Thursday, December 3, 2009

Should I Not or Sould I? Hesitations at Malatapay

My Negros Oriental Tour: Malatapay
Malatapay (pronounced ‘muh-luh-tuh-pie’ in the speed and accent as you would say malevolent or Carribean) is a barangay 5kms north of town center but still part of Zamboanguita. Note from my previous post that it was only P10 from central area to Malatapay. That should not be the normal case. Why? Listen to this… as of the time I rode, the going rate was/is P5 per person, but the trike can carry 10 passengers or more. That should mean P50 for a fully loaded ride. Thus, if I were traveling alone, that would have meant I commissioned the entire trike ride. Therefore, I should have paid at least P50, right? Well, it was the manong driver himself who declared P10 and I only had to say yes, hehe!

Again, that is not normal… I was just lucky he lives in the Malatapay area and wanted to go home as he did not like the drizzly afternoon. So, instead of going home on an empty trike, he opted to take me for just P10 (with the commanding instructions of the lolal hehe)! When we arrived anyway, I fished out a P20 paper bill and gave it to manong driver telling him to keep everything. I thought that was fair enough for the comfy solo ride. Drizzly afternoon? Well, I knew it was not a good sign. I was to cross a body of water and the sky was dark than usual, there was thunder and lightning with sporadic light showers. Hah? OMG, OMG really! Anyway…

So I reached Malatapay. Yes, the ‘market encounter’ area called ‘tabo-an’. But this was a Friday afternoon and I know this place would only buzz into action every Wednesday. And on a showery afternoon, the stalls were virtually like an abandoned market. In a sense it really is anyway hehe – those many stalls are abandoned until the next Wednesday. I saw only 5 people at the hut that serves as Registration Center, Pre-Departure Area, Information Center and Barangay outpost. Here you write your name on a registration sheet as all visitors must do so. After paying the P100 fee, I gathered my most friendly face and tone then asked the officer in-charge what the registration fee was for. He replied that the money goes to the community fund that is used to maintain the marine sanctuary, which is the whole of Apo Island. I wanted to ask more but dropped the idea as my questions in mind might have been considered offensive.

I instead asked where Perno was, and the man pointed to a tiny little outrigger boat. My little eyes grew widest and a lump in my throat seemed to have suddenly materialized. Now I was not worried or concerned. I was just plainly scared! The dear little wooden boat was already bobbing mightily up and down with the waves of the day. I was not sure they were big waves but dear Perno seemed too small for them. Oh, Perno is not a person hehe! Its the name of this tiny little boat that Me-Ann told me earlier on the phone was going to be my ride. Look at the pic more as Perno might seem big. There is actually a similar boat behind it (where the upright paddle is). So Perno is thin and short.. and… OMG. I started to think if I should back out.

Then I asked where Pinky might be. Now that is not a finger, she is a beautiful person hehe! The registration man pointed me to a hut and told me to ask the people wearing green. Reaching the hut, I asked who Pinky was. When she acknowledged, I said I am PT. Looking embarrassed, she said “sorry sir, I thought you were not Pinoy. Dismissed her apology and told her I am used to it. Then she introduced me to the other folks with her – two hunks in green shirts - the boatmen, sorry I forgot their names… and a woman owner of the boat (yes Perno) whose name I also forgot. I was about to ask Pinky a question but she continued speaking “sir, let’s just wait for about 15 minutes more since two other guests are coming from Dumaguete”…

The question I was about to ask was “all five of us are riding in the small boat?” and OMG she just mentioned that there were two more! Ack! Now I was already really considering dropping the whole Apo Island idea. All of them told me it was okay; that the waves were already smaller; that high winds have subsided; that there has not been any accident in this area so far; that the heavier the boat (with people) the easier the ride, and so on. I tried to absorb all those things they said and told them I’ll spend the “waiting time” looking around Malatapay. I was very obviously already a wreck just thinking about the impending “eventuality” of crossing to Apo Island! So roaming around might help me forget my fright.

Oh Malatapay is a beach. A long stretch that is and it looks out to Apo Island and Siquijor further out in the haze of the pesky rainy afternoon skies. The fine grayish-brownish sand is good enough, though there are not so many developments along this shoreline. More of just for the fishermen and some vacation homes. I think sunrise should be splendid in this area, with the sun coming out from behind Siquijor or therearounds in the far horizon – if the skies were not acting up like today. Ack! This area is basically a pier that has a weekly market encounter, thus, the many empty nipa/bamboo stalls. But the wharf is useless hehe!

Okay, they made a concrete wharf where no boat ever uses. Over at the water’s edge, the pavement has even already succumbed to the mightier sea hehe! I asked one of the green-shirted crews of Perno why no boat seem to be using the wharf. He told me that it was not safe nor practical as the little boats would keep bobbing and swaying with the waves in that deeper portion of water, making it difficult to load cargoes or passengers. Hmm, oo nga naman. So, whoever built it, either did not use his coconut or was dreaming big ships would come to this place whahehehe! Anyway, there is a very long stretch of sand for all the boatmen to “park their vehicles” with hulls hugging the soft sand for a more steady loading or unloading operation.

Hey there is a newly built public toilet and I was not sure if it was actually already in use as both doors were closed and there were no people using it as there were only a few of us around. That brings one of my questions that I decided not to throw at the officer earlier. Malatapay is part of Zamboanguita where you cross to Apo Island that is part of Dauin. Where does my P100 registration go then? To the maintenance of this little wharf or to the maintenance of the island? Am just guessing the two towns do probably split that hehe. Bakit ko ba pinapakialaman yan kasi?! Wala lang… just to keep me from thinking that I would soon cross the rough seas in a small boat with 6 other people. Duuu!

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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