We called ourselves S Club 7. We were a group of three guys and four ladies on the beach. We couldn’t help but relive our younger days when the airwaves were filled with melodies of boy bands and pop groups. We wanted to shoot a remake of S Club 7’s Bring It All Back video when we were there. Don’t worry because we didn’t do it.
“You’re such a cheerful, fun bunch,” noticed Kate, half of the Danish couple who were with us on the tour. Our laughs resonated across the entire Bacuit Bay. Our body movements were so big and animated we could be seen from the top of the cliff of another island. Our smiles were wider than any stretch of white sand that you could find in any of the 45 islands of El Nido. After all, we were there to be happy. We easily assumed that any form of sadness is banned in this place. El Nido is just too marvelous for any of that.
Each of us, however, used laughter to conceal our own unhappiness. One of us had been contemplating quitting his job. One is escaping the relentless nagging of family issues. One had been trying to get over the passing of his mother. Every one of us was there for a temporary break, a temporary relief that only sheer beauty can provide, something that the 7 Commandos Beach has.
The Seven Commandos Beach
Along the pristine beach of the Seven Commandos Beach, coconut trees stood proud like soldiers ready for battle. At the same time, as our boat inched closer to the shore, their leaves waved like mothers eagerly awaiting the return of their long lost children. We, the lost children, jumped off of our boats and embraced the wide bed of white sand, which gently gets steeper as you move farther inland. That’s what makes 7 Commandos Beach an ideal place for a romance with the sun. It has a vast sandy shore that is perfect for sunbathing or playing sports or simply lazing.
“So, what Tagalog words have you learned so far?” asked Leo, one of my friends, to Rene and Kate while we buried our butts in the sand.
“Hmmm. Only two words so far,” replied Rene. “One is Salamat, which means Thanks.” Everyone smiled.
“The other is buko.” Our smiles turned to boisterous laughter.
“That means coconut, right?” Kate wanted to confirm.
We nodded while our laughs still would not cease. At that point, more tourists passed by and climbed the little slope behind us. There’s a small kubo on the slope, standing in the middle of coconut trees. It was, apparently, a store serving drinks and snacks. Lucky for us, they serve fresh buko, too, which delighted our two Danish companions.
I was P50 poorer when I walked away from the store with a fresh coconut in my hands. I decided to give Kate and Rene some alone time while I hit the beach. I sat on the sand and took a sip of buko juice as threw admiration towards the other islands. Shortly after I stretched my legs, the waves kissed my feet. It was cold and inviting. I placed the buko shell on the sand and decided to take a dip. Of all the beaches we have visited, the 7 Commandos Beach was probably the one I found the most suitable for swimming and sunbathing. I didn’t have to worry about rocks or cliffs or small openings. It was on this beach that I felt most relaxed and at peace in the entire four days of our trip. I was just there. Without any worry, hurry, problem, or doubt. Just pure, unadulterated peace of mind.
The Seven Soldiers
As we hopped back onto the boat, we asked our boatmen why it was called the 7 Commandos Beach. “There used to be seven soldiers who lived here,” one of them said. “Their names can be seen printed on the rocks here.” We asked them where the rocks are but they did not know. We threw him some follow-up questions but it was all he could provide that time. It made the beach more mysterious and intriguing. Who were those soldiers and what led them here? Where are they now? Are they still alive?
It is not difficult to imagine how this place became home to seven soldiers for whatever reason. I would gladly live here to escape the violent jolt of the city I am from. I would gladly stay here until I sort things out. But it is not always that easy to drop everything we had held on to for the past several years just like that. Taking risks is not the cure to unhappiness but it offers a sliver of hope that there is a way out of it. The 7 Commandos Beach is like that. It shelters battered souls and heals them even for a moment. At least that how it felt in the brief minutes that I made a connection with the place.
As our boat sped away from the beach, I looked back and saw the coconut trees wave goodbye and the white sand sparkle allowing the shore to flash a smile. For a moment, I thought I heard the wind whisper in my ear, “Go on, son. Be happy. March on.” Like a soldier, I turned around and joined my friends in their horrible rendition of another S Club 7 song. “You’re really a happy bunch,” repeated our Danish friends.
“We just choose to be,” one of us responded.