Saturday, May 14, 2016

Higatangan Island (First Visit)

Intrigued by the buzz among FB friends, today, once and for all, I went with a group of fun-loving jump-shooting friends, to see and experience what this island has to offer!

Well, not really all of the island. Quite literally, just the shifting sand bar! Why? Eh, the play in our 'very young' hearts persisted. Quite different from the usual 'see and feel everything in one sweep' solo backpacker mindset of your aging Pinoy Traveler haha!

So here are my notes...

Happy? I would rather say... I Shall Return. Thus, the title of this story!

This is not an easy destination. Even if/as you prepare.
First, there is only one regular commuter trip a day from the town of Naval, the capital of this island-province (Biliran). And it happens only at 12NN! Oh okay, that would actually be two trips, since there are two boats. But they leave (per their regular schedules) at exactly the same time - 1200H, noontime, mid-day, tanghali, udto, mahiru! Hesus gino-o ko!

And the return commute? Its at 7:00AM everyday, also by the said boats! Therefore, when going to Higatangan on public commute, you won't have a choice but to stay overnight on the island!

Hey, a day before we set out to Naval from Tacloban, a friend of a friend of a friend purportedly told one of us that there is a commuter boat every 7am. So we were gunning for this one. But on arrival at the pier, we were told, therefore realized that there is no 7am trip. Grr!!

We made some calls, to tour companies we saw online, to friends, and friends of friends... make the irritating story short, we were able to hire a boat 'pakyaw' basis for about PHP4,500 or so (I now forget the real final amount we paid as there were a lot of haggling hehe)! That amount was going to the island and coming back in the afternoon. Good enough I guess :)
Departing from Naval Port
Alright, at the island, there are 3 or 4 resorts big and small. But we never went to any!!! Yeah, thanks in part to the time we wasted at Naval port looking for a ride to this island. Our other companions used the time buying this and that at the stores surrounding the port, so we had everything we needed - from food to just about anything, including ice-cold-beer! Yeah!

When we docked at the sand bar area (nearest resort is Limpiado White Beach Resort), we learned from our boatmen that they'd just be hanging around to wait for us, instead of going back to Naval then return in the afternoon to fetch us. So we asked if we can leave some of our things on board. The reply was, "you can leave everything here as we are not going anywhere unless you say so"! So, there! We had an instant open air accommodation haha! The boatmen even helped our girls in preparing our food!

Hey, even at the sandbar area alone, snorkeling is already fun! And yes we tried it and heeded the advise of boatmen, 'don't go far out as the water current is really very strong'. True!

Nice Trip!

Now the catch (for us at least)...
We were not able to go around the island by boat, as previously agreed with the boatmen (part of the paid cost), because, we had so much fun frolicking in that sandbar, we lost account of time! But am not complaining :)

There are no public toilets, and we did not go into any resort, remember? So our companions who needed to do so, just had to beg at some of the houses and/or the Limpiado resort itself hehe!

Tourists cannot have all of the sandbar to themselves. A bigger portion is (still) used by locals as their drying area for fish. Anyway, that portion (nearer the houses) have coarser sand and some rubbish that were probably thrown by both visitors and locals. Haaay mga kababayan ko, ang disiplina pleaseeee!
I turned out, many of us wanted to drink Coke, than all other sodas we brought from Naval. Argh, I had to ask as many as 5 little stores to find Coke. Many here sell Pepsi products only :(

But... happy to have learned there is San Miguel Light and Marlboro Lights on most stores hehe!

I have not been able to peep at the locale, as I said above, because we forgot all about time because we were playing at the sandbar area. Therefore, I shall return!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Michael & Jordan

On an early morning walk along the streets of Tuguegarao, I was amused that there were so many "pancit" stores / eateries / restaurants all over the place. And then I saw this...

Not clear?

Okay, I cropped the same image into this...

Of course it reminds us of this...

It made my morning hahaha!

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

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tuguegarao Cathedral: Biggest Electric Fan

I am well traveled in this country (I would like to believe so), and OMG, I may be right to declare that indeed, Tuguegarao Cathedral has the biggest working electric fans in all of the churches I have visited! Ceiling fans to be exact, and there are two!

I wasn't really all that comfortable standing/sitting at the pews under them hehe. I imagined ugly things... like if they dropped unto my head, those blades won't even have to cut me as I will surely be already 'dedbol' just from the weight of any blade hehehe! Oh my hahaha!

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

My Tuguegarao Arrival

Excitingly hot! The "excited" part was me (c'mon, it has been decades since I've been to this place and I can't even recall how I got here then), while the "hot" part was the clime. Yeah, literally a scorchingly hot and humid noontime! But I didn't mind the 'hot'. Excitement took rein!

How do you like emerging from an Airbus A320 to a sizzling 39 degrees celcius at 12:47PM (yes, high noon)? It felt like it was 45 or even more degrees! Well, even the crews made faces as that aircraft door was opened. The heat really gets into your face (and nerves) hehe. But, I didn't mind. I was all too eager to step unto the Tuguegarao grounds for a heat stroke!

I whispered "noontime, empty stomach, very hot day, so.., don't anyone mess with me"! Ahhehehe, that was actually my self-reminder, to keep extra cool, calm and collected!

Yes, I was cool and collected. But calm? Ah, I think not really! Because I was excitedly grinning and smiling at just about anyone I met! Anyway, let's see some of the snaps I took along the way, going to my hotel.

Emerging from the arrival area, I turned back to see this view from their parking lot.

Surprised to see people outside the building on a hot noon! There are trees, at least!

Even drivers hub under the shade of another tree. They were having a caucus hehe!

The view from inside my hotel's limousine service - tricycles waiting for passengers.

Exit is where that white AUV (in the middle of picture) is about to turn - to the right.

Nice to see that blue billboard. Am going there tomorrow, so those became my choices!

A nice vehicle. Am not sure if I should call this a van? Only 7-seater with a tall ceiling and not commonly seen in this country. Then again, Sta. Ana is just near this city!

Alright, speeding out of the airport, I get to see the streets of Tuguegarao once again...

I think we did not turn right at that corner. Or maybe we did but went for another route to the city. Its a busy highway and the driver probably took a longer but quicker route.

See? Where we passed, it was almost always a solo-flight on the road! Hey, that yellow signage on the left says "Genaro's Grill & Special Bibingka", listed in my "places to see"!

This got me a bit alarmed, military-clad men with guns either walking or running.

Ay sus! Good my driver told me they are police trainees, and those are wooden toy-guns! Another combat exercise said the driver as there's a police/military academy in Tuguegarao. Hmm, interesting topic! Urban combat practice? Whohoa!

Before we turned right, the driver pointed to me that its a new bridge-in-the-making.

I surmised that must be a big river since the bridge looks rather "major"!

And there are the military men training again. Yeah, they looked exhausted!

Oh, Hotel Joselina on the left side of the road! Its listed in my Tuguegarao choices. But this time I was going Hotel Roma as suggested (reserved) by a friend. Maybe next time.

Oops, at this pint of my wonderful way to city center, the phone rang, and it was the boss of bosses calling. Argh! I had to answer, so I wasn't able to capture any more pics along the way. Until I was inside my room at Hotel Roma. But let's talk about that later.

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

Tablet Check-in: Cebu Pacific

8:33AM this morning, amidst the throng and the din at NAIA Terminal 3, a Cebu Pacific employee walked up to me and asked if I had any luggage. I said "none", and she asked me about my flight details. I asked why (thinking she would direct me to a counter but..), she said "I will check you in sir"! And I said something like "ows?!" as I looked at that thing on her left hand - a tablet!

So I gave my details, showed her my ID and she tapped on that thing, voila! That strip of paper came out from that other gadget hanging on her pocket - my boarding pass!
Just like that. Yeah, ganun lang!

I am no gadget freak, but, this was the first time I encountered such a thing - even if I travel almost every week - and yes, I was fascinated. Nice one, Lance! Nice one!

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

Yo Again!

Alrightie folksie folks! Your PT may have been away for some century or two haha! But I assure you, that was just the show-and-tell part that went silent. Yep, the blogging, I mean. But the travelin has never ceased. It was just because of this damn pesky thing called "work". Argh! It really gets in the way into my telling writing about my travels. But stories are soon to come... so hang in here folks! Your PT is still alive and really kicking after all!

I suppose I'd be good to re-start with my notes on a revisit to Region 2. This time as an adult, tourist, and a blogger! (Yey)! I really wanna start telling... so, let's start.

Ah! I guess this will be another series of stories, so watch-out for the blog entry numbers below.
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

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Tacloban Rice Cakes etc.

Am not sure if they had been in this place before Yolanda, but these days, they are such a jolly, not to mention tasty place to visit during early mornings.

This is not your usual rows of delicacy vendors along Zamora St. These ladies are at the entrance of a building in the Tacloban public market.

Those are "puto" in a multitude of colores! But, I like the “ira-id”!

Friday, July 18, 2014

“Sensationalistly” Untrue!

The caption in that picture, I mean. Not necessarily the article about the evacuees, that actually seems to be unrelated, in the first place. I saw this “news” on the July 17, 2014 issue of The Freeman – a local daily with large circulation in the Visayas.

Let me quote the caption:
”A 6-wheeler van, loaded with relief goods for Ormoc City, turned to its side at the Maharlika Highway near sitio Lemon in Barangay Pinamopoan of Capoocan town in Leyte during the height of typhoon Glenda. The truck driver and his truckman were seriously injured. MEL CASPE”.

Here are what I know:
1) On July 13, 2014 about 430PM this truck was already like so (pictured above) as I passed by the area on a trip from Ormoc to Tacloban. Therefore, that incident must have occurred earlier than this time/date. Yep, earlier than 430PM of July 13, 2014!

2) On July 14, 2014 about 330PM this truck was still there (see my picture below) as I was traveling from Tacloban to Ormoc. There was another big truck (behind) – probably to help salvage whatever contents of this truck were still there or probably to even tow it to stand and run again - whatever. I did see some men bantering in between the 2 trucks amidst cases and cases of Coke – yeah, too many red plastic cases for a snack! Fairly sunny day with clouds in these areas (13th & 14th July)

3) Typhoon Glenda made landfall only on July 15, 2014! Here was the forecast
It did not even hit Samar but instead went a little bit up (Bicol).

So, why does that newspaper article say “during the height of typhoon Glenda”? Hmm, that MEL CASPE in the caption means the dude who took the picture and/or the one who submitted the ‘news’ to their Cebu offices, right? He/She should be grounded in his/her bedroom for a week. Not doing assignments properly! Bad boy/girl!

Here’s more:
That truck faces north, and down towards Capoocan (this is a mountain area). Therefore its ‘behind’ is facing south (which is Kanangga and further to Ormoc). If, according to the dyaryo, this truck was bound for Ormoc, a fantabulously unbelievably miraculous incident must have taken place before this thing finally rested on its side!

It must have pirouetted on its heels or made a back-summersault for it to lie down like that facing north – IF INDEED it was on its way to Ormoc, which is south! No no no, it couldn’t have done a “drift” like we can do with sedans, because – 1)  this is such a big and long truck, 2) that is a narrow highway with a ridge on the left and a hill to the right, and 3) this part of the road is a steep climb from north heading south. And, if the caption is really true (that it was loaded with relief goods for Ormoc), all the more that it cannot just tumble back to face away from Ormoc!

Another thing:
Lemon is itself another Barangay of Capoocan, just like Pinamopoan, di ba? But the Maharlika Highway does not pass by any part of Barangay Pinamopoan if you were going to Ormoc from Tacloban. It is after Barangay Lemon if you were going to Biliran!

Anyway, no real harm done to the reading public, right? Just a reminder for us common folks, that these reporters could twist their facts, just so an otherwise simple accident will be sensational to make our chinky eyes grow wide. In this case, walang kinalaman si Glenda at hindi papuntang Ormoc ang truck na yan!

To this MEL CASPE, I say, upaya gad mano/mana, kubuton ko im paa!

Oh well… Happy 95th Anniversary to The Freeman.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

8-Ounce or Sakto?

Listen up my fellow Coke addicts. This was such a fun and funny discovery!

I asked for Coke 8oz as I was devouring a delectable fried pork belly at this fastfood. This bottle was what appeared on my table but I sipped immediately anyway!

Me: Manang, sabi ko 8-ounce, Sakto itong ibinigay mo
Manang: oo sakto gyud, 8-ounce na dong
Me: Asuuus, nagpalusot si Manang! (and I asked for extra rice)

When she returned with my extra cup of rice, she also brought an unopened bottle of the usual “Coke 8oz” that many of us are familiar with. Beaming with pride like an elementary school teacher, this jolly manang pointed to me the contents label…

And I really took a closer look at the two bottles! Yeah, looks can deceive...

Whadyathink? Oh, here's a clearer view...

Later in the afternoon I passed by a carinderia and asked for “Coke Sakto”. Here it is, the usual “Sakto” that all of us know. It says 200mL.

Okay, my lips are sealed now. Ah, make that both feet in the mouth hahaha. Thanks to Manang, I learned something new today!

Oh well… the world is such a big classroom!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Buenos Aires (Victoria) to Allen, then Calbayog

I went to Allen but not to roam yet. I just needed a ride to Calbayog from Victoria - best way to do this is to depart from Allen which is only 5 minutes away from Buenos Aires - even if it backtracks! Why so? Because vans (fastest means) are usually already full when departing from Allen - the station of origin. So it will be 'luck in a million' for you to catch a ride along the route. Besides, Grand Tours is a terminal-to-terminal kind of service, the fare is still P100 to Calbayog, whether you ride at Allen or Victoria.
Original plan was: the 1PM Grand Tours van would pick me up at ‘Spice of Life’ at Buenos Aires beach (this was pre-arranged as early as yesterday via a friend in Allen). How does that work? Well, the reserved seat (paid) is left empty on departure from Allen - where the reserved passenger joins 5 minutes later along the way. Now you know, right? Convenient!

But I could not find lunch in Buenos Aires where I was supposed to wait for the van! So, as mentioned in the previous story and the first paragraph above, I instead took a trike to the van terminal in Allen itself! Its just 5 minutes by tricycle, and at minimum fare! Then looked for food somewhere there. It was not as if I was looking for anything grand of a lunch. Fine if turo-turo style, as long as I had somewhere cozy to sit and (preferably) watch people etc. go by. On a regular Tuesday, Buenos Aires is too quiet for this to materialize :)

So, to Allen I went!

I saw this... (I knew it was there, but I did not anymore take a peep):
Wayang-wayang Beach Resort is just a short walk away from Spice of Life (about 500 or so meters). Its like this… Spice of Life is in Barangay Buenos Aires - the northernmost in the town of Victoria that is by the boundary with Barangay Jubasan - the southernmost of the town of Allen, where Wayang-wayang Resort sits! They are practically neighbors.

On hindsight though, I should have tried having lunch at Wayang-wayang and waited for my van while there! It looks like it has a well appointed restaurant! But my biases caused me to skip this resort. I know (from pictures) that Wayang-wayang, although a nice place, does not have a real sandy beach. It’s more of a breakwater, dumped with sand on top, to make it appear like it is still “the” beach. Just like how it is at Mactan's Imperial Palace.

Anyway, like the travel from Victoria town center to Buenos Aires, this trip from Buenos Aires to Allen was also along a picturesque shoreline (still with a view of San Antonio and Capul. Thankfully I rode on a tricycle for that maximum unrestricted view and breezy feel!

Now this, was my destination in Allen!
Definitely the most ‘unmodern’ of Grand Tours' terminals. But I like this big old house, obviously an interesting thing from the past that soon will be replaced with a modernistic concrete building – whether by Grand Tours or its owners. Unless this transport company finds somewhere more worthwhile as a station!

I proceeded to their counters, told them I had reservation on Seat No. 2 of their 1PM Calbayog trip and that I was the one to be picked up at Spice Of Life Resort in Buenos Aires. Hmm, seeing that Seat No. 1 was still free, I took it too, so I could place my backpack on it, and me, comfy!