Monday, November 4, 2013

Sauntering Sto. Nino, Western Samar

With no pervious idea as to what might be worth my while on this island-town, I fished my phone and tried to google Sto. Nino. Nothing much to make me run all over the place in search of this and that hehe. The one thing that did titillate me was a speck of information on the web identifying something as “Moro Fort”. But awr, 3 folks I asked did not know, and an elderly I asked as she tended to her sari-sari store told me that it was just some kind of a lighthouse and lookout but ruined long ago with nothing much left for anyone to see. She added that it is now amidst thickets of trees and shrubs that might be snake-infested or scattered with human excretions. How encouraging hehe.

So, thanking the Lola for that piece of “dirty” information, and after buying a pack of Marlboro Lights Gold from her (yes, she has!), I dropped the idea of trying to find that “Moro Fort”, especially that it was a Sunday, where the municipal hall was surely closed, making it impossible for me to get a learned corroborating or refuting information to what the jolly grandma just told me.

Municipal Hall? Ah yes, I walked in that direction just to see for myself how a Municipal Hall looks like at remote islands like this one. Reached it in no time, and well well well, this “seat of government” is bigger and better-looking than some I have seen at other towns in bigger islands. There are even other structures at the back! Design: functionally simple. Almost like a high school building!

Front of the building is all concrete as its their town plaza too. Notice the markings since this too serves as their basketball court. And to the right edge of the picture is a stage! I like this – a truly multi-purpose piece of real estate. Obviously, this must also be where they do their “bayang magiliw” every Monday! Then again, I think the residents here must already know how to be extra careful whether at play, a dance or just visiting their munisipyo. Look at the concrete at foreground. It has started to deteriorate, and it is at entrance side. Congressmen, senators, where are you?!

I approached one of the kids who stopped playing when I attempted to take that shot of their municipal building. I told them no need to stop and I also asked if they have a church or chapel in this town. The kid smiled and said “oo gad man”! They pointed me the way going there, skirting a whole block of houses that is not really that far. And yeah, it is a church. It looks simple from the outside. Even a bit too crowded with houses if I compare this with many churches I have seen all over this country. Main gate and entrance were surprisingly closed on a Sunday at 830AM! But I still went near anyway. See?! The “pedestrain gate” was open after all and the head of a family whose house is just about 5 feet away from this gate told me to use the side entrance. See?!

I entered from the left side, where all doors are open anyway, and that makes the church bright and airy, even if that main door is closed. Dainty little church with noticeable big black speakers, plus even that towering sound box out front. Ewan ko nalang di pa marining ang sermon ni padre dyan hehe! There are even lots of electric fans here and there, much like the many big churches everywhere, only that, I thought this was way too small and cozy for them to need those. Then again, I could be wrong, and then again, they probably have many donors. Nice big bold lettering of the ten commandments over at the top portions of the wall. (Commandment) VII Diri ka mangawat (Thou shall not steal)!

Alright, done with the church, and as I walked the little street, I was imagining how vehicles come and go in this town. Except for that one leading to the munisipyo, all other streets seemed too narrow for a two-way lane. But hello (I caught my royal self there) how many automobiles are even going to meet in this place anyway?! Oh okay, I came back to my realistic senses there.

Next to occupy my pesky pea of a brain was the number of sari-sari stores that dotted wherever I went. At some areas, they seemed like every other house. Golly! I looked and wondered, they’re almost all selling just about the same things, so who buys what from whom? My creative juices even imagined making a nationwide survey for the most number of sari-sari stores per household and/or population density – and this town might probably emerge on top hehe! Interestingly, I saw that at least 3 such sari-sari stores sell Marlboro Lights Gold! In Catarman, Catbalogan or Borongan, I always have a difficult time finding this. Imagine?!

Anyway, I kept walking around and even saw an ukay-ukay store towards their school that sells everything from kaldero to cellphone covers. Hmm.

The school, oh yes, the school! For lack of nothing else to see, I went to check this campus out. What invited my interest is that this school seems to have the rest of its buildings on a hill. And I was not disappointed, nice breathtaking views of the town and the bay (cove) out front.

I wasn’t able to roam much inside the wide campus since I noticed there were a lot of adults and children waiting or playing at some of the buildings. I did not ask what for, but it looked like they were about to hold an event. Hmm, no wonder the towns streets were particularly silent. Many of the residents were here!

Anyway, skirting around one building to get more views of the bay and away from the so many trees and plants blocking my sights, I instead stumbled upon some kind of a planting project called “Pharmacological Gaden”. At first I thought that was such a tongue twister especially for little children. But looking at the plants, I thought that was even nice for the teachers to have named this garden as such. Those are all medicinal plants/herbs considered very useful and affordable for the treatment of various ailments instead of immediately running to mercury drug! So this is a “nature’s pharmacy”! Organic medicines, live! Kaupay kaupay!

After some time ogling at those many plants (sometimes even crushing a leaf to smell them), I thought I better get back to the wharf as my friend and his companions might already be back from their project site. I thought of using that other exit from this school, via this pharmacological garden. And on exit, I saw a fairly new building, so I went near it. Hmm, a new clinic or hospital perhaps? Well, probably something else, but I just felt it was kinda “healthy”. No signage, yet I felt it was some public edifice. So I called out to a passing kid and asked what this building was. His reply: “hospital po”! There, I am now a ‘manghuhula’ hehe!

Back at the waiting shed, I saw no signs of my companions yet, and one of our 3 boat crews was on the bench busy on his cellphone, obviously talking to wife and child as I could overhear him speaking. Anyway, checking out my time, I had been roaming for more than just an hour, and the sun was already getting harsher. So I went back the few steps to another store to grab another bottle of coke. Guzzling it at the breezy shed with yosi, ahh the life! But it was not enough. The throat wanted more so I went for another bottle (Coke sakto lang naman).

Sitting at this waiting shed, facing the calm sea with nary a soul moving was such relaxation. But wait wait… “nary a soul moving” I said? There was movement at some distance… at the other end of the cove. What could that have been. So I asked the boatman and he casually told me “lapu-lapu sir”. Whoa! The chinky eyes grew wide again! I further asked a barrage of questions for him to describe the activity or structure. I threw all those questions as I propped my little digicam stable on the concrete bench zooming it to aim at those souls moving in the distance. Ang galing!

It’s like this… those are fish pens (cages) right on the water, made of bamboo poles as frames and those big blue drums as floaters. The frames are fitted with nets underneath (in the water). The folks are fishermen who regularly go out to sea and catch fish. The lapu-lapu (live) they dump unto these cages to keep them alive, even to grow them bigger and fatter! When buyers call (from Calbayog usually), they scoop them still live lapu-lapu, placed in containers with sea-water, and delivered still alive! Wow, I suddenly remembered MOAP! I think this is called sea ranching. Oh ha?! And do you see the dog?! Fun to watch it move around those bamboo frames as if it was just walking on land. The little hut? Resting place (quarters) of those fisher folks and the one assigned to guard the pen.

Whatta new thing to learn about in Samar! Okay okay, the companions arrived and we had to sail onwards to Almagro. That’s next, promise!

For a chronology of this trip's stories, click these numbers:
01   02   03   04   05   06   07   08   09   10

ISSN: 2516338.375-0958

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