There was a duck in our bedroom window.
We were staying as a guest at a house of Architect Michael, a local who oh-so-graciously hosted us during our visit in Laoang, Northern Samar. The house is a concrete piece of beauty in the middle of the vast greenery, a five-minute trek away from the highway in Barangay Magsaysay. One has to cross a low wooden bridge, running over the crops. The beach is not visible from here. Taking the place of the waves are rows of rice whose leaves are being tousled by the sweeping cold wind.
During our brief stay at the house, a cute little dog loitered around the house and in the fields, hunting lizards. Its tail wagged left and right, proud of its accomplishment, whenever it caught something. Ducks and native chickens also scattered nearby, wandering in between zinnias. And yes, one of the ducks just found it too comfortable to stay in the window, staring at us as we passed by. What a freaky duck!
Later that afternoon, we rode a habal-habal to the beaches of Magsaysay. Just like in Calomotan, we followed a narrow trail that ran across a thick fern garden, nestled under the shade of coconut trees. A bamboo hut stood at the end of the trail and it was the only man-made structure in the area.
Magsaysay Beach is strewn with uber fine sand. It is not white-white. It is light grey bordering on beige. The destination that bears sand closest to it is Anawangin Cove in Zambales, but some parts of the shore are more beige than grey. It actually looked weird, to be honest, but in a delightful way. But the real treat was revealed to us when we took off our slippers. The sand is so soft that our feet sank into it effortlessly, which was a surprise since most beaches with fine sand that we had been to usually are hard and compact.
The greenery fades as it gets closer to the shore that is littered with dry coconuts and leaves. The ferns disperse and the grass thins, giving way to the flowering vines that inch their way to the sea. On one side of the beach, the bush is replaced by mangroves that border an inlet. I’m not sure but it looks like a narrow, shallow river, eager to embrace the ocean.
Near the mouth of the river is a small sandbar, probably a delta. We didn’t have to swim to reach it. We just had to wade the shallow water and enjoyed dipping our toes and soles in the sand to get there. We shared the sandbar with small birds that made loud chirps. We asked the locals what the name of the bird was but, unfortunately, it slipped my memory. The waves, when we were there, were not as gentle as those in Calomotan but not as strong as in Onay.
I’m not sure whether it was the blinding sun or the spectacular seascape but there was something about Magsaysay Beach that was so soothing, the place was like a lullaby. Maybe it was the soft sand that seemed to gently sway our feet. Maybe it was the easy waves that breezed through shallow waters. Maybe it was the romantic wind that seemed to kiss my cheek and caress my hair. Or maybe it was the sandbar that looked to me like an inviting giant bed. I have no idea. But Magsaysay Beach has that relaxing, sleepy feel to it. It could have lulled me to sleep if it weren’t for our companions who called for us, announcing it was time for some buko juice moment!
After having buko juice (sold by locals living near the area), we headed to the town proper to visit the University of Eastern Philippines in Laoang.
Later that night, we went back to the house we were staying in to spend the night. The day had been long, after visiting the many breathtaking destinations in the island. We never expected Laoang to be this stunning. We expected good beaches and good people. But we got more. Laoang is home to great, gorgeous beach destinations and gracious, generous people, who had shown nothing but warm hospitality since we first set foot on the island.
But the real shocker was the duck, which was still in our window when we arrived five hours later. The duck, immovable, watched us as we finally fell to slumber that night.
How to get there: From Manila, fly to Catarman Airport in Northern Samar. Take a tricycle to the “bus station” and ride a jeepney to Barangay Rawis (P60). Hail a trike to the pier then board a small boat to Laoang Island (P7). From Laoang Pier, ride another trike or habal-habal to Magsaysay Beach.