The Island of Guimaras
Once, I dreamed of packing my stuff and leaving the city life. I wanted to move to an island, reset my life and spend my days savoring the ocean, watching the sky, and inhaling lungfuls of fresh air. I wanted to replace chaos with island vibes, trade towering buildings for tall trees, and get away from the hustle and bustle.
It was an idyllic vision and came May 18 this year, I made it come true.
The Island of Guimaras is now my home. Makati, the city where I used to live, is 474 km away.
My life here is a 180-degree turn from what it was in the urban jungle. No more traffic jams to hate. No more malls to hang out at. No more weekend parties to attend. No more fast WiFi connection to enjoy. And no more weekly tea to drink at my favorite tea shop.
But why did I trade my city life for some rural experience? The urge came from my craving for space to breathe and more greenery to behold. Things were getting more stressful in the metro and I needed a break. I could no longer endure the long commute to and from my work.
Now, I can enjoy reading a book or writing an article while lying on a hammock. I sometimes do yoga in the morning and swim before the sun sets.
Many dream of the same thing, but most of them are saving it for later in life–their retirement plan. I realized I didn’t want to wait. Our time in this world is limited. Why spend the next decade dreaming when I can turn my vision into reality today?
You might ask why I chose Guimaras. For those who don’t know yet, I’m now managing Nature’s Eye Resort. Our terms are flexible, though. I still consider myself a freelancer since I didn’t sign a contract with the resort owner. My stint here is more of “I better stay here for now than stand still among the crowds in Manila.” Guimaras is also one of the best options if you want to get away from the metro. The location is perfect. It’s beautiful, laid back, and not crowded. If you want to experience some city life, go to nearby Iloilo City, a 20-min boat ride away.
So, how was my life for the past 3 months? I thought I wouldn’t survive, but surprisingly, I’ve been doing great. A week before my flight, I had doubts. I wondered if this was a good decision. For 27 years, I lived in the city where things were accessible and convenient.
But relinquishing my city life for a simple one taught me a lot of things. I became more appreciative. I started focusing on amazing things that I never considered important before. This may sound weird to others, but I became aware of how beautiful the sunset is. I became more appreciative of the sun’s warmth especially when the rain didn’t stop for 3 weeks.
I learned to give more importance to electricity since Guimaras would always experience brownouts. The chirping of birds became a symphony to my ears. The fresh seafood made me happier each day. I learned to appreciate the speed of the internet at 1 Mbps, fell in love with eating breakfast and realized the importance of getting enough sleep.
These are some small things I didn’t pay much attention to back in the city. I never thought that happiness could be found in the littlest of things.
I met a lot of people with interesting stories to tell. Our guests are coming from the different parts of the world. I also enjoy listening to the stories of the locals. Most of them grew up without the convenience of modernity compared with us who spent most of our lives in the metro. But they look happy, content and satisfied with their simple life.
Before, I thought my life would revolve around the city. Weekend parties, shopping, dining at a really good restaurant or at coffee shops, watching movies, staying at nice hotels, and binging on good internet connection. Although these things made me happy, they didn’t give me the fulfillment I’m getting today.
One time, when I prepared food for our guests, I started to love cooking, so sometimes, I help in the kitchen. Hearing them say, “Cai, you’re exceeding our expectations” is music to my ears, something that cannot be bought.
And every time we receive positive reviews on Facebook–narrating how good our customer service is, how clean and beautiful the place is, how delicious the food is and how they enjoyed their experience. The feeling is more than just happiness. I feel fulfilled because I’m the one managing everything and giving directions to our people. It’s giving me a guarantee that I’m effective and even though I didn’t have any background in resort management, I’ve been able to do it because I have the passion. This is what I dreamed to do.
I don’t deny that I have good offers in Manila if I choose to go back to the corporate world. I’m not closing my doors, but for now, I’ll stick with my philosophy in life: I can always earn money, but I can’t earn time. Opportunities are endless and every moment matters. So, while I have the strength, while I have the time, I will do things that will make me happy and satisfied.
I know I will be back and love the city again. I felt so burned out with the city that was why I left, and it’s nice to give it some love when I come back.
A big part of my happiness is knowing I could leave the city behind, book a one-way ticket and watch the sunset from my window, swim with schools of fish every day and meet different people here on the island where I have chosen to live.
It’s the best decision I’ve ever made so far. Life is too short. Always choose the things that will make you happy and will give you freedom.