Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Suroy Suroy Sugbo 2009: Explore the Midwest – Lamac

Lamac is not a town. It is just one of the barangays of the town of Pinamungahan. So this side-trip to Lamac was actually still part of the Pinamungahan visit. It is far from the center of town and the main highway at 12 kilometers away. The trip going there was amidst farms and forests on hills and valleys. I thought that was far but certainly worth the trip. There was our bus again acting up at the various climbs.

The road to Lamac is fine but less trodden. Vehicles on any direction are few in between that I thought it would not be wise going this part of town at night. Well, on this trip, aside from it was early afternoon, we were in a convoy of many vehicles. Again, I reassured myself that there were vans behind us should the lowly bus cease being a useful piece of whatever hehe!

Why Lamac? Thanks to the mayor for bringing us there, as we realized it is a place to visit for so many reasons. Our very knowledgeable local tour guide kept our otherwise solitary and silent bus ride entertaining. Lamac is one of the bigger barangays of the town of Pinamungahan. A Barangay at that, it has its own elementary schools, a national high school, its own water system and even a catholic parish! Hmm, I think sooner this place will become a town. Thanks to the cooperative!

Cooperative? Yes children! This barangay has virtually been grown to what it is now (an almost self-sustaining entity) because of a well-managed cooperative. I learned all about it during this visit. I even googled for more information via my Samsung Omnia as the bus ambled along. How well-managed is that cooperative? Hmm, how about a number of national prestigious awards every year for so many years now as proof?! And how about the cute information that the Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative actually owns our destination – the Hidden Valley Resort?! This cooperative that started sometime in the early 1970s has had its share of downs before it started to catch on the word ‘success’ up to where it is now. Interesting to have learned that the cooperative started its projects in and for the barangay but later became a town-wide operation and now has offices on all corners of the island-province including offices in Cebu and Mandaue! Now THAT is successful!

Another fantastic welcome
So many facts about Pinamungahan and Lamac that I should have taped everything our local tour guide was saying! Oh hey, as our bus negotiated a narrow part of the road, it had no choice but to run through leaves and branches of trees. One of those we rammed through was a pomelo tree branch with a lot of fruits. You guessed it… as we sped through, some of the suha got caught in the way and fell rolling on the road! Anyway, we finally arrived at Barangay Lamac where I was surprised to see such a progressive town after 12 kilometers of traveling on hinterlands! But let’s go to how the folks there received us. It was truly a fantastic kind of reception. Here goes…

Approaching the resort vicinity, I noticed a clean and new blue-and-green little building that had the name WATER SYSTEM written above its entrance door. I thought that was cute for a mere barangay to have its very own water system so eat your hearts out MWSS and MCWD hehe! But there was more…

I noticed that in and around the vicinity of the little building, there were many people. Some children waving welcome flags at us as our buses negotiated the narrow road. Older kids and some grown ups wore in Filipiniana costumes and were fully made up! They were all smiles and waved to welcome us. But others were facing away from us! We could hear some drums and other instruments playing at a nearby distance. Suddenly everyone in the bus (including me of course) all stood up to catch a view of a fantastic performance a few meters down below the road. Oh my goodness! Goose bumps, goose bumps!

Down below in a rice field amidst coconut trees where the guitars and other instruments were playing was a group of men and women in live tableaux recreating a rice harvest! What made every eye wide was that it was real in the truest sense of the word! I mean, yes, it was a true rice field with real rice plants being harvested by those men with those sharp farm implements. Others were bundling the stalks, others were whacking those bundles unto some bamboo contraption where mats served as catch for the grains. Some women were pouring the grains to another mat so that wind would blow away the weeds and leaves so that only the pure grains are gathered. All these as the maidens of the town danced to entertain, encourage, and give moral support to those toiling in the harvest. Imagine… that means they have timed the planting of the palay so that it would be ready for harvest on this very day! FANTASTIC!

Of course, once each bus was parked, all passengers (that’s us) armed with cameras and phone-cams rushed down to catch views of the “live” harvest that was in progress. I almost cursed our driver for having been too slow in getting our bus properly parked so that we could already all jump out! Hah, call that excitement! The costumed people, other townsfolk and we visitors were a merry mix watching the harvest on the side of the road. And we could not help but clap or stomp our feet to the music. Really FANTASTIC!

When they thought we had enough, tour guides started motioning for us to go up to the resort and told us there was more. So we obliged. Most of us that is, since I saw some tour mates who did not heed the invitation but stayed on to video the whole “show”.

Hidden Valley Resort
Yep, the resort is named Hidden Valley but remember we are in Lamac, Pinamungahan, Cebu and not in Laguna! The entrance to this resort says “Hidden Valley Training Center & Resort” so I guess that is its more formal name. Though concrete, it is a steep pathway to climb since big buses could not be (are not) allowed to do the ascent. Under the scorching heat of the sun, I saw some tour mates were panting when they reached the main entrance of the resort. I opted to climb via the faux-waterfall beautifully carved on a part of the hill across the resort’s main entrance.

As visitors walked up the steep pathway, I noticed the costumed folks rushing up the same area. The younger kids were even running while the older folks were just in a brisk walk. Then I heard one of their leaders half-shouting said “daliiiii”! I watched them and wondered what it was they were in a hurry for. Sus! It was so that they could position themselves by the entrance and perform a welcome dance as we the visitors entered. I thought it was not necessary since the show below was already too grand. Maybe that was also a miscue on the part of our tour guides hehe – we should have been allowed to watch the harvest until end so that these kids can position themselves in time without rushing! Fun anyway! Oh hey, as each of us entered the resort, ladies by the entrance way gave us souvenirs (local delicacies wrapped in locally made paper). All those under the scorching heat of a 1:30PM sun!

Next activity… you guessed it… food again! We just had a heavy buffet lunch at Aloginsan right? But Pinamungahan must serve “merienda” to its visitors (that’s us again hehe). For my non-Pinoy-speaking readers “merienda” in this country is a (little bit) more formal type of “snack”ing. It is both a noun (to refer to the food eaten) and a verb (to refer to the act itself). When we do “merienda” we don’t do it as we walk nor continue to do whatever it is we are doing. It is almost another meal by itself and it happens at midmorning, mid-afternoon, late evening and/or midnight! You wonder why most Filipinos are not obese? Me too!

Okay, we were ushered to a dainty little verandah that I think serves as a restaurant or cafĂ© on “normal days”. This time, the side that lines a big open grass area (which is probably a play field) was lined with a very long table that had our merienda ready and waiting for us! Whoa! At exactly 1:56PM I took a picture of what I was eating. That means I probably started with the food by about 1:54 – not even two hours away from lunch! Gosh!

There was bibingka, cooked cassava, cooked bananas, ripe mangoes, latik, a suman-like delicacy wrapped with banana leaves, another suman-like delicacy triangular in shape wrapped with another kind of leaf, ripe bananas, watermelons, a pudding-like cake made from bananas, cassava cake, pakbet, crispy fried tilapia, puso, pineapples, some bread-like delicacy with sesame seeds, ukoy or something like it and many others more that I don’t know how to describe as I was not able to sample each!

Aside from the fresh buko and bottled water there was the delicious but dangerous “sikwate”! Dangerous?! Yep, if you are not in the know, I am now hehe! Sikwate is the local term for “tsokolate” or hot-chocolate. It was so delicious and thick that I think I finished 5 or 6 cups. Later I felt a bit dizzy and started to palpitate a bit hehe! An experienced tour mate told me to drink more water, just relax and rest. I did… though from time-to-time my fork strayed unto some of the fares on the table and my spoon was permanently scooping delicious mangoes. Hmm, didn’t I just have too many of that fruit over at Aloguinsan?! Well, I heard from our tour guide that gluttony was the order of the day, so I had better stand on it – and we were just in the second town of the tour! Ahh!

That was merienda! And in the middle of it, the costumed folks started to regale us with folk dances, songs and re-enactment of various celebrations. I liked the wedding thing, the courtship, the cockfight and the pinoy games! Mayor Yapha (pronounced yap-ha not yafa), a doctor and still single gave some remarks to welcome us, the governor responded and then the singing and dancing continued. And so too did the eating! That was JUST merienda!

More stories
After the heavy merienda and cultural show, tour mates started inching slowly to their respective bus seats. I knew it was for them to savor the comfort of the air-conditioner inside the bus hehe! But I did a quick go-see of the resort and realized its class in its own way. The pool is big and clean, the conference area can even hold a concert if need be and the cottages are good! This is one fine resort in the hinterlands!

Oh, our very knowledgeable local tour guide continued the barrage of information. I wanted to doze off but her stories kept me awake. One of the more interesting topics was how the resort came to be. During the growing up years of the cooperative – meaning the coop was back on its feet – there came a need for them to have a training center. People from other barangays were coming to them to learn how they got their cooperative so successful. Thus, they erected this “training center”. But it needed accommodations and other amenities since the barangay is not near and not easily accessible. So they made the place a resort complete with everything that one might need in a plush accommodation! Hey, aside from being a favorite retreat place amongst the religious it is also often booked by newly weds as their reception area! Lastly, this resort is not just for adults as children will find a lot of things to do and enjoy too! Just google the resort or the coop for more info!

Aha, even Pacquiao gets into the picture! Yeah yeah, Manny Pacquiao, the boxer? Well, his father comes from Barangay Guimbawian which we passed by going to and coming from Lamac. The tour guide tells us that Manny himself do visit the place from time to time. There is the story that once when he won one of those famous fights, he came down to this place and sought to gather all residents who bore his surname – Pacquiao. What for? He gave P1,000 to each of them as a token! O laban ka?!

BTW, barangay Lamac has 108 known caves and counting! So spelunkers, you won’t be lonely going there! The biggest of those caves is named Kamang since going in there you have to crawl on all fours! Kamang is crawl!

Alright, as in the previous town, our local tour guide kept the barrage of facts and trivia until we reached the boundary with Toledo City where of course another local tour guide boarded our bus to take us along!

Oh well… Pinamungahan… I will be back… mamyernes ta ha?!


For a chronology of the stories in this trip, click the following numbers:
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12

1 comment :

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