I’m Christian Foremost, a Filipino Blogger/Writer/Podcaster and mental health advocate who writes personal stories of growth, life advice, and refreshing perspectives to inspire you to love yourself. I promote daily journaling as a healthy outlet to express and explore one’s honest thoughts and feelings. The path towards self-discovery and actualization starts by acknowledging your truths and facing your problems head-on.
I came to Siargao at a somewhat low point in my life when my soul was depleted. “Hope” was merely a four-letter word synonymous with “hurt” and the only thing that kept me going was work. Every single minute of each day should be spent doing something productive because if I allowed myself even a bit of time to rest, the harmful thoughts would come pouring in.
Siargao has changed me slowly, but purposefully. The Christian who came back to Manila after spending a blissful week in Siargao is different from the Christian who left carrying his issues to the island with him. I’m writing this blog a day after our plane touched down back in Manila. I still have the Siargao hangover. You could even say that my brain is still up in Cloud 9, surfing some sweet sweet waves. Before I come back to reality and my routine life though, I just wanted to share with you guys everything I’ve learned from the trip. You see, I did some soul-searching and Siargao helped me see a couple of things that I needed to realize at this point in my life.
Don’t worry, I will also be dropping blogs that are actually helpful if you’re planning a trip for yourself and your friends. I’ve already dropped a blog about Siargao’s Pre-Flight Requirements During the Pandemic and Sample Itinerary, a review of our accommodation at Lampara Siargao during our week-long stay in paradise, and a Master List of Restaurants in Siargao for Breakfast and Coffee, and for Lunch and Dinner. I gotcha covered, and I’ll be sharing everything you need to know. To keep updated, make sure to subscribe to the blog to get notified of new posts, okay?
Soul Searching in Siargao: 5 Lessons the Island Taught Me
1. “I saw myself from a far, and didn’t exactly know if I liked what I was looking at.”
Even when I write lengthy blog posts every week, talk straight for more than an hour in my podcast, or even lead meetings at work, most people would describe me as quiet and awkward. This is my natural state and it would take so much energy on my part just to be social. For some reason, I just can’t get out of my head and enjoy the company that I have at that moment.
If most people would ask, why I’m quiet or what exactly is going on in my head during the times when we’re together and I’m not speaking, it’s exactly this. Everything that I’m about to share in my blog is what was going on in my mind. In my head, I was trying to look at myself from afar, from the eyes of the strangers in Siargao who met me along with my friends. I’m the shy and difficult one compared to my friends who were always sociable and very easy to talk to. I hated that I couldn’t be more like them. It’s also problematic how the only way for me to be a bit friendlier, and talk more is with a couple of drinks.
If that was my identity, should that be something I have to accept? Should I be at peace with the fact that I basically live in my head, and couldn’t connect to the people literally next to me? Deep inside, I do know how capable I am as a person. If I pushed myself, I can talk, but it wouldn’t be as authentic or natural. It’s just frustrating that I still can not control my response in simple social interactions, even if I really wanted to. So yeah, therapist it is. Lol.
2. Balance even in the more stressful situations.
In Siargao, the most common way to go around places is through riding a scooter or an automatic motorbike. I actually took motorcycle classes months before the trip, but even when I was the only one who technically knew how to ride a motorcycle, I didn’t pick it up as quickly as the others did.
My friends were already cruising through Siargao’s long winding roads with ease. When I finally sat down and drove the motorcycle, I was wobbly and tense. I was freaking scared out of my mind, especially knowing that I have a friend riding with me. She literally had to calm me down and cheer me on because even I didn’t believe that I could actually take us back to our hostel. Also, when it was another friend who was already driving the scooter and I was the one sitting at the back, she was still having a hard time because my tension was making it difficult for her to move.
The motorcycle can feel if you’re nervous or scared. The more tense and jumpy you are, the more the motorcycle will tilt and go against you because it relies on the weight of your body. Your fear will only restrain you and possibly lead you to an accident. You are driving so if you stop, you can get left behind and never even get to your destination. You need to loosen up your body and trust that you are in control. Feel the wind as you breeze through the street and enjoy the ride. Let me tell you, the feeling of riding a motorcycle in a place like Siargao is tasting freedom. It’s almost like flying!
Also in surfing, balance is key. You have to be relaxed on the board as you get up and ride the waves. Overthinking and being stiff is sure to wipe you out. Just enjoy the ride and let yourself respond to the rhythm of the board as you glide to the shore.
3. Let it go.
It’s not good to get ahead of yourself by setting expectations of what you want to happen before something even happens. You don’t need the pressure of trying to avoid getting disappointed. It will only lead you to become too desperate and trying too hard. Let go of the obsession because it will only consume your mind, and not allow you to be fully present in the moment.
It was I think only during the last couple of days of our trip that I was able to fully relax. For about 5 days in Siargao, I was still tense and couldn’t fully enjoy where I was because I was stuck in my head, allowing my worries to continuously consume me.
We were swimming on the shores of Daku Island. The water was clear, and a bright shade of blue. The sand was white and fine. The sun was bright, but the winds were strong due to the typhoon that was currently pouring hard on Metro Manila. We went into the water, and I immediately noticed how the sand was loose beneath my feet. The waves were getting stronger. And as the waves pulled back again from the shore, the sand I was standing on was gone. I kept panicking and paddled closer to the shore, looking for sand to plant my feet on. But every time, the same thing would happen.
You can come up with any metaphor you want from what I just described. For me, it was at that point that I realized how I was only letting myself suffer by trying so hard to hold on. I let myself go. I took my feet off the ground and let the waves wash me away to a safer part of the shore. I laid on my stomach and closed my eyes. As I hear the waves crash onto me, I let my thoughts and worries roll over my shoulders.
Having plans and agendas in mind are great sure, but accept the fact that things can change. If things happen, let them happen. If things don’t go your way, that’s okay. People come, and then they go. Go with the flow and just be surprised where it takes you. Be open and face situations with intention instead of expectations.
4. Mindfullness: Experience the now with all your senses.
I admit that even when we were looking at truly magnificent views, I didn’t really get to appreciate them that much because I was too much in my head. It’s distracting to constantly try to come up with plans. I was always thinking “What are we going to do next?” that I wasn’t able to truly appreciate what was happening at the moment.
I guess this is the life we grew accustomed to in the city with our jam-packed schedules and long-ass to-do lists. We always want to get things over with so that we could get to the next thing. We think too far ahead in the future because we’re so focused on achieving a goal or arriving at a destination. We make all of these plans because we think that time is gonna run out on us.
We don’t have the power to control time. As much as it would be great to freeze time or go back to the same moment over and over again, we don’t have that power. That is why mindfulness or truly being in the moment is very important. Let time move on its own. Slow yourself down by breathing in and out. Look around and appreciate what’s currently happening in silence and in bliss.
Get out of your phone and look at the beauty of the real world without really having to take pictures of it. Experience the moment with all your five senses. If you want to do something, go and do it. Do the things you desire and enjoy yourself while doing them. Take every opportunity that comes your way, and welcome it with open arms.
Don’t think too far ahead in the future or worry that your decisions now will tie you up sometime later. You’re young, wild, and free so you SHOULD enjoy your youth as much as you can. You’re on the way towards everything you want out of life, but don’t forget to keep living in the now. Until that the time comes when you finally achieve your dreams, you can already enjoy yourself as much as you want.
5. Paradise is a place you can call home.
Siargao is paradise. It was the escape that I needed for so long where I could taste freedom everywhere I turn. Delicious food from different styles of cuisines. Smiling faces of people ready to make friends everywhere you turn. The thrill of surfing sweet waves, zipping through the roads on a scooter, and going forth towards numerous adventures as you marvel at the beauty of the island. You can even just lay on your back and chill, doing nothing but enjoying where you’re at. You’re on the island, and you can do whatever you want. I felt that and by the end of my trip, I was no longer stopping myself.
We’ve met a lot of people who were once tourists who permanently moved to Siargao because they fell in love with the island. Others have already stayed there for months, but they’re still not sure when they’ll come back home. This made me realize that you’re in charge of your life, and anyone can build a life in Siargao if they really wanted to. It’s really tempting because I’m sure most people would dream of staying in a place where you move freely at your own pace instead of getting drowned by the busyness of the city and the suffocation brought by our seclusion because of the pandemic. If moving to Siargao is an option for you, it’s something that you may consider.
As much as I wanted to stay in Siargao even for just a while longer, I knew that I had a life in Manila and there’s a bunch of stuff to face here when I return. One thing for sure is I will come back. I won’t take as many pictures anymore and I’ll just enjoy the place even without making too many plans beforehand. Maybe I’ll even stay longer next time and adapt to a work-from-paradise lifestyle?
I still am not sure about what’s going to happen in the future, but I’m not that scared of it anymore. I’m starting to greet uncertainty with wonder and trust that we will get through this. I don’t know if I’ll still think this way a couple of days from now, but it’s good that I have this blog to remember that feeling.
“Possibilities” is another synonym I’m tying up with “Hope”. Life is filled with possibilities. The only way you remove the possibilities is if your life ends. So let it continue. Let life go on and experience those possibilities. This hand is made to create and I’m looking forward to creating my way towards endless possibilities.
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