It was exactly ten years ago when I first set foot on the beach of Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon. I was a college freshman trying to test my luck in BS Biology. There were no fancy sheds and cottages in the place, no boats with colorful sails, no expensive restaurants to match the ‘summer’ temperaments. Only nature and people were there and, if forever does exist, will forever be bonded in the web of time.
I become a bit garrulous when I talk about those ten years of visiting the place. I do so with gusto, unparalleled even by the many places I’ve visited. It might be because the place and I have shared quick ‘flings’ on a yearly basis, and needless to say, we wait unconsciously for the next year to come. Like the waves kissing the shore, it is a show of goodbyes and hellos that no one knows when the end would eventually dawn.
Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon has a vast expanse of mangrove forest and seagrass bed and corals of varied forms. A swimming area called ‘Halabang Lapis’ (literally Long Pencil) with a white sandy bottom is at the middle of the sea, close to the waves of the open Pacific. Add to that are the marine wildlife: the colorful sea stars and brittle stars, the red and blue fiddlers, the birds that frequent the mangrove canopies, the snakes and the snake-like holothurians, the countless gastropods, the urchins, and the myriad of fish swimming (and I bet, happily) in the complex root systems of the mangals. It’s a smorgasbord for a biologist and it is life at its finest for all!
The place is sustained by the community. SEAMANCOR is a people’s organization dedicated to protect and sustain the place. Established in 1995, the organization has become one of the best managed in the country, an independent and concrete example of how men and women can live harmoniously with nature. The sea provides them with their food and livelihood, and in return, they provide the sea with loyalty and friendship. They translate the call of the waves because theirs is the wisdom that no knowledge can surpass.
I never missed a year since 2005 without a two-hour drive to Prieto Diaz. It’s a break from the bustling metro and from the routine that consumes me. This is where I fist seven cups of coffee by the beach, but still gets a sound sleep. It’s where I know exactly when to board the boat and when to walk back because the tides are low. It is where I understand this: some people are poor because all they have is money and some of us are rich because our lives are simple. When I sit by the beach and listen to the call of the sea, I smile because usually the only ones who hear it are those who are free. =)