Saturday, November 26, 2011

Going To ‘Island & Sun Beach Resort’, Gilutongan

When I asked the front staff of Cordova Reef Village Resort if I could go to their ‘Island & Sun Beach Resort’, his reply was “of course sir, its P500 for a day-tour, P1200 for the boat good for 8 to 10 persoms”. I clarified that there was no 8 to 10 people since I was alone and wanted to go “now”. His eyes grew wide as if he was seeing some apparition of sorts. He ran to front desk and returned with the following information… P800 for my boat ride to and from the island, plus the above day-tour rate but I’ll have to wait a while since lunch will still be prepared and will be loaded with me on the boat. Nge! I asked if they did not have a facility on that island. The reply was “there is, but having no guests today, provisions are not available right now”. Argh!

That meant if I had to wait for the lunch to be whipped, I would have been wasting time and it was already noontime. Plus, even if the boat fare was already reduced to P800, it was still very expensive for me to go there just for a peep of the place with no plans of even dipping in whatever water there was. Even the front office staff both agreed it would have been too expensive if I really just wanted to see the place and not do anything else. But, not wanting to give up just yet, I asked if that was the only way, if the island was itself the resort just like Sumilon, or if the resort was just a part of the island with other resorts or residences in it. Boom! I hit the right note!

Front office staff told me that ‘Island & Sun Beach Resort’ actually sits on what is called Gilutongan Island – a barangay of Cordova. They pronounce that in four syllables that goes ‘he’ like when you would say “he is here”; ‘lu’ like the way you’d pronounce the nickname “Lou”; ‘to’ pronounced as th eEnglish word "to" (not Tagalog, okay?); and “ngan” pronounced like how you would say “gun” but just make it nasal by placing a letter ‘n’ before the ‘g’. So, if you’re a native English speaker, its like how you would read this: “he-lou-to-ngun”! Anyway, the helpful staff told me I can actually go by public boat to Gilutongan and walk my way to Island & Sun Beach Resort. Yun naman pala! So I asked where I could find those public boats. They showed me the way – its actually the end of Cordova’s main road that I was walking on earlier before I headed left to enter Cordova Reef Village Resort! I asked how much would be the fare on those public boats and I was told P30. Yes, just thirty pesos! So I went for it! Yey!

At the docks, a boat has just departed and I could still see it inching its way out. The next in line was waiting for passengers. There were only two souls so far! Ack! So I stood there with them, watching people swimming in the shallows or having karaoke at those little shacks by the rocks and mangroves. Hey, at low tide, these folks must walk the shallows just to find the best place for a picnic! Its kinda weird, but unless you want to picnic by the mud flats, you’ll have to do what everyone does hehe. But I was waiting for a boat to leave for Gilutongan, and I could not wait any longer lest the sun already set on me. Plus I was excited, okay?! So I asked the boatman what was the capacity of his boat. He said “ten persons” and without me asking he added that he could immediately go for just P200! Hmm, that was quick! I want to call that business acumen and foresight hehe.

Learning there are still public boats that I could catch without making a special trip on return, I agreed to charter the boat one way at P200, and so I was asked to board. I suggested we also take the other passengers – other than me, there were now 3 adults and a child waiting for a ride. So the boatman told them to hop on in. And without me asking, boatman said my charter rate was being reduced to P120. I asked why, and I think he mistook that as I was kinda complaining. So he explained that there were two adults who will pay regular fare, plus one child, plus one senior citizen. Smiling, I told him I will still pay P200 so don’t get any fare from them saying “kauban mi tanan”. That got everyone laughing and the other passengers thanked me profusely as if I gave them Christmas bonuses hehe! It felt good giving them a free ride! It was just for P200 anyway – as compared to the resort’s P800!

So off we went! But boat could not immediately whirrrr its engine and zoom away. Because of low tide, boatman needed to navigate his boat inch by inch amidst the shallows, using just a long bamboo pole to push against the ground, taking care not to hit the boat’s hull against sand or the younger mangrove trees. This was such a quiet and slow process it probably took 15 minutes or more. And for some reason, I liked it! It gave us passengers time to chat and banter, actually my co-passengers interviewed me – as usual wherever I go in this country hehe. Though I too got to ask them. Like I learned the senior went to a hospital for her check-up, the kid was just tailing her mother who went to town to buy things and so on.

When we were in open waters, engine roared and off we were to Gilutongan. No more talk since we could barely hear each other as the engine’s sound was lording over our ears hehe! For about 30 minutes… and there we were on the island! But let’s do that story next, okay?!

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