Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Butuan: The City Hall and Lunch at Weegols!

From the museum I walked onwards instead of backtracking on that road I arrived-in, since, you guessed right, it was fairly desolate. I did not really know what to encounter but I moved forward seeing that there were more vehicles passing over at the intersection with a bigger road. There was a little building identified as a Barangay Daycare Center to my left as I walked on. I got curious on what else might be inside there since it had a nice sturdy fence. Voila! I did not at all expect this!

The Butuan City Hall
Oh so the city hall is not at the old town plaza! They have moved!

Hey I don’t and won’t have much anything to say about this place. I was just in awe at the sight of this edifice. It is big and it sits alone in quite an expanse of lawn I don’t know what for hehe! AND, it is “heavily” fenced off by fortunately an appealing kind of modern steel and concrete type of fence. From where I was standing, I thought that was ridiculous to fence off a city hall that way. It seemed so uninviting and un-public when a city hall should be for the people. Well, that’s just my view and I don’t know how it is in Butuan. I would like to guess it is all about security. The building though is a simple big square that does not seem to identify itself as something but just another chunk of concrete called a ‘building’! Again, I may be missing something as am not from there. I mused, since it was new, the architect might have been more creative by giving it a dash of history and culture to make its externals look like the shape of probably a Balanghai somewhere? Or the Mindanao colors (if any) instead of that very usual pink-and-cream? Hehehe am dreaming and let’s stop me here!

Okay one last thing about that big city hall. From my vantage, there’s just one public entry/exit point and it is gated and fenced like a private home or airport where all who enter (people or vehicles) must pass through a rigid inspection by the military/police. So there, I already deduced that the reason for this seemingly “ridiculous” fencing off is security. You know, I don’t want to say anything, other than it must be security. Because of those thoughts, I hesitated to go enter. Well, at that point in time, I was somebody from wherever, with a backpack, trying to get into a “fortress”… what would I have said to the guards? “Oh I’m just a tourist and I want to go around this building called your city hall at midday on a Saturday”?! I was almost sure of the reply… “bakit” and so on. That might have meant that before I could go into the premises, I might have had to empty my backpack for an inspection?! Nah, let us just say, because of those (perhaps too much) mental analyses, I chickened out! I did not want the hassle! And something below my ribcage was already grumbling for lunch! I did not enter the city hall premises… sigh!

I turned around to go away and voila! There was the Weegools Garden right across the road – a restaurant highly recommended by one friend who is from Butuan but now lives in Metro Manila! Oops, it did not fit the description as told to me by my friend, though I could see clearly it was a Weegools. I crossed the road and entered with a question. “Is this the only ‘weegools’ in Butuan?”. A waiter told me it is not and that there is another branch somewhere in the city center. Then he added that this branch was cozier and windier as it was in an open space without neighbors. I immediately thought it was true. And my stomach won’t probably allow me to do more roaming, so I settled in for lunch!

I asked the Weegools waiter what their bestseller was. He gave me a very prompt reply even as he handed me the restaurant’s menu that came like a book with the native “banig” for a cover. And as he said that, I thought I was listening to a waiter over at Jo’s! Their specialty and bestseller is… “Chicken Inato”! At first I thought I would try a different fare so I scanned the menu. Bad news – while everything in the list is fairly affordable, I got a tip from the waiter that most of them were good for two or more. Aw! I did not dare explore since I was alone – I still remember mi abuela criticizing me for not finishing food on the table. Thus, default… Chicken Inato! When I was asked for my choice of drink I was quick to reply “coke regular in 12 ounce bottle if you have but if its just 8 ounces give me two bottles”. Reply: “so-re ser, pipsi pradak lang kami”. So I said, okay give me Mountain Due. Golly, I think it was at his point in my life that I have noted I hate Pepsi for doing this kind of do-or-die marketing strategy and equally my hate for Coca Cola for not being as aggressive. Am not sure of the statistics but when I’m roaming the provinces (north or south), THIS is a very common reality – I CAN’T HAVE MY COKE IN THE RESTAURANT OF CHOICE, AAAAAARRRGH!

Alright, while waiting for my lunch to be barbecued, I took the opportunity to roam around the place. Whoa, this is a nice place with outdoor native cottages where most everyone likes to partake of their lunch. There is even a play area for the little ones! Appealing! But what caught me was another specialty of Weegools that almost all who came never missed. Some even just came for those. And am talking about a glass shelf and other open air shelves housing a platoon of mouth-watering pies, muffins, cakes, desserts and everything in between. Oh yes, they come in different sizes, from slices, bite sizes, to whole take-away boxes oh lalala! I am not generally into these “after-main-course” fare but at Weegools… let me just say that my lunch came out to be just a 3rd of the total cost I paid! Hah, call it sugar overload… but I topped everything with the ever famous (like at Jo’s) Buko Halo.

As I waited for my bill, yeah I know you have predicted this… I slumped on my bamboo bench ready to laze into siesta with that ‘wall-fan’ whirring above me and nothing but footsteps of the waiters creaking on the floor or the ground, the giggles of little tykes romping around and the occasional laughter from families also having lunch. But I think sugar in the “leche flan”, “durian pie”, “buko halo”, etc energized my brain cells too much to come up with a ridiculous and absolutely show-stopping decision like “you have to go find your hotel and check-in”. Aaaaaaah!

Oh yes… I paid my bill, ambled out, hailed a tricycle to take me to my “hotels” (that’s plural) hehehe!

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