On our third day in Bacolod, we were preparing to go out to lunch when Alex’s phone rang. It was a classmate from college, Clair, born and raised in Bacolod. I know her, of course, because their class spent many nights (weekends, in some cases) at our house when they were preparing for their thesis. Clair lives in Bacolod permanently now, and she and Alex hadn’t seen each other for two years. Clair wanted to take us out to lunch.
Half an hour later, we walked into the hotel lobby and there was Clair waiting with a big smile on her face. We hugged tightly, I was genuinely pleased to see her and the unexpectedness of the meeting made the reunion even sweeter. The chatting among the girls — Alex, Clair and Cleo — commenced immediately.
Where was she taking us to lunch? Clair said there’s this secret place… The chatting never stopped during and after lunch. Then, Clair announced that she was taking us to her family’s resort. Was it far? No, only about 15 minutes away.
Clair drove us through the well-paved streets of Bacolod and, as the minutes went by, the buildings got fewer, the trees got bigger and we could glimpse more farms on both sides of the road which became narrower before we reached the gate of a subdivision called City Heights. Moments later, we were at Palmas del Mar Resort and Hotel.
Clair ordered mojo potatoes and asked what we wanted. I was too full from the delicious lunch so I said I would just have coffee. Alex wanted fries and iced tea… and the chatting began again. These girls majored in Technical Theater in college so the topics ranged from theater to events to directors to stage actors to classmates and with what companies they are connected with today. All the names were familiar, so were the topics, I could have chatted along with them but, after a while, I felt like the yaya minding my charges. I stood up and told them I’d walk around to take photos.
I went straight to the breakwater where I took photos of the sea and the boats that floated on it moving left to right and vice versa. And that was when I first started to feel that I had walked into a movie scene. An all-girl reunion on an island and a hotel overlooking the sea… Mamma Mia! I wouldn’t have been surprised if, with “I Have A Dream” playing somewhere in the background, a “Sophie” suddenly jumped into a boat to cross the Guimaras Strait to Guimaras Island or Iloilo Province.
Yes, those are the islands visible on the photo of the boats on the sea. I checked.
As I turned around, there was section reserved for someone’s 18th birthday party. The tables and chairs had been laid out all bedecked with ribbons in colors that echoed the hues of the flowers and trees around them. I could have been looking at the set-up for Sophie’s wedding. Sometime later, the guests filtered in and the celebration began just in time for the glorious tropical sunset.
I circled my way around the resort and as I took photos of the Mediterranean-themed two-story buildings that housed the suites, I could almost imagine Donna Sheridan walking out of a room into the veranda and bursting into a song (“Money, Money, Money”). I smiled at my whimsical thoughts.
As all movies come to an end, so did our few lovely hours at Palmas del Mar. Thank you, Clair, for an awesome afternoon. We drove back to the hotel to freshen up. We were having dinner at Bob’s Restaurant which was celebrating its 50th Anniversary.