the places I went to...
second time-around, and this time minus the swimming and more sightings of foreigners -- Koreans, Japanese, Europeans... welcome tourists and see our proud and sun-burnt faces.
except for the diving part which I definitely did not do, the place gave a minute-rush of heaven. The dolphins are always there, said the bangkero, but never this many! They were there, a live performance on water, with their shiny bodies and cute faces.
(for both, I went with Yen and about five others for a pilot episode of Estranghero; for what TV channel I forgot... Yen did the Kawasan part, I did the Pescador, and yes, with the stand-upper on the baruto)
...that Riverstone Castle, whose owner had been so kind to offer the place for my wedding, free of charge (Oh, but Mister, looking for a man is definitely not as easy as finding charge-free-accomodations). The Riverstone is built from stones from the river across the place, and takes on the design of 13th and 14th century European castles almost complete with the watchtower, the knight's hall, torture rooms, and many others including of course the drawbridge with two, California-bred and Philippine-bred crocodiles (where I did my end spiel for Maayong Buntag Kapamilya, and yes, this is again work-related).
... those kids and teeners and adults in their very own version of skimboards, playing with the waves at Lawis.
..finally took a picture beside that famed, Guiness-worthy shoe at the Acacia Grill. Sounds like a bar-restaurant, but no; this is where various designs of footwear get a daily exhibition (and sale!). I went to feature the summer pairs (and yes, work-related again).
Sta. Fe and its almost-surreal long-stretch of white sand and various-blue-shaded-ocean. With Rico Lucena, Nante and Junieto (yes, this is work-related) we were able to go in, out, free of charge, the Kota Beach, with the historical entrance of the Spanish kota (fort) where the richest and most prominent of the province would go to for the summer (as relayed by Mon of Globe). I had a side-trip at the Sugar Beach where I borrowed the blue shirt with a white heart printed on it from Liyo and the blue crochet bikini from Chai/NikkiNaAteNiChai. Unfortunately, yes, I had a huge mistake in packing and unlike the usual me, decided on trying the travel-light-principle, which was apparently very very very light this time.
We stayed at the ancestral (one-plus-century-aged house) home of the Escarios, where the front lawn area is the earliest piece of land reclamed in Bantayan.
The highlight was Saints Peter and Paul Church which turned 406 years old this year, which also houses the Saints Peter and Paul Church Museum. There I saw the original papal indult, which stated in centuries-old print the pope's permission to the Bantayanons, a fishing community, to eat meat and pork on Holy Week and Good Friday. The Carroza Festival is Bantayan's rightful pride, a procession almost similar to that of Cebu's Sinulog but with the religious stance more serious and the patronage itself of the people continues to stay alive even without the fueling up of various commercialization inputs. The men follow the procession of the life-size images of the stations of the cross, and fight for the flowers adorning the carrozas; this to be made into a good-luck-charm. The children are dressed in costumes of saints and angels in the procession; this is the Panaad, in gratitude of a favor granted from the saints and angels. All the hassles of the long travel to the famed islands of Bantayan was very much worth it.
Literally, without a moment's rest, I rushed home from the station right after I finished my scripts for Bantayan to get my bag for Tacloban.
Yen and I stayed at the dormitory of Leyte Park Hotel along with other fellows and auditors for the 3rd All Visayas Creative Writers Worksho (the boys of course, were in a separate room); saw UP Tacloban's Oblation, and saw those leaves falling magically outside the conference room. had a side-trip with the rest of the group (thanks to the panelists and especially to Ms. Alunan) who deemed it good for us to take a short tour) on the pampasaherong jeep, drove along (and walked a shorter distance) San Juanico Bridge, and stop-over at the MacArthur shrine... but it was of course the strong sea-breeze that enchanted me more. And oh, did I mention that we took all our breakfast and lunch meals for that five-day workshop at the UP Tacloban's Executive House? And of course, the busy streets of Tacloban and Netopia beside the McDonald's drive-through, and the bookshop, and the karaoke restaurant-bar with the homey interior designs (where I almost got scolded by an irate man on the other table) kept Yen, Anna and I company on nights when we had time to go out.
Graduation is two days away by this time and, still without a graduation dress, my schedule was really tight, yet I had the strongest urge to go to Catmon, St. Bernard, mother's hometown, my childhood garden... so I finally saw that mountain that split itself and covered the unsuspecting barangay Ginsuagon, where my cousin Kim was probably preparing for a song number or a piece of oration for a program at school... little Kim in her big and eager eyes, in her little yet high-pitched voice, little Kim in her headband and flowered dress.
For the hundredth time, yes, I went to Kinabag-an, Calape for Yen's birthday and post-graduation celebration. This time with Mama, Vincent, Ate Ivy and Uncle. Yes, yes, talk about extended family and friends and family, a seasoned merry-go-round of the Filipino's hospitality. Sad to note, Mama and the rest weren't able to experience Cabilao and its raw strip of white sand and that dilapidated lightouse. We toured Bohol though, after the night of food and dancing at Yen's place. Chocolate Hills and Sagbayan Peak for the second, third time around for me. We saw the python they claim to be tamed, went down Hinagdanan Cave, drove along Panglao Island, took pictures at the Loboc River, and stood beside Sanduguan Shrine. Did I get the names of the places right? Yes, we got ourselves tarsier keychains because we wanted something to make us remember that small, wide-eyed and silent monkey. The kalamay? Yes. Just enough sweet to finish off the trip.