Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ormoc to Pilar, Camotes

Here we go folks! One of the most memorable roams I have ever done in this country. Got two reasons why this trip becomes one for my books – 1) This was to mark my completion of having visited ALL towns and cities of the province of Cebu, and 2) I did a blunder causing me to do another ‘ride of a lifetime’ that I do not wish to repeat hahaha! But don’t rush to hear that ‘major’ blunder. It should come probably in the next or next next entry on this series of stories!

So, waking up at 830AM, I was like crazy rushing in the showers and zooming out of Ormoc’s Sugarland Suites. Nope, I was not checking out yet. Everything except the camera remains in my room. But my only boat to Pilar leaves at 9AM! Argh! So I had to miss the free breakfast, and had to take a trike ride to the pier which is just supposed to be near since I walked to it and many places else yesterday! Ah thanks and no thanks to the merry music at ‘ChieBob’s last night, I slept late with more than the SML I probably needed, therefore woke up late today. Rush!

8:51AM, there I was in front of a manong under that colored umbrella buying my ticket to Pilar – just P140, but if I opt to get off at another port on the same island(Kawit) that would be 160. At 8:58AM, there I was seated on the aft section of the boat’s 2nd floor thinking I was just in time! But no I was not hehe. I was kinda ahead since we departed at exactly 9:19AM! No wonder the hotel’s crews were telling me not to worry as these boats do not really leave on the dot. But I didn’t want to take chances. So, no sweat… at least I was already on board, though starving hehe!

Let’s talk a bit more about this pre-departure ceremonies…

2nd floor I said? Well yes, these are the outrigger boats that are too big they have built upper decks on them! My second time to ride this kind of boat actually. The first time was from Camotes to Danao. And wasn’t that boat named JunMar too? Who gets to sit on the second floor seats and who at first floor? Ah eh, this is a free-seating conveyance. He who arrives first gets to choose wherever he wants to settle on this boat. And I noticed, most passengers want to sit upstairs as it is noisier on the first level (near the engines), and smellier with all cargoes like fertilizers, feeds, crude oil, gasoline and the likes! However, they also bring up their luggage and everything else, then put them on the seats too. Some even bring pillows and lie across many seats even if they paid for just one.

Why did we not leave immediately? I have two theories – 1) the boatmen do not put much importance on following their published departure times to the dot, and 2) the Coast Guard Officers take a lot of time doing their thing. But if we scrutinize this more closely, it looks like “1) therefore 2)” is the main issue. More of something like 1) causing 2) therefore causing the delay. Hey I’ve already heard from a friend that these coast guard officers in Ormoc are rather strict (a.k.a. actually doing their job) compared to their ‘kabaro’ in all other islands. And I like it.

Look at the picture below. Those uniformed men about to get off our boat were the two coast guard officers who inspected everything before we could be allowed to sail. One of them was holding the “manifest’ – that sheet of paper where everyone is asked to write their names, age, gender, etc. He was busier counting all the people on board. The other (and older) officer was checking if everyone was wearing the required life vest and if other things about the boat were safely positioned for the trip. That includes asking people to stow their luggage properly and not just anywhere on the aisle.

I loved it when the older officer made a sermon to passengers who seemed too slow or reluctant to wear their life vests. He said something like “that is for your own safety”. Still some men were just joking about his admonition while some women were murmuring complaints kesyo “init kaayo” or “di musoud” etc. I could sense some of my dearly beloved co-passengers were probably even making faces or rolling their eyeballs. But I almost clapped when Mr. Coast Guard raised his voice a bit more and sternly said in Tagalog “tapos pag lumubog ang banca at nangamatay kayo kami ang sisisihin ng mga kaanak nyo”! He then faced the boatman issuing tickets and said still in a raised voice “alam nyo ang patakaran, hindi kayo aalis dito hanggang hindi lahat naka-lifevest”.

Da! Everyone complied hehe!

You know us passengers, right? Mga pasaway! Proof? Well, once the boat faced the sea and started moving, passengers (me included) started removing their life vests. I did feel a bit of remorse when I saw that some children hesitated removing their vests at first, but seeing that just about everyone did it, they followed suit. I even heard a mother say to her daughter “tangtanga na na kay init kaayo”! Now that reminded me… adults are really very good teachers hehe! But guess who were last to take their life vests off?! The 2 foreigners (Germans) beside me! See that picture above? You can see the elbow of the woman and the knee of the man on the lower-right portion of the photo!

Anyway, I did have an issue with many of these passengers dumping their luggage at the back even if they saw that I and the foreigners were seated on last row. You see that dustpan? It fell on my knees twice I wanted to break the damn thing hehe. But I opted to roam around the boat instead since it was a fine sunny day and we were sailing too smoothly anyway.

Here are more views:

bye-bye Ormoc!

aha! so this is what they do downstairs!

there were so many of them!

but hard to catch on my camera!

good they have this. I bought crackers and coke for "breakfast"!

Oh hey, with my SkyFlakes and Coke in hand, I stepped to just outside the boat cockpit and saw Mr. Pilot at his seat. He was busy at his job steering the thing, but even busier by intermittently talking to a man to his right and a woman to his left. That, coupled with a tabloid in his hand. Golly, it must be hard being a pilot hehe! But I got to talk to all of them and learned a thing or two about how I should go around the island. You’ll see later this conversation became really useful!

To read the chronology of stories on this Pilar Camotes trip, click the following numbers:
01   02   03   04   05   06



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