Tuesday, June 16, 2009

MY MISADVENTURE IN DAPITAN

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SOMETIME LAST MAY 30, 2009, I was tasked by my employer to deliver a special package to the PAGCOR satellite casino inside Dakak Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte. That dawn, from my home, I walked to the waterfront area of Cebu to join a queue and purchase a fastcraft ferry ticket, round trip, for Dapitan and back. The Ocean Fast Ferry ticketing office will open at five; their craft will leave at six. I was way too early.

At 5:30 AM, the ticketing office opened. I paid my fare and they asked me another twenty pesos. Jeez, twenty pesos! All my money are in 500-peso bills and the guy behind the window have no change to spare. Well, I scoured all the stores found along the street outside the pier area to buy some item or food, yet, they have no change to spare too and the clock ticked closer to six!
I decided to sit inside an eatery and ordered breakfast hoping that this time I will get the change that I am praying for. Bad luck. None. But, at least, they tried their best to have my money cashed in from neighboring stores and after 10-15 minutes they returned empty handed and I was in a quandary now where to find that elusive twenty pesos and it is already 5:50 AM! At the last minute, the owner came and handed me my change, three pesos short. A crumpled old 20-peso bill is all I need to get on board that boat.

I settled myself inside the craft and, later, the engine coughed to life and we were ready to steam to Dapitan that day with brief stoppages at the ports of Tagbilaran and Dumaguete. I eyed my cell phone time – it's 6:15 AM. The boat left the Port of Cebu slightly delayed. Sunrise glowed in the horizon offering a sunny promise for the day.

Leaving the harbor, the skipper steered for Tagbilaran amidst slightly choppy sea in between Cabu and Bohol. To make a vacant time productive, I read a book titled The Master Backwoodsman. Two hours later, the craft touched side with the wharf and passengers for this route streamed out leaving just a few. I went out and stretched my legs and took pictures on the wharf. Then I hopped inside just in time for the journey to Dumaguete.

The boat arrived in Dumaguete at 10:45 AM. I did not care to go outside like I did at Tagbilaran and concentrated on the book instead. Crews were busy with the passengers and, as soon as everyone settled down, the craft proceeded to finish the final leg of its voyage to Dapitan. As the craft left Dumaguete, I saw the Cuernos de Negros Range beaming in the distance. Along its trail, I have fond memories of a younger and more agile me carrying a big backpack and camping alongside the cold lakes of Nailig and Yagumyum.
Big waves rocked the small ferry on the open sea and I smelled a lot of vomitted food all over the cabin. I abandoned the book and watched instead an in-house movie starred by Will Smith. I have not yet seen this film, but I liked the story and the message it imparted and I rated this with a big FIVE star! Later, the sea calmed and the engine went half-throttle as it entered Pulauan Bay. At almost 1:00 PM, the Ocean Fast Ferry craft berthed and I disembarked. I forego of lunch and I went on my way for Dapitan City first.

Along the way, an air of festivity permeated the air. Dapitanons and the whole of Zamboanga del Norte are celebrating the Hudyaka Zanorte Festival in their town for the whole week of May 29 to June 5. Banners and flaglets are all over the main highway and the streets and many visitors are coming over to watch the events lined up. Booths are located on sites where events are held. Smoke from roasted pork and fish caressed my sense of smell and taunted my appetite.

Lots of policemen patrolled the streets giving you that assurance of security. I understand, Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is in town with her entourage and other VIPs to celebrate in Hudyaka Zanorte. Eat Bulaga, a national noontime game show, is in town also to regale the Dapitanons with their brand of games of fortune. Me, I got lost in translation and forgot to eat lunch as I haggle with the tricycle driver that ferried me from the port.

An hour later, I hopped on a motorcycle-for-hire for Dakak Beach Resort. The road going there is under construction and being widened. Long stretches of unfinished road is marked by loose gravel and pockmarked by depressions and it was very dusty. Sometimes the wake of a speeding vehicle hinder visibility to the motorcycle driver steering half-braking downhill. A slight miscalculation would send the driver and the motorcycle skidding over the rough and unpaved road.

It was a shaky journey going to Dakak and I feel glad that the driver was skillful enough to steer his two-wheeled vehicle safely and I reached there in one piece. Then I took my camera from my pocket and took self-portraits infront of the gates of Dakak for posterity before I went inside to the casino and delivered the package. I tarried for almost two hours talking with the people there and looking for the rest of my money which I placed inside the pocket where I also placed the camera.

I remembered on two occasions on two different places I removed the camera from the pocket where I also placed the money – Php1,500. I retraced my route back to the gate and didn't find the money. That money is meant for my expenses during my stay while waiting for the scheduled trip back to Cebu like lodging, transportation and meals. Good thing I bought a round trip ticket or it would be a great headache if I hadn't bought one.

I am left with only a hundred thirty pesos to cover three meals, transportation fares and my temporary shelter. How do you stretch Php130 for those expenses! I left Dakak without a clear mind. My worries clouded my mind to work out a solution as I hopped on a motorcycle-for-hire down to Dapitan knowing that 35 pesos would be scratched away from my cash on hand. As the motorcycle negotiated a bending turn down the hill a VIP convoy of four vehicles sped by opposite us churning up a dust storm that obliterated the road from our eyes and...bang!
Me and the driver kissed the rough pavement while the motorcycle careened over the side of the road. As I fell, I rolled over four times along the width of the road. A reflex action that is just second nature to me when confronted with a situation like this that left me with just a superficial injury on the forearm, an injury that's less worse than those of the driver. I helped the driver retrieve the motorcycle and went on our way after examining our wounds are far from life threatening.

Slapping the dust from my clothes and my bag as I stepped on the well-paved streets of Dapitan, I decided to while away my time in the afternoon by taking photos of the city's landmarks. As I brought out the camera from my bag, I noticed the LCD screen is broken, probably squeezed by a gravel during my rolling action. The camera is not mine. I just borrowed it. It seemed all things and events are going against me and that made me crazy, for a while. I liked to scream my frustrations away, but I rather not seeing all those armed cops loitering around.

Amidst all my sorrows, a bright idea flashed into my consciousness! The port terminal will be my home for the night and the half day following it as I wait for my boat at tomorrow noon. Yes, and I will have that dinner too. By the way, I'm much wiser now in terms of spending my transportation fares to and fro, a privilege that was absent when I first stepped in the province. I hopped on inside a parked minibus that would take me to Pulauan Port crossing which cost only a mere ten pesos and a motorcycle-for-hire ride for twenty pesos to the wharf.

I took an early dinner which cost me 44 pesos to bridge the gap of a missing lunch; paid eleven pesos for the terminal fee and now I'm left with just ten pesos in my pocket. Wow, what an adventure! Or, should I say, a misadventure!!!

I looked for a secure niche inside the passenger terminal and soundly slept my worries away and I awoke in time to see a glorious sunrise on Pulauan Bay. Boat after boat came and left in the morning and passengers packed the terminal full and left it like a cavity after every boat departure until my time came. It would be a long afternoon ride in the sea for me. I will be fasting today on my journey back to Cebu!

The fast ferry came an hour after noon. I waited on the wharf pavement along with other passengers waiting for the last of the arrivals to disembark in Pulauan port. Among those who arrived is the favorite son of Dapitan City – former congressman Romeo Jalosjos. He was with his retinue of aides and supporters. An extravagant-looking SUV came on hand to fetch him. I climbed the gangplank and sat and waited for the engines to hum. The craft left at 1:25 PM.

Crossing the rough open sea we reached Dumaguete at 3:30 PM and crossed the Bohol Strait into Tagbilaran and arrived there at 5:30 PM. It was already dusk when we crossed the Bohol Strait again for the port of Cebu and my little ship arrived at 7:45 just in time to get a strong signal for my cell phone and I received a text message from Dr. Abe Manlawe inviting me to a dinner at Charcoal Native Restaurant in Gorordo Avenue. A proposition that is favorable for my appetite and I know how to get there too.

Ciao...

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer

2 comments:

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Ms. Rei Ann said...

what a misadventure... good one... sorry it is only now that i have seen it