Thursday, May 29, 2008
There's Danger Ahead - Anawangin
HELP! I'm drowning!
I heard someone say that as I was swimming to shore. From the corner of my eye, I saw two figures struggling to keep themselves afloat. At first I thought it was a joke. But, when the scream came again, I knew it was for real. Suddenly, I realized that the two people were our companions who were just a few meters from the shore where my family was. I tried to swim to them to help but realized I wasn't in a good shape to help and might even cause more trouble if I go nearer. As my thoughts raced through my mind, it occurred to me that Ikee had brought her kickboard with her. "Dad, the kickboard!" I shouted to my husband who immediately acted on what I told him to do although I also asked him to not go too near lest both of them drown. I kept telling the girls to swim toward shore but they were getting weak from struggling and shouting. When I reached shore, I was exhausted and felt my heart beating so fast that I thought I was going to faint myself. It was too scary. Anyway, to cut the story short, the girls got to land safely. We returned to the camp and told our story to the others. It turned out that there was another similar incident that happened that day.
After we had come back from Anawangin, Boyet and I found other stories on the net of people who either died or almost drowned. According to one person, there had been about 6 or 7 deaths over a period of two months. Some say it was the strong waves of the China sea that got so high and so strong at times that engulfed the swimmers. Or, it must have been the strong undercurrent that seemed to pull anyone out into the sea. Or it could also be the sea floor which suddenly becomes deep and entraps the unknowing beachgoer. On both sides of the cove were high stone formations and some mounds of rocks that perhaps had been fallen off the mountain. Anyone could easily be smashed into those by the waves. The fact that Anawangin is a cove and can be reached either by trekking a for 4 to 7 hours depending on the person's skill or by taking a 40 minute ride makes it almost inaccessible to any health or medical facility. What makes it even worse is even if you get to the nearest town which is Pundaquit, it still is a 30-minute bumpy ride by tricycle. Anyone who drowns has only a few minutes to survive. Thus, it would take a miracle to get anyone from danger should something happen.
Nature has its way of preserving itself and I do believe there are beautiful things and places that are best left alone. Anawangin is a good example. During the pre-departure orientation with our trip organizers, we were told that we shouldn't go far from shore because there had been a number of deaths that occurred in the area. But those girls were not even 50 meters away from the beach. Apparently, there is a deep part in the middle of the shallow waters. It caught the girls by surprise because I was even farther from shore than they were and it was just waist deep where I was.
I love Anawangin and I would love to go back to the place. But I love my family and their safety is more important than anything else. So, I guess, it will be a long, long while before we ever go back there. After the incident and after reading the stories, we might not even consider going.