Friday, July 1, 2011


I HAVE NEVER BEEN to Bantayan Island. But I'm going to change all that tomorrow, January 4, 2011. I will cross the Bantayan Channel come rain or shine. I leave Mandaue City at 9:50 PM. Eddie Alberca is with me and he will drive the Suzuki Every 220 for me. Our first destination would be Bogo and I'm sure the multicab will run like a rocket tonight.

...rain or shine.

I begin to ponder on the possibility of crossing to Bantayan when I pass by the seaside road approaching Mitsumi in Danao City. The crests of endless waves are bedecked with white foam and the seas are really really rough tonight. The cold front from the north brought forth icy winds and agonizingly-slow constant drizzle. It had been like that since New Year's Day and I was drenched to the toes, one time, when I climbed Mount Babag on January 2. Raining the whole day making trails slippery and soft and, yes, the cold wind.

Eddie made good work of the multicab running at 100 Kph as the Cebu North Road is almost abandoned. Blame that to the weather. Okay, we will sleep tonight at Bogo and I bring with me my sleeping bag and other little comforts inside my Habagat Viajero. I wear a windbreaker and tune the built-in MP3 of my Nokia 2700 to entertain us during our travel.

After an hour, we were now in Maca-as, Catmon, still a lot of dark kilometers of highway to cover. After a while, stars begin to appear in the moonless sky as the multicab fly by past hilly Eme, Sogod. They were so clear and the timing of the song “Underneath the Milky Way” by The Church playing on my MP3 is most appropriate.

At twenty minutes before midnight, we reach our billeting place in Bogo. We buy local brandy and mixed it with soda energy drink to celebrate an early arrival and sleep could come later. The first boat trip to Bantayan from Hagnaya Wharf in San Remigio is at 5:00 AM, so I set my alarm to 3:30 AM. It was the time when I lay for just a few seconds that my alarm screamed its existence. Shucks! I shut-off the alarm and resume my sleep when Eddie shook me later. 4:30 AM!

Eddie stepped on the gas for Hagnaya and I saw him holding back vomit and sweating cold. Poor Eddie! On the other hand, it serves him right. We arrive fifteen minutes later. At Hagnaya, we leave the 'cab on paid parking and slurped hot coffee. We fear that all boat trips would be cancelled by the Coast Guard as what happened to the 5:00 AM schedule adding us to an increasing number of dismayed passengers.

We persevered and we found ourselves sitting inside the upper cabin of M/V Island Ferry V and the small launch leave the mainland at 6:30 AM. After channeling through Hagnaya Bay, the boat got itself tossed and bounced on open sea. The boat shuddered five times hit by the huge waves and, once, empty air pass below keel. Eddie could not hold it any longer and disappeared aft and released his troubles to the sea. Meanwhile, I prepare myself for my own bouncy ordeal.

After an hour-and-a-half, the ferry settled on the wharf of Santa Fe and we rush out to look for transpo to Bantayan town. My whole body is in great quivers and carry a big-sized chunk of headache that I don't get to appreciate the first-time-visitor-scenes unfolding before me. I need a breakfast. Badly! We look something fishy and soupy and search for it in and around the public market and found one near the beach.

We opted for danggit1 soup and linarang pagi2 plus two servings each of milled corn. After that, my intestines got itself sorted right and I'm back to normal and carry out the business of why I am here. I pass by the edifice of the coral-stoned Saint Paul Catholic church and take two hurried shots. So, this is the only parish in the world that could celebrate fiesta on a Good Friday.

For just a little over two hours we are on our way again to Santa Fe and there are a lot of passengers queuing for a boat back to the mainland. The boat we rode in coming over here just left and we settled in a bigger M/V Super Shuttle Ferry 23. This one is much better and much roomier. I enjoyed the trip seating on my plastic bucket seat. The tossing subsided as the boat enter Hagnaya Bay and it is already 2:30 PM when it toss out the mooring lines.

We have to proceed to Bogo and, then, to Tabogon after Hagnaya and too little time left. Eddie and I decide to forget lunch for a while and hurriedly retrieve the multicab from its parking bay and speed to Bogo. We arrive at quarter to three and proceed with our work. It is already 3:30 PM when we leave Bogo for Tabogon taking a left turn where an ancient acacia stood. This particular road is the only stretch of Cebu that I have not been into, to include the town of Tabogon.

It is raining again and the multicab negotiate the asphalt highway fairly. It is a good road and it run in bends and loops and the scene remind me of rural areas I've seen in the early '80s. I begin to love this stretch especially at the part in Kal-anan. By 4:30 PM, we were already on the steps of our last stop and, after this, I could have that lunch. Maybe but where? Porquois pas?

As me and Eddie again take to the road, I notice a very long and high concrete fence under construction. This is in Tagnucan, Tabogon. I can't understand a single individual or family snaring the long strip of seashore for almost three kilometers just to themselves to the exclusion and detriment of the original residents and fishermen thus denying them access to the sea where they depend their livelihood on. What brazen display of GREED! And I just lost my appetite.

We pass by Borbon. I see many concrete fences here just like the ones I passed by in Tabogon. One prominent family even emblazoned their commercial emblem on the gate. I have no beef about all these fencing and securing properties. They could do that on mountaintops to give them more privacy just like Hitler did in Berchtesgaden. Why along the sea? To cavort and giggle on beaches while a thousand hungry stomachs misses a free opportunity of meal when they find their access to the sea barred? That's just isn't morally right, paesano.

At 6:00 PM I finally have my late late lunch in Bawo, Sogod. This time, I eat long green peppers, my favorite, which this commodity I found wanting during a very filling breakfast in Bantayan. After the meal, we go directly to Mandaue and arrive at 7:50 AM. I still feel the rocking of the boat in my system and those ugly fences are difficult to erase from my mind.

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer

1Rabbit fish.
2Tamarind-based soup of manta ray.

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