Wednesday, June 1, 2011
THE TWO O'CLOCK ALARM in the morning of November 27, 2010 went by unnoticed until Eddie Alberca shake my slumber with an incessant ringing of my cellphone at 4:30 AM. In one swift move I am already in my office in Mandaue by 5:15 AM.
The veteran multicab is ready and the package is already fixed inside my green Habagat Viajero as I settled in the front seat beside Eddie who will do the honors of driving the small vehicle. We start at 5:30 PM. Destination: Malapascua Island.
This will be my third trip to the island located just off the northernmost tip of Cebu; the last time, an overnight trip on April 30. And this is my third time too with Eddie driving. This time, we won't be sleeping in Daanbantayan like the two previous trips.
Eddie stepped hard on the pedal and the multicab sped off like a road devil. We pass by Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela and Danao City in a blur before slowing it down in Carmen when the rains fell. The highway starting from Carmen up to Bogo is the noisiest highway. You know why? The concrete is built in sections of an average of 2.5 by 2.5 meters and one is not on level with the other and the wheel make a sound as it pass by it at high speed.
A very disconcerting monotony. Ignoring the noise, the peripheries of the highway is so pleasant in the early morning light. You wouldn't find pure innocence in any other hour of the day. The green countryside is so soothing to the eyes, the smell of grass and saline wind mixing in the breeze is so invigorating. Reminds me of my youth. So nostalgic!
Once we arrive at the wharf of Maya – the gate way to Malapascua – I look for my favorite hole-in-the-wall eatery. It is the feast day of the village of Maya and my favorite cook is absent running errands for a prominent family but she cooked and left her patronizers tasty menu like katambak1 fish stew and a thresher-shark tamarind-based soup. The oversized Indonesian pepper made the eating a memorable one, you know what I mean.
At nine, the pumpboat for Malapascua leave. I enjoyed the time doing videos about life in the little boats before it leave. Tourists should know that it will cost you fifty pesos going to and fro to the pristine island; none if you are booked into one of the dive resorts like the Sea Explorers. The small boats, locally known as tunda, those that will take you from shore to boat and vice versa, is only ten pesos but none if you are booked.
Me and Eddie arrive at ten in the morning in the very white beach of Malapascua after transferring from pumpboat to tunda and shore during a low tide. The tide plains are wide but the exposed sea bottom is firm and I jump over narrow water runoffs until we top over the soft sand for the direction of the Sea Explorers Dive Shop and Resort and deliver the package.
We stayed for about an hour and I take the liberty to observe a group of locals building a huge wooden boat. Very interesting. Boat-building, the primitive way, is a skill that has lost its aura with the present generation. Saw two men cutting lengthwise a 40-foot plank with just a hand saw. After taking good pictures I, once again, leave the island for the mainland via the tunda and pumpboat and on to another tunda.
We both go back to the eatery which we have taken breakfast a while ago. This time, two vendors were passing by selling freshly-caught shellfish at five pesos each. The seashells were of different varieties ranging from winghorns to young giant Pacific clams to convoluted ones and they were all large, which is a bargain in itself.
We paid for twenty pieces of those, cooked ten and stowed the rest for dinner later. Since the storekeeper is absent, we boil the ten shellfish ourselves over a primitive hearth powered by firewood. We stoke an ember to life after considerable blowing aided by small wood debris as tinder.
We eat the cooked seashells dipped in vinegar and soy sauce mixture, spiced hot by the huge Indonesian pepper. We tarry for a while until it is 2:30 PM and time to go back to Mandaue City. We pass by the straightest highway in Cebu Province – about three kilometers or more – in Medellin and trod on the noisiest – about sixty kilometers – from Bogo to Tabogon to Borbon to Sogod to Catmon and to Carmen!
It is 5:30 PM when we arrive at the office. Brought my officemates bibingka2 from Catmon while I parted half of my seashells to colleague Joe Patrick Uy. It is a long day and I refresh myself by steaming my share of the seashells as I return home. This will give me strength to tackle a mountain tomorrow.
Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer