Sunday, June 8, 2014

San Antonio Here I Come!

For quite a time, this place had been in my “to see” list that for an abundant number of reasons I could not easily tick off. So near yet so far, I would usually tell myself then as I have lately been doing my kind of work in the region.

But here was one chance I specifically wrote “go to San Antonio” at the end of my official itinerary. I did a convention in Calbayog, and this was like my nth assignment in the area – but this time, I said “I won’t ever go home without visiting San Antonio first”. So, I did, had to!

Why San Antonio? Well, envy. It is such a good word after all (at times) especially for the insatiable roamer. I have friends and family who had been to this island a number of times, and their pictures and reviews seemed all the more to have pressured me into “why don’t I go and see for myself”. Touted as one of the better places to go for an island/beach vacation in this part of the country, so they say. Thus, I had to go see it!

Going there
Ah, this was easy. Why? Because I have read about the island early on, and lately asked all possible live-sources I could bother on details of getting my royal highness to the island! So it was like, I was already sure of the where/what/how/when, etc.

Plan was I would go alone. However, the day before ETD, 2 of my fellow facilitators asked me to invite them hehe, so I did. I instantly knew this was not going to be my own kind of and my usual roam, but, “the more, the many-yer” hahaha!

These were running in my mind: Leave unnecessary things in Calbayog, ride a Grand Tours van going to Allen, get off at the town of Victoria, ride (originally “walk”) to the wharf (because I now had companionS who definitely wouldn’t like the “walk” part) then ride a boat to San Antonio.

All set but… when we arrived at the Grand Tours terminal, we chanced upon a friend who now lives in Allen. He just came via a series of connected rides from Tacloban, this was going to be his last segment (Calbayog-Allen) and he saw us. What a chance! He knows the island, and he is not hard to get hehe, so make the long story short, he went with us (5-year old son in tow). He even just called some folks at his home to grab some overnight and swimming clothes for the kid. These were handed to him at the Victoria wharf and he in turn handed things he brought from Tacloban! Yep, he did not anymore go home to his house just a trike ride away form this place. Imagine that, just to guide us along! Call it the still true-blue waray-waray hospitality!
Take note folks: van fare from Calbayog to Victoria (P100 as of this writing) is the full fare from Calbayog to Allen. But don’t fret, as said above, the remaining distance is just a trike ride away. Besides, the Grand Tours style is a direct ‘city-to-city shuttle’ so you pay that point-to-point fare. They’re just kind enough to let you off before reaching their real destination. And this is the fastest way to negotiate that 50++ kilometers that takes just a little less than an hour!

Oh, there’s a little notable semi-incident worth telling you the commuting travelers. I noticed this but my friends may not have even given a hoot about it. Here goes...

On arrival at the Victoria wharf (2 trikes, 4 adults 1 child), the ‘usual’ hoodlum-looking boatmen were quick to ask us where we were going and all that. Our friend (now guide) did the talking for all of us. I was just listening. A boatman was quick to offer a “pakyaw” (special trip) for just us (4 adults, 1 child) at P400. The friend asked if there were no other passengers while pointing to two young ladies waiting. Boatman answered “ah mga estudyante yan” to which my friend exclaimed “why, are they not passengers too?” hahaha. Da!

Turns out that a boat must have minimum of 13 passengers. Take note, MINIMUM. And at P30 regular fare, that would mean just P390 if we were going to take it “special”. Ah, anyway, counting there were already 6 of us passengers waiting, we opted to wait for more as we could see that other trikes were coming with more people (hoping they too were passengers). And it was only noontime, okay? Like we had the whole day if need be!

Not even 10 minutes of waiting and there were more than 13 passengers waiting to get a ride. And (of course), the boatman exclaimed “sige sakay” as he went to lead us to his boat. I boarded after my companions as I was taking pics of the "boarding process".

This is where I heard another boatman say “adi pa iba” (there are more passengers here) while pointing to more people seated at the benches - to which another boatman said “sira man mabayad san kulang” – that meant this other boatman was saying my group will pay for the difference if the minimum of 13 passengers was not met (as mentioned by our friend/guide earlier). So, he was very obviously intent on not letting other passengers ride with us.
Hmm, I quickly counted, and those who boarded were only my friends and the two girls – yep, the students. Therefore we were only 6 passengers (the child goes free). Therefore, my group will be paying for the equivalent of 11 passengers while those folks also waiting would go unto the next boat – probably owned or operated by that other boatman who didn't want any more people to ride on our boat.

What did I do? Ah, without looking at those two boatmen conversing behind me, I went to a group of 6 folks waiting and said “pasahero kayo, di ba? tara sakay na”! All of them boarded. Oh ha! As we sailed, one friend counted, there were 12 passengers on board – which meant we were only going to pay for one extra fare so boatman can collect his minimum 13 pax! Four adults, 1 child and we paid just P150 for what should have been just P120? Ah well, deal enough hehehe!

Tip to those going San Antonio:
Don't get too excited crossing to the island if you want to play it light on the pocket. Wait for other passengers. This is a busy port anyway, since many people from the island come to mainland for school or work - daily! There are even folks who live at mainland but work at the LGU, the resorts or other businesses on the island. So there'll be a lot of crossings every single day. No need to be swift and bite that "pakyaw" proposal - unless you really are in a hurry or it is about nightfall.

In our case, that other boatman not intent on letting other passengers join us just stood there dumbfounded watching me and the other passengers board the boat. I smiled at him hehehe!

Ah well, I am not that poor to be too finicky about a mere P390 or P400 for an entire boat’s trip… but never let me hear as if someone seems to be taking advantage of my being 'visitor' for I can do better than them hehehe!

Lovely 'less than half an hour' crossing to the island of San Antonio! Yey!

More stories coming...

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


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