Inspired by the writings of Hazel, Samuel, and Jac.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – A.A. Milne

I’ve spent more time on Facebook in the past 72 hours than in the first four months of 2015. It started with the natural interest to see photos in which others had tagged me. Then, realising that so many people were posting Bohol-related pictures and thoughts, my fingers couldn’t stop scrolling through my newsfeed. But what really got me glued to Facebook was the shared album (i.e. anyone can upload photos to that album) “Bohol snippets”.

Mostly taken with our phones, these photos are the ones we took without much thought and where the rule of thirds don’t matter; candid shots that captured both the worst and/or best moments (depending on whether you’re the subject of the photo or not) – the kind where the people mattered more than the scenery. These photos act as pinholes, offering one a glimpse into others’ individual viewpoints of the same shared experience, thus somehow making our adventure in Bohol something even more precious.

Rewind 18 days to when we were at Changi airport and came up with the hashtag #BESgoestoBohol: we were all pretty pumped up and excited for what was to come, but I think it’s safe to say that none of us would have expected to leave our hearts in Bohol after just 16 days. Towards our last two days in Bohol, half of us fell sick with flu symptoms. Now back home, we’re mostly down with withdrawal symptoms.

It’s the little things. Brushing my teeth, eating breakfast, singing songs, and even showering, now all feel like activities that should be done with someone else. My room feels too quiet, my bed too stable, the roads too smooth. The nights feel empty without daily group meetings to discuss about things that matter and things that don’t, or innumerable trips to the ICM supermarket to buy things that nobody needs. Trying to squeeze into one tricycle, even though it would be the same price for two, was our daily dose of living on the edge. Working out how to communicate in the water using ridiculous hand signals, making up bird sounds (sorry forest groups), and getting (almost) lost in the forest were things that made work that much more enjoyable. Laughing at the weirdest faces captured in photos and the hilarious antics of various people (*cough* *Felicia* *cough*) are no longer a staple, and it is impossible to get anyone’s attention here back home simply by mentioning “lechon” or “Jolibee”. Dr. Hastings shaking it to Anaconda was literally an eye-opener, and who didn’t go ‘awww’ at the FYP mentor-mentee moment when Dr. Coleman hugged Jac? It’s the little things.

Bohol has changed us all in ways we could have least imagined. Some conquered their fear of the water, others conquered their OCD need for cleanliness (however temporarily). This trip also presented countless firsts for so many of us: swimming in the ocean, trekking through a forest, seeing a wild turtle up close, etc. Meeting and speaking with conservation pioneers such as Dr. Primavera, Pat Dugan, Bill Granert and Carlito Pizzaras was very inspiring as well.

All the above no doubt contributed to our personal journey of self-discovery on this trip, showing us that we have the potential to be more capable than we think and braver than we seem, as long as we will it to be. But I think I speak for most, if not all of us, when I say that above all, one of the best takeaways from this trip was how we bonded as a cohort, made new friends (you’d think we should have all been friends by now, what with a cohort of 46 and having been together for three years) and grew closer to old ones through this amazing experience. As Samuel puts it, this was the BESt trip with the BESt people. Nothing less.


And it was awesome.


(Picture credits: Jac)