It seems a scary thought – going out with a group of strangers to an undisclosed place for the weekend. But that’s exactly what I signed up for, and so here I am now, with a group of eight ladies, riding in the van at the break of dawn, heading somewhere north.

This trip is the first of the year for the Experience Philippines, a travel company that conducts “random” trips to various places in the Philippines – and by random, it means participants don’t know the exact destination. Part of the appeal is discovering where you’re headed with your companions.

It seems fun, and I’ve been intrigued to join since finding out about it early last year, but I didn’t have the budget until now. This particular trip is called the Singles Road Trip 18. I’m not nursing a broken heart anymore (I’ve moved on), but was intrigued with how the trip would play out. I also thought it might be a nice prologue to Valentine’s Day. But, anyway, soon, I found myself registering and joining.

The meet-up was in Quezon City on a Friday, and it was then I found out that all the other participants were female – except for Robbie, our “Travel Manager,” I’m the only guy. Being surrounded by women isn’t new to me anymore, since back when I was with a Singapore-based ad agency, I was also the only male employee in the Philippine office. It still feels a bit weird, though.

Anyway.

So we hit the road at an hour before midnight, and we were advised not to look at  Waze or Google Maps to maintain the element of surprise. But at around 2am, after a short nap, I start to recognize the surroundings and know we’re heading somewhere familiar.

And it turns out I’m right. By 5am, we’re in the beach of Liwliwa, where Cheryl and I surfed our broken hearts in August last year in the middle of a typhoon. It’s not the final destination, however; we just eat our breakfast at the diner in front of the Circle Hostel.

Fueled for the morning, we pushed on to our next destination, the nearby Anghalo Falls. This being the dry season, the river is mostly dry, but there’s still enough water for a quick dip.

At 10am, we leave for our main destination – the Silanguin Cove in Pundaquit Village of San Antonio town. It’s a lovely stretch of gray sand beach with calm waters, and because it takes an hour and a half navigating rough waters, it’s also blissfully secluded. So, essentially, I’m stranded on an island with eight ladies.

Life. God, what have I done to deserve this?

So we swim. We eat. We listen to music. We tell stories. We have fun.

I have fun.

God, what have I done to deserve this?

The next morning, we go back to the town proper and started our way home. It was another rough trip in the sea, as the waves soon became too large for our boat. Thankfully, we arrived at the shore safe, and our things were mostly dry.

On the way back, we pass by the Sisiman Lighthouse in Mariveles, Bataan, for some photo ops during the sunset. But the clouds are so thick, and it’s all gray.

But still, it was a really great experience with all these fun, amazing people.

God, what have I done to deserve this?

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