Friday, December 4, 2009

Apo Island Nightlife

My Negros Oriental Tour: Apo Island Evening and Night Life
When it felt like I was already walking too far to the southern end, I thought I might as well head back for Liberty. But the barrio, yes, where real residents of Apo Island live, caught my attention. There is pavement but more of a bike path than anything you might consider a street or avenue. Well, this is just a little island of fisherfolks and farmers where us visitors keep distracting them so they’re now venturing into some other livelihood opportunities to cater to our needs – like more stores and eateries and at least 3 videoke joints.

Oops and whooom! I was just starting out on the paved path when people everywhere seemed to have loudly rejoiced, stores lit up and children ran for videoke joints or internet shops. What was that?!

Well well well baho ka’g tiil hehe! I realized electric power just went alive! And that told me two things - 1) it was 630PM and 2) time to charge every rechargeable thing I had. So I literally ran for it hehe. Still panting, I plugged the phone, the camera battery and the tablet to start re-charging. Hah!

Why the urgency? Well, I learned during check-in that electric power in this island is only from 630PM to 930PM of any godforsaken day hehehe! But am not complaining! Why, didn’t I know about that beforehand? Because I did not ask beforehand! Could we fault Liberty about this? You can, but as for me, am not complaining. Inconvenience, like beauty, is to me relative. Depends on how you see it and on which side of the coin you prefer to wallow in!

Okay the night-life… or Apo Island life at night.
While them chargeables started to goad on power, I started back to roam the little barrio of Apo Island which was now remarkably noisier. Why? Because locals and foreign guests alike were all queued up at every available videoke machine in the island for a 3-hour chance of croaking their favourite tunes in those machines that blare a lot of decibels to every nook and cranny.

I walked the concrete path that seemed winding in no particular direction. Note that this is their superhighway! As this is just a barrio, there is no urban planning as you might see in metropolis villages. Houses seem built at will and can face any direction the owner wanted. It actually looks like the pathways came later after houses were erected. And this one that they concreted is probably the most trodden. I did not see canals nor ditches for drainage etc. There were puddles on some parts of the concrete path. And there are no rides! Yes no cars or anything like that. The most of what you’ll see for transportation are the few motorbikes and bicycles.

Restaurants? Well, Liberty has, but most of what you can call an eatery along the concrete path are actually little stores that lately have started cooking and serving food to visitors – and locals. There’d be chairs or benches and a table for folks who want to eat or drink – and that would usually be at a few inches from the pathways. There also are cottages erected by each "purok" (a subdivision of a barangay) where you can hang-out and settle with your food and drinks bought anywhere. Those are not by the beach but by the concrete pathways where everyone pass! So don’t expect exclusivity or privacy as this is such a closely knit barrio where everyone is supposed to interact with everyone else. Example: at the videoke.

How is it done? You drop your 5 peso coin to the machine and push the buttons for the song number – even if someone else is singing still. In fact, others not necessarily related to the one singing may have also dropped their coins and chosen their songs. You can see the song numbers queued up at the upper portion of the TV. Once the next song is flashed, he who entered that code grabs the microphone and sing! Thus, if you want to have a concert, drop coins and enter codes in succession. And while waiting for your song to come, you hang around with all other folks either waiting for their songs or just there to watch. Very public and very communal – which starts interactions and friendships. This was the case of 3 sexy Europeans who enjoyed singing (and dancing) “nobody nobody” with the local children.

Observing the few visitors around, I noticed that they tend to drink what local folks do. So, the sexy euro girls were drinking red horse while two euro dudes were enjoying Tanduay at another little store. Most visitors here are Europeans, but yes, the K folks are also present. In fact, it seemed that I was the sole Filipino who was “visitor” on this island at that time. A group of about 6 or 8 Russians were also walking the path and shooting pics of the singing and dancing. Yep, three of them had a short conversation with me when I was at “their” beach in front of Apo Island Beach Resort earlier in the afternoon. So I knew where they come from.

The other and seemingly more popular videoke is also a little store at about the middle of the island near the end of the concrete path. It has no chairs nor tables to be called a restaurant. They just put out monobloc chairs when there are tourists who come to drink and sing. It though has a wide frontage (not concrete) so more people can hang around or dance as others sang on the videoke. Thus, more people are naturally attracted to this place – its actually far from where I started by following the concrete path, though I sensed it was some kind of a circular letter C that I followed. I had the feeling that Liberty would have been just a few more meters from this place but I did not ask.

So, other than the videoke machines, people would either be tending to their dinners or just hanging around in huddles. That is Apo Island in the evenings.

Ah, on this roam, I thought I felt droplets of rain while I was watching all the singing and dancing over at the 2nd videoke place. So I started to retrace my way via the concrete path to Liberty. Passed by a souvenir shop at some corner. It looked dainty and different to the rest of what you see in this village. Out of place if I can call it that hehe. It’s an interesting little hut where the souvenirs for sale are displayed. It has subdued yellow lighting. There are artworks and artistic things. Bob Marley music and voila, the shopkeeper is a cool dude who sports a long braided kinky hair. Very reggae!

Reaching Liberty at 8PM the waitress immediately told me that my dinner was ready. So I climbed the steps towards the restaurant. Hmm, many of the guests were merrily dining. Waitress said that my food was already cold as it was ready and waiting since 730PM as I have instructed. But it was still warm and good. Tastes well, though I think the rice servings should be a little bit more. Good jazzy music was also all over Liberty’s restaurant and it felt a bit upscale in there with subdued yellow lights and the evening breeze. SanMigLight of course followed my dinner. But as I solitarily perched on my bamboo chair while all the others (in groups) were having conversations, I thought of getting my camera and run to take a picture of that dainty little souvenir shop since it was not raining anymore. Beer bottle in hand, I walked all the way there and quickly returned. Why? Because it was already past 9PM.

What about 9PM anyway? Taps at 930PM, remember?! Hehehe yes, the island's electric power would go off at that time so everything will be pitch dark. So I saw to it that I was at Liberty’s – my room in fact, when it did so. Before I went to the room though, restaurant crews asked if I would want to bring some beer. I said “give me three” and a waiter went down to my room with me bringing the three bottles. There’s no fridge of course, but at least there is a small table at the veranda to put them bottles as they waited for me to gulp them one by one.

Next? I opened the notebook and started tapping these notes as I waited for blackout to envelop the resort hehe! And at about 925PM, power went down so the lights went off but quickly went on again. I went out to ask what that was. A hotel crew told me that it was a “warning sir”! Warning for what? That in about 5 minutes it will be total darkness. Duu! But come to think of it, I was half-excited to experience it. When was the last time I had been in a place where there was no electric power? I already forgot how it feels! Oh it rained, and it rained hard. Ack!

So it came… exactly 930PM, the place went totally dark. Them resort guests who were still out at the barrio when that happened started trickling in… some with their own flashlights, others accompanied by barangay officers. Some with umbrellas, some drenching in the rain. But all seemed giggling and really having fun. Many went up to the restaurant and continued their “party” amidst candle lights.

What about the barrio? Well, time to sleep! And to think, this is about the time many folks I know over at Eastwood in Libis, would start going home from their offices. Quite a different life eh!

If you want to read the chronology of all stories on this tour, click the following:
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35
36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65


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