Saturday, June 14, 2014

San Antonio to Victoria

So this was goodbye San Antonio, and I was ready to be back at mainland Samar!

8:58AM of a Tuesday, I was already at the beach area to catch a boat back to Victoria. One has just left, and I still saw it pushing back, loaded with many passengers. I missed it by just a few seconds, I guess. But I was in no hurry. I may have opted not to take that very boat if by chance I arrived at this area earlier. Why? Because, I wanted to observe how things transpire in this place, and, happy I did!

Looking around and asking around, it turned out I was one of just three passengers who needed to cross to Victoria. One was an older lady (probably a businesswoman) who was incidentally beside me on a makeshift “waiting bench”, and the other was that sexyish urbanite of a girl w/ a backpack. Okay, so I observed the lively goings-on.

Like…

I heard it again here (as I've heard while still in Victoria coming to this place), that boats must have a "minimum of 13 passengers" to go. Or else, they just keep waiting! Otherwise, you or he who is in a hurry must shell-out more so boatman receives the equivalent fare for 13 passengers! Hmm, at P30/pax that would be a minimum collection of P390 so that they'd go. I wonder how many liters (if at all) does a boat engine gulp for this 15-minute ride of about 5kms! My CRV gulps about 10km/liter, if we say these boat engines are less efficient, let me estimate that to half at 5km/liter. Still a hefty sum!

Due to proximity of mainland destinations (Allen, Victoria or San Isidro), passengers in a hurry, wherever bound, usually opt to ride the first available boat, as any of those towns would only be a trike, jeep or habal-habal ride away from the other. I stayed put waiting for a Victoria-bound boat though, even when an Allen-bound boat was boarded. Surprisingly the woman beside me and that sexyish girl also did not take the ride! Some people are just stubborn like me, y'know! Or 'too principled'; or stingy; or lazy at connecting rides; or all! At least there were 3 of us!

When boats from mainland arrive, they usually just wait for passengers and cargo to be unloaded, then they immediately depart for some other place. I asked a boatman seated beside me as to where those boats go. He said, they usually have other cargoes destined to a specific place (also in this town) where owners paid extra so that these be delivered to a point in the shoreline nearest their residences or places of business. Aha! Yeah, noted this down. Nice idea for the luggage of big groups!

You can/may hitch a ride with chartered boats, but where you pay is a complicated arrangement, you must pay attention to what them boatmen agree upon!

Here's something I witnessed... A "special trip" (chartered boat) was pushing back destined for Victoria. One woman who happened to have just arrived at this beach shrieked and shouted that she be taken in. There were hollers and shouts between boatmen on shore and those on the boat. Next, I saw they came back for the woman! The sexyish girl, seeing what happened, also tried to get aboard. Boatmen hollered at each other again and she was taken, but paid the P30 fare to that boatman who was earlier seated beside me. My chinky eyes grew wide! What was that all about?!

When he returned to sit (still by my side), I asked what happened there. He told me that since he was the next boat in line, those two would have been his passengers. But since they were in a hurry and the departing 'chartered boat' (take note) agreed, they were taken. With just one passenger doing so, he said it would have been just fine with him and all the other boats waiting in line to depart. But when there was already two, he had to ask that the payment of one of them be paid to him, even if both rode on that chartered boat.

I asked to whom will that first woman pay (the boat or the charterer?), his reply was “it depends on the boatman and the charterer – they’ll have to talk about that”. Wheh?!

I also asked why the 2nd joiner (the sexyish girl who already paid him P30) would not be charged by the boat where she rode or the charterer - who, actually contractually technically owned the boat at that time. His reply was something like “no, because that boat’s boatman and him already agreed”. Wheh?! I did not anymore ask, but in my mind I was like protesting “what happens to the rights of the charterer, since it was technically his boat”? Di ba?! This only means, if you charter a boat, they still pick other passengers. THAT, is unfair to you the charterer.

And to think, when I asked who those charterers were anyway (there were only 3 of them all wearing light-blue shirts), the reply was “mga taga-munisipyo”! Awk!

Well well well, if I did not stay watching here, I wouldn’t have known about this uneducated kind of logic in the well, lesser educated provinces like Northern Samar! Conveyance owners (probably as it was during the Spanish times) think they should lord over anyone, otherwise they wont offer the service. BUT, "service" in our recent times is not like that anymore - socially and legally. So welcome to Samar: you blind DTI, DOTC, DoT, DILG and all you departments of government who think "everything is under control". Argh! I am mighty sure the charterers, employees of an LGU at that, did not feel slighted, because they themselves are as ignorant about their rights. KAMAKAARAWOD, KAMAKASIRIUD!

I later even asked, “what if there were 3 passengers who joined that boat”? “for example if I joined them?”, “what if 10 or more passengers did so?”… the man was obviously a little bit stunned and sat there thinking hehehe. Am sure he must have despised me! But in a bit, he did respond by telling me “he’ll have to discuss with the boat owner”. Again?

Obviously, the logic in these remote places is: the proprietor rules! Pasahero ka lang!

Ahehehe, anyway, that left us just me and the woman beside me as Victoria-bound passengers. But I was not in a hurry. Soon two other passengers came also intending to ride to Victoria.

Exactly 9:35, I was surprised the boatman who I was ‘interrogating’ earlier suddenly was down at the water's edge asking the 4 of us passengers if we were fine with paying P50 each and he’d leave pronto. The woman beside me, a mother with a baby and a younger man seemed to have chorused to say yes, so I also nodded! Then, just like that, off we boarded and his boat-hand steered us out of the beach! Just like that!

I loved this experience! Just about 37 minutes at that dock and I already learned things worthy of a masteral thesis! There were even more on the side!

Like that sexyish urbanite girl I mentioned (top picture)? She experienced a nice kind of outdated courtesy still practiced on this island. How? When she got off the habal-habal to wait for a boat, she paid the motorcycle driver, and there was still some talk for about 2 or 3 sentences each. Then this girl told the habal-habal driver he can already go and just leave her. Driver said something like "no, because your mom told me to wait until you have departed". And he really did so, just sitting on his motorbike, even if the girl was already down at the beach (top picture above). Oh, even if I say that driver was 'interested' in the girl - it was still kinda "aliw" to witness. And yes, I saw him silently depart when the girl boarded the chartered boat! Nice!

One more. The makeshift waiting area (a narrow wooden strip, arranged like a bench) was just about 2 or 3 feet from the LGU women in-charge of collecting fees. They were bantering and trading jokes because the younger lady was 'complaining' how boring their jobs were when there are no passengers! True. I was just listening to them, but in my mind I was saying "and you will end up marrying any of these boatmen or habal-habal drivers" hahaha!

Anyway, I'll be honest, I enjoyed more of this trip because of things I saw and heard in this 37 minutes of wait!

My boatride? Silent hehehe. Not a word from anyone, until we were already approaching the Victoria pier - when boatman and boat-hand were exchanging instructions to each other on their "docking procedure"! Maybe it was because the engine was too loud to easily drown the voice of anyone who attempted to squeak!

Okay, I arrived in Victoria, but let's do that story after I tell you of something bad San Antonio is doing!



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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