Sunday, November 27, 2011

At Barangay Gilutongan Island

Yep, the barangay is the island and the island is the barangay. Aside from ‘Island & Sun Beach Resort’ I did see some other smaller resorts beside and nearby. There were even some private vacation houses of some well-to-do families. Being so, they were mostly devoid of humanity, since this was not vacation time! If at all, one that has always more people as visitors was something that Alvi told me as the “pool house”. He suggested that I walk towards it, probably even have lunch there, and eventually take my ride on a public boat back to mainland Mactan. So I did.

That “pool house” is supposed to be at the western end of Gilutongan, facing Mactan and mainland Cebu. The other end is Island & Sun Beach Resort. I remember he told me I would really see the barrio, or a section thereof on the way to this “pool house”. I noticed there are no roads. Just pathways of either sand or rocky grounds made of sharp coralline material. No farms too, for what would be good to plant in such kind of earth. Am not sure if I even saw real soil hehe, its mostly sand and/or rocky grounds with grass and small trees! Most houses are hubbed on the ‘other’ (southern) side of the island that also seems to have a good beach and mangrove areas.

I got curious at something that most homes had – gigantic concrete “pots” about as tall as the houses. From a distance my eyes were growing big in awe as I wondered what they were. But when I got near one, I realized those are rain-water reservoirs. I just guessed that since all had that gutter-like connection from the roofs. I was silently laughing at the thought of asking folk dancers try the 'sayaw sa banga' with those hehehe! Hmm, that made me remember I was on a tiny island, therefore ground water here must be sea water. So they have had to be ingenuous at collecting water for their needs. Rain water? Wouldn’t that be acidic? Acid rain? Well, then again, if you are in such a small island, what are the choices? I asked a child who was curiously watching me and I learned that they all get their drinking water from Cordova. Oh my!

After mazing through fronts and backs of houses (there are no clear cut roads, remember?), and after being barked upon by a number of dogs guarding their respective dwellings, I finally saw the other end of this island and continued on to stumble upon an office. Yes there is an office! The first concrete structure I saw aside from Island & Sun and the vacation houses! Signage says it is the Gilutongan Marine Sanctuary. Oh okay, so this is that marine sanctuary that is always part of the snorkeling tours being advertised by many operators over at Punta Engaño! And I noticed the ‘building’ does have a silvery water-tank, therefore it probably has a water pump that can sip fresh ground water? Hmm, I doubted that, but there was no one to ask. Noon time. People must have either been at lunch or taking their siesta. And the dogs were everywhere! Would have been nice to hear a word or two about the ‘marine sanctuary’, how they maintain it and so on. Anyway…

I continued northwards via the rocky edge of the island and there it was. I did not expect I was already looking at the side of the “pool house”, and when I got nearer, I realized it was/is a restaurant named “FULL HOUSE”! It’s a simple restaurant attempting to be a cross between a fastfood and a ‘native’ restaurant. Quite hectic, almost all patrons were the K groups and aside from the wife of a white man, I think I was the only “native” who entered the place at that time. Bestseller? Chicken barbecue and other grilled things. I would have easily binged in this place for a thing called lunch as its prices are not very expensive (just expensive), but the untended tables after guests left, the wet floor, wet utensils and seemingly everything else wet made me think twice. And when the army of flies even tried to feast on my arms when I was just even holding the menu, my decision became final. I will look for lunch elsewhere over at Cordova!

So I asked the restaurant crews where I could find the public boats going to Cordova or anywhere on Mactan. Everyone seemed ultra-surprised. Instead of replying to my query, they first had to ask how I arrived at their place. Immediately followed by some kind of a declaration that those who lunched at their place are people who come from those snorkeling tours so everyone had a boat. I jokingly said I flew in via a broom, though am sure they sensed I got irritated that they seemed to be looking down upon me having no chartered boat of my own. I asked again and finally one waitress described to me where I might find the public boats. Its not from any of the wharves that I could see. I learned those were all “private”. Its after all at the beach, just meters away from where I arrived at on this island.

Ack! That meant I had to weave myself through the rocky grounds again and those fences and back of houses and thorny trees and the dogs, to find the public boats going back to Cordova! So I did. And when I reached that beach (it was not easy without a road ha!) a boat had just pushed back. It was already a bit far and the engine has just started. Call it paying things forward… one of the men who rode with me on my chartered ride to this island was in the area and he immediately started shouting and jumpin for the departing boat to notice. They did. And he called that I wanted to take the ride. A boatman shouted back with instructions that they can pick me up over near a protruding rock that they pointed to. So I made a run for it! Gosh!

Good that the part of the beach where I had to run was not all sand, so I was able to run faster. And the rock where they were supposed to pick me at had deeper waters even at low tide so they could come nearer without running their boat aground. It means something… I had to wade myself out into the sea to catch the boat. But luckily, the deepest I had to wade in was just up my thigh area. Of course my board shorts got wet, but only up to that level. Wallet and phone were safely dry (I forgot to transfer them to my little camera bag hehe). Passengers were all along watching me and when I looked at their faces, all seemed to have that “Mona Lisa” expression. Yeah yeah, I heard two dudes cursing, saying these K people are such an annoyance. They shut up and could not look me in the eye when I was already on board and said “thanks kaayo” to the boatman and declared a ‘to whom it may concern’ “sorry, pasensya na sa istorbo” while looking at all of them passengers. Whaahehehe, I love myself!

Nice and easy ride back to Mactan as we passed the many boats on snorkeling tours. I was seated front for I was last to board. A man seated near me threw in some questions amidst the engine roar, like he was asking how I was related to that man at the beach who shouted for this boat to stop and wait for me. I said I just happened to have talked to him at that area. He said he thought I was the fiancé of that man’s daughter since he saw that we arrived on the island together. I just smiled and said “dili”, okay maybe I grinned hehe, but in my head I was laughing at so many things people mistake me for!. And I mused at a very consistent observation I have about life in remote islands – their eyes and ears are always better than hidden CCTV cameras hahaha!

Alirghtie, we arrived at Cordova and it was still low tide, so the boatman had to also steer the heavy boat (with us the many passengers) along the shallows until we reached land. See those people on the water? They were the picnickers in the area I mentioned two articles ago. They really have to wade to/from those rocks and mounds among the mangroves where the videoke restaurant is just to have a good time in this area. Well, at high tide, they do probably ride boats – motorized or not. But what an experience worthy enough to land in my diary.

Yes, what an experience!

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