Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Marvelous Mabinay

My Negros Oriental Tour: Mabinay Town Center
Alright, still with Bais as a base, I unrelentingly headed off to Mabinay despite the on-and-off showers. But first, lets pronounce this word correctly. Mabinay is pronounced as "muh-be-nigh". The 'ma' sounds like the way you would say it in 'mother', not as in 'many'. Its nearer but not quite as in 'marine' or 'matter'. So just stick with ‘mother’, okay? The 'bi' is pronounced like the English word 'be' while the 'ay' in 'nay' sounds like the letter 'I'. If you haven’t quite got it, any Philippine language does not have the long 'a' as in cake, make or bake. Okay? Ah the speed, accent or stress in pronouncing Mabinay is like how you would say marina or martini. So, let’s go!

Taking a Ceres from Bais, I knew I was going up the mountains but OMG the views were breathtaking. This is the 3rd of 4 non-coastal localities in the province I was going to, and going Mabinay was way different from going Valencia or going Pamplona. The views from the ever ascending highway are just grand, overlooking Bais and Bais bay, Tanon straight and just about the whole area way down until Tanjay. Wow and wow – even if it was a hazy and drizzly morning. I was going up to what they call a cave town after all!

Cave town yes, and springs and waterfalls and mountain resorts. But I was not going to any of them. Just the town center, remember? This experience was like going to one of the towns or barrios off La Trinidad. There was also thick fog (not smog, I hope) along the way! Coolness! That should not be surprising as this town sits in the middle of Negros island’s southern half. My conductor tells me that it takes about the same time to travel from Bais to Mabinay as Mabinay to Bayawan or Mabinay to Kabankalan City on Occidental Negros, just about an hour or so, around 50 kilometers each way. Wow, this is a crossroad high altitude town!

Yeah yeah, I even itched to ruin my itinerary and go peep at Kabankalan. But one side of me lowly brain stayed firm… Negros Oriental first hehe!

Arrival. In Mabinay, buses arrive and depart from a wide area of a parking lot in front of the public market. Though the parking area itself is not concrete, it is not too muddy as there are mostly stones or little rocks. Well, at least it won’t be hot when the sun is up - if it's any consolation hehe. BUT, it is fronted by the widest concrete road in town. I was not even sure if it was just a road or part of a park where a road traverses as the concrete is just so wide. It’s even a bit tricky where to look when crossing since vehicles pass anywhere in that wide expanse hehe. Why did I want to cross to the other side of the big road? Let’s do that later.

I did not cross yet, because, there was something that caught my nostrils’ attention – food! Conveniently, the eatery stalls of the market are lined just beside where the buses would park. And since it was a cold rainy morning up in a cool town in the middle of the island, the smoke and aroma from all the cooking easily dominated the air. Ah, I did not even recall if I had breakfast over at La Planta that morning, but I dug into one of the little eateries! Because? I smelled and saw my favorite 'nilat-an' and very-well fried fish! I looked at the time and it was only 1012AM. Who cares hehe, I eat when able. I just told myself that would be a delectable morning snack with rice! Yumm! Bad news… most of these small eateries serve only pepsi products. I had to walk to a store for coke. Haayz!

Alright, and this is why I wanted to go to the other side of the highway. I finally crossed to what seemed like a rotunda that has a garden with a welcome marker. I thought there’d be a monument or some kind of historical anything there as the rotund has a nice green garden with well maintained shrubberies and flowering plants. None (that I saw). Its just a beautiful landscaped rotund to give us visitors a comely sight perchance to balance the view of the hectic public market and bus station across. Hah, how many towns in this country do ever have the luxury of having such a thing? Not so many am sure! Well, across this rotund going out south of town (from where I entered) are lines of other commercial establishments and homes. And mind you, the welcome rotund is not (yet) the municipal hall park nor the church park! So okay, let’s go there.

I walked onwards learning that the church and municipal hall are somewhere there. My mind was asking ‘what is this place?’! As I continued with my walk, I was still on such a wide space of concrete to my left and it had started back at the public market. Yeah there was some kind of a grassy field with a stage and some men were busy preparing something like Christmas decors. But what was this wide spaces of concreted ground? They’re way beyond the road and way too wide that there are even movable steel fences to divide the area? I knew it was a municipal something, but was not real clear what for! Maybe a future parking area since it cannot be a municipal palay-drying field hehe. That’s not the main produce of this town. Ah, wide spaces everywhere else, at least not concrete. Houses (the residences, not those in the market) do not stand side by side. There always are gardens or patches of green in between them and/or them and the streets. Wow! And the church too!

Yes the church… the Sto Nino Parish of Mabinay is nothing grand compared to most churches of this province that I have seen so far. But there is that consistent curious luxury in this town with having very wide prime real estate around each house or building – and of course church. I even mused that it probably is an ordinance here… that a place must have wide gardens hehe! Needless to say, the church is fine enough in size but it looks small due to the very wide space of greens around it. Nice yellow-bells everywhere, right?! Plus those big trees behind, they seem to flourish in what could be a mini-forest. Hah, how much could be a parcel of land in this town hehe.

Well, their church is fairly new… or at least being reconstructed during my visit such that it looks modern. But my goodness that is such a big image of Sto Nino up there at the roof’s apex! The church’s bell that hangs just a few inches below its feet looks so miniature hehe. It is not really that gigantic a Sto. Nino, but, its size compared to the church fa├žade makes it look real big. Okay, the walls were yet unpainted during my visit. But I could already imagine it would be such a dainty looking church when fully painted. Let’s go inside.

Uhuh, this parish must be way far from a shortage of generous donors. Reconstructions and refurbishments are simultaneously in progress from the outside to the inside. I think I can actually say it is a total reconstruction from the roof, down to the floor, walls and altar. It was such a hectic activity that all I could hear in this church were banging hammers against metal, cement, wood and what have you! The echo made me shiver and I could not last that long inside this church. Oh yes, I noticed there was no ceiling yet so the criss-crossing trusses and frames were clearly visible. Mind you, chandeliers were already hanging at various points of the church interiors. Hmm, I hope they will eventually decide on which will reign supreme in this church - the good old wooden pews or the monobloc chairs hehe. This will be a fine parish in the end, I think!

Outside of the church? Ah, well, just look at the collage of pictures below. To think, I was there on a rainy morning... how much more if it were a fine breezy summer morning?!

After the church I walked even more onwards to their municipal hall. And it also looks fairly new. Is this a new town? No, never. This town has been separated long ago from Bais as an independent municipality. They’re just probably conscious at ensuring that their surroundings are always looking good and beautiful. Thus, the seemingly new building for a seat of government. I think the paint job is not yet quite done as there are still different shades of red hehe. Hey, that light-green shade by the main entrance is not paint. Those are tiles! But this building alone, is not what makes their municipal hall quite a sight. Just look at the picture and tell me where else you’d see something like this! There’s a sea of red santan flowers wherever they want it to be! And I wonder how they are able to tell the butterflies and the bees not to pollinate yellow and other-colored flowers in the area, just red!. Everything is red!

There is one curious thing about the area, and that’s their municipal auditorium (to the left if you’re facing the municipal hall)). Look at it… big wide dome with big big green pillars holding it. And of course inside is the basketball court, bleachers etc. But there is something in the middle… yeah that concrete structure that seems to be an arch. Does not match the whole thing right? First I thought its some kind of ruins or remains of an old building. Then again it looks like its new but unkempt. Circling it, I noticed that on the back side (facing the basketball court) this thing is actually a stage! Clever! Yes, it needs some scrubbing hehe!

Other side of the municipal hall’s big frontage (right side) continues the sprawling park and there is Rizal’s monument. Note, those flowers are not santan, they’re a different kind, but colored red just the same! I am almost sure this whole area must be such a wonderful place to laze around during summer afternoons. Oh hey, laze around? Look at Rizal’s picture again. Did you notice that big tree on the left edge of the photo? Its not just a big tree, there’s a big tree-house! Oh wow! Ah, that building over behind the tree (and the tree house) is I think their hospital or health center. That would be directly behind the municipal hall, though it has its own entrance from the right side of the park. And across that is an elegant-looking native restaurant with a curious but friendly dog by the door and another dog scattering the trash by the entrance hehehe!

Ah Mabinay. I will be back in this place soon, I think. Well, I must! Right, Sebast?!!!

But for now let me go back to Bais so I can check out from La Planta and proceed northwards of the province hehe!

If you want to read the chronology of all stories on this tour, click the following:
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