“Would you like to join us at Anvaya Cove?” AO’s aunt Lisa asked me in February. “We’re releasing baby pawikans into the sea.” Distracted by a to-do list at that time, I turned down her invite.
When I later read newspaper articles of that majestic event, the eco geek in me wished I were part of the gathering.
Every fourth quarter of the year, mother pawikans (Olive Ridley sea turtles) crawl to sands of Anvaya beach at night to quietly dig a hole where they lay eggs before returning to the ocean. The staff members and rescue volunteers of Anvaya would gently build a protective net around the nest and wait for the eggs to hatch.
By the time the baby turtles hatch in February, Anvaya organizes a turtle release where members may “adopt” a hatchling and help release it back into the ocean.
Last week I finally entered this exclusive community, thanks to Tita Lisa who has been a member for years. I missed the event so there were no more sea turtles in sight, although I know they’re simply flipping and swimming down the deep blue. Members and guests are prohibited from swimming at the beach at night because mother pawikans prefer laying their eggs by the shores after sunset.
As I parked my beach bag in one of the wooden huts beside Pawikan Bar and Grille, Tita Lisa shared how she and her daughter Monica watched the hatchlings slowly saunter down the sand and into the ocean. “During that short waddle to the water, they imprint in their brains the magnetic signal of the location. After 25 years, they will return within a few kilometers of that site to lay eggs,” Tita Lisa narrated. I listened to her turtle stories with glistening eyes.
Knowing that I will have a turtle-less day, I settled for swimming in the semi-pristine waters overlooking Zambales’ mountain ranges and sunbathing next to the sports pavilion, where kayaks, frisbees, and paddle boards await club members.
With one of Anvaya’s guides, we trekked through the forest where organized camp trails made our ascent easier. Before I could talk my way out of it, I found myself harnessed on a treetop as I zip-lined through Bataan’s lush greenery. My supposed fear of heights disappeared as I screamed to the heavens while zooming through a rope slide. I hope I didn’t startle any pawikans.
Resort photos by KateWasHere.com. Turtle photos by Lisa Mapua.