1200H - yep, just about noontime, I got word from a friend, it was final, I am to set out this very night for Ormoc and make my way towards Tacloban. Then we, together with another friend, would drive south to Hernani, Eastern Samar. Purpose: To check out the area and arrange for an upcoming relief operations. Yes, it ain’t over.
1900H - I arrived at SM Cebu, walked to the Travel Lounge and found out they don’t sell Roble Shipping tickets. A very long brisk and panicky walk, ensued. To find their ticket office - which I have all along known to be at Pier 4.
2055H - There I was perched on my ‘Tourist A’, 'bed 61' of the Joyful Stars, a RORO about to sail from Cebu to Hilongos, Leyte. Wasn’t I destined for Ormoc? Yes I was, but circumstances were not in my favor tonight! This did afford me to see and experience new interesting things!
0546H - I disembarked on a fine cool morning from Joyful Stars and easily found Bus No. 2 bound for Tacloban. But, I was taking this bus only until Baybay City. There were fun, interesting and irritating things on this ride!
0721H - Baybay City, I hopped on board a bus that crept like a turtle even motorbikes and tricycles were overtaking it! This was bound for Ormoc, but I did not take it all the way. Where to? At a place where no one establishment sells cigarettes! As if a premonition, because the scenes from this point forward started to make lumps in my throat.
0915H - Ormoc City, I found the Grand Tours van terminal and waited for my 0930H departure for Tacloban on seat No. 8! But finding this terminal afforded me to stumble upon a 'new enterprise' and a fully booked hotel due to rescue volunteers! The heart is warmed to learn about that!
1158H – Arrived at the Grand Tours Terminal in Tacloban, where the friend also just arrived at from Catbalogan, and we waited a while for the other friend to pick us and start our drive all the way to Hernani, Eastern Samar.
1314H – We were on top of the San Juanico Bridge going our way towards the southern parts of Samar.
1330H – Entered the town of Basey. OMG the wreck and the stench! But people were busy trying to recover from Yolanda.
1358H – We stumbled at what remains of Caluwayan Palm Island Resort and Restaurant. After learning some of their stories, we put out our lunch and borrowed what utensils remained of the resort. Yep, lunch made in Catbalogan City packed and brought along by the friend.
1455H – On the national highway, we looked down to what remains of Marabut’s town center. A grimly sight I silently asked "God, Why?"
1507H – We were at the the boundary of Western and Eastern Samar provinces. Like a war-torn place from a post-WWII movie, but we had to move on passing by wreckage after wreckage, tent after tent, debris after debris via the towns of Lawaan, Balangiga, Giporlos, Quinapundan. All in ruins.
1559H – we stopped along the highway for a friend to throw up having seen and smelled everything. But we moved on soon after that.
1605H – We reached the junction where turning right goes to Guiuan and turning left goes to Borongan. We were going Hernani, so we turned left. We already knew how Salcedo, Mercedes and Guiuan have been equally hit by Yolanda since the driving friend have been there days ago. We felt sorry we wouldn’t have much time to include those places in this ‘sigh-seeing’ tour. Yeah, mostly deep-breaths of sigh with the sight of how Yolanda ruined everything.
1611H – We entered Gen Mac Arthur and couldn’t help but exclaim how it was NOT that badly hit compared to what we have seen so far.
1630H – Entering Hernani, all we could say was ‘Dear Lord’.
1748H – We left Hernani with a promise to be back by December 7. Along the way, in the darkness, I learned some interesting facts about practical life!
2038H – Hungry, we stopped at a sari-sari store that had a genset on - in Marabut – for dinner, re-charge of my gadgets and more stories. You will agree with me when I say, "sometimes the Warays are stupidly hospitable" - or maybe, it is THE Filipinos.
We forded the still darkness of a starry night. When we turned right near the San Juanico Bridge heading towards Calbiga, the breeze became attractively cool, for an instant there, I thought I was on my way to a weekend vacation in Tagaytay!
2330H – We made a much needed rest at Calbiga. They have electricity here – since 3 days ago (though there was a ‘brown-out’ in the early evening). And I learned that Western Samar from this point northwards already has “light”!
0130H – Without further ado, we hit the beds craving for much needed rest.
0800H – Wonderful Catbalogan breakfast of fried, tinola and paksiw nga uso-os! It’s a white delectable fish (I think called hososhos in Metro Manila).
1200H – Perspiringly delectable lunch, nilagang baboy!
1400H – I head back to Tacloban via Grand Tours. Lively whacky trip with our van driver doing some kind of a drag race with the daredevil driver of the 1415H trip!
1700H – My connecting van trip for the Tacloban – Ormoc leg departed to let me see once again, a dusk-view of the destruction in Tacloban, Palo, Sta. Fe, Alang-alang, Kanagga and Ormoc! It was also a “fast” ride.
1914H – I got the (literally) last seat of the Supercat’s delayed 7:30PM trip to Cebu. Expected arrival of the craft from Cebu was only 8:25PM and will purportedly return ASAP (hopefully with me on board).
1934H – Dinner at Lorenzo's Grill, no wifi this time(of course) but happy to note that this block of establishments all have electricity. Heartwarming to see the folks all hanging out in this area!
2039H – There I was boarding the Supercat.
2322H – Arrived Cebu groggy from many interrupted dozes along the way! This time, Mr. Bean on the screen was a nuisance! I wanted to sleep, okay?!
Ah, it’s already 0128H 02DEC as I write this… I need sleep. But all my stories to follow soon as I wake up! Promise!
For a chronology of this trip's stories, click these numbers: