Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bicol Express!

Road Journal ng Batang Lakwatsera

October 27

I am looking for Diego and Swiper. Will you join the adventure? :)

I had packed by bags a day before since I spent the night with my friends. At 10:30 AM at Davao international airport, my immediate supervisor Ate Elvie had just arrived from her Belgium trip. We no longer have enough time to meet so while she’s waiting for her luggage, we had our short program meeting. Updates and little chitchat with her trip. And as promised, she gave me the Belgian chocolates. Sweet.

At the waiting lounge, I’ve met Anna, 21 years old on her first plane trip. Her first trip outside her hometown and alone. She’s going to Zamboanga to meet their ‘recruiter’- direct hiring for Malaysia, she said. She doesn’t know about the check-in policies and the hand-carry baggage. She checked-in her only back pack with all of her valuables inside not knowing she can bring it along. All she was holding was her ticket and ID. I don’t know if the direct hiring for Malaysia is true. As our talk progressed, she shared that there are six of them going to Zamboanga, coming from different areas of Mindanao and Visayas, and they will be going to Malaysia (through backdoor, most likely). She’s telling me she’s doing it because she wanted to help her family, that she is not paying anything for her employment. She sees her recruiter as a savior who'll help her in her dreams of helping her family. But how many times have we heard of Filipinos, majority are women and children given promises of employment and good life? Most are from the far flung barrios who only wanted the best for their families but tricked into prostitution? These thoughts were floating on my head as the PA system calls their flight. She bid goodbye smiling. I asked her to pray and be vigilant, that the work abroad may or may not be high paying. I pray for her safety.

"How many Anna’s do we need to lose? When will be the time of sending out OFWs will no longer be the option for employment? *sigh*

By 2pm, I arrived at NAIA and Brod Wani fetched me with his motorcycle. I never tried riding a motorcycle in the traffic metro. Brod Wani is my official sundo and ticket buyer. He bought the bus ticket early reservation as it’s already nearing the long holidays. I had the 4pm bus. No more time to recharge. It’s raining hard and we finally decided for my health’s sake, I I need to take the cab going to Alimall than insist on riding the cool motorcycle. I was already starving , and after putting my luggage at my designated I decided to buy some food at Dunkin Donuts. The service crew is excruciatingly sloooooooow. When I went back, the bus was no longer there! I was about to panic, then the conductor from the nearby bus pointed at the gate. Great, just great.

A nice start for my first 12-hour straight bus travel.
We had our three strops at San Pablo, Laguna, another town in Laguna ( I forgot to ask since I was already too sleepy) and in Naga City.

October 28.

I arrived at 4AM in Daraga. My sister is excited to see me. She’s still awake when I texted her to fetch me. It’s drizzling. I slept until 9am. By 10am, my sister and I went to Albay Capitol. And I was surprised (more of annoyed) that my sister doesn’t know where the Capitol is! Imagine she lived her for a year or two already and she haven’t explored the area. Unbelievable. One thing we need to do is explore the area where we live. We must know our own city/town/ province. Well, I am quite guilty of this when some friends wanted to visit my hometown, I could not advise them what's the best place to visit. So I started knowing and learning more about my town. For instance, I am surprised to know that people from South Cotabato has NEVER been able to go and visit Lake Sebu. We aim to visit other places to explore yet we never explore our very own provinces. One important trait is to be tourists and tourist guides of our places. We have to learn what our province has to offer. AND we have to learn the history of our place.

So for my trip here, it’s I and my sister who will be seeing the things/places for the first time! Before coming here, I read an article in Sunstar about Bicol and the places to visit and I wrote them down. The first place I wanted to see is the Magayon Art Gallery at the lobby of Albay Capitol. Much to my dismay, not much paintings were left on exhibition.

Then to prepare for my itineraries, I went to the City Tourism office to ask for a map (even though I don’t know how to read a map) like what most foreign tourists do. At the back of the tourism office is the Museum and Library.

The battle of Legazpi mural welcomes the guest. I love going to museums to know the history of the place we visited but sadly, we do not have a good custom in preservation. Like in Butuan, the unearthed balanghai was left scattered around. These are bits and pieces of our being a nation, a part of our proud past yet it remained just a remnant. But unlike in Butuan where there is a very passionate museum curator who explains what the materials being exhibited are, Legazpi Museum is just a storehouse of old things but with no historical explanation of its relevance in the making of the province. Except for the fact that Gen. Paua and Vito Belarmino, the historical figures I was memorizing before are Bicolanos (they might be good lovers, perhaps?hehe) led the Battle of Legazpi against the Spaniards.

October 29

I woke up early. Despite the drizzle, I jogged to Daraga Church and marvel at the majestic view of Mayon. Mt. Mayon is indeed Daragang Magayon (Beautiful maiden) that enchants every tourist looking at it. The Daraga church is made of Baroque architecture and is now undergoing renovation. It is one of a kind historical site and these old churches are the influences of our Spanish colonizers. You will be amazed by the stone details at the belfry. Daraga Church was constructed as another place for worship when the Cagsawa Church was buried after the 1814 eruption. The church is being renovated but I’m afraid it will be cemented and lose its unique design. I was told that it must obtain the permit from the National Historical Institute’s permit and the city permit but the parish failed to do so.

While jogging around the church, I met the Living Asia crew filming the area.. They were guided by Mr. Luis Santos from Legazpi Vice Mayor’s office. He asked me where I came from. I tol him I'm from South Cotabato. And the perennial question was asked. "Muslim ka?" Ugh.It's not that I do not like being called as Muslim but it just shows how Mindanao is being defined by religion and the connotations associated with the word. So I have to explain a little of geography and Mindanao history. That Mindanao is a big island rich in natural resources and it has no single religion. Then one of the crew of Living Asia joined us and asked me what I was doing in Bicol. To explore the place. I told him, And probably apply in Living Asia. haha! I want his job. :D

October 30

It’s raining hard since last night. I didn’t make the planned jogging to Lignon Hill. I just slept, and watched the TV the whole day together with my nephew. Such a couch potato!


Jogging to Lignon Hill. It’s like hiking to top of Shrine Hills in Matina with the breathtaking view of Mayon.

Then by 10AM, my sister, Nonoy my nephew and I went to Cagsawa Church. I am amazed by the children/ tour guide who know the tricks in picture taking. They are the masters of perspective photography!

L-R. Jomar (10 years old), Loida (12 y.o) and Agua (11 y.o)

November 1

I was kind of bored. It’s raining hard again and my feet itches. I want to travel. My sister cannot accompany me in long travels. She’s eight-month pregnant already. So I decided to pack my bag and took the bus. Where to? To Camarines Sur Watersports Complex (CWC)! The famous watersports complex manned by the provincial government and where Aga Muhlach is a regular 'wakeboarder' (are they called as such? hehe)

All I know is CWC is at Pili, Camsur but I forgot to tell the conductor to help me out. I fell asleep and before I knew it, I was already in Naga City! Great. So I have to take the bus again back to Pili. But I was never afraid. I was laughing knowing how fool I was. At this time, I keep on badgering the conductor to drop me off at CWC.

CWC is a huge complex within the Provincial Capitol. There are many foreigners and families enjoying the holiday, trying to balance on the plank of wood (sorry I'm not good at describing this sports). I took the beginner’s ride and was told to try the neophyte’s lessons at Wynch Park. So together with Aldrin, April and Trixie (my new acquaintances from Manila) we took the shuttle and tried the lessons. Wakeboarding looks easy but boy, it’s difficult to keep your balance on water on a board with huge slip-on slippers. Our group were laughing hard because we cannot make it up to the end. So we lowered our goal of even making it just at the middle yet we could not make it! After 4 try-outs still semplang!

Then there was this group of foreigners, ‘professional wakeboarders’, who approached Kuya Angelo, the operator that they wanted to use the nearby place to play. But they didn’t make any prior arrangements so they have to wait for the next day. But they keep on insisting that they are professionals and they want to have an exclusive use of the ‘pool’. If they can’t open the other pool, they are asking to use our pool instead. The nerve to demand! One parent was pissed off. He told them off to follow the procedure and they do not own the place. And they cannot demand to use our pool since we are customers too. The gall of the 'professionals'! tsk!

It’s already 4pm. I initially planed to spend the night in Camsur but I am having second thoughts. CWC’s cabana houses are quite expensive. So I decided to go back to Daraga, Albay and passed by Nabua, Camsur’s Church instead. I saw from one album of a friend in FB that the stained glass are quite amazing. It's good to end the day at the church. But traveling back, there were many people coming home from the cemetery and it started to rain again. I decided not to stop at Nabua. Then I realized, I could have went to Naga City and spent the night there and visit the old churches. However, the time (read: MONEY!) was too limited.

My sister was shocked I went home since I told her that I’ll be on a road trip. But hell, I still have many things to buy. My boss just texted me for an abaca bag with specification. Haha!

November 2

I went back to Cagsawa Ruins just walking from Daraga to Camalig! Beat that! I thought it's just near. I have to be physically active since I am eating a lot! I love anything that has coconut milk and Bicol’s food just suites my palate. I am devouring any food. And oh, if you decided to drop by Bicol, try Graceland’s bestseller- Special Bicol Express. It will just cost you P79 for a taste of heaven. 

I bought abaca bags, sandals, chili cellphone accessory, and t-shirts as pasalubongs for friends and bosses. Then, I went all by myself to Kapuntukan Hill and Embarcadero. Kapuntukan Hill also known as the Sleeping Lion (aerial view) is being developed like Manila's Baywalk. Embarcadero (Spanish word for embark) is a mall like the Mall of Asia (MOA). This place is good for jogging and for lovers. :D

View of Mayon from Embarcadero.

November 3

It’s my ate’s birthday! And she woke up at the wrong side of the bed. I planned to jog around Embarcadero and take a snapshot of Mt. Mayon and buy flowers and cake as a surprise for her. But the night before, my nephew’s yaya did not come back and my ate’s mad. So it’s bad start of the day and I am tasked to be the yaya for the day. What a wonderful way to start my last day here!

Later in the evening, she decided she would not be affected. We had our shared dinner together with the neighbors and relatives of her husband.


November 4

Travel back to Manila. My flight from Legazpi- Manila was delayed for about 30minutes. I met Mrs. Maria Teresa Anson, a widow who loves to travel. She just went home to Legazpi to visit her husband’s grave then she’ll be going to Bangkok to her eldest daughter to help care for her grandchildren. We had a long talk about enjoying youth, traveling and loving oneself. She told me to find a partner who shares my love for exploring new places. I will Ms. Anson. I hope I can write a good love story just like yours. :)

As we were about to board, there was this couple who went first at the line. My seatmate tapped by shoulder and whispered, ‘di ba artista yan? Si Mateo?” I looked up from my the book I’m reading, their backs on me so I can’t say for sure so I just shrugged. Falling line, that’s where I had a good look and the couple previously pointed out is Maja Salvador and Mateo Guidecilli. I love Mateo before when he's still on the race track. He seems out-of-reach. As one friend said, "mas mailap, mas nakakaexcite." haha!

My flight back to Davao is at 7pm and I arrived at NAIA 3 at 1230pm. I have a long 5-hour waiting period. Good thing, Nina Quibod came all the way from Laguna and accompanied me in killing time.

She decided not to work just to be with me. As she said,"Madaling kitain ang pera, ang totoong kabigan mahirap makita" (It's easy to earn money, but difficult to find a true friend). aawww! Such a sweet friend. 

My flight got delayed by an hour and half. I arrived in Davao at around 10:30PM. Just opened my phone and there were two invitations to party. I don’t want to favor one party and I am suffering from cough and colds. After dropping off my luggage at my place, I went to Radiance Massage for ventosa and whole body massage. And the masseuse and I were laughing every time the cups on my back were removed. So many ‘air’. That’s the price I have to pay for being such a lakwatsera. 

If I have to summarize my whole trip in photo(s), it ends to this:

My Plane tickets and the ventosa massage! =)


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