“I got tired of waiting / Wondering if you were ever coming around”

–    Love Story, Taylor Swift

Valentines this year had been interesting. Just by observing the behaviors of the people around on how they scramble, I was able to postulate that not only were singles on edge of their seats in finding something to do but as well as the couples who battle the pressure of marketing.

There were so many opinions which were floating around on how best to spend or not spend the day. My unsolicited opinion was: do what makes you happy! Whether you spent hundreds or thousands or none at all, as long as you were happy or made somebody happy then I didn’t see anything wrong with it. Whether you spent it with friends, family, loved one, or alone, you should be able to truly enjoy it without the stress and pressure of being pushed into doing something.

Mambukal Hot Springs - Ruins

I didn’t know about couples, but we singles were always viewed as someone who needed to be with someone as though our lives depended on it. Some might say ‘Yes, it actually does!’ while others had known how to navigate their ways through life being alone.

With regards to valentines, I was never been in a decent valentines date. That was translatable to saying I sucked at dating – like the actual scenario of going out, dating. I loved dates if you were referring to the fruit, but otherwise, not a fan at all.

So, I thought, while normal people were grouping together in the name of love, I should try channeling my inner loner self and go somewhere by my self. This epiphany, not surprisingly, came to me while in the shower.

Mambukal Hot Springs - Hot Spring

Understandably, some singletons were waiting for somebody to arrive and take them places. I got tired of waiting and figured I had to do things for my self if I wanted something done for me. I told myself I needed to recalibrate my focus and to teach my self to live with that choice.

This trip was not only about distracting my self to the festivities of valentines but also; marveling at some choices which were very attainable and quite normal.

Mambukal Hot Springs was in the neighborhood, literally. As soon as I entered the resort, the smell of sulfur assailed me. The natural smell filled the air and lingered no matter how you avoided it.

The resort was also under renovation but they had two functional pools, one hot and the other cold, for the visitors. I asked about the trekking they offered. The guide rental was at P200.00 only, but I decided not to trek thinking that it would not be so much fun doing alone.

Mambukal Hot Springs - Cold Spring

When I arrived, I was the only person by the pool; soon thereafter a family of three arrived. I talked to the family and knew that they were from the area and went there to relax, as well. They knew almost everybody in the resort. After talking to them, I knew that most of the people in Mambukal were Cebuano-speaking.

I spent a couple of hours switching between pools. I went mostly for the hot spring because I knew how relaxing it was. Despite the smell, which I acclimated, the water of the springs brought so much comfort and relaxation.

The unsolicited solitude was the gift. I longed for it. I went to the place at the right time and got what I came for.

On my way back home, I walked for almost 30 minutes from the resort due to lack of transportation. Under the blistering sun, I joyously walked hoping against hope for a ride that did not come. Thankfully, there were interesting views by the side of the road which paid off my walk.

Mambukal Hot Springs roadside

How to get there?

There was a waiting shed near SPDA Business Center where tricycles and motorcycles waited. The motorcycle fee was at P50.00, directly to Mambukal Hot Springs. The entrance fee of the resort was at P30.00 (P20.00 for children). I lived just in the neighboring barangay. I hailed a motorcycle at Brgy. Mambukal and gave the friendly driver the shortest route home; he charged me for P20.00 only. For P100.00, my valentine 2018 was all I made for.

“And by morning, gone was any trace of you / I think I am finally clean”

–    Clean, Taylor Swift

Author: Mark Atong

If he is not taking advantage of his skills on full-time IT employment, he is going different places and hopefully making his mother proud. He believes writing is his passion; but it has yet to prove to pay his bills. He is a fun-loving individual who would rather stay at home reading books and catch-up on episodes of TV shows.

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