A second look at Potipot Gateway

LIVE FEED - Bibsy M. Carballo (The Philippine Star) - June 18, 2014 - 12:00am

If one were to choose from the numerous, burgeoning summer resorts in the country, the runaway winner would be the Potipot Gateway Resort, and there are many reasons for this. First and foremost is location since it is relatively closer to Metro Manila than Boracay of the much-vaunted white sand beach. Potipot, on the other hand has a unique cream-colored beach, clear waters and an atmosphere that spells “vacation.”

In fact, it has been dubbed as the smaller version of Boracay that reminds us of what Bora used to be, before it was discovered by hordes from all over the country whose idea of a perfect vacation is staying up all night, playing loud music that can be heard two towns away, getting drunk on legal and illegal drinks and getting involved in scuffles. That’s too bad for Bora, as it once was the perfect holiday destination that we would visit at least thrice a month.

Potipot Gateway Resort, on the other hand, is small and young, having been discovered by vacationers only in 2010 which was also when we first went to visit in the company of artist-designer Tito Estrada. Recently, we returned there, having heard of its improvements. A new building has been added to give room to the hundreds of inquiries received during the past two years. And even better, while the interiors are comfortably modern, the exteriors have kept the original provincial look of huts using indigenous materials an imaginative electrician-turned-artist Wilson Agustin had dreamed up.

We remember how impressed we were that we asked Mary Jean Borra, owner of Potipot Gateway, if we could borrow Wilson to have a nipa hut installed in our Pasig home. Wilson himself came over and in a couple of days, we had our Potipot-inspired structure so classy that friends coming to visit call it our “gazebo” surrounded by plants next to the main house.

The staff at Potipot Gateway has also multiplied immensely. Apart from the old timers Wilson and interior designer Mike Guizon, there is newcomer Lina Villareal from Cebu who has been assigned OIC and manager. We sat down with Lina and asked her what her job entailed. She answered, “Everything in the service industry from housekeeping, finance, laundry, F&B (food and beverage), maintenance to accounting.” What is the most difficult of her responsibilities, we prodded further. She replied, “Dealing with the guests and pleasing them.” Anyone who has found herself in this situation will understand just how much patience this will entail.

Lina is proud to have put to good use what Mrs. Borra has entrusted to her. At 33, Lina has direct supervision over some 40 personnel. She had originally planned on seeking employment in Taiwan, but after four years living and working in Potipot Gateway, she has forgotten her former dreams and ambitions. Such appears to be the pull of Potipot Gateway. We fell asleep that night dreaming of the next day and our boat ride to the island of Potipot, its cream-colored beach that rivals Bora’s white sand, and its clear waters.

For this second visit, we were again with Tito Estrada, plus an additional three composed of Nelia Pallorina, Rosel Hombrebueno and the all-around Ricardo Nofre whom everyone calls Rikki. After a sumptuous breakfast, we were finally on our way to Potipot Island, pride of Candelaria which we reached in three minutes by motorized pumpboat. Entrance to the island at P100 then, and P200 for overnight had not changed. On our last visit we had spotted families who had gone to swim in the salty waters. This time around, there were more families who had brought along tents and food to experience an overnight stay. We were certain they had also brought along rechargeable lanterns that would last the night.

Back on the mainland, we took another boat that took us around the calm waters for almost an hour, passing by a school, a religious establishment, private homes and fishermen in the waters hoping for a catch in time for dinner. It was time to leave for home and the traffic of Metro Manila.

While leafing through the newspapers of the past weekend, we spotted a story pre-selling a would-be tourist destination in Talikud islet in Samal, Davao del Norte. It is said to have white sand beaches and the works that would attract the rich and famous, being funded by the Canadian government-financed Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development.

We calculated the expenses in our mind, and decided that the Talikud Samal project was clearly in competition with Boracay, and we would choose Potipot anytime.

(Send your comments to bibsyfotos@yahoo.com or text me 0917-8991835.)

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