Thursday, November 20, 2008

Roaming Butuan City

From that snooze at Luciana, I woke up at 1345H and was ready to roam the city again by 1400H. But where else was I to go? I have seen the three most important sights I wanted to view even before lunch!

Aha! The Church!
Oh the church called St. Jospeh Cathedral which is just a few paces away from Luciana is big as many other churches in the country. But alas, here I was again, ready to roam a church only to stumble upon a funeral service! Argh! And it looked like the dead was a military or police dude since the outside of the cathedral teemed with so many of them uniformed men and women. When I peeped into the last pews, yeah, it was dotted with uniformed men. So I decided not to start roaming this edifice at that time lest I be in trouble with those people in mourning. And most of them had their “ra-ta-ta-ta-tat” long or short by their sides as if ready to fire any moment. Ayaw ko hehehe! I slowly backed and decided instead look for the ‘ecclesiastical museum’ by asking a guard.

The guard did not immediately understand what I was looking for but after some descriptions he said “ah, ang museum ni monsignor? wala man sya ngayon” (ah, monsignor’s museum? he is not here now). So I smilingly said I was not looking for the monsignor, I just wanted to see the museum. Sensing there was sarcasm in how I said that, he retorted that only the monsignor holds the key to the museum.

Argh monsignor! Why monsignor, why? Hehehe, so after musing at the big board that plots the “diocese of Butuan” and after peeping to get a view of what’s behind those glass-windows of the closed “Bigasan sa Parokya” , I decided to hit the park instead. And all those while, the guard won’t lift his eye on me. Hmm, he seemed to suspect that I might steal something from his area of responsibility! Oh the poor bastard hehe!

Rizal Park
This is a tiny park by recent standards but you can see that this park in the middle of the city must have been here for quite a time now – probably as long as the cathedral has been there. This park actually fronts the cathedral and both are facing east to the big river beyond (which is now covered by two blocks of commercial and residential establishments). Oh this one park is cozy anytime of day with a lot of trees and other greeneries. I chanced upon men installing lanterns and Christmas lights at strategic locations.

High up on a pedestal is the statue of Dr. Jose Rizal with his back to the church is facing a funny tree-like adornment of lights inside capiz-shell balls. Below the dear hero is the statue of a maiden (Maria Clara?) and the inscriptions “AGUSAN, AL APOSTOL DE LAS LIBERTADES PATRIAS… DR. JOSE RIZAL”. I noticed that this is one Rizal monument (aside from that in Luneta) where you cannot go near the actual structure. It is fenced in with some grass and flowering plants – very obvious to anyone that you should not go beyond! Good! At least this one statue is some distance from vandalizing kids – though they still can if there is a will hehe!

After the tree-like capiz lights and by the side of the park on AD Curato St., is that tall tall flag pole which bears a historical marker made by the NHI. It tells of an event that in this place was lowered the Vatican flag while the Philippine flag was raised to signify authority of the Philippine Government in Mindanao. I asked an oldie (photographer) who was in the area and he told me this flag pole was the tallest in Mindanao (I doubt) and that this is where the Philippine flag was first raised in the island of Mindanao (I also doubt hehe). O hey, across the street are business establishments (some open 24/7) and about 40 steps to the left of the flag pole would be my dearest Luciana Inn! But I veered right!

At the front right corner of Rizal Park (cor AD Curato St., and the Maharlika Highway) is a big two level round concrete kiosk which is beautiful enough – even stately. The second level is a favourite hangout of some locals (and beggars) and it has a good vantage of the busy intersection, the whole park and the church. On ground level (with door facing the road intersection) is what they call the “Caraga Heart” – a “PASALUBONG KIOSK” (yep written in big capitalized red letters) that also serves as a “tourist assistance” (yes too, written in small lower caps red letters) purportedly courtesy of the department of trade and the city government. What’s inside? Well, some local products and very little tourist information if you asked! No wonder the ‘tourist assistance’ sign is written so on their sign-board!

Grill District
Crossed from the kiosk to the police station which has a Chowking on its opposite corner. But these two places were not my targets. I got attracted to many rows (okay, blocks) of food stalls and restaurants that were all already starting to get busy. Some were already roasting things. Ah yes, a friend in Manila told me about this place and it is one of the favorite eating places of the locals where a lot of barbecue stands and stalls are located. Just walked aimlessly to check out some of the places but I decided this place would be better visited at night. This is a barbeque haven of note! For one, just walk around never even going inside any of the restaurants, then get out of this area… now smell your shirt hehehe, the aroma will linger!

I whispered to myself… will come back tonight…! So I hopped on a tricycle and headed to the provincial capitol.

Provincial Capitol
From where I was in the city, the capitol was not near. It was a winding ride on the trike that can only pass via inner or side-streets as they’re not allowed to pass by the national highway (Maharlika). And it was just P8 for that ride!

On arrival at the gate of the capitol, I first hesitated but moved on. There was a man blurting out things from a megaphone while inside the capitol grounds was some kind of a shack with a conical speaker also blaring some kind of announcements. Oh so that was the base of the tricycle union (or something like that) operators enticing inviting their fellow drivers to come and be listed. I didn’t quite get what it was they’re inviting other drivers for. Perhaps to register and become members. But loud and noisy as they were, it was safe enough. I just initially thought it was some kind of militant action for indeed the scenario looked like so! Their were streamers, the megaphone man was on the street and some drivers were huddled near the streamer festooned shack! More of like what I always see at the agriculture building along the Quezon Memorial Circle! Similar look and feel but different purpose! So I entered.

The first wow thing in this compound is the garden. It’s not fantastically lovely but good enough for people to relax and lovers to hang out! By the front of the building were high school students practicing the volleyball skills, elsewhere it was silent without human activity… AND yes, the building was closed hehehe! There was actually a woman who emerged from the main door and she was the one who told me I may not enter as it was closed. K, FINE! So I just looked around a snapped photos of the structure. This capitol building is not as big and grand as you would remember those in Malolos, Bacolod, Tacloban, Cebu, etc. It does have a similar look, the kind with big tall pillars just up the front stairs. But this one, the Agusan Provincial Capitol Building, is just a bit smaller made in 1951. Interestingly, the flagpole’s base is a tambayan of a black-and-grey cat that did not seem to be bothered when I went near. It even curiously looked at me as I was taking a pic of the capitol’s fa├žade! Interesting!

More beyond the capitol
Oh hey, the “Sangguniang Panlalawigan” building by the side of the capitol is big and more modern! But just glancing at it, I proceeded to walk the length of the park/compound and head out unto that street directly I front since I noticed that the other end was a bit busier with a lot of vehicles and human activity. Oh hey their DECS Building is cool! And was also their LTO. And voila, I was at the big Gaisano Mall! Then it started to rain, argh! Not wanting to roam another mall, I looked across and saw an open air restaurant called “Tatay’s Inato Grills N’ Restaurant”. I was not hungry but the letter S in the word GRILLS did invite my curiosity to warrant a visit. So I hopped in and ordered what else… “chicken inato” which the waiter claims to be better than anywhere else. Can't agree nor disagree, this "inato" thingy to me tastes the same anywhere I get it... grilled hehe!

The very first thing that caught my inquisitive lowly brain were those plastic water bottles that had shiny yellow and red strips of foil together with the liquid inside. I wondered that if this was vinegar, why place something inedible like strips of colored foil together with it in the bottle? So I asked… and learned… that those are not for human consumption! Those are the establishment’s way of driving away pesky flies from the tables. The waiter told me that flies do not like and therefore veer away from those shiny sheets inside the bottles, thus, they avoid your table and your food. Just as he was explaining that, a fly hovered, landed and walked on the very bottle of shiny things on my table. Almost laughing I just said ‘oh, okay, thanks for the info’!

Hey there is another interesting find in this restaurant! And I leave the Tatay's Restaurant topic with this picture…

The St. Joseph Cathedral, finally
Asking around, a woman who just emerged from Gaisano mall told me to take the R2 jeep going to the church. Oh, now I realized this was already the hi-way that I arrived in earlier in the day. So I took an R2 that goes a winding route amongst busy streets after turning left at Montilla Boulevard. Ah wherever those were, I just know that I finally arrived at the cathedral. And hey, the Saturday afternoon English service was just about to start so I popped in to attend mass already resigned that I won't have no time to take acceptable pics since it would be nightfall when mass ends. But I found something interesting during mass – THE CHOIRE! My goodness they sing well and were sang in a a harmony of voices - the least was 2 voices! Goose-bumps, goose-bumps! And they were just singing normal mass songs!

I thought I was the only one who noticed... but at the end of the service, the priest congratulated them for being the best and asked everyone to give them applause. Priest went on to advertise that those kids came from different areas and schools in the city encouraging other kids to audition and join them. I think now, they should even explore other choral engagements and spread the joy to more audiences. Ako pa... I am known by you all to be too picky on things for the ears that pierces through to the soul... so I'll put my reputation on the line again... go forth and listen to this choir that (I think) does not even have a name. They are more than good!

Okay done!

Some unsightly city sights!
I don’t feel good describing this last part of my day but what can I do… this was what I last saw to end my day of wandering around and I should tell you, right?!

After the church service, I walked going to my hotel but on reaching the entrance guard, I decided to go past and see more of the vicinity. Yes, 'see more' I did! A few steps to the corner of San Jose and Curato St., I stopped to watch a fishball vendor cook his wares. The rectangular strips got my attention since what I mostly see in metro manila are balls – fish, squid, etc. - nothing elongated or flat! I learned it was the “tempura” like what we see in Dumaguete. But an event that crushed my heart was ensuing a few inches away. There were three girls who looked street urchins to me seemingly squabbling about the fishball. The older of the three told the other two that they should divide the fishball into two since they can only afford one. True enough, after the vendor dipped it in a sauce, the two younger girls ripped the fishball into two with their bare hands. I know it was still too hot coming straight from the pan but they didn’t seem to feel it. Hey am not wealthy or anything but this scene crushed my chest. Some lump in my throat were suddenly felt. I was about to buy more fishballs for them but they crossed the street and proceeded to walk away. When I asked the fishball vendor why they were carrying carton boxes, I was told those would be their beds when they find a place to lie down. Ahhh!

Next I also crossed the street but did not veer left to where the girls went. I knew that making more fuss about them would stir too much attention from the locals that I might end up in something I won’t like! Like hello, anyone could have easily tagged me as a pedophile hehe! So I went straight towards the end of San Jose St that is the river. I think I still remember that I was walking on some kind of a public market or anything similar. Then there was an old cinema/theater/movie house (whatever). I was about to ogle at what it might be showing but another “event” was taking place that I decided I must move on. The event: as I stood there, a handsome (even clean-looking) young man was by the entrance looking at me as if I was snack or dinner! He let out a friendly smile and nodded his head motioning me to approach him. In my mind I said uh-oh… I just smiled back and moved on. I think my steps went quicker hehe! I jokingly thought “am I in Cubao?” hehe!

Oh the end of San Jose is some College of Nursing or something and across it is a medical clinic. But the very bank of the river is fenced by a high concrete wall with barbed wire on top. I wonder why. But there are concrete steps on the wall that leads to the top so I asked a barangay tanod if I could go up. He said go ahead, I climbed to see the river and the bridge but nothing grand to look at or merit the attention of my digicam! Okay back to my hotel and I must pass by the cinema again… uh-oh… still meters away, I could see the young man was already on the sidewalk and was observing me. First instinct was to cross the street and walk on the other side but he was already looking at me so crossing might have been too obvious and there would have been nothing to stop him from crossing too! So I just moved on. By the cinema entrance, I glanced to see that there were two more boys at the lobby who were obviously on the same trade. When I finally passed by the original “hooker” he had this to say “sir, please?”! I just shook my head a bit while smiling and just moved onwards back to Luciana Inn.

Okay, end-of-day, to prepare for dinner and the nightlife!

1 comment :

  1. We're planning to go to Butuan on Sept. Can't wait! hehe