Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bogo – Arrival & Accommodations

Arrived at Bogo just a little over breakfast time and I was not hungry – probably too excited! I told the conductor of the bus to let me off at either near the city hall or near the church, whichever comes first. Screech! We were still on the highway and Mr. Conductor motioned for me to get off and pointed that to the left was the City Hall. Alright, saw it, so I jumped off!

City Hall… Is this a city? Yes, at least for a short time until declared back as town by the supreme court! This city hall (okay, town hall if you want) looks small viewed from the front. It is not very imposing in terms of size and design. It actually looks more like a sports center or a cockpit building as it is circular so you can’t see it as 3D or “in perspective” view of a cube or rectangular block. But once inside, the building is actually huge with a lot of space towards the back that cannot be seen from up front.

I roamed the ground floor a bit. Offices were already open, some residents transacting at various windows but not (yet) crowded. Oh, from ground floor, one could see various offices at the second floor since the middle of this circular building is an open ground. When I could not see a tourism office, I backed into the lobby and chanced upon a middle-aged man who I knew was already observing me since I arrived. With a smile he was first to talk saying “good morning sir, can I help you?”. Then I asked where I could find the tourism office.

His immediate reply was “ahh, si Joy” and he asked me to follow him to the second floor of the building. We entered the Mayor’s Office and I told him I was not looking for the mayor. He just laughed and said okay. Oh, the “Mayor’s Office” is not really just the office of the mayor. It is the offices of the mayor and his staff and other city departments – probably those that the mayor thinks should always be near him. On entering the air-conditioned offices, we passed some desks with women silently at work. Then we were in front of a room with a label above the door that said HRD. The man ushered me in and Joy excitedly received me.

I started with “I have not done so much research before I came because I can’t find so many things on the web, so what can I see in Bogo”. At first she tapped on her laptop but hesitated and decided to get a brochure from somewhere in her drawers. Voila! A pamphlet describing Bogo! She guided me through them. There are not so many attractions listed in the brochure though I was sure I won’t be able to see them all. But one thing was certain, I was bound to discover other things interesting things in this place! BTW, this I just learned while discussing the brochure things with Joy, if you google “bogo city” their website won’t com up in the first few pages of the result. Why? Well, am not sure if anyone told them this before they made a website, theirs is: “”… not a nor a .ph. Plus the main web name is “city of bogo”. That’s why I didn’t encounter that site last night!

Joy was a real joy to talk with. She made sure I get to know more about Bogo even with just her stories. Aside from those printed on the brochure – which I was to take with me anyway, I learned from her many things Bogo.

Bogohanons (that’s how the people of Bogo are called) are very religious. But we might say, all Filipinos are religious, right? Hear this… according to Joy there is always a mass held at 5AM and 5PM each day! Hmm, in this small a place? The most that I have seen in my travels are daily 5AM masses. Plus, Joy adds that there is always a 9AM and 10AM mass every Thursday due to pilgrims flocking to their church. Whoa, that makes it 4 masses on Thursdays. And if that is the case, I already have an inkling how many services they do during Sundays!

The “pinto”, for which the Bogo festival is named after, has ground corn as the main ingredient. It has milk and butter, sometimes with dashes of other flavorful ingredients like coconut meat etc to enhance its delectability and to add variety. Hey, in the olden past, pintos only used ‘coconut milk’ instead of the milk you can buy from grocery stores and Joy says there are Pinto makers who still use coconut milk. Now now… if you are rich, your pintos will use butter in the mixture, otherwise, margarine is fine hehe!

One can get rides from Bogo to places in Masbate and Leyte! Yey! I will try one of those in the future. Promise

There is a new city hall being built (I think I saw it when we approached the city) envisioned to accommodate the supposedly increased number of services when this town became a city. And so on and on…

There is a “heritage square” – a block of old houses still preserved or being preserved to retain their glorious past. Now that got me excited, thanked Joy and started off to get to the hotel so I could start roaming. That is after I got a stern reminder from her that the tricycle ride to the hotel was only seven pesos and no more! Shhh, don’t tell her, I paid with a P10 coin and did not ask for change hehe!

Oh lastly, I learned that Joy lived for about 10 years in QC – and that meant we actually lived near each other. But now her whole family including children are happily settled in Bogo. Proof that Bogo is a fine place to live in? I must believe so!

Nagano Hotel
Alright. Of the things I prepared (or did not prepare) for, only the choice of hotel was pre-done before my departure. I booked last night while still in Cebu – and as if that was advance enough hehe! Joy confirmed that that was a good choice since I wanted to be in the middle of the city.

Though I had some little concerns, Nagano is a fine enough place to leave your bag and roam the city then come back at night to sleep hehe! I arrived around 855AM with no human being at the front desk. So what do I do at an unmanned front desk? Do I start loudly calling with “maayooooooooo”? Ah my wits are a bit sharp in the mornings… I called the hotel’s number using my ‘globe duo’. I heard the phone’s ringing reverberate in the entire lobby. After about four rings, there came a staff running from upstairs hehe! So I clicked my phone off and I was sure the guy was wondering who could have the caller been hehehe… hehe!

I asked who and where Winjie was, told him I reserved for a room last night and Winjie told me on the phone that he had reserved Room 31 for me. Oops, the guy in front of me said it was still occupied and check-out time was still at 12NN. I cannot complain, it was just a few minutes past 9AM. I asked if I could leave my backpack with their desk as I roamed around the city until 12NN. The reply was: if I wanted to switch, Room 41 (same rate) was available. I said yes. So, paid for it and went up panting through the stairs.

Whoa! Room 41 was not just warm; it was uncomfortably hot like a bodega. It smelt like a wet rag and there was no exhaust fan anywhere nor were there windows. The air in there seemed to muffle my nose. Grabbed the intercom and Winjie was the one who answered. I learned that the air-conditioner at room 41 was really acting up. My wits were still up, so I said I would just upgrade to the next available room of a higher rate (Rooms 31 & 41 was P800 w/o bathtub). This was because, I surmised that Room 31, directly below Room 41 would probably be the very same kind of room – only with a well-functioning air-conditioner. No, I don’t like rooms without windows. It makes me feel like my ribcage would crumble. No exhaust fans, and they have the nerve to put an ash tray in there. Gosh!

Was told that Room 36 was available for P1,100 and has queen size bed, windows at both bedroom and bathroom plus a bath tub. Had no choice but to take it. What’s with a bath tub anyway hehe! Do I go places to while away my time in a tub? Nah hehe! Oh, compared to 41 (therefore 31 too), room 36 was splendid! The box air-conditioner (not remote controlled) is way high up at almost the ceiling. And I said my silent thanks as I’m not a fan of direct cold air blowing at any part of me. If you are the one who keep tinkering with their air-conditioners, this one is not for you! Here’s how high it is: I am six foot tall and even if I stood on the bed I could not reach the knobs! But still I said my silent thanks since am not one who would touch that thing at anytime. Oh the TV perched atop the closet was big and good to watch even if I was down on the bed.

There is hot and cold showers whohoa! But I did not use the tub, am not a fan. Opened the bathroom’s window just behind the toilet closet and placed the ashtray there! Fantastic smoking area. Hey, I’m a smoker but I don’t at all like to smoke in an air-conditioned room. Thus, if I close the bathroom door, I was not inside my air-conditioned room. Yey!

The breakfast menu is posted on the room’s wall hehe! I find it weird but easily informative. Went down to take breakfast at second floor, Yanie’s Restaurant KTV and was met with a very good news that… “no food, the chef/cook is not yet around”. Gosh! So I went out of the hotel to first find food and start roaming the city.

Just one more about Nagano, in the evening when I returned, I playfully thought of using the hot tub. Yuck! When I opened the faucet, brown rusty water was all that came out. But I let it pour on and then it disappeared. How many months has this tub not been used anyway hehe! No sweat though, I opted to take a hot shower as I said I am not a fan of tub baths. Owe it to living a generally hectic daily schedule for the past 20 years?!

Oh one last thingy, lunch (and following day’s breakfast) at Yanie’s was good, the chef was already around hehe. But the non-breakfast food, though cheap is usually good for two per serving. So I had to force myself to eat more lest the food be wasted. Ah, the KTV is fine. Best in the city I hear. You can do it publicly in the restaurant area or do it solo or with your friends at the two private rooms just beside!


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