When it was time to present our gifts, they all came around in a circle, extremely curious of the small devices we had brought. And to be honest, I was, too. A representative from Freewaters demonstrated how the water filters work. He scooped up a handful of soil from the earth we were standing on and poured them into a big container. He showed us the water inside, and it was filthy, as expected. But as he pumped the water out through the filter and into a glass, only clear water came out. He took a gulp of it to show it was indeed potable.
Those water filtration systems can filter up to a million gallons of water and has a life span of up until 10 years. It was an inspiring moment not just because of the showcase that had happened, but knowing that what you are leaving behind can actually change lives, change everything. And Freewaters is all about that. It’s all about pursuing what feels good, and man. Does this feel absolutely good.
When we had to leave, a mother I had been talking to sent me off with well wishes, and asking—almost pleading—for us to come back. In her eyes I saw the sincerity in the request, and so with the same sincerity I told her that I would.
After Dipontian, we got on our boats again and traversed another miles to our second location. We then got on some unusual looking roofless tricycles, with only wooden planks as our seats. But the simplicity of it all was the exact opposite of the grandness of the experience that afternoon. It drove us through some amazing landscapes—towering coconut trees, beautiful mountain views, emerald rice fields, and little houses with friendly locals waving to us as we pass by. And when we stopped, we were all left breathless as we found ourselves staring at one of the most enchanting beaches I’ve ever seen in my life. That says a lot; I’ve been to a number of great ones.
We all hopped out of the tricycles and ran like kids towards the beach. We had reached location number two.
We were like royalties. At least we felt like one. We sure feasted like kings—a boodle fight, no less—over a long table of a mountain of delicious vegetables, rice, and fresh catch spread on banana leaves. A traditional Filipino feast that we dug into the traditional way. With our bare hands.
After lunch, that was when I made my way down to the beach, coconut in hand, and settled comfortably there on the sand. I always seem to feel best when I’m near the sea. Others went down to the water, watching the waves crash at their feet. Some chatted with the locals. Some played with the children running up and down the beach. Martin Kim, who was with us throughout the adventure, certainly looked like he was having a blast.
I looked around me and I wondered if the locals knew how lucky they are for getting to call this beach home. And then I wondered if all the people I knew back home realized how lucky they are for never having to worry about something seemingly so trivial yet so intrinsic as drinking water. Because I was certainly only now realizing it.
For a moment these ruminations made me feel both sad and happy, but as with any rich experience, it is the things you take away from it that matter in the end. And I was certainly taking away so much from this. I joined this trip only so far as thinking to satisfy a much-needed surf fix. I didn’t expect to get so much more than that.
I never thought that despite being the ones who went to deliver gifts, we were the ones leaving with our souls feeling irrevocably, wonderfully full.
Special thanks to Primer Group of Companies and to Freewaters Philippines for taking
WhenInManila.com with them to this amazing, life-changing experience.