WEEKEND RETREAT – Calaguas Trip: Disconnect to Reconnect

Mesmerized by the winding river of Labo in the municipality of Vinzons, Camarines Norte, I stared in awe at the majestic work of God.

Where was I? I asked myself as I looked around the swarm of baby palm trees embracing every turn of the quiet waters. I felt like I was in the Amazon river. I imagined kayaking here taking great photographs as the locals caught fish in small weaved baskets.

At the far side of the boat, I mouthed “Ang ganda” to Kevin and he a mouthed back “Wala pa ‘to sa Calaguas!”

And yes indeed, this is just an unfolding of a great story that God has orchestrated to especially happen in Calaguas.

Vinzons Port to Mahabang Buhangin, Calaguas Island

Upon reaching the island, we immediately submerged ourselves into the Philippine Sea. It was no doubt, the best island I’ve been to as I swam through the three gradient water with fine powdery white sand in the Pacific. Wala ng pakialamanan kung sino mangitim, besh!

I am obviously the darkest one in the picture but still, loving the beach.

Embrace your morena skin, girl! Go out into the sun

By lunchtime, we have already set up camp. And set up camp, I meant to just place our belongings in the already put up tent. (Thanks Primero for the top of the line service!). We ate locally sourced food fresh from the island and dined under the shade of a cottage.

True to the Calaguas promise, we have experienced the island life where there is no signal, electricity, and even a comfortable restroom to go to. It was a refreshing outtake from our usual city life. I even got to sleep in a bamboo bed in a nearby cottage after lunch. What is being a Filipino for without siesta time, right?

By the afternoon, we were out and about trekking through hills and snorkeling in the Tinaga group of islands.

The view was breathtaking – literally and figuratively. (A friendly reminder to stretch and if you have time, hit the gym before going to Calaguas to be fit). We looked at the horizon of nothing but deap blue water, on waves crashing into rock formations, and of course IG worthy landscapes. Is this New Zealand?

Amidst the beautiful experience of being one with nature again (a month after my rest in Badoc), the real highlight of this trip was laying on the sand after our snorkling escapade. (You can ask for floaters if you can’t swim).

At 4pm after freshening up, I set up the banig in the shoreline where anyone from the group can do as they please. A me time before our fellowship in the evening.

@popularcelebrity ‘s sketch of our view that afternoon. Please check him out on IG for commissioned typography portraits!

At this time, I was going through this devotional. Little did I know that it’ll be something for sharing during the evening event.

From YouVersion Bible Plans

That afternoon, God reminded me again about the kind of relationships I have been maintaining in my life. As I watched the sun hide behind the clouds as it sank to make way for the moon and the stars, I set out that hanging question.

Do I still make efforts to be with this group after this trip?

Surprised by our night time session’s ice breaker question, I volunteered to speak out first.

Kevin asked, “What is this trip for you?”

And I answered that I thought this was meant to be a time of refreshment. As I contemplated the whole night, I realized that it was more of God leading me back to this accountability. It was God rekindling again the relationship, love and fire I used to share for and with the group – individually and collectively.

I fought back tears as I remembered how this group has been a vital part of my spiritual growth and now is not the time to let go. Now is not the time to cut ties especially as I’ll need this team more and more to back me up in my ministry and personal battles.

I am grateful that God gave me a family I know I can call home – a place I can run to after every battle. That when I go home, I know that win or loss there’s a place set out for me to go home to. More importantly, these people are the ones who have and will help me put on the armor of God. And even then, these people are the ones who are going to fight with me.

As I left Calaguas, I prayed for these people.

A vision came to me as we set back to the main island of Luzon.

Like a movie montage before the great battle, I see us fed from God’s Word and encouragement from each other wearing the armor of God.

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God,so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

I saw a group of warriors going back to the real world with God’s banner – already victorious because of the work of Jesus’ blood on the cross.

Share your best Calaguas Trip memory here as well!

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