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Punta Bulata revisited

After a long hiatus of two years, I treated myself to a three-day retreat at my favorite resort spa in Negros Island.

Having survived a year of quarantine and self-isolation, a well-deserved sun and sea holiday proved to be the right prescription to appreciate island living once more. This time, I booked a cabana that was just a hop and a skip away from the open-air restaurant fronting the famed golden sands of this luxury resort. I congratulated myself for this decision since the newly revised menu of the Veranda restaurant had so much to offer in terms of comfort food and exotic treats.

Since Punta Bulata’s Empress Royale Miren Zayco was bringing her Mamá, Doña Tining Lopez together with her Manila-based sisters-two Pilar and Geraldine for some sun and fresh air, I decided to follow them in a tnree-vehicle convoy that brought us to the famed golden sand paradise that has been my favorite spot in southern Negros all these years. My cabana-suite welcomed me home to a posh all white bedroom with crispy white sheets, a cable TV, and direct telephone for excellent room service. The first night was a delicious dinner of chicken sandwich, tuna sandwich, and a huge giant bowl of Halo-halo complete with sweet beans and langkâ preserves, ube paste, and finely grated ice. I reserved more tuna sandwich, a lemon meringue and banana cake for my midnight snack which were brought into my cabana.

The iconic Punta Bulata beach*

The next day, we rose up early for a full breakfast of chorizo and fried eggs with garlic rice accompanied by gourmet coffee. I went back to sleep only to awake for a late lunch of grilled fish and a teriyaki sauced salad of aubergine, tomatoes and sweet purple onions. The whole afternoon was spent for photo ops and dips in the crystal clear waters in between bouts of tanning sessions as the sun gently toasted my skin to a golden brown hue. Pretty soon, successful entrepreneur businessman and grand master of Punta Bulata, Bomber Zayco arrived in time for merienda after attending to more business in Kabankalan. The ladies were punctual with early dinner at 6pm and we spent the rest of the night catching up on gossip while we finished a pitcher of delicious sangria which Miren learned while she was a student in Madrid, Spain. Then, it was back to my king-sized bed for a TV binge on series that I haven’t seen for quite awhile. Pretty soon, I was cradled in the arms of Morpheus bringing me to dreamland and beyond.

Doña Cristina Lopez with daughters Miren, Geraldine, and Pilar; right photo, island-hopping tour on your own boat*

The girls left for the city right after breakfast the next day as they had to attend to some business and last minute shopping for pasalubongs, and I decided to stay longer since the much daunted storm never arrived and the sun was shining so brightly and the sea was beckoning me to frolic all day. I settled for a light lunch and ordered a small boat to bring me island hopping. Now that I was alone, I rediscovered the inner sanctums of this beachfront haven and saw the well-kept family cottages inside the coconut grove where Bali-inspired huts proved perfect for large picnics, if you decide to bring your own food. But why bother, when there’s a fully serviced restaurant offering really good food! I loved the shaded pathway that led to a bamboo bridge leading to this budget friendly part of the resort. The walk provided some respite from the scorching sun and I reveled looking at the giant flame trees in the midst of a thick forest of coconuts.

Alcohol spray and eco-friendly paper towels are available everywhere; at right, my newfound treat Halo-halo*

The three-hour long jaunt in the motorized boat was an eye opener as I saw how much progress had changed the landscape of this picturesque part of Negros Island. There was a new beachfront residential subdivision being graded by bulldozers and a wider road was being built leading to Punta Bulata, making it more accessible to outside traffic. The local villages were now a row of neat small colorful houses and I could see children playing and going out to sea in their small bancas. I listened to the sound of motorboats coming in from sea full of freshly caught fish as the local fishermen waved to me with their smiles as bright as the sun-bleached beaches that glittered in the horizon while lush forests abounded interior. I watched swallows dipping up and down the sea as we circled around a small uninhabited island that was just a hundred meters from shore. I wanted to explore further beaches but the low tide was coming in and the boat man was wise enough to advise me that we might get stuck up in a different beach and would necessitate a bumpy ride back to the resort in a pedicab.

I rushed back to the Veranda restaurant for a cold bottle of beer and sat on the new IG icon of Punta Bulata which was a swing suspended high from a coconut trunk making me enjoy the magnificent sunset as my driver pushed the swing to dizzying heights where I could see the growing new moon rising up right on top of the trees by the beach. Waking up the next day to a cloudy sky, I decided to head home after a late breakfast and was greeted by light showers as we drove into Bacolod. Blessed by this short respite from the Kung Flu lockdowns and quarantine days, I could face a storm head-on with thoughts of golden sunsets and pampering massages I thoroughly enjoyed while staying at my home away from home, Punta Bulata Resort and Spa!

My prayer. For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar – the Lord Almighty is his name. I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadows of my hand – I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, “You are my people.” Isaiah 51; 15-16, NIV*

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