Boracay: Third Time’s the Charm

I’ve been to Boracay a couple of times before, and each time I leave I always make a mental note to come back as soon as I can. Yet, for some weird reason I have never run out of excuses to delay (and eventually cancel) those travel plans.

As I was preparing for my third visit to this world-famous island, I began to realize — and finally admit to myself — that my reluctance is somehow predicated on the fact that I did not want to get too familiar with the place by coming here too often. I wanted to retain some of that sense of delight and discovery when I first beheld its white sandy beaches. If I had given in to my wishes and came as often as I wanted, I think Boracay would have quickly lost its appeal to me.

As we prepared to board the ferry boat to the island (from Caticlan), I started to feel better. Yes. I’m glad I came back. It was definitely high time I renewed acquaintance with Boracay. I was surprised to note that I actually missed the place — heck, even the sea air felt like a welcome nudge.

Another reason that made this trip a bit more special was that this time the whole family was coming. This was going to be a meaningful family get-together, a chance to reestablish and strengthen our bonds. We lost our father to cancer 4 years ago, and his absence has been sorely felt since then. Things have been so different without him. My mother, one of the most pragmatic people I know, has been uncharacteristically sentimental lately and is starting to show her age (lost weight and forgetfulness; we’re keeping our fingers crossed that she’ll stay with us for a long time). However, she is rather fond of this place because she has had many happy memories here with my father, siblings, and her grandkids.

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Fascinating Patterns Found in Nature

Sometimes, in our search for the next extraordinary thing to astound us, we tend to tune out what Mother Nature has to offer. I think it’s only fitting to remind ourselves from time to time that, regardless of the human tendency and compulsion to create something beautiful (and sometimes some of them can reach sublime heights), there are truly beautiful and fascinating things in nature that any human creation would be hard put to match.

These include colorful plants, fruits, flowers, fungi, and invertebrates that look commonplace at first glance but as you look closer, you will see fascinating shapes, whorls and patterns that will make you appreciate just how complex and inscrutably beautiful nature can be. Consider these few examples.

1. Romanesco broccoli (Brassica oloracea; also known as Roman cauliflower)

2. Sunflower (Helianthus from Gr. “helios” = sun). There are about 70 species in this genus.

3. Kiwifruit, or just plain kiwi (genus Actinidia; also known as Chinese gooseberry) comprising about 60 species)

4. Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus; also known as toadstool); around 14,000 mushroom species have been described

5.¬†Cucurbitaceae flower (also called cucurbits) — a plant family comprising 95 genera (including squash, cucumber, etc.)

6. Starfish (Class Asteroida) — star-shaped echinoderms; there are roughly 1,500 starfish species around the world

7.¬†Zebra Stripes Hosta (genus Hosta; also known as plantain lilies) — hostas are shade-tolerant foliage plants

8. Skeleton flowers (Diphylleia grayi) are actually white flowers that become transparent when they come in contact with water

9. Aloe plant (genus Aloe, of which Aloe vera is the most popular), showing fractal patterns when seen from above