Monday, April 25, 2005

Oh Batanes! - A Better Nightlife

Our “heavy” meal under the moon and the stars was a fine dinner like no other! The resort’s crews were clever enough to have turned-off our cottage “outside lights” – so that the candle-lit dinner table had a more fabulous feel! AND, as we had fun recalling the day’s activities and talking about the various sights we have encountered so far, dinner progressed into a “social drinking session”. We had beer from the resort’s bar and of course tequila that we brought along from Manila!

Before I divulge our “drinking session”, let me first set the tone of how the night was in Basco! Electricity is “turned-off” at about midnight – not by the various households and establishments but by the power company itself! So imagine the whole town being pitch-dark every night. But many houses and of course the resorts do have their own generator sets if there would be a need for them to have electric power until the wee hours. Our resort rooms thankfully did not have radios or television sets! Otherwise we would have been huddled watching CNN or GMA-7 instead of the fun that we had outside of our cottage. Batanes Resort does follow what the power plant dictates. So when power is cut, everyone who needs to be up have to equip themselves with candles and/or flashlights!

Thus, we started dinner with electricity on, and ended the night without it. But we liked it!

Look what I saw. After two decades (yes, 20 years!), this was an only chance for me to see a tree glittering with hundreds (probably even thousands) of fireflies. And this was right beside our cottage! However, as the evening grew deeper into the night, the winds probably blew a bit more harshly for the fireflies to manage, so they went off to somewhere only them fireflies would know!

Even with the fireflies gone, it was still such a lovely “first-night” in Basco. The sea beyond was shimmering under the bright moon. The plants and grass would occasionally flicker – probably that was the cold air condensing into dew-drops and caught by the moon’s glow. Well, for once we had to bring out our wind gear. While the gusts were actually just fine blowing on my short hair, it carried with it a lightly biting cold probably from the hills. But the tequila kept us warm, so we stayed on, all six of us just chatting and trading funny stories – with jackets and windbreakers on.

The waiters and waitresses were not the only visitors we had to receive during that fine night as we lounged under the stars. First, there was a quiet little visitor we named “mingming” – a brownish golden cat probably owned by the resort crews (since this place is rather far from any residential abode). This is a normal “pusakal” (pusang kalye). At first mingming was playfully romping by the pathways to the various cottages trying to catch insects. Then it probably smelled the sea foods we had on our table so it came near us and just sat about five feet away looking curiously at us. When this cat was already the topic of our conversation, I called on him/her(whatever) and offered a cut from my sashimi. Mingming instantly devoured the fresh tuna. However, I forgot that I already dipped the fish in my kikoman heavy with wasabe. Thus, in no time we saw the poor little thing shaking its head vigorously as if trying to dislodge something that did not feel right out from its head. We instantly knew it was the biting taste of wasabe. To make amends, I offered mingming other servings of the grilled fish and other fares we had – except of course the tequila and beer!

As mingming stayed on under our table, sometimes brushing its body between my legs, we noticed we had other visitors by the edge of the hill just beside our cottage. We called them “mother-goat” and “baby-goat”! Both were colored black so we did not see them lounging or probably preparing to sleep near us! We just noticed them when the eyes of the little baby goat reflected the moonlight which for an instant looked like a devious animal lurking in the shadows. Mother goat was laid on her side just watching us and her pup, while baby goat was running around in all directions but never going too far from its mom. We tried giving them food but the resort crew told us not to, lest they be used to descending upon the cottages. Both goats could not actually easily jump to us since that part of the hill was a deep cut to make way for the wall that fronted our cottage. We just watched them resting there at about the height of our cottage roof, for we knew that, one false move from baby goat would have sent her down to the concrete pathway about nine feet below mother goat! Nothing happened! Mother goat, thus also her baby goat stayed there right above us! We mused that them goats probably found it wise to rest near the cottages for it was warmer than up in the hill where only grass grows.

Well then, relishing the cool gusts, under the moonlight with no cellular phones, television or radio, and just drinking our favorite drinks… this was such a splendid way to spend the night. We were truly with nature!

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