Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Human Rides of Sabang: A “How To”

We are still on the Caramoan topic. And this "Sabang" being mentioned is just halfway there. Its a little barrio by the beach, in the town of San Jose, which is the end of your van ride from Naga, and where begins your boat ride to Caramoan. To get on the boat, you have to ride on a human being! The reverse (arriving from Caramoan) is of course the same thing.

How do we, the tourists, do these ‘human rides’ to avoid glitches? I mean you and me who do not have access to the governor’s helicopter? Here are what I can tell you…

Choose wisely
That means, the taller the ‘porter’, the better. Why? Because the deepest portion of the sea that they’ll carry you to, can be from chest-deep to neck-deep, depending on how tall (or how shorty) the porter is! And you’ll be sitting by his shoulder! Be realistic with how heavy and how big you think you are. Why? Because you cannot be sitting on a smaller human being for him to carry you across, without accidentally dropping you unto the sea waters! It happens! These thugs will claim they can carry you, even if they look like just half your size, build or height! But, choose wisely!

Hmm, for the fussy metrosexuals, you will be in physical contact with whoever will be carrying you. But you have the right to smell and choose which of them you think does not anymore reek too much of last night’s alcoholic drinking session. Well yes, you also have the right to choose who does not smell like they have not taken a bath for the past so many days even if the big sea is just right under everyone’s noses, literally!. Hint: this is not an easy task! Thus, when all else fail, and you really have to pick one, just close your eyes! Oops no no, just don’t inhale them hehe! You have to open your eyes wide for proper balance!

There are ‘norms’ for proper embarkation and disembarkation to/from this ‘human ride’!

Observe Proper 'Boarding Procedures'!
Beach-to-boat (going to Caramoan)
Man or child stand and spread legs apart, porter kneels and inserts his head from behind so that his nape catches the crotch of the passenger. Porter then stands, holds passenger by the knees and run for it!

Woman stands with legs together, porter kneels, woman sits on one shoulder, porter stands and grabs the woman’s knees or legs, then run for it.

Boat-to-beach (arriving from Caramoan)
You drop yourself howsoever you can from anywhere on the boat where you and your chosen porter may deem doable. Drop what? Your very self! Yes yes, your dear sexy body! You hold and cling to whatever you can grab and slowly lower your very own self to the porters shoulders so that you assume the above described positions. For many, best to do this is at the boat’s plank. Tricky though since boat and plank may be swaying with the waves!

Simple, right?! Yeah, very! And you can say that again! Just note that in all cases above, passenger and porter should be facing in the same direction. Otherwise, if you’re a male passenger, your high heavens would be in the face of the porter and he wont see anything but darkness! And, if you’re the female passenger facing otherwise, there’d be nothing for the porter to hold you by!

Then you have to…

Sit properly!
How? Well, be creative hehe. Like how?! As said above, all will perch on the shoulders of that man carrying them. Men have a more secure ride, and probably easier for the porters to carry even if heavy. They sit on the nape (meaning their crotch is at the porters’ nape) with legs spread apart, left thigh on left shoulder of porter, right thigh on right shoulder and feet dangling in front of the porter who holds them at the knees. Alternatively, you can actually wedge your feet (from the shin to your toes) to the back of the porter by letting it pass under his armpits. That makes it a more secure "clip". If the male passenger must hold on to something – which is highly recommended – there is only the head of the porter to cling to. They must clutch unto that one and only forehead howsoever oily or smelly it may be and whether drenching in sweat or not!

Females sit on one shoulder with legs together and knees or legs held by the porter. Woman must also hold on to something – and that is still the head of the porter. Just make sure you are not clinging so hard as to crush his skull. Avoid covering the eyes of the porter with parts of your hands or arms when clinging to his head so he knows where to bring you. And when I say “cling” you have to do it with your arms, NOT grabbing the porter by the hair lest you accidentally peel his scalp off! Its okay to shout “yuuuck or eeeew” as you get the feel of his oily forehead or perspiration. Kesa naman malaglag ka!

Disembark With Caution!
Beach-to-boat (going to Caramoan)
For men and children, your porter will bow his head a bit and push your butt on to the boat’s plank. That plank is tied to the boat’s side at the upper end and dangling or floating at the lower portion. You have to have a tall porter carrying you to ensure you do not disembark unto the submerged portion of the plank. As for the women, same as above though boatman’s head does not have to go under your butts!

Whatever the case, remember to grab and hold on to any part of the boat while the porter attempts to push you off his shoulders. The plank is not (yet) the safest place you can be as boat keeps moving with the waves!

Boat-to-beach (arriving from Caramoan)
For men and children, porter will kneel on the sand until your feet are firmly standing on it. You widen the gap between your legs to release his head. Generally, you should make a backward step so you are not as if stepping over him. But what the hell, just get off him quickly in whatever manner you can imagine!

Women, once you are lowered unto the sand, you’ll already be standing fine. No frills, the man can easily stand up once you are off his shoulders. But he too has the option to faint or expire right on that spot, especially if you are as big as a bus! If that happens, just say “merese”! For how dare him attempt to carry you when he already saw that you’re as wide as any normal door frame, right?! So, good riddance to him hahaha!

Important reminders
I asked some of those porters how many “accidental droppings” or “accidental wettings” occur in this place. The unanimous reply was “probably one or two a day”! Gosh! Thus,

Protect your things. That means those that cannot be wet must be packed in individual waterproof containers before you place them inside your bag or backpack. “You can never can tell” di ba Ronald?! You or your bag might be that “one or two a day” to be “accidentally” dropped on the water! In my case, once I know I am going to ride a waterbourne conveyance, I place the laptop in a plastic zip and I have a smaller one for the phone, wallet, camera, batteries, USB sticks, etc., Hey, even my Lonely Planet book has its own plastic zip. Its nothing expensive, they’re usually called ‘resealable sandwich bags’ in most supermarkets!

No assurance that feet wont get wet. Especially if you chose a “punggok” of a porter. So, wear shorts or any beachwear! For the guys, wearing real boardshorts is advisable since they have just one pocket or no pockets at all, so you are forced to pack those phones, wallets, etc inside your bags. Wear slippers or footwear that are okay to get wet. Just make sure you grip those tongs well with your toes when on the water since your porter cannot be chasing your drifting havaianas with you on his shoulders!

If there is a problem…
I very highly doubt if any of them porters will do anything to appease you if you or your bags accidentally fell on the water. I doubt if you can sue for damages whether material or moral!

And. don’t start throwing your “(figurative) weight” around. You are at the mercy of these thugs. If they sense you are irritating them, you might just become that “one or two a day” that gets “accidentally” dropped on the water. And if that happens, see previous paragraph!

When in doubt…
Get them to carry your things dry, but walk or swim your way to the boat as some passengers I’ve seen do! It’s a clean beach anyway! But when still in doubt, you might want to reconsider going to Caramoan. I will not recommend this trip to some family and friends who are on the extra-large side and the dear fragile septuagenarians. No I won’t also advise those who have walking problems to go Caramoan just yet - because of this human carrying business at Sabang.

For a chronology of this trip's stories, click these numbers:
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

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