This Way to the Sampayan: My Secret Beach August 28 2013

"This way to sampayan (laundry drying area)." In Saranggani, General Santos City, Philippines back in 2008.

We were welcomed with a soft yet brief rain. Our spirits weren't dampened by the rain; in fact, we were excited about the place. We stayed in a rustic resort whose name escapes me (all the resorts there were rustic), with native cottages, longhouses and common bathrooms. The sand was white and powder-fine, the sea crystal clear. Accommodations were basic but we had an abundance of what we needed - peace and quiet at the beach.

The cove was quiet, with just a few locals. There were no restaurants, so we bought our food from the nearby public market, and peddlers and fishermen plying the beach. We cooked and grilled our food - the freshest seafood catch I've ever had of oysters, tuna (their tuna is the best!), shrimps, mussels - and laid them all down on banana leaves. 

In the evenings, we enjoyed the company of our friends and the locals. We played Bob Marley's songs alongside the soft sounds of waves gently crashing onto the shore. I was enchanted by the full moon - round, white and high one moment; big, orange and looming in the next; then, slowly setting and dipping into the sea. Never saw a moonset before.

For a few days on the island, at that beach, I felt I was one of the travellers in Alex Garland's novel, The Beach (before the madness). I've always kept this beach trip a secret because I want to keep the place clean and protected in my own way. This much I'll say: It was one of the best and most rustic beach trips I've ever had; one that is truly memorable. As for specific details about this place - they shall remain a secret :)

Before I close this, a bit of TRIVIA: GenSan (as we locals call this province) is the hometown of Manny 'Pacman' Pacquiao! This is where he was born and grew up.

Got a secret beach? Do spill (some of) the beans with us!