Thursday, July 24, 2008

Laoag Arrival

Interesting "touchdown"! As the bus sped through some lovely early-morning sights of the countryside, I gathered from Mack that we were already in Ilocos Sur. Yey! There were snippets of the sea to our left while faint sunlight slowly revealed foggy, misty plains and mountains to the right. For whatever it was, I caught myself catching a very deep breath and exhaling with a muted sigh. Was I excited? Probably!


Our bus made its last “stop-over” at a clean and
new building with a big pasalubong store called Marsha’s. While lighting up my MarlLights, I just realized that virtually everyone on the bus did come down and got a thing or two or more from the store. Even Mack was happily lining up! So I told myself “geesh, this must be the Goldilocks Bakeshop of Ilocos”! And I think I thought I was right, even until now! Why did the whole busload come down, grabbed something from the racks or ordered things from the sales ladies then patiently waited it out at the cashiers? This place must be some kind of a novelty! I thought “oh Marsha, whoever in Ilocos you are, you are already made!

Mack told me that Marsha’s is a favourite stop over amongst Ilocanos to buy local pastries and other snacks to bring to their loved ones as pasalubong. Instead of lugging along things like the usual Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme or yes, Goldilocks cakes and pastries all the way from Manila, people tend to favor grabbing their pasalubongs from Marsha’s as their delicacies are loved by the folks here-arounds! Proof? Even Mack himself who is not Ilocano and whose destination (girlfriend and mom) are Ilocanos bought three kinds of delicacies that came in three separate red boxes all contained in a big plastic bag for portability! And he was so generous enough to let me try and taste every kind of those!

Thanks again Mack, and as I said, I loved them all! The “Royal Bibingka” was almost a cake! It was even still warm and really delicious. The Cassava Cake and the Pudding were (as I like it) moist and not too sweet! They were finger-licking good hehe! Hmm, Marsha must have done her homework! Looking at the various products all around Marsha’s was a bit overwhelming. There were just too many of them from cornik to chicharon to otap to many other things that came in jars, bottles and plastic containers – not necessarily made by Marsha’s but Ilocano nonetheless. Gosh, and they all looked delicious!

Aside from the big and tastefully built building with clean public rest rooms and an equally big lawn area (for the buses to park on), one thing more about Marsha’s that invited my curiosity was the presence of a unique kind of trash bin. Oops, let’s call that plural as in trash bins. Truly uncommon in the whole country and probably requires some thinking or reflecting before you can dump anything. The bins (actually a whole row of 6 bins made of good quality hard plastic) are prominently located by a corner just in front of the store with even more prominent labels for everyone to read. Interestingly confusing actually hehe, and here are the labels:
1. PAPEL – meaning paper
2. LATA – meaning tin cans
3. PLASTIC NA BOTE – meaning plastic bottles
4. BABASAGIN NA BOTE – meaning breakable bottles (glass bottles)
5. NABUBULOK – biodegradable
6. HINDI NABUBULOK – non-bio-degradable

You want to throw that old newspaper you’ve been lugging along since Manila, where do you dump it? Bin 1 or Bin 5? Your cigarette butt would belong to Bin 6 and so would the Styrofoam container of your instant noodles! But, will I be wrong to dump my empty Gatorade bottle at Bin 6? Ahh hehehe, let’s stop this philosophizing! I know that I know where to dump whatever it was I wanted to dump hehehe! At least they have this – if only for us to realize that there is a thing called “recycling” perchance to help mother earth! Have you seen anything with the same details anywhere in this archipelago? I didn’t, yet! I took that photo at 0543H

Back on board and everyone on the bus was awake. So Mack and I were back at discussing just about anything and everything. I was told just an hour or so more and we should be landing at Laoag. Zooom and there we were, ceremoniously crossing the bridge that welcomes anyone to Laoag City proper! Whoa! Mack has told me a barrage of things to do, eat and see so I tried to remember them all. I also learned from him that I better already reserve my seat for the trip back so that I won’t have a problem getting a ride come departure date. I did. And Mack’s fiancĂ©e was already around waiting for him. Brief introductions and I let them off! I knew they have serious business to tackle for the weekend. And I was back to my old royal self – alone hehehe!

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