Saturday, May 28, 2005

Going to Pandan Island, Sablayan Drop-off

After another dusty ride on a seemingly endless gravel road from Mamburao, we finally set foot again on concrete road and I gathered we were finally in the town of Sablayan – our destination as far as the bus ride was concerned. Finally!

I literally jumped out of the bus when my companion asked the driver to stop and let us off!

Okay, for ease of prose, let us try to name names here. Let us call my companion who had relatives in Sablayan as Sheila. Our other companion, a common friend is the ever jolly and lively Barry. Okay?!

Well, Sheila had txtd and called her cousin (actually Aunt) to inform her that we were already in the town of Sablayan. We were much at ease calling her a cousin of Sheila’s than an aunt since she is just about our age. Let’s call her Mameng. She is the daughter of Manang Bidang who is a sister of one of Sheila’s grandparents. So Mameng is actually the first cousin of one of Sheila’s parents. Okay? Enough!

Mameng came rushing on a spanking new REVO to fetch us by the roadside! Of course before hopping into the vehicle, we three had to vigorously pat ourselves to let the thick dust off. Her first words were, “ay kayo lang?” “Asan ang iba?” They were expecting about 8 of us since that was the plan.

Anyway, as it was already high-noon with the sun mightily heating up everything, Mameng drove us to a restaurant near the town plaza. Memory is failing me for the name of that restaurant. It’s a spacious place generally made of native materials like bamboo and nipa. Quite a standard restaurant – unassuming even! But the food was something that made us forget the gruelling experience we had for the past 15 hours with virtually no sleep. Anywhere in the world and in any situation, there must be great food on the table for me to be able to finish three cups of rice. Here, I don’t know where all my four and a half cups of rice went. Grabe!

The fish tinola was so good. It had just a bit of sourness enough for my tastebuds, unlike those that can be found in Manila where you’d think the fish was in an ascorbic acid soup! The fish was obviously fresh – the meat was still firm and I could still discern its fats or oils whatever. We did have other fares on the table like mongo, chop-suey and pork. But the tinola just caught my attention. I literally sipped all of the sabaw direct from its serving bowl. My badness! I even got physically exhausted eating all that I wanted!

After a few minutes rest, we had to get moving for Pandan Island. So we headed to Mameng’s house for her to get some things, get a cousin to drive us to the departure area and for Sheila to say hello to the family. While there, Mameng presented to us a bunch of about 8 (probably ten) live crabs and a bagful of prawns! All eyes grew big! We immediately realized we were going to have a grand dinner at the island! There were of course Bananas and some other fruits plus an already cooked chop-suey!

Next we drove off to the palengke to buy some fish that we planned to grill for dinner at the island. At midday, there were not too many choices, Mameng cautioned us, but when we arrived at the market, what fish remaining to be “left-overs” could still be considered prime catch anywhere in Metro Manila. We saw a talakitok weighed in at 6 kilograms. Other fishes were about as big or just a little bit smaller. I mused that this place did not probably like eating smaller fish like galunggong! And, probably because Mameng was with us, we got the big fish at just sixty pesos per kilo from the original seventy! If we bought that in Manila, that would surely have been about P160 per kilo!

And off to the final leg of our Pandan Trip we were!

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