rich marine life of various corals, starfishes of orange, blue and brown, the more exotic brittle stars and sea urchins.
But it was the sea urchin that got into the feet of Jiggy, one of our students. Unfortunately, there was no vinegar available. Since we couldn’t find a better way to dissolve the calcareous material of the spines, we decided on a more natural way – urine. We suggested that his group of friends be those who would supply the much-needed pee. And of course, adolescents — you know them — they said yes with enthusiasm and mischief. “At last,” they said, “we can tell the world we peed on you!”
We inched our way towards the island. But when we got there, the tide was rising. We decided not to proceed. It was only a small limestone island and that was about it. Besides, we were not assured that our students would be able to return safely. So taking a few minutes swimming in the shallower part of the sand bar, we headed back to the beach. We were told that we have to reach Davao City at 3PM, or else the sea would be rough and it would be a challenge to navigate all of us to safety.
Here are the photos taken by Mr. Bok Pioquid of the Christian Service Involvement Program (CSIP). Enjoy!