I came to Coron way back in March, when President Duterte announced the lockdown. I remember it was a Thursday; I was with my friends, and we were waiting for the announcement together. Covid-19 was just starting to blow up in certain countries, and when the announcement came for the Philippines I felt—well, I guess everyone felt—scared. I knew right away that it was a big deal: they started closing shipping ports and airports, and opening up checkpoints.
Although I live in Makati Poblacion, and I love the city life, I knew then that I needed to go to a place where I could be around nature. I can’t spend the lockdown in my apartment, I thought.
Fortunately, I’ve traveled a lot because my work as a freelance creative always takes me places. I asked a friend of mine, who runs Red Carabao in Coron, if I could stay with them. I had been there last November and I was able to spend some time with the Tagbanua community. Now, I’ve been in Coron for about six months. I’ve basically moved here.
In total, I probably spent two months on Coron island. I knew so little about the Tagbanua before this—for me, at the time, it was a very mystical idea. The first time I visited Coron was in 2009, and just looking at the island itself was nothing like I’d ever seen. The island, the tall mountains... we would just be passing through, and I would always see, from the mountains, this little patch of white sand and a little bahay kubo, the secret lake. “Who lives there? Why can’t we go there?” I asked.
That’s when I was told: That’s where the Tagbanua live.