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“It’s not the destination, but who you’re on that journey with.”

The original plan was to immerse ourselves in the wonders of Apo Reef, a paradise beneath the waves. We were to camp at night in a remote island, no signal, no electricity, just the rhythm of the ocean and nights under a blanket of stars, sipping wine as meteor showers painted the sky.

 But sometimes, even the best-laid plans can go wrong. Despite our anticipation and the meticulous preparation, the dive operator fell short, leaving us with a choice to make. Stay and accept things as they are, or go.

And so, we embarked on a new adventure, a road trip that would weave its own story. Seven hours from Manila via land and sea to get to Sablayan, the Jump off point to Apo Reef, and now we added 7 more hours on the road to get to Puerto Galera- a road trip from Occidental Mindoro to Oriental.

Along the way, we glimpsed the soul of Mindoro from the windows of our car. The people drying rice in the sun, their traditions preserved through generations. We stumbled upon a humble roadside stalls, indulging in the sweetest mangoes plucked from a nearby orchard. The sights of Bulalacao Bay and the captivating Semirara Island danced before our eyes.

As the wheels turned, so did the conversations. Questions turned into shared stories, stories turned to more questions.  In the midst of unexpected detours, we found ourselves discovering not only the beauty of the road but also immersing in the beauty of life and the company and friendship of each other.

And just like that, our journey led us to Puerto Galera, a coastal paradise that welcomed us with open arms. Our souls rejuvenated, our spirits lifted, we embraced the serendipity that guided us to this new destination. I am forever grateful for Lalaguna Villas for saving what could’ve been a disastrous trip. They welcomed us with beer and prichon and a promise of very good diving the next day. It was a promise they have delivered.

Spontaneous road trips may deviate from our initial plans, but they gift us with moments of reflection, soulfulness, and unbridled joy. So let’s continue to embrace the unexpected, for it is in these unplanned detours that we truly find ourselves.