Wednesday, April 1, 2015

My Tuguegarao Arrival

Excitingly hot! The "excited" part was me (c'mon, it has been decades since I've been to this place and I can't even recall how I got here then), while the "hot" part was the clime. Yeah, literally a scorchingly hot and humid noontime! But I didn't mind the 'hot'. Excitement took rein!

How do you like emerging from an Airbus A320 to a sizzling 39 degrees celcius at 12:47PM (yes, high noon)? It felt like it was 45 or even more degrees! Well, even the crews made faces as that aircraft door was opened. The heat really gets into your face (and nerves) hehe. But, I didn't mind. I was all too eager to step unto the Tuguegarao grounds for a heat stroke!

I whispered "noontime, empty stomach, very hot day, so.., don't anyone mess with me"! Ahhehehe, that was actually my self-reminder, to keep extra cool, calm and collected!

Yes, I was cool and collected. But calm? Ah, I think not really! Because I was excitedly grinning and smiling at just about anyone I met! Anyway, let's see some of the snaps I took along the way, going to my hotel.

Emerging from the arrival area, I turned back to see this view from their parking lot.

Surprised to see people outside the building on a hot noon! There are trees, at least!

Even drivers hub under the shade of another tree. They were having a caucus hehe!

The view from inside my hotel's limousine service - tricycles waiting for passengers.

Exit is where that white AUV (in the middle of picture) is about to turn - to the right.

Nice to see that blue billboard. Am going there tomorrow, so those became my choices!

A nice vehicle. Am not sure if I should call this a van? Only 7-seater with a tall ceiling and not commonly seen in this country. Then again, Sta. Ana is just near this city!

Alright, speeding out of the airport, I get to see the streets of Tuguegarao once again...

I think we did not turn right at that corner. Or maybe we did but went for another route to the city. Its a busy highway and the driver probably took a longer but quicker route.

See? Where we passed, it was almost always a solo-flight on the road! Hey, that yellow signage on the left says "Genaro's Grill & Special Bibingka", listed in my "places to see"!

This got me a bit alarmed, military-clad men with guns either walking or running.

Ay sus! Good my driver told me they are police trainees, and those are wooden toy-guns! Another combat exercise said the driver as there's a police/military academy in Tuguegarao. Hmm, interesting topic! Urban combat practice? Whohoa!

Before we turned right, the driver pointed to me that its a new bridge-in-the-making.

I surmised that must be a big river since the bridge looks rather "major"!

And there are the military men training again. Yeah, they looked exhausted!

Oh, Hotel Joselina on the left side of the road! Its listed in my Tuguegarao choices. But this time I was going Hotel Roma as suggested (reserved) by a friend. Maybe next time.

Oops, at this pint of my wonderful way to city center, the phone rang, and it was the boss of bosses calling. Argh! I had to answer, so I wasn't able to capture any more pics along the way. Until I was inside my room at Hotel Roma. But let's talk about that later.

For a chronology of this trip's stories, click these numbers:
01   02   03   04   05   06   07   08   09   10
11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20

Tablet Check-in: Cebu Pacific

8:33AM this morning, amidst the throng and the din at NAIA Terminal 3, a Cebu Pacific employee walked up to me and asked if I had any luggage. I said "none", and she asked me about my flight details. I asked why (thinking she would direct me to a counter but..), she said "I will check you in sir"! And I said something like "ows?!" as I looked at that thing on her left hand - a tablet!

So I gave my details, showed her my ID and she tapped on that thing, voila! That strip of paper came out from that other gadget hanging on her pocket - my boarding pass!
Just like that. Yeah, ganun lang!

I am no gadget freak, but, this was the first time I encountered such a thing - even if I travel almost every week - and yes, I was fascinated. Nice one, Lance! Nice one!

For a chronology of this trip's stories, click these numbers:
01   02   03   04   05   06   07   08   09   10
11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20

Yo Again!

Alrightie folksie folks! Your PT may have been away for some century or two haha! But I assure you, that was just the show-and-tell part that went silent. Yep, the blogging, I mean. But the travelin has never ceased. It was just because of this damn pesky thing called "work". Argh! It really gets in the way into my telling writing about my travels. But stories are soon to come... so hang in here folks! Your PT is still alive and really kicking after all!

I suppose I'd be good to re-start with my notes on a revisit to Region 2. This time as an adult, tourist, and a blogger! (Yey)! I really wanna start telling... so, let's start.

Ah! I guess this will be another series of stories, so watch-out for the blog entry numbers below.
For a chronology of this trip's stories, click these numbers:
01   02   03   04   05   06   07   08   09   10
11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Tacloban Rice Cakes etc.

Am not sure if they had been in this place before Yolanda, but these days, they are such a jolly, not to mention tasty place to visit during early mornings.

This is not your usual rows of delicacy vendors along Zamora St. These ladies are at the entrance of a building in the Tacloban public market.

Those are "puto" in a multitude of colores! But, I like the “ira-id”!

Friday, July 18, 2014

“Sensationalistly” Untrue!

The caption in that picture, I mean. Not necessarily the article about the evacuees, that actually seems to be unrelated, in the first place. I saw this “news” on the July 17, 2014 issue of The Freeman – a local daily with large circulation in the Visayas.

Let me quote the caption:
”A 6-wheeler van, loaded with relief goods for Ormoc City, turned to its side at the Maharlika Highway near sitio Lemon in Barangay Pinamopoan of Capoocan town in Leyte during the height of typhoon Glenda. The truck driver and his truckman were seriously injured. MEL CASPE”.

Here are what I know:
1) On July 13, 2014 about 430PM this truck was already like so (pictured above) as I passed by the area on a trip from Ormoc to Tacloban. Therefore, that incident must have occurred earlier than this time/date. Yep, earlier than 430PM of July 13, 2014!

2) On July 14, 2014 about 330PM this truck was still there (see my picture below) as I was traveling from Tacloban to Ormoc. There was another big truck (behind) – probably to help salvage whatever contents of this truck were still there or probably to even tow it to stand and run again - whatever. I did see some men bantering in between the 2 trucks amidst cases and cases of Coke – yeah, too many red plastic cases for a snack! Fairly sunny day with clouds in these areas (13th & 14th July)

3) Typhoon Glenda made landfall only on July 15, 2014! Here was the forecast
It did not even hit Samar but instead went a little bit up (Bicol).

So, why does that newspaper article say “during the height of typhoon Glenda”? Hmm, that MEL CASPE in the caption means the dude who took the picture and/or the one who submitted the ‘news’ to their Cebu offices, right? He/She should be grounded in his/her bedroom for a week. Not doing assignments properly! Bad boy/girl!

Here’s more:
That truck faces north, and down towards Capoocan (this is a mountain area). Therefore its ‘behind’ is facing south (which is Kanangga and further to Ormoc). If, according to the dyaryo, this truck was bound for Ormoc, a fantabulously unbelievably miraculous incident must have taken place before this thing finally rested on its side!

It must have pirouetted on its heels or made a back-summersault for it to lie down like that facing north – IF INDEED it was on its way to Ormoc, which is south! No no no, it couldn’t have done a “drift” like we can do with sedans, because – 1)  this is such a big and long truck, 2) that is a narrow highway with a ridge on the left and a hill to the right, and 3) this part of the road is a steep climb from north heading south. And, if the caption is really true (that it was loaded with relief goods for Ormoc), all the more that it cannot just tumble back to face away from Ormoc!

Another thing:
Lemon is itself another Barangay of Capoocan, just like Pinamopoan, di ba? But the Maharlika Highway does not pass by any part of Barangay Pinamopoan if you were going to Ormoc from Tacloban. It is after Barangay Lemon if you were going to Biliran!

Anyway, no real harm done to the reading public, right? Just a reminder for us common folks, that these reporters could twist their facts, just so an otherwise simple accident will be sensational to make our chinky eyes grow wide. In this case, walang kinalaman si Glenda at hindi papuntang Ormoc ang truck na yan!

To this MEL CASPE, I say, upaya gad mano/mana, kubuton ko im paa!

Oh well… Happy 95th Anniversary to The Freeman.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

8-Ounce or Sakto?

Listen up my fellow Coke addicts. This was such a fun and funny discovery!

I asked for Coke 8oz as I was devouring a delectable fried pork belly at this fastfood. This bottle was what appeared on my table but I sipped immediately anyway!

Me: Manang, sabi ko 8-ounce, Sakto itong ibinigay mo
Manang: oo sakto gyud, 8-ounce na dong
Me: Asuuus, nagpalusot si Manang! (and I asked for extra rice)

When she returned with my extra cup of rice, she also brought an unopened bottle of the usual “Coke 8oz” that many of us are familiar with. Beaming with pride like an elementary school teacher, this jolly manang pointed to me the contents label…

And I really took a closer look at the two bottles! Yeah, looks can deceive...

Whadyathink? Oh, here's a clearer view...

Later in the afternoon I passed by a carinderia and asked for “Coke Sakto”. Here it is, the usual “Sakto” that all of us know. It says 200mL.

Okay, my lips are sealed now. Ah, make that both feet in the mouth hahaha. Thanks to Manang, I learned something new today!

Oh well… the world is such a big classroom!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Buenos Aires (Victoria) to Allen, then Calbayog

I went to Allen but not to roam yet. I just needed a ride to Calbayog from Victoria - best way to do this is to depart from Allen which is only 5 minutes away from Buenos Aires - even if it backtracks! Why so? Because vans (fastest means) are usually already full when departing from Allen - the station of origin. So it will be 'luck in a million' for you to catch a ride along the route. Besides, Grand Tours is a terminal-to-terminal kind of service, the fare is still P100 to Calbayog, whether you ride at Allen or Victoria.
Original plan was: the 1PM Grand Tours van would pick me up at ‘Spice of Life’ at Buenos Aires beach (this was pre-arranged as early as yesterday via a friend in Allen). How does that work? Well, the reserved seat (paid) is left empty on departure from Allen - where the reserved passenger joins 5 minutes later along the way. Now you know, right? Convenient!

But I could not find lunch in Buenos Aires where I was supposed to wait for the van! So, as mentioned in the previous story and the first paragraph above, I instead took a trike to the van terminal in Allen itself! Its just 5 minutes by tricycle, and at minimum fare! Then looked for food somewhere there. It was not as if I was looking for anything grand of a lunch. Fine if turo-turo style, as long as I had somewhere cozy to sit and (preferably) watch people etc. go by. On a regular Tuesday, Buenos Aires is too quiet for this to materialize :)

So, to Allen I went!

I saw this... (I knew it was there, but I did not anymore take a peep):
Wayang-wayang Beach Resort is just a short walk away from Spice of Life (about 500 or so meters). Its like this… Spice of Life is in Barangay Buenos Aires - the northernmost in the town of Victoria that is by the boundary with Barangay Jubasan - the southernmost of the town of Allen, where Wayang-wayang Resort sits! They are practically neighbors.

On hindsight though, I should have tried having lunch at Wayang-wayang and waited for my van while there! It looks like it has a well appointed restaurant! But my biases caused me to skip this resort. I know (from pictures) that Wayang-wayang, although a nice place, does not have a real sandy beach. It’s more of a breakwater, dumped with sand on top, to make it appear like it is still “the” beach. Just like how it is at Mactan's Imperial Palace.

Anyway, like the travel from Victoria town center to Buenos Aires, this trip from Buenos Aires to Allen was also along a picturesque shoreline (still with a view of San Antonio and Capul. Thankfully I rode on a tricycle for that maximum unrestricted view and breezy feel!

Now this, was my destination in Allen!
Definitely the most ‘unmodern’ of Grand Tours' terminals. But I like this big old house, obviously an interesting thing from the past that soon will be replaced with a modernistic concrete building – whether by Grand Tours or its owners. Unless this transport company finds somewhere more worthwhile as a station!

I proceeded to their counters, told them I had reservation on Seat No. 2 of their 1PM Calbayog trip and that I was the one to be picked up at Spice Of Life Resort in Buenos Aires. Hmm, seeing that Seat No. 1 was still free, I took it too, so I could place my backpack on it, and me, comfy!

Buenos Aires Beach, Victoria

This was my real destination in Victoria. I’ve heard from some friends that this place has a fine white beach, not as long as Boracay’s though wonderful enough they say!

I even already knew where to go from Victoria town center: ride a jeep, tricycle or habal-habal going Allen, and get off at Spice Of Life Beach Resort! Oh ha, prepared!
How easy? Well, I was not even at that intersection yet, as I walked from the Victoria Park, and I already saw a tricycle that stopped to wait for me. I ran so as not to keep his other passengers waiting and I immediately took the seat behind Manong Driver. When he asked where I was going, I just said “Spice Of Life”. He nodded, off we went!

This is a picturesque run. The highway traces the northwestern Samar shoreline...
San Antonio can be seen along the way. That haze of an island at the back is Capul!

And hey, I even knew if "I was there yet"! As the trike made its final right turn from the main barrio of Buenos Aires, I held my camera up to get ready for what I expected – a series of resorts beside each other until Spice Of Life! Got these…

Suddenly – yes suddenly because I did not expect it yet (I was still enjoying the views as we breezed through this row of resorts along the Maharlika Highway), Manong Driver stopped and told me “Spice Of Life na”! Awrk?! I paid P12 and faced that white wall…
I had to check where would entrance be to this a la Santorini wall and gate :)
What a “big” signage hehe. But nifty I guess. Or maybe “classy”? Whatever hahaha. So I entered the open wooden gate where two hairy dogs promptly snarled ready to bark at My Royal Highness. But the two Manangs (one seated on the floor by the door, the other on a chair also by the door) restrained them with a loud reprimanding “NO”!

Okay, the dogs 'subsided', though I could still hear some muffed "grrrrr" on the side. But it was time for me to bark, aw speak, so I asked the Manangs “open kayo?” to which the one seated on the floor answered with a witty “nakapasok ka na nga sa gate, so open kami” and they made a high-five as they giggled. I just thought “ka mga pikat hin nga kalagsan” and I instantly knew I was going to like it here!

I asked “where is your restaurant”? That made them quiet for a moment, until one recovered to say “ah we don’t have, its weekday” (hmm, English ha?!). Mind started racing, plan destroyed! I envisioned myself sitting at a breezy restaurant, feet up another chair, as I waited for my van to pick me up. Argh! I still asked where I can have lunch in this place. And the other lola told me there’s a “batsoyan” by the road!

Now that complicated things… My Royal Highness eating at a “batsoyan” somewhere along the highway when the Grand Tours van (pre-arranged via the friend/guide yesterday) would be passing by this gate to pick me up still at 1PM? No can do! Had to think for the best option that won’t undermine my objective – to see the beach. Looked at the time, it was only 10:21AM, still too far away from 1:00 o’clock! Thus..,

I asked them if I may instead just go down to see the beach without renting any day-use cottage. One said “aw okay” while the other said “of course, but bring your bag” (in English again!). That as the two dogs still continued their audible “grrr” and one even already sniffing my legs! I was short of dropping my backpack on its head.

But, I was gone to the beach in no time!

This is THE Beach! Looking left from Spice of Life’s stairs:

The right side view…

Walked down to the water's edge and took another left-and-right pair of shots:
What can I say, definitely better than anywhere in San Antonio that I have seen!

What happened next? Well, I walked and sat anywhere I wanted. I was literally the only human being on this beach! I did not even have to pay for a day-use cottage as that would have been impractical - BUT - I could sit, slump or even slumber just about anywhere! The two manangs at Spice of Life even informed me that I could ask the women in those little houses behind the cottages to cook lunch for me, and they’d surely let me use one of their cottages to eat my meal at.

But I had a better idea… stay doing nothing in this place as long as I can possibly do, go to have lunch anywhere in Allen, then just surprise the Grand Tours people by telling them “I am here, so no need to pick me up at Spice Of Life”! Ganun!

This was The Life! Just sitting around, talking to a dog, looking far at the horizon...
See that lonely little hut in the middle of the sand? Well, I had a good idea... placed my back pack there, and I darted to the cool waters for a swim! Hindi talaga mapigilan!

Let’s describe this beach more:

  • It is not a very long stretch of white sandy beach, just about half a kilometer long. But, fantastic enough for as many busloads as one can imagine! Because...
  • There are no fences anywhere to divide the shore, unlike at San Antonio. So, one can walk the whole stretch, as I did.
  • The resorts lining the road do have fences - concrete even - but only on their property lines. Not on the beach which is a public area.
  • Day-use cottages down at the shore are also side by side with each other, you just have to check who owns them so you can settle your payments.
  • There is a structure at the northern end of the sand but it does not look like a resort. At least you'll know there is nothing more to see beyond that.
  • I saw dark patches on the water in front of this beach's southern end. That probably means its a good snorkeling area, just like over at EWP.
  • The base of the beach sand is the finest I have seen in Samar so far - esp at its northern half. Almost, but not really as fine as Boracay. The southern end is topped with natural coraline gravel, but just the same also fine at the bottom.
  • There are residential houses in between some of the resorts. You can pass there going to the beach if you don't want to go inside a resort first before the beach.
  • It's not really "Spice of Life Beach". It is Buenos Aires (bwe-nos ai-res), the name of the barangay where this beach is located. Well, Spice of Life is one of the more prominent resorts in the whole stretch.
Something that San Antonio should emulate!

In fact, if you were looking for a wonderful beach, why go through all the hassle of crossing to the island when you have Buenos Aires, right here on mainland? Just a few steps from the Maharlika Highway! I am even now thinking of holding my next team event here, instead of the island! Logistically easier pa!

Alright, I stayed around sitting walking standing or clicking pictures for a happy though short-lived 40 minutes. At exactly 11:01AM, I hastened to go to Allen.

Quite obviously… MacArthur! (I Shall Return)! Promise!

For a chronology of this trip's stories, click these numbers:
01   02   03   04   05   06   07   08   09   10
11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20

Visiting Victoria

Victoria who? Or Victoria where? Definitely not the one in British Columbia (Canada) and not even that populous state in Australia. I have had enough of Melbourne during my younger years hehe. Those places cannot be here – see this blog’s title!

This Victoria I visited is a seaside town in Northern Samar that is the most common jump-off point to/from the Islands of San Antonio and Capul. And, I just came from San Antonio (I passed here 2 days ago), now about to end my 3Days2Nites lalaag!

Alright, not that I have wanted to see this place (center of town) for any particular reason but I was already there, so I told myself, maybe I should roam a bit and see whatever. I already saw the roof of their church even as my boat from San Antonio approached, so I thought I’d go see it – who knows, it could just be another Capul!

Well, I reached it, and this is their church as seen from the street:
That’s why I saw its top portion from the sea, because this church is on some kind of a mound or hill whatever! Definitely not anywhere near like that of Capul. But, ah my lowly brain was tickled a number of times by this otherwise so-so kind of church!

Example? I was silently giggling as I imagined how this town brings their dead inside that church during funeral masses! Like, of course the funeral limousines can/may not go up that way as it could careen down to the street and across to a residential house! Ayayay! Or, the car’s dear “cargo” might slide out and skid down to the street! Ayiyiyiiiii! Kalain!

Or if they used the parlors’ funeral biers, the dead might end up crouched inside the casket after ascending that steep rampway hahaha!

So, I imagined, they must carry the casket of their dear departed going up that church. Tall people at the back please, or else the dead might just the same curl down on its knees at the lower portion of the coffin where there is no viewing glass! And when opened at the altar, people might think he/she disappeared. Patay! Katakot hahahaha!

Actually, I thought a hearse could probably drive up to that space (see arrow) in front of the ‘front main entrance’. However, when up there, I noticed the area is too narrow.
I realized the pavement also slopes down to the perimeter fence, behind which is immediately the roof of a residential house. No can do! The funeral car might topple sideways, or the corpse might end up lying on its side parang natutulog ahhhehehe!
Anyway, for “safety purposes” – for both the dead and alive (plus vehicles), I thought they all should be fine with using pallbearers – tall ones at the back or else, hehehe!

Let’s drop the ‘dead-talk’ or I could die laughing!

But I liked it that this church is bright and airy inside...
Look at the sides. Open, thus the fresh air everywhere!

Hey, take a look at that picture one more time. Right corner by the blue cloth! Ah, that made me smile (nostalgia?). That thing is a very familiar equipment to me hehe.

Okay, highlighted below… in my time we called it OHP!
Yep Over Head Projector of ‘centuries ago’ hahaha! When I started as trainer ‘centuries ago’, that kind of thing was my main ‘armas de fuego’ in every training session I conducted. Gosh, those years, how I would lug that big an equipment here and abroad – yeah, even as far as HNL, LAX, LON or BNE! And the pesky thing had to be handcarried to ensure the glass top and the light-bulb won’t break. Ahhhehehe, those years! Long before they were replaced by that carousel thing called “slide projector” and the more interesting “opaque projectors”, long before Powerpoint and the LCD/DLP projectors dominated earth! And OMG WOW, they still use OHP here! Whoa!

Gives me an idea. Why not we make a round of metropolis companies about to throw their OHPs. Then let's give to rural areas. If this church still uses that legacy equipment, am sure others at hinter-areas do not even have one. Hmm, good idea.

The altar… nice and simple…
And then a big voice boomed behind me (I almost jumped in surprise), in a tone that seemed to be accosting: “Excuse me, kasama ka ba nung grupo kahapon”? So, I turned around, looked at the white-haired man speaking, shook my head, and said “hindi po”. I instantly knew from his look and stance he must have been a priest.

And as if without hearing me say “hindi po”, he continued with a sermon telling me that the group that was here yesterday, about 10 of them, opened all the church lights and electric fans, then left without turning all of them off, and blah blah blah, that it was very inconsiderate, that it was too irresponsible, blah, blah, blah”.

I was actually already feeling irked why he was as if lambasting me when I already told him I was not part of that group. Irritating why he was telling me these when I did not and could not care any bit. Labot ko, di ba? But as a courtesy, I listened to him and even if I already wanted to go out of this place - because he was in my way!

AND THEN, when he felt he was done with his yadadadada, he made a very stern instruction saying “sabihin mo sa kanila pag nakita mo” and left me alone in the middle of the church irritatingly bewildered. All in my mind was “tangina nito, magtataray na lang, barking at the wrong tree pa”! Yes, I was inside a church but I really sincerely thought of telling him ‘tangina mo, bakit ako tinatalakan mo, anong pakialam ko sa mga hinanakit mo”!

Feelings aside, the process reviewer in me started ticking… why would he think a lone visitor to his church be incidentally part of 10 people who visited yesterday… Ano, bumalik yung isa? Bakit, is there something fantabulous to be seen or witnessed here that one in a group need come back? Priests are taught deductive thinking in college/seminary, right? This priest was obviously sleeping during that lesson. Besides, it is statistically highly improbable that one in a touring group would come back! Then again, he does not probably even know what statistics is.

Ah, naghahanap lang ng mapagbubuntungan ng hininga ang vakla na yan hahaha!

One last look at the OHP, this time from the right side extension.
Hmm, the pews here are smaller and dilapidating!

I went out of this church rolling my eyeballs hahaha, so I went to a corner store and asked for Coke – to make me happy again, ahhhh! And as I stood there guzzling the cold bottle of soda, I saw this “Rev. Fr. Taray” again, getting ready to go wherever.
That's him loading a case of empty bottles on his “ford fiera” and still pouting! Tse!

Anyway, I earlier asked that boy what is the best way walking to their municipal hall. His quick reply was something like ‘just go straight, follow me, then turn left over at the end near the pantalan’. I did follow (he walks very fast), but caught up with him when he passed by one house and talked a bit with someone in there.

As we walked together, I asked this boy why he was not in school. He smiled and told me he has to finish a school project and was on the way to a classmate's house so they can work on it. Indicatively bright boy, btw. He did not even talk Waray to me, even if I did. All his replies were either in Tagalog or English. And he was quick to say “you are welcome sir, my pleasure po” when I thanked him! So, I turned left here.

This is their Munucipal Hall…
Hah, I perspired on this midmorning walk even if it was just about 500 meters. Because I had to keep up with that boy who walked like an adjutant hehe. Fun!

This one is not a residence, it’s their “legislative building”

Their multi-purpose building...

And I loved looking at this park. Grand! Yes, aptly named Victoria Park. Sosyal!

The Maharlika Highway is just a few more steps to the right. So, I headed there to wait for a ride to Allen. Why?

Because my real destination was a beach! Jaw-dropping! But let’s do that next!

For a chronology of this trip's stories, click these numbers:
01   02   03   04   05   06   07   08   09   10
11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20