In a tiny island in Mindanao facing the Pacific Ocean, a love story began in a not so typical way — underwater.
It was almost the end of Amihan season, while the northeast trade winds formed swells that called for local and foreign surfers. The island was a bit exclusive for those who were invited by the residents or friends who know the residents. A frequent visitor in the island, Jack, invited his close pals to spend the Holy Week there. Among them were Annie and Arneil, who had not met anywhere before that, as they came from different cities.
When Annie first saw Arneil, she found him quite handsome, but not her type because he’s about 10 years older than her. She was in her mid 30s and he was in his early 40s. They both came to the island to unwind and move on from their past relationships. Her recent ex-boyfriend cheated on her, while Arneil had been in hiatus for three years after he got out from an eight-year suffocating relationship. He was not ready yet for a new commitment and would rather die alone and single than experience again to be with a nagging and insecure partner.
During the first couple of days, Annie and Arneil never had a conversation other than side comments here and there in group chats over dinner or drinking beer.
After a day of catching and riding waves with surfboards and bodyboards, the ten youthful urbanite sea lovers decided the next day to explore the island’s marine sanctuary. They hiked the hills to get to the other side where they started snorkeling, free diving, slowly moving towards the docking area. The water was almost 10 meters deep and their target destination was more than 500-meter stretch. Annie was the only woman who endured and was determined to finish it that took them almost two hours.
She was following Jack, who was a few meters ahead of her. She thought only the two of them were able to continue swimming and snorkeling, as the others gave up and walked back to their camping site.
They had about 100 meters more to reach the beach front, as she was almost losing the sight of Jack. Suddenly, Annie had a painful cramp in her right leg. Scared to death, she was laboriously treading water to figure out which part of the island she stopped and hoping she could call for help.
Trying to swim to the huge corals that make up the shallow part, somebody clutched her arm and pulled her. Arneil was actually five meters behind her all along but she never noticed. As they were gripping each other’s hands, the water from the ocean smashed the wall of corals and formed waves that swing their bodies towards each other and away and closer and away like in a dance.
For the first time, she felt someone had saved her life. And in that moment, he swore to himself to always protect her. They managed to reach the shore after a few minutes of walking barefoot on the thorny corals in silence, while holding hands.
This is an entry to Claire Delfin Media’s ‘Spread The Love Blog’ Promo. The entry with the most number of views will win a roundtrip ticket for two to Cebu via Philippine Airlines, and a two-night stay with free breakfast at Marco Polo Plaza.
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Journalist based from the Philippines. Former senior copy editor for Hinrich Foundation, and journalist for a year in Laos. Studied MA in International Journalism Studies in Hong Kong.