Monday, September 21, 2009

Roaming Camotes, My Way

Planning Session of Sorts!
“Sir, there is none”! That was the reply I got when I asked what modes of public transport were there from the hotel to center of town. “Well then, aren’t there motorcycle rentals or habal-habal rides?” was my next question. The answer… “ah you can arrange that at center of town sir, there are a lot”! Exasperated, I exclaimed “but how can I arrange that at center of town if there is no ride from this mountain?”! Gosh my voice was reverberating in the restaurant all the way to the lobby and probably out into the pool hehe!

No no no, I was not throwing my weight around, even if I could. We were bantering. The hotel crews gathered around me while I enjoyed my free breakfast “alone” at My Little Island Hotel. I still owned it, remember?! Alona, the front desk girl for the morning then said “but Randy will take you there, sir”! And I retorted with “which means I need to pay for that van, correct?”. But before anyone could respond, Randy told me his motorcycle might just be an option, or that of Manong Loloy’s and anyone else’s! Hah, the atmosphere was as if I have been living with all of them for decades and as if I was really their boss with all of them at my beck and call! I think that is what happens to folks who in a hotel without guests. One appears (that’s me) and all of them swarm around hehe! I enjoyed the “bangayan” over my breakfast! In short, I was never alone!

So that was it, the most plausible way to move around was “rent” any of the crews’ motorbikes! I said I need a guide. Randy said its his job! So I asked if he wasn’t manning front desk. Almost all were in a chorus telling me that Alona was around so Randy was free to go. Even the cook was ready to prepare lunch and snacks that can easily be loaded on the motorbike! But I declined and said I usually eat what I see on the road when I get hungry. So, I rent a bike, and Randy goes with me in his bike. Wonderful plan! Then… the breakfast probably popped creative juices in my wicked brain… camera came to mind. Then I remembered it was cumbersome trying to shoot pics while I drove a bike in Siquijor. So, I proposed to ride habal-habal with Randy driving his own bike. And Joel butted in with, “sir, we have thought about that as early as last night when we realized you were traveling alone. But we gave you the options in case you wanted to drive on your own. But yes, you can ride habal-habal and Randy is ready”! See?! These guys are really like they’re all concierge! Aliw!

Mentally calculating the expenses then weighing comfort and convenience… the idea won. So I said, “Randy get ready, we lift off immediately after breakfast”!

Off we go!
And off we went! Plan was to circle Poro Island clockwise starting from the hotel. Then cross unto Pacijan island which is the town of San Francisco. I imagined, visiting all that I wanted to see on these two islands would already take me the whole day.

Initial sights and finds
The roads are fine even on seemingly uninhabited areas. Great countryside too! I just love passing by fields of green, roads lined with trees of various sizes, farmers tending to their crops unmindful of us passing by or gazing mesmerized at the views, animals wandering around, children at play under the shades... I like everything rural.

There are some things unique to this island too. As we moved away from the hotel, I saw a marker showing that we were just a kilometer away from a place with a name that started with the letter A. Hmm, I asked since I already knew that ‘Poro Island’ is composed of just two towns namely Poro and Tudela. So what was that “A” just a kilometer on. Randy educated me that some kilometer markers here are “localized”. They indicate the next place – whether it be a barangay or a town! Whoa, how detailed! I wonder if anyone could still get lost or go astray on this island! So, we were approaching Barangay Adela. Oh that’s why… that was the letter A hehe!

Saw also that there were quite a number of white letterings on the cement or asphalt of the road. They’re written to be read by those passing on the road. On your half of the road, you can read the name, but on the other half its another name. Something like what I drew on that graphic. I know I took a pic of that but I can’t seem too arrange my brain as to where I kept it. Anyway, the markings are names of people. So I asked Randy what they were for. Golly gee, only in Camotes! Those are supposedly delineation marks amongst the barangay or town officials charged with the upkeep of said place. Wow! I further learned that “upkeep” is all-encompassing as far as their agreed power (or service) like cleanliness, green-ness, orderliness, peace and so on. It was such an interestingly mundane find for me hehe!

At Barangay Adela (yes, for those not familiar, a “barangay” means “barrio” but I don’t know why Filipinos customarily capitalize the B) we stopped at a little store for Randy to “gas up”. He got two liters of the liquid contained in two clear glass bottles of Coke and Pepsi! Yes, the “litro” bottles! Amusing! Now who will contest the veracity of that measure since they're contained in clearly marked 1-liter soda bottles?! Ingenious! Was that gasoline? Ah well, probably. But what made me wonder was how come the liquid inside those two bottles differed in color. The contents of the coke bottle was bright red while in the pepsi bottle it was light orange. I have meant to ask about it but I kept a distance away as I lighted up a cig. When we proceeded though, attention of my lowly brain was taken over by many other things. So, I forgot to ask what they were hehe. Sori kayo!

At a house adjacent to the little store (I think both belong to one owner), I chanced upon someone who did not seem to belong in this quiet and very rural place. He’s a fairly aged man surely just a bit beyond retirement, seated in a wheelchair and who looked to me like someone who has just had a debilitating stroke. But I readily recognize people from the urban jungle, in whatever physical condition they may be, I don’t know why. His stance, even if wheelchair-bound told me that he was not a so-so old man. His pajamas also gave it away. The look in his eyes seemed to tell me he was smiling PLUS he made that exquisitely Pinoy gesture of the upward nod with the chin as if pushing the whole head quickly upwards.

As I was a bit far for normal speaking distance, I hollered a “good morning” in the most cheerful way I could. Then he made a slight and slow bow to acknowledge my greeting. The man seemed pleasantly amused at my presence. I could pick that from his smile. I asked “taga-diri ka, sir? do you live here?”. Yeah, exactly that, two languages one question, as I was not even sure if he spoke bisaya! He bowed gently with some kind of a proud face, but it was followed by some kind of a shrug with a bit tilted head to the right, which I did not quite understand. Okay, okay, I may have been imagining his expressions but that was how it came to me, so don’t debate me on this, capice?! I was about to go near and engage him in a bit of hi-hello conversation when Randy said “seeer, let’s go”! That was also when a younger man and a white lady (she was dressed in white eh!) emerged from the house as if to check who the man was speaking to. So I said “bye”! The man raised his right hand a bit and waved goodbye smiling.

As we forded along, Randy asked me if I knew the old man. I said no but I was sure he was not from this place. Then he told me that he heard the old man was/is a wealthy businessman from the city who owns this and that, and this and that business. My… that was a litany! And I see those fine business establishments in Metro Cebu every time I go around. I further learned that even in his condition, the man opted to stay in that place for most part of every year. The memories in my minute brain rushed and all I could think of was… “this is Batanes all over again…” I had a similar encounter there, remember?! Ah btw, Randy also added that the “white-lady” was the old man’s private nurse while the younger man was part of the house-help. Hmm, maybe I should also start thinking of a paradise where I should “retire” few more years from now. Am not sure though if by then I could afford a “white lady”! Hmm too, am not even so sure if the right word for me should be “retire” or “expire” hehehe! Anyway…

Thirty minutes of breezing through a wonderfully rural countryside, we arrived at Bukilat Cave.


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