My name is John Llloyd Cruz. Just kidding. I am Phillip Randolff Rosario but my friends call me Phillip. My law school professors call me Mr. Rosario. I am not special in a famous kind of way. I pretty much don't like to be in the limelight, anyway. However, being famous has its perks. You can go everywhere you like because of what you are famously do. Since I was a child I dream of going to different places. My teacher once said that books bring you to different places. It worked for me but it was never enough. Vehicles really carry you into places not books. Enough of me, I will now tell my very first experience in the north side of our country. I have been never to the province of Pangasinan.
The day was started very early. The sun was just about to rise when I reached the road. The weather was fine that it enticed me to go head. I planned to go to Manaoag Church to pray. However, the terminal in Pasay was so crowded that it pushed me to try my luck in Cubao. It as much worse. There were a lot of people. Couples holding their hands while falling in line. Elderly people and Children were seated at the seats in the terminal. Speaking of which the terminal was noisy through various factors, the vehicles passing in EDSA, the buses arriving and exiting the terminal and the people there cause the noises.
I was discouraged to continue my solo journey but I had another plan. My classmates had plans of spending the holiday vacation in Hydee's town so I texted her that I was already in the terminal. She was so surprised that she texted me if I was serious. After a bunch of messages, she eventually believed me. I felt that it was too eraly to fall in line so I ate pancit in a nearby store then I seated in the seats in the terminal. There I talked to a lady passenger. Unfortunately, her male companion had arrived and left her seat. I killled time by monitoring the buses entering the place and the passengers boarding the bus. I also gazed to people sleeping at the corner who were clearly tired of waiting for their time to leave.
After an hour of waiting, I decided to fall in line to the Dagupan route because of a gorgeous woman was there. Fortunately for me, I texted Hydee about it and she informed me I was wrong. She instructed me to fall in line in the Alaminos-Bolinao route. That line was shorter than the first and the buses going there were the first ones to arrive. As a result, it took less an hour of standing in the line and about to enter the bus. Unfortunately, my companions were not still around.
At long last, barely five hours in the terminal, my friends finally arrived. I saw a glimpse of them from the entrance of the terminal. Hydee together with her friend, Cielo, met Raffy in a nearby fastfood chain. They were followed by Weng and Felix. Then Eny came and afterwards, Dennis arrived. It took awhile before they had noticed him. When they did see me, there were no immediate reactions. Curiously, Cielo was the first one who approached towards him because she wanted to avoid the scourging heat. Subsequently, Raffy offered to take my place from the line. It was a no brainer for me to accept it. I was really hungry at that time. Fortunately, they had brought him something to eat. I chatted with the rest of group before eating his food. After reacquainting with one another, I found a spot where he can eat. While eating his Burger Mcdo and large French Fries, he had conversations with the relievers of a donut store in the terminal. He found out that they were not earning a double pay for their work on that day, which was a non-working holiday. At any rate, after a moment of refreshment, I returned to my spot.
Finally, the hour of reckoning had arrived. The bus that will carry this "adventurers" came. However, they caused some fiasco in the said place because they pissed some passengers who had really waited in the line. Fortunately, I had told to one of the dispatcher about his companions so they were allowed to board the bus. Being first on the line, they had the option of selecting the seats they wanted.
Hydee and Cielo seated in three rows behind the driver's side while Eny seated opposite of it. Weng and Raffy seated at the back of Eny's
seat while Dennis and Phillip sat next to them. The bus was full that some were even seated at the middle of the bus using mini stools as their seats. Even though all signals directly point that they were about to leave but it took half an hour before they had leave the terminal. Before the bus left for Bolinao, Felix, who cannot join this trip, made his goodbyes through a kiss with Weng.
Pangasinan is a province of the Republic of the Philippines. The provincial capital is Lingayen. Pangasinan is situated on the west central area of the island of Luzon along the Lingayen Gulf, with the total land area being 5,368.82 square kilometers. The name Pangasinan means "land of salt" or "place of salt-making"; it is derived from the words Pang, meaning for and asin, meaning "salt”, or For Salt in the Pangasinan language and other related languages. The province is a major producer of salt in the Philippines.
Inside the bus, they were entertained by the movies that were shown to them. The first film was Piranha 3D while the second one was Bulong. Phillip felt that it was quite a coincident that they were for a swimming escapade and the movie they were watching was about
sea creatures that eat flesh of humans that were swimming in the lake. Although, he was so tired because what had transpired earlier, he was not able to get some sleep. Maybe it was his excitement or he just want to watch the films. Nonetheless, he did not expect anything that might happen the rest of the trip. From what happened, he really should have. In the bus stop, he went out together with Dennis to go in a rest room. After paying for using the toilet, they looked for something to eat but the prices were so high that it looked they travelled to another country. When they have purchased their expensive food, they returned to their bus. They were surprised that the bus was more crowded than before. It took longer
than usual before they returned to their seats. When darkness fell, there were still on the road. I continued on looking through the window in order to know where they are even though it was his first time there. The night was auspicious that he can see various landmarks and other places they had passed through. From one town to another, passengers alight from the bus signaling that they are much closer to their destination. When they have reached the city of Alaminos, Cielo alight the bus. Minutes later, they reached the municipali-
ty of Bani, which was their point of destination. Hydee alerted the bus driver to stop the vehicle.
Their house is situated along the main road. The place was a two-storey building that includes a balcony. It was
purely dominated by white paint. It has two main entrance doors. There is also a garage. The inside was equally amazing. Right next to the door, was the rest room. In the right corner of the hose was the living room. The dining room is adjacent to it. The Kitchen is on the left side of the dining room. It also has a coffee nook in the left portion of it. Another living room is situated right next to it. The second floor was interesting that there were a lot of rooms situated there including a room that divides the comfort room and the shower room. At the far left of that floor is the balcony of the house.
The group was warmly received by Hydee's relatives. The dogs were also nice to them, albeit, Weng was so eager to avoid them that she entered the house quickly that no one had notice. Uncle Stew, as he iis fondly called, is an American who married Hydee's aunt and made the Philippines as his home. True enough, he was hospitable to the group. He may be perceived first as a foreigner because of his appearance and language but he had adapted traits that can tell that he is just like any Filipino out there. He entertained the group with his witty remarks and actions. Furthermore, according to the folks there, he knows how to bargain or "tumawad". Also, he asks for things from his neighbors, a typical trait of Filipinos.
It was already nine in the evening and their stomachs were complaining. The meals were
already prepared by Ate Mylene, Hydee's elder sister. She was so accommodating to her guests that I even joked that she had just have her debut. Asked anything you want was her quick response, which meant that she appreciated the remark. The dining table was exactly fitted for the six of them. The food tasted great. We talked about our exhausting day while having our dinner. We were serenaded by love songs when the DVD player was turned on. When we finally finished eating, we settled our things to our respective bedrooms upstairs.
We drink brandy in the balcony. Dennis, Raffy and I played cards while drinking. Later that night, Eny joined us. We played Pusoy Dos. There was no money involved but we put a stake in our game to be much interesting i.e. the loser will drink a shot of brandy. I'm sure she'll deny this but she was the loser during that night.
I did get some sleep but it was still inadequate. I was awake by
Eny's loud voice. It was time for breakfast. It was quite an interesting breakfast. That very day was Good Friday. As Catholics, we had a custom of abstaining from meat during that day. And so, the meals were fishes except for one. A fried longganisa was cooked for breakfast. It very well caught our attention especially Raffy, who was a former seminarian. All were tempted to get a piece of that "fruit from the poisonous tree" but stuck with their faith or it was because of strong and convincing remarks of not eating it. Later, Ate Mylene told us that she deliberately cooked it to test us. I guess we all pass.
We planned to spend the day in Bolinao to swim in its white sand beaches. We rode a passenger jeepney owned by one of Hydee's relatives. It was less than an hour sojourn.
When we reached the town proper, we saw a senakulo in front of the church, which looked really ancient outside but an ongoing renovation was being done inside the church. After praying inside the church, I looked for my friends but there were gone except for Weng. We looked for them eventually, we found our jeep. According to my ever reliable friend,
Google, Folk etymology attributes the name "Bolinao" or this remote fishing enclave from the fish piece "monamon" but commonly called "Bolinao" by the Tagalogs, Bicolanos and the Visayans. A theory also points out that once upon a time "pamulinawen" trees grew luxuriantly along its shores, thus, the Ilocano migrants who crossed the Lingayen Gulf named it phonetically similar to the name of the tree. Nowadays, however, such tree does not exist anymore. Legend also relates that during the first days of the Spanish era, a lovely
lass nicknamed "Anao" lived at the present site of the town proper. She used to bathe leisurely for hours under the Boli-Bolinao tree where a chieftain's son who lived across the channel first saw her and then wooed. An early marriage ensued but with the condition, among others, that the seat of the chieftain's government be moved to the place where Anao lived. There they were to stay rulers, hence the name of Bolinao, Boli-Bolinao and Anao.
Going to the beach was really a struggle because of the bumpy roads and the dust that reached our faces. However, when we arrived there, it was worthy enough. The water was clear. The sand was purely fined and crisp. I have never saw anything like that. There were quite a number of people there. It was also quite rewarding seeing beautiful faces and gorgeous bodies. When I took a dip in the water, I was surprised that part of the beach was full of rocks. It was high tide at that time but I swam a little farther to avoid the rocks. From where I was swimming, I could see Hydee, Eny and Weng swimming closer to the shore. Dennis and Raffy were in the cottage talking. It
was quite sunny during that afternoon. A few moments later, I decided to go back in the cottage in order get some rest.
Hydee and Weng left us because they will fetch Felix and Megan, who was spending his vacation in San Carlos. While waiting for them, the four of us left played cards once again. As usual, Eny was the loser. When they have returned, we had our lunch.The food was great because I liked Inihaw na Bangus pretty much. The group except for me and Dennis played Beach Volleyball. We just drink a few bottles of brandy while watching them playing in the scourging heat. When they got tired, all of them were sweaty and came running back to the cottage. Furthermore, we buried Felix in the sand and made him look like a mermaid. He caused a stir because the children were amazed at him.
We did not wait for sunset when we decided to leave the place. Because of two additional passengers, Weng, Felix and Raffy placed themselves in the roof of the jeepney. We made a little stopover in the lighthouse. The Cape Bolinao Lighthouse at Patar rises
majestically 351 feet above sea level atop Punta Piedra Point, a towering hill of solid rock which is the sharp point of Cape Bolinao itself. It was built by the Americans in 1903 on a 351 feet (107 m) high promontory at the western part of Cape Bolinao, the lighthouse still sends signals to vessels passing by the area. The lighthouse provides a panoramic view of a portion of the 1,269 hectare Cape Bolinao Dendro Thermal Ipil-Ipil Plantation on a land area where archaeological excavations have revealed relics from the 14th to the 15th centuries. Filipino, British and American engineers constructed the lighthouse in 1905.
I have never been to a lighthouse before. I was amazed when I saw it. We took some photos with it as our background. Felix made funny antics once again. He went over the cliff while we were standing to pose some pictures. Minutes later, we went back in our jeepney and moved back to Hydee's house. We were all tired from our activity that day basing from the frown faces and closed eyes of my friends. We fell asleep during the trip. When we reached the house, Megan was rushing to the shower room because he was supposed to go back in their house. According to him, they will go to Baguio the following day so he have to return to San Carlos, where
he is staying. However, Megan did not able to board a bus enroute to Dagupan. He decided to board a Baguio bound bus early in the morning the following day.
Meanwhile, I stumbled upon old books in the Cabinet. From Stephenie Mayer to Stephen King to Nicholas Spark but I chose Jaws instead. It was a bit of irony to read about a shark novel during a swimming vacation. The moment I flipped the first page I was hooked by its story. A few chapters later, I decided to go downstairs. It took a while when we had our dinner, I was really hoping the longganisa will still be there but it was already eaten. The night was quiet. I was busy reading a book. Hydee and Raffy set up the tents outside. Eny, Weng, Felix and Dennis were asleep upstairs. Because Megan have to leave early, he decided not to sleep. And so he browsed for a book to read. Unable to sleep because of my irritating textmate, I decided to go downstair and chat with Megan and Hydee, who returned inside from their "camp."
Megan was reading, " How to find your True Love". Unfortunately for us, he is an inquisitive person so he keeps on asking questions. He does not contend with a single one and continues asking until he is satisfied. Thus, he asked question regarding of what he had read to Hydee. A few steps away, I was listening to their conversations while I comforted a troubled friend through SMS. When a topic arosed my conciousness, I suggested to drink while having conversations like that. Megan did not drink so Hydee and I were the ones who were drinking. We talked about things related to love. It was like listening to Papa Jack's Wild Confessions without the tearjerker comments. It seem forever because of the long talk but after finishing the interesting topics of the book, Megan decided to take a quick sleep. While the rest of the group had awage, I just gotten asleep.
I had barely an hour of sleep because we have to leave early for our Hundred Islands adventure. Megan had already left the house. Eny and Weng boarded the car of Uncle Stew while the rest of us rode a tricycle to Alaminos. Wikepedia told me that Alaminos used to be part of Bolinao which was one of the nine towns in the northernmost part of Zambales. A certain Suyang led a group of Zambals in search for a greener pasture. The group journeyed north from the mountains of Zambales, their native land. Eventually, they came upon a shoreline and decided to settle there. the Lieutenant Governor-General captured the high esteem and sympathy of the inhabitants. Under the leadership of Captain Domingo Montemayor, Zarapzap was renamed, “Alaminos” in 1872, in honor of Lieutenant Governor-General Alaminos, the then Governor-General of the Philippines. And from a mere settlement of adventurers, sprung the town of Alaminos.
Kennedy and Zandra caught the midnight trip in Manila going to Alaminos so they were able to join our adventure. We met them at the bus terminal in that city. Subsequently, we went to the market in order to purchase the things we needed in our trip. Then, we rode another tricycle enroute to the "Pantalan". There we met Eny, Weng, Uncle Stew, Ate Mylene and her daughter. The place serves as the
port of going to the islands. It has various pasalubong booths. It has also a little monument of Limahong, a Chinese pirate, fled to Pangasinan after his fleet was driven away from Manila in 1574. Limahong failed to establish a colony in Pangasinan, as an army led by Juan de Salcedo chased him out of Pangasinan after a seven-month siege.
Our boat's name is Junior but it was big enough to carry us all. The ride was breathtaking because of the islands we have passed through as well as the sea was calm during the voyage. We supposed to embark in an island however Mayor Hernani Braganza had already
reserved that island to them so we had no choice to be in another island. We have chosen Governor's Island as our destination. From afar, the Big Brother House can be seen. It was used in the Teens edition of the said reality show in ABS-CBN. Now, it serves as
additional attraction and also allow tenants for a huge sum of money. Junior slowly reached the shore and one by one, we exited the boat. We settled camp in one of the uphill corners of the mountain. At first, nobody swum at the beach except for Uncle Stew, who curiously did not remove his cap while in the water. All help in preparing for lunch. Ken, Zandra, and
Felix did the grilling of the tilapia and pusit while Raffy, Dennis, and Weng cooked the rice. Hydee and Eny did the other things. I sort of supervise them. (Just Joking).
After lunch, we rested for awhile. Then I decided to take a swim in the water. I was alone. It was hot but the water was cool so I did not felt the heat of the sun. Like in Bolinao, it has also rocks but it was minimal. My swim took longer than I wanted because I wanted to preserve my energy in swimming the another island. However, when I reached the middle part of the sea, something stung my feet. I was not sure what it was but it stung me again. Then my left leg strated to have muscle cramps so I decided to come back to the shore. Fortunately, the guy up there in the sky did not allow me to drown. I went back to the camp as if nothing happened. I rested in the "duyan" to get some sleep. I covered my face through a towel to avoid getting pictures.
When I woke up, I heard Eny's voice again. This time, she was buying something from a teenage boy. From 280 Pesos, she bought it
with just 130 Pesos. I told her that she should have wished to take it from him for free. Poor boy, he stumbled to the wrong person to sell with. Perhaps out of guilt, she donated it to the group. From the looks of it, they were probably drank because they had two bottles
of brandy already. Then again, maybe not. Later, they all decided to take a swim except for me and Dennis. I went at te top of the island to see the view that it offers. Also, I needed to
find a signal for my network provider to send some SMS. I just seated there at the top without bothering any of the visitors taking pictures there. Then a Filipina asked me to take a picture of their Korean friends. I politely accepted the request. After that, I returned to our site.
Dennis and I stationed ourselves in a part of the island that has a signal while we gazed at the others in the beach. When we got hungry, Dennis bought sardines in the store. There was still enough rice so our hunger did not stay longer. A few minutes later, the cavalry arrived. They were also tired and got something to eat as well. However, the nine of us were remaining because Hydee's family had already left. Figuring that we could not anymore go to the original island we supposed to go, Raffy, Hydee and Eny had looked for a place to spend the rest of the night. When they did find a place, Eny interacted with the people who settled
there and she asked if they wanted to sell their brandy. Being generous, they just gave it to her. In exchange, Eny was kissed by a guy from their group.
It was about to get dark so we rushed ourselves to pack our things and carry it to the other side of the island. Even the monoblocks and tables, we have rented were carried. After setting camp again, we prepared for dinner. Kennedy and Felix prepared Sinigang na Bangus. Dennis was gone for quite some time. He was in the other side of the island. He had conversation fromm the people who served as caretakers of the island. It was about dinnertime when he returned. The meal was delightful but it was hard for me to eat the tail part because it was too dark and I could not see clearly the bones of the milk fish. Still, it was great even though the moon was missing and the stars were not as many as they used to in that night.
After the last bottle was emptied, I decided to call it a night and sleep inside the tent. I do not know if it was from fatigue or the inadequate sleeps from the previous days but when i closed my eyes, I immediately fell asleep.
Meanwhile, Felix positioned himself in the
duyan strapped in the Balete tree. He also fell asleep. However, he had a nightmare and made unrecognizable screams that made the other campers frightened. Luckily, he had been wake up. I thought I should have warned them about the invisible friends in the island but I thought it might scare them.
As usual, I was awaken by Eny's loud voice. She served as my alarm clock the whole trip. She was also acknowledge to that fact that she is wondering why I am not yet up even though she her mouth was not stopping to talk anything she wishes. We were all told of Felix's story as our Good Morning. Eventually, it
died down and we prepared for our breakfast. Our bangkero arrived and told us that we have to leave so we just finished our breakfast and packed our things. The sun had already had risen when we left the island. The boatmen allowed us to hop the other islands. The first one was the Quezon Island. It was different from Governor's Island because it has a bridge connecting two islands. Also, there were a lot of jellyfish in the water. There were too many people there. We reached the farthest point of the island and got our photo-ops. When the all-male group photo pose was about to be taken, the battery was drained. Bad luck for the guys. And so, with no more available digital cameras, we decided to go back to the "pantalan."
When we reached it, Ate Mylene greeted us back with something to eat. At that point, I was eager to go to the bath house because I had to come back to Manila by afternoon because of my coaching commitment. Then Ate Mai told me that she prepared dinuguan for us. It made me think twice. While waiting for the others, I texted my teammates if we have a game. After a long wait, there was no game at all so I can spend the whole day with them. Most especially, I craved for the dinuguan. I even joked that I will miss half of my life if I did not taste Ate mai's version of dinuguan. And so, we returned to Hydee's Crib. Exhausted from the trip, I took a quick sleep. Then Hydee woke me up because it was time for lunch.
It was like a feast. A lot of meals were cooked. However, the main attraction was missing. It turned out; the dinuguan was for dinner so I have to wait for a little longer. Uncle Stew joined us for lunch. He enjoyed our company especially Felix's wacky antics that he offered that we can come back and visit the place with or without Hydee. I even commented that I prefer the without and Hydee overheard that and told it to her uncle. Then Uncle Stew suggested that the next time, he'll rent a Videoke. My big mouth then said that why not now. And uncle Stew agreed. We were inside the living room while waiting for the videoke machine. We played cards, Ken and Sandy played sungka, Felix continued endlessly of requesting for iced tea while reading the newspapers. Weng was keen on learning to play our game.
More than an hour later, the videoke machine arrived. Without looking for the song book, I punched three digits. 5-0-0. Maging Sino Ka Man was the song's title. It was my favorite piece because it is too short. I got a 93. Not bad for a guy like me. We all took our turn in the microphone. Hydee got the highest score of 98. Felix sang. Dennis did so too. Raffy followed. Weng also sang as well as Eny before they left to attend the Easter Sunday Mass. Ken who was shy at first sang too. He had a great voice especially old songs and county music, which were favorites of Uncle Stew. Dennis even ransacked the CD collection in the living room to find songs to sing. Sandy also sang a few songs before taking a sleep.
Just moments after she went inside, she came back and told that she heard something in the house. There were also unseen things inside. Although sleepy, she just seated there with us. The dinuguan was cooked already and served as our pulutan. It was delicious. I almost forgot my name. I was introduced to a white man who was from Albay, which was my province. He is an albino, a person suffering from albinism - the lack of pigmentation in the eyes, skin and hair. He told me his story why he was here. He followed his would be wife here alone because he was told if he really loved her, he will go here. It was 32 years ago. The folks here thought he was an American because of his appearance. The bus fare was 32 Pesos. He gave the conductor a Hundred Pesos and said to keep the change but bring him to his destination. That was an interesting story coming from an interesting man living in an interesting place.
After I left him, my three lady friends return from Church. We were all in the garage, waiting for our turns to sing. When the night had
struck, Ken and Sandy had to leave early. They did not wait for supper because they have to return to Manila as soon as possible. Fortunately, they were able to board a bus but it took quite awhile. Meanwhile, the rest of us were still occupied by the Videoke machine. Ten songs later including my version of Achy Breaky Heart, we ate dinner. When I took my seat in the dining table, I saw the thing I wanted the most. The main star of the night was the dinuguan. And the longganisa had returned. As they say, two birds in one stone. In my case, two dishes in one utensil.
I was the last one who finished eating. Six pairs of eyes were staring at me and could not believe I am still eating. They even have finished eating the ice cream as dessert and I am still dealing with the dinuguan and longganisa. I really hoped I will not explode during our trip back to Manila. After countless trip of the spoon in my mouth, I had finished eating my dinner. It was amazing.
The moment I had avoided all vacation have arrived. It was our time to bid farewell. It was goodbye Happiness and welcome back reality. I said goodbye to Uncle Stew and shook his hands. I could see the old man's eye is somewhat showed tears that might symbolized that he was sad that we were leaving. Then again, I felt that he was happy with our stint in his house.
To the guys and girls I spent the Holy Week I will never forgot in my lifetime, a thousand thanks for you. Hydee, who without you will not
make this possible and even thuough you did not introduce me to Cielo (joke!) I thank you for four unforgettable days in your province. I hope makaulit.
To Raffy, who I surprised that I am coming also her, it was a pleasure spending an adventure with you. To Dennis, you always act as our kuya and I appreciated it very well. To Megan, even for one day, you revealed my inner Papa Jack.To Weng, please upload the pictures. Seriously, thanks for washing the dishes.To Felix, Ken and Sandy, all of which was the first time I had met, it was great knowing you. Sandy, you have nine more adventures to go. That is it. Wait, I forgot the Take it off girl. Eny, although yhou were always conscious whenever I am around because of fear of something I might write against you but you have the right reasons to fear it. Thanks for being taking the spotlight and being a good sport.
Till next time... I wish it would be sooner rather than later....