"So, are you feeling adventurous?", Woody asked my friend and I during brunch at his apartment Saturday morning. "Yes!", I replied a little too loudly, almost spilling my tea in the process, "Why what's the plan?". "Let's go to Bantayan", he replied.
Less than two hours later we were on the road heading towards the northern tip of Cebu island where we would take the last ferry across to Santa Fe. I road shotgun and played the role of navigator, wrestling with the huge map . It was making me dizzy and I tried my darndest not to do a Linda Blair all over the dashboard. I shouldn't have drank so much wine the night before. Thankully the roads were good and the countryside was beautiful. It helped ease the throbbing in my temples. Every so often, I caught a glimpse of the sea through the coconut trees outside my window.
We bought tickets for first-class, which is nothing more than a small stuffy airconditioned cabin. A Jackie Chan movie played on TV while my brother tried to sleep despite the combined noise of the TV, the boat's engine, the drone of the ancient A/c unit, and the screaming baby. I stayed on deck mostly, taking pictures of passing fishing boats and watching the setting sun cast pretty colors across the sky.
Because Woody had previously stayed at Yooneek Resort and had stayed in touch with Juan, the Japanese-Peruvian owner and his charming Filipina wife, Bernie, this is where we opted to stay as well. We hired two pedicabs and made our way to the resort. The farther away we were from the port, the quieter and darker it got. The terrible karaoke singing faded away and
We were welcomed with a nice dinner spread and wine (see first photo in collage below) in one of the resort's cabanas that was formerly a banka (outrigger). Bernie and Juan were having their regular weekend cocktails with friends - more foreigners who had left big towns and busy lives for the slow island life. Everyone on the resort staff exuded warmth and cheerfulness and made sure we had a pleasant visit.
I counted six rooms, three on each floor and Bernie and Juan's private space on the third. The rooms are big and very clean. I love how the balcony, walls and interiors including furniture are made of bamboo. It was rustic and charming, just how I like it. We were given the room with the view of the ocean on the second floor. It had a small TV, a fridge and a private balcony that opened up to the coconut grove where we could hang our towels and wet clothes.
Although there is a restaurant and bar across the rooms, it was hardly ever used. Most people, us included, ate their meals outside. How could you sit inside when you could sip your fruit shake and eat your longsilog (typical Filipino breakfast of cured sausage, fried egg and garlic fried rice) and juicy mango staring out into the blue green sea while the ocean breeze caresses your hair?
And that leads us to my favorite part of the resort. The beach bar (above & below). Like a scene straight out of Cocktail, waitresses serve tropical drinks from behind the bar as latin and reggae beats played all day and night. But it was in the mornings that I loved it most. It was dreamlike. My favorite meal of the day was brought to us here, and in this most calming of environments we awoke slowly. Letting the sound of waves lapping on the shore and the trees ruslting in the breeze and the salty-fishy smell in the air coax our senses out to play.
Yooneek Beach Resort
Santa Fe, Bantayan, Cebu Island
Tel. (+6332) 4389124
Mobile (+63-917) 999 3829
Regular room rate: about $55 per night