This is a town, somewhere in (Western) Samar, along the Maharlika Highway between the cities of Calbayog and Catbalogan. I passed by this place many number of times before, but haven't yet got to step on it. So, one of those recent lucky days, a friend on an errand to this town dragged me along, and I did not have to make any second thoughts. I just very immediately said yes, and I went. Yey!
I knew even then that this town is the province’s “rice granary”. You’ll see proof of that in the video (taken on our return to Catbalogan). I also know that this is “queseo” country (or kiseyo, or however you want to spell that) – those little white round patties made form carabao milk that most of us know as “white cheese”. And that is pronounced as “ke-se-yo”! Queso = cheese, but I don’t know (yet) what queseo really means in the waray-waray dialect or even in Spanish (if there is even such a word in Spain). Probably “little cheese” or “faux-cheese” or “cheese-like”. Ah, basta, white cheese. But I knew that on this roam I wouldn’t have a chance to get any nearer where these are made. So let’s ogle at queseo sometime in the future.
Many folks consider that big bridge as a Gandara landmark. See the bridge and you are in Gandara – just like Calbiga. But this landmark is going to be soon obliterated from many a traveler’s mind since there is a new ‘diversion road’ where the highway cuts across some fields instead of going through the center of town. Short-cut for the motorists and more convenient for those just passing by. But not for the “sightsee-er” like me! So this was a fine chance for me to see Gandara more closely – since you don’t really go there to see or witness something on purpose (as of now anyway). Soon people may even just remember Gandara as “oh, that town further down a road that veers from the highway” hehe. Just like Hinabangan, right?!
Anyway, from Catbalogan, I got to Gandara in no time. I think just a little over 30 minutes on good scenic roads on a fine sunny morning (while Metro Manila was still being flooded by the monsoon rains). I did marvel, as usual, at the many things ‘unbelievable’ along the way. Like? That roofless trike is a joy-ride for a family of four – at least for the two kids! One little girl is standing in between the father (driver) and the mom (yellow shirt), while the other (smaller) kid is perched on top of the motorbike’s gas tank (front of driver). The parents are probably vendors of something contained in that white tank with a silvery top that has 2 opening lids. Hmm, ice-cream? Or taho? I don’t know, but now am salivating!
These roofed trikes are equally eye-popping for the city folks like many of us. Seems like human beings are mere incidentals during these rides. They cram themselves where possible, after precious cargoes are properly and securely loaded! See that area in the pic labeled “1”? that’s an tall old man carrying his ‘portfolio case’ and he seems crumpled in there hehe. Oh across him is a lady passenger. I could just imagine! Now look at “2”. there is a hand of an adult just behind the driver’s left shoulder. Howsoever he (owner of that hand, I mean) is positioned in there, I cannot really imagine. Why? Because that little white thing by the back of driver’s red-shirt seems to be that of another person or another sack of whatever. Golly, hard to imagine! Even the roof is a puzzle. Well, look at where the two boxes and the wide basket are laid, that blue canvass material (roofing) seems very ready to cave-in anytime. Whew hehe!
What about this next trike? Looks quite normal for a provincial kind of transport, right? Wrong! Atop the two sacks loaded at the back is a woman! She is perched there, almost in fetal position. And it looks like there is still someone or something to her left (between her and the driver). I could not even imagine how she managed to clamber up that horrible position. Unconsciously, I actually asked myself aloud saying “why didn’t she just perch atop the trike (remembering what I saw on my way to Surigao from Butuan). My driver heard that and said “nahadlok ito kay ba’n mag-itum”! Now that is one big point for vanity over comfort haha!
Aw, before I forget, I did of course reach Gandara with the friend, and first to regale me was/is the fact that the highway area is actually just a fringe of town. Down below is the more interesting part. But let’s do that in my next entry, aight?!
It’s more fun!