Malapacao 21/11/11

Attention everyone planning on going to Malapacao Health Retreat. Do NOT go. Read this before:

To summarize in short: Leann Cruz was shut down by the government but is now operating under a fake name, a new business name but with the same poor sanitary conditions and unhealthy diet. You’ll find reports of people getting seriously ill from malnutrition and infections. People have been sexually harassed and there are bad disputes with the locals. Please read the link.

It is about 7 in the morning and I’m desperately trying to get Logan out of bed. He doesn’t quite remember the “smoker’s delight” he had last night, nor the Tequila shots or how many beers. He also hardly remembers he was making friends with a group of young Irish people playing card games and smoking shisha. Good I filmed it all.

Interesting was the smoker’s delight, something I haven’t seen before myself. The bar tender, who called himself Rocky Balboa and served Logan the shot, lit up the alcohol and swung it around so the flames would heat up the drink. Logan was then supposed to drink it and breathe in the vaporized alcohol through a straw. His face expression said it all. The expression in his face has hardly changed today, he still looks drunk and slightly in pain.

We are supposed to go to Malapacao today, which means “Big Foot”. It is an island in the beautiful Bacuit Archipelago. The northern side of the island is owned by a Lady called Leeann, who is a practitioner of Naturopathy and also follows a raw diet. A few days before our arrival we received an e-mail in that she asked us to please start eating raw food only, do a detoxification using wormwood and clover (?), to only wear 100% cotton, not to use nail polish or any other toxins and to please bring a pair of cotton socks, a pair of woolen socks and some crystals. I began to worry a little bit and am now particularly worried because Logan smells like a booze sponge.

I drag Logan to the Art Café since most of El Nido has no electricity in the mornings and we need to check our e-mails for a notification of when and where we will be picked up. 11am at Corong Corong! We are having breakfast at the Art Café. It’s not bad but my bread’s crust is stone hard. If I had known how much I would suffer from starvation the next few days, I would have never complained about a hard crust!!!


Back at the Sands Inn we are getting ready to leave, surprisingly the electricity is working. The toilets have no seats but at least they can be flushed. The shower isn’t really working though, there is a bucket and scoop supplied which are a lot more effective than the dripping shower. Cold water only of course! We are walking a few meters and are being picked up by a tricycle to take us to Corong Corong port. Actually, there is no port, only a long beach, so even the tricycle driver has no idea where to drop us off. We are driving up and down Corong Corong and I know he is charging us for this. We spot a few boats and tell him to just drop us off here; it can’t be anywhere else. 60 Pesos! I’m sure a local would only pay 10 Pesos for the ride but okay; we are the rich tourists so we are paying. It is still only about $1.37!

Corong Corong

It looks pretty deserted and lonely here and Logan starts to doubt that we are in the right place. I have a feeling we are and just sit down and wait. It’s a beautiful view out to the archipelago; massive islands and cliffs are sitting on top of the light blue sea. I see a white banka coming towards us, it is Dewata, the banka from Malapacao. It is very shallow, so we start walking towards the boat. Two Philippino guys are helping us to climb on board. Logan and I just look around, amazed by all the magical island formations. The warm wind is blowing around us and the crests of a few waves are splashing into our faces. It smells like sea. Malapacao!

I recognize the dramatic cliff wall and shape of the island; it blows me away. We are getting closer and the beauty is overwhelming: Cliffs on either side, a white beach, palm trees along the shore and a few wooden huts between them. Leeann is awaiting us on the beach with self-made flower necklaces and a huge coconut with a straw. We are in paradise!

Next thing Leeann tells us, she is a nudist. Oh no! Do we really need to see an over 60 year old woman nude? I can sense Logan’s mind-set and feel we are talking in thoughts to each other without eye contact. Leeann takes us to our wooden hut, it is open to every side and the views are stunning! The bathroom is in the back; a few steps down and also quite open. She shows us how the water that we use in the sink, is actually flowing into a bucket and we need to use that water to flush the toilet. It is the same system with the shower. It is all very basic or ‘back to nature’; I like it.

Leeann leaves us to ourselves, so we can unpack and then come down for lunch. Logan and I laugh and share our thoughts about Leeann; she definitely is a bit special.

Back at the beach, Leeann walks out of the vegetation towards us: nude! I see Logan’s eyes catching a glimpse of her and turning away with an embarrassed smirk in his face. All I see is a very skinny person with massive boobs and an even bigger, probably bloated, belly. I feel embarrassed too but she comes right up to Logan, holds up a huge shell and asks him whether he would like to call out to the gods. Then she blows in the shell, making a noise like blowing a horn and hands it over to Logan. This is such a crazy situation and I have to try my best not to burst out laughing! Logan doesn’t really get it, so he hands it over to me and after a few tries, I manage to get the noise out as well. She tells me to lift up my left arm, to reach for the gods while calling outto them. Ahh, this is classic!


Leeann takes us over to the lunch table and sits down with us – nude! Fortunately her big boobs are hanging below the table, so we don’t really see too much of it but it’s still ruining my appetite. There’s also a Russian woman with her 8-year-old daughter. The poor child must be in such a shock. She doesn’t say a word and hardly moves. The plates are full of green leaves, yellow tomatoes, onions and herbs. I wouldn’t call it tasty but it’s eatable. Still! And when not hungry! When Leeann starts to dig her fingers into the food and then deep down her throat, Logan and I stop eating. It looks and sounds disgusting. After lunch, we decide to go and explore the island a little bit. This involves some extreme climbing up the sharp limestone cliffs on bare feet. The vistas are beautiful from up here but I wonder if the pain is really worth it. On the way down it is getting dark and even more dangerous. Back at our hut, I’m trying to pull out the prickles in my feet but they are too deep under my skin.

I’m getting hungry and am looking forward to dinner, just to be disappointed to find the same mix of leaves on the plate. I feel bloated but not full. In fact, I’m still very hungry. Hopefully breakfast will be better. Sleeping in the open is great. I wake up many times because the wind is very strong, almost like a storm but I really enjoy listening to nature.

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