The name of the resort, Palm Beach Resort, tells us that this place should have a nice beach and there should be a lot of palm trees. Found in Laiya (San Juan, Batangas), this resort — with the help of the low tide — revealed something else. Totally unexpected. And puzzling. Allow us to tell you why the title of this post is “beach life.”
There’s no shame for a layperson to admit that he/she knows nothing about corals and coral reefs. Well, not exactly nothing — we see photos and we read that corals grow, and that they die because of dynamite fishing and other factors. We have a working idea that the death of coral reefs is somewhat connected with global warming, that many corals are sensitive to and die with changes in sea temperature. Beyond those general ideas, we probably know so little about corals. There’s really not much incentive to get to know about corals because we rarely encounter them in our lives.
Imagine our surprise when we learned that some corals actually survive when exposed during low tide, and that the rugged, stony outcrop that emerged during low tide, just in front of the Palm Beach Resort, is a living, breathing field of corals. You don’t need snorkels or scuba to see the corals. All you need is a dose of curiosity. And, oh, sunblock.
This early, allow us to come clean and say that we don’t know the specific or scientific names of the corals. Maybe we’ll never know. Our initial search in marine websites yielded the information that these are stony or hard corals (again, we may be wrong, so if you know the names of these corals, or if you know someone who’s an expert on corals, please give us a buzz).
It’s difficult to rise and shine while at the secluded Palm Beach Resort. The heavy drapes filter the soft sunlight that escaped the lust green leaves of palms and trees. The resort calls this natural landscaping. The crickets, which almost monopolized the silence of the night, are probably dead tired. It’s quiet and peaceful here, one could actually feel, and hear, the soft breeze.
There’s the sound of dull crunch of pebbles pressed to the sand by rubber tires, as silent golf carts transport staff and guests. There’s the rhythmic crash of waves on the shore. Not much noise. It’s like the Walking Dead have overrun this side of Batangas while guests were sleeping. And with the audible grumble of our tummies, audible a mile away, we knew it was time for breakfast.
The pavilion is just two minutes away by foot. Here at the Palm Beach Resort, a quick walk would appear to be an insult to the beauty of the surrounding. One walks leisurely. It’s much nicer to soak the fresh air that carries a hint of saltwater madness. It’s relaxing to stretch, perched on the concrete stairs that lead to the beach. And it was while doing that that we saw the view totally different from what the sea looks like at high tide.
An area that resembles a tidal pool emerges. It’s likely a tidal pool. Still fit for swimming, but notable for quite something else — the coral field. It’s alive! Of course, at first, we didn’t know that. From a distance it looks like a field filled with black mud. Looks muddy and slimy from afar. And that means only one thing — it looks fun enough to explore. Yee-haa!
It turned out to be a solid, rocky surface. No slime. No mud. Just beautifully weird corals.
Life may have made cynics out of us all, but enjoying life sometimes require that we retain the fascination of a 7-year old. Right there at that coral field, we were close to uttering only a single word: amazing! Look at that one, it looks like the World Cup with intricate gold inlay. Amazing! And that one, it looks like a butt unfortunately peppered with a million neatly-arranged chicken pox. Amazing! It was like channeling Betong into our inner selves. Amazing!
Other guests may have started to wonder what on earth we were up to. We were squatting and taking pictures of something on some place that looked muddy and slimy. The scene might have looked weird. We didn’t care. The man on horseback, guiding the slow moving animal through the maze of stones, surely didn’t mind.
At breakfast, between bites of fresh mango and oranges, we asked the staff a question or two about the corals. Just one question, really. We were too hungry to ask more questions and, honestly, the staff may be more than happy if we stop bugging them with questions. We were told that DOST personnel (government’s science and technology department) regularly visit the place. To inspect the coral field, we suppose. But who can blame them if they want to linger and soak the beauty of the Palm Beach Resort? This side of Batangas gives a whole new meaning to beach life.