Friday, September 4, 2009

A Wonderful Lazy Afternoon

After a much needed shower and hefty lunch at Exotic, I thought a leisurely stroll along the beach and nearby places was in order. This was in fact “per schedule” on my little itinerary. So I went forth. And am too happy I did! I got to see and experience things that are not usually written on the web by those who have been to the island.

Many may call these the “daily life” on the island. I call it the “wonderful life” that people live on this island. And these such things added to the memories that I cherish about Malapascua – hence, I will return one of these days!

First off, I was just emerging from the resort to roam and the Exotic crews over at the water’s edge caught my attention. I sat on the sand under a Talisay tree to watch them. These are the guys in red shirts with the resort’s logo small in front and big at the back. No they’re not waiters nor room boys as those guys sport polo shirts with flowery prints. These red shirted folks are more on the back-office or utility crews, though I think they also serve as dive guides or assistants.

They have just unloaded supplies from one of their many boats and preparing to transfer those to the inner sanctum of their resort. I murmured, why do they have bamboo poles and short pieces of ropes? Ah, the urban life must have erased this “activity” from my lowly brain! Then I saw these men use the bamboo poles to carry those loads! First, the big black plastic containers. They’d tie the containers’ handles, loop the rope around the pole, carry one end of the pole on one shoulder while a colleague does the other end. Voila! They’re off the beach! I asked what was in those containers. Gasoline! What for? The generator – yes, the genset! Exotic is one of the few resorts that assure guests of 24-hour electricity in their rooms.

Next the LPG tanks! Yep, that is “liquefied petroleum gas” and most commonly used by many an Asian home to fire up their cooking. (okay, let’s not discuss, but I wonder why those are called LPG when their contents are actually methane – methane as cooking gas! Methane is not LPG, right?). Now back to the red-shirted men. Before they carried the tanks, my mind made a rush debate on how they would lift one tank off ground since it was too tall - tank in question was the “industrial type” that stands about 5 to 6 feet tall – its not like the other tanks they’ve just carried earlier (common in most households). When they did, I almost slapped myself. Why didn’t I think of that?! The top/handle of the tall tank was tied with the rope and looped unto the bamboo. If they lifted it that way, the tank would sag on ground since it was as tall as them. Whoa, thankfully, bottom of the tank has holes, so another rope was tied there, then looped over the other end of the bamboo pole! Voila! Off to the kitchen that pesky tall and heavy LPG tank went to start serving its purpose! Frankly, the manner in which they transported that tall tank did not cross my lowly mind! I thought they’d just drag, push or roll it on the sand hehehe!

Now the boxes… omg the boxes hehehe! Those were so many boxes of bottled water and we all know those boxes have no handles, right?! And to complicate the puzzle, almost all boxes were already torn or breaking apart as they got a bit wet on the boat. So, while the men were still inside delivering the tanks, my lowly speck of a brain started racing McGyver-style how they would lift those boxes with the bamboo stick and rope contraption. Ah, again, why didn’t I think of that hehehe! The men came out with their poles and ropes PLUS a net (probably even a hammock). They placed boxes on the net, tied each end with the short ropes, looped to the bamboo and off them bottles in wet and torn boxes! All I thought was “they’ll probably come out with a push-cart to carry those boxes”! Now am thinking again as I write this… push-cart? In the sand? Hello?! Oh myself! That’s why I love roaming around. It reminds me of my “elementary skills” long forgotten in favor of urban contraptions hehe!

Then there was Mr. X and Ms. Y heading for their chartered boat. As they walked, another red-shirt followed them lugging three of the resort’s mono-block chairs. I was half-expecting and half-wishing that Ms. Y would have a hard time climbing unto the boat, soil her bright-orange dress, lose her poise or even her dignity! But how clever… the red-shirted dude passed two of those chairs to his companion on board and placed the third chair on the sand for Ms. Y (and Mr. X too) to climb on. Ah, my wish didn’t materialize hehe! Why did I seem to be a bit wrathful of Ms. Y? There is a story…

I got to talk to Mr. X over bottles of beer just a few moments after lunch as Ms. Y was busy having a pictorial (by herself as photographer-cum-subject) at the resort’s front garden. He was complaining and obviously whining at the cost of this charter, plus, I learned they were also chartering a van from Daanbantayan all the way to Cebu City with only them as passengers. Who wouldn’t complain with spending around USD130 for both charters, anyway? I asked him why the charter since there were available boats, vans and buses? The exasperated reply was “she does not like those, she say’s she gets dizzy and all that”. THAT made my noontime blood boil. I did manage to tell Mr. X that judging from her looks, Ms. Y was just acting up. He sighed and said, “well… girls”! As the man seemed resigned at that expensive idea, I did not anymore meddle. I was ready though to approach Ms. Y and charm if not insult her over to getting on the practical side of things.

Let me describe them? Please?! Here goes… I call him “Mr. X” because he is an eXpat practicing his corporate craft in Manila and on the side hoping to find his future wife – which I pray will not be Ms. Y! Now I call her “Ms. Y” because I am so aghast as to “whY” she is so ‘maarte’ (pretending to be finicky) when judging from her looks and the way she speaks, she does not only wash her own panties but also the few clothes that she has and probably those of her neighbors for a fee! That is Ms. Y to me!

Now I won’t translate the next paragraph… that only means if you can’t understand it, its not for you to read. But if you do, spread the word to fellow Pinoys about this bad attitude of some girls! Am writing this next paragraph hoping Mr. X would read this since I mentioned this blog in our conversation – and probably Ms. Y would peep over!

To Ms. Y… “gets dizzy” daw o! Utot mo! E ano ba difference ng public boat at chartered boat, ha? Ibang dagat ba ang dinadaanan? Kung mahihilo ka sa isa, mahihilo ka sa lahat ke public utility o private sasakyan pa yan! Hilo ka lang talaga! Now the bus, okay walang aircon bus from Daanbantayan to Cebu but looking at you Ms. Y, mukha ka namang sumasakay sa habal-habal na lima ang pasahero a! Sabagay, baka kasi di ka pa nakapag-long trip in your life at puro pedicab lang o kaya yung tinutulak sa riles ang nasasakyan mo. Siguro paminsan-minsan nakakasakay ka rin ng jeep papuntang Divisoria! Ang arte mo hija, nakakahiya ka, ano na lang iisipin nitong mga banyaga sa mga Pinoy. Nadadamay ang lahat ng Filipina sa kaartehan mo hoy! Alam ko nag-iinarte ka lang at gusto mo lang magpakasasa sa pera ng banyaga. Isipin mo, by the time asawahin ka nyan (sana nga lang wag) ubos na pera nya sa kaartehan mo!

Now to all non-Filipinos reading this (gentlemen or ladies), let me assure you that Ms. Y is not representative of the majority of girls in this country. She is an example of the dangers when you pick a Filipino girl/boyfriend from just anywhere. Their eyes twinkle seeing dollars in your wallets. They’d attempt to bypass two or even three rungs of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs! So they will splurge with you on hand as the “financier” and they’d act as if they were royalties. That is if you don’t know how to stomp your foot down the dusty ground!

Hmm, then again, Ms. Y might have been a married woman who hails from the Cebu area hehe! Thus, the evasion on public contact lest someone she knows spot her with a foreign guy! Gosh! Anyway, I silently wished the small boat would bounce and tumble in the waves and the van would zoom and sway to hell so that Ms. Y would puke her innards out! Hah, I pity old Mr. X hehehe!

Okay, I moved on…

Veering left from Exotic, I saw a family seemingly having a feast by the water’s edge. There was rice direct from a “kaldero” that they brought and the “main menu” seemed to be something fresh from the sea. I moved closer. Seeing that they were feasting on something that looked like big black-colored rambutan, I moved even closer and asked permission if I can take pictures of what they were eating. Permission granted and I asked them what it was. Sea Urchins! Whoa! I didn’t know it can be eaten and even a delicacy in Malapascua! First time I saw this, and am thankful the family allowed me to take pictures! I think they call it “tuyom”.

Those were small sea urchins that they gathered from the shallows on this beach. Coolness! The way to eat the thing is: with a knife they’d cut the thorny round shell into half revealing the “meat” which they scoop with their fingers and direct to the mouth. Then they’d reach for the cooked rice to partner the delicacy with! Even the little tykes seemed to like it! Oh, they even invited me to try and taste it, but I respectfully declined. Am not that adventurous with “food”! There was vinegar (I think) that they’d sometimes dip their fingers or the tuyom into.

The mother joked and coaxed telling me I was a coward, too afraid to try it and that I should be sorry I was not able to sample what it tasted like – milk they say! I don’t know, am just probably a coward hehe! But my principle on food remains… “when in doubt, don’t”!

Oh further to the left were many more folks seemingly on an excursion. And this family that I was merrily chatting with told me the main delicacy over at that group was also sea urchins they too picked from the shallows earlier. I wondered why none of them seemed to have been pricked by those pointed “thorns”. Some would even hold the urchins in their hands while halving them with a knife. Whoa and really whoa! I must admit though, those were the tiniest sea urchins I have seen. They probably are babies yet?! And yes I did silently debate in my head… wouldn’t those creatures become extinct soon with these folks “harvesting” them by the planggana loads? Anyone please educate me. Hindsight though, good if they’re gone so the beach would be safe to unwatchful swimmers!

Exotic boat number 3 (a big one) was being dry docked at a special area nowhere else than the beach itself hehe! It was undergoing repairs and some sprucing up. Another yet unnamed Exotic boat was in the making at a dry-dock no other than the beach itself too! Just a few meters from boat no. 3, actually. Wow! Malapascua is still such a rural place everything can still be done on the beach! Wow!

The so many boats “scattered” on the beach and the big group having a picnic at that portion of the beach seemed to indicate to me that the area was about end of the resort row. So I did not venture further or beyond lest I be mangled by dogs or whatever else in the splendidly silent stretch of white sand beyond. I instead headed back and right towards the resort row! Apart from 3 or 4 ladies tanning themselves out in the sun at various frontages of the resorts, everywhere else was wonderfully silent. I loved it!

Vendors. Then there were the lady vendors. They were huddled under the shade of a big tree by the beach area fronting Dano Beach Resort. One of them has a little kiosk that sells souvenir items and “massage”. But most of them jolly ladies were on the sand perched around spreads of that sarong cloth they sell. They were busy on something that required their utmost attention and concentration – “tong-its”! When I approached though, almost all of them simultaneously invited me to buy wares or have a massage. I courteously declined but asked them if I could hang around with them. They gladly obliged.

“Aha! Gambling”, so I half-jokingly exclaimed! Unperturbed, all merrily told me it is just a pastime for them while waiting for customers and that their bets are just very small spare coins like 25 cents. Sensing that they were all so jolly I stayed a while and asked them questions about the place and just about anything else that I wanted to know. They even taught me how to play “tong-its” but maybe am not just cut for that kind of “mathematics” as I always got everything wrong hehe. The “straight” and the “flash” (or is that “flush”) were easy but what to throw and when to use the “2” got me all mixed up hehe! That prompted one lady to ask if there ever are playing cards from where I come. I said I even had a collection of playing card decks from many airlines in the past but I only knew “lucky 9” and “monkey-monkey”. They laughed. When I moved on, one of them ladies reminded me to practice “tong-its” when I get home!

Onwards, I saw a youngish mother towing a little boat with her two daughters on board. I asked where they were headed and why she was not riding the boat. She told me they’d be just in the shallows to pick sea urchins for viand. Hmm, that thing must be quite a delicacy!

Another big boat in the making… oh, I noticed that herearounds, they actually make or repair their boats right on the shore – usually in front of the owners’/resorts’ property. Interesting! Saw divers getting off the TSD boat, divers heading off to sea on a Dano Resort boat, tourists reading books while resting under the shades, dogs at play, vendors/masseuses walking around. Ahhh, this hot windy afternoon was quite the life…!

Next scene, a youngish man (probably late-teens to early twenties) was silently attending to some hundreds of fishing hooks with individual nylon threads. There were just so many of them little hooks that I wondered who were going to use them. The boy told me all are to be used tonight by some fisherfolk and he does the painstaking and meticulous arrangements of those hooks for them – for a fee (in cash or fish whichever he chooses). Until now I still cannot picture how those hooks will be simultaneously used by a group of fishermen in a boat. There were hundreds of those and the boy says other fishermen even have double or more than what he was tending to. Whoa!

Next hop… Hippocampus. I was just passing by but the jolly uniformed ladies called out to ask me if I was able to find accommodation. When I said yes, they invited me to have a drink at their bar. I obliged – ows, as if I was not looking for it… asus! So I ordered an ice-cold San Mig Light and had a light conversation with the girls. No no, it was an interview where they threw in a barrage of questions for me to answer. Of course it always starts with “where are you from”! Oh, the dogs kept me company too! They opted to play at/near my feet sometimes brushing their bodies against me like cats. Good they didn’t pee there as I observed that is usually the case hehe!

Change picture… I was already near the end (or start) of this long strip of beach (bountry beach) when I saw a well-watched volleyball game in progress at one clear area amidst coconut trees. Tourists were watching too. So I sat in. Ah, this is that kind of “filipinized” volleyball where they use a smaller ball, the players can touch it again after bouncing it on the net and they can toss it in a style that I might otherwise call “holding”. And yes, this kind of game is usually played by the hunky men folk everywhere – have not seen females doing this yet. I think the ball that they use is the small (kids’) basketball. It is, right? There were bets passing around but that I heard were for bottles of coke to the winners.

Oh, this is where I got approached by on-lookers and even other players for services like intra-island tour, around the island boat-tour, etc., And good that they did for I was able to compare prices. It is generally cheaper to get them in this place. The boys/men/girls/ladies who would approach you are not necessarily the motorbike or boat owners nor they be the tour-guides but they’ll refer you to their neighbors, uncles, aunts etc., who offer the service! It is cheaper here than at the resorts.. PLUS, I learned they themselves are the resorts’ contacts! Examples? Well, am not so sure about the exact amounts but something like P800 for a motorbike tour of the island can be had for 500 or even 400.

Ah that was quite an afternoon… headed back towards Exotic Dive Resort. But the fun things to see were not yet over! Passing by Sea Explorer’s there was some singing by the dive shop staff. Tourists, local children with some of their parents watching. I went near to see what it was. Wow! They do that?! Just see this…

Okay, I moved on. A group of tourists seemed busy flipping and poking some things on the beach. I got near to see what it was. Oh, they got live sea urchins from the shallows and were attempting to bring those three poor things to their cottage (for souvenir). City folks as they are/were, they could not muster on how best to do it hehehe! But this was my first “live” view of a real living sea-urchin on dry ground. It knows how to move roll towards the water. And they actually have colorful touches! See below:

Onwards, I chanced upon local children having a grand time on the beach. Note, one of them is a girl and she can do those flip-overs and handstands too! Real fun. Watch this…

Ahh, I am not so hard to please when its about the uncommon sights. I was happy at what I have just encountered and thought I could even go back to Cebu that very minute, yet remain still satisfied. But I had to face reality hehe! My holiday was just starting. So I continued to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and dusk by wading (alone) in the no-sea-urchin-area of Exotic’s beach-front. Until the sun made part of the horizon orange. And until the moon showed up! Oh wow!

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for writing such wonderful review on the island. The island really is amazing, from the view, beaches, food and the people who are very friendly and accommodating. I fell in love with the island the first time I went there, and keeps on falling each time have a vacation in Malapascua.