Go East!

Last year, we had a blissful road trip towards eastern Bohol 'round Holy Week. (Evidence of our glee spilled into the piece I wrote in LifestyleBohol.) This year, next week, we're thinking Siquijor. But who knows where our restless feet (which seems to have brains of their own) would bring us. It would be phenomenal. Surely.

I let the bliss bleed here some more:

Go East!
Chronicles of a Road Trip East of Bohol and Back

We were going to Anda, the late morning of Holy Thursday – fourteen of us, the twelve, crammed in a Starex van, me and Terence on a Honda motorbike – traveling through the still-even East-bound coastal road, dreaming of powdery-white beaches, sea tides, and adventures in transit, as the almost-urban landscape of Tagbilaran quickly vanished behind us.

As we sped past the city limits, a sense of delight rushed through me and to everyone, I would like to believe, for, at last, we actually did it: packed our bags and cameras and SPF 35 sunscreen, lots of food and a cooler full of ice and drinks, borrowed our family van and a friend’s motorbike and set off to an exciting road trip. It was gonna be amazing!

This was not a random, spur-of-the-moment thing, this Anda road trip. Our fascination with the romanticism of the road and the adventures by and beyond it coupled with our desire to discover and rediscover as much of Bohol as we can, had us planning for this particular trip months back. LifestyleBohol has also been yearning for a much-needed escape and with the long break during Holy Week, everything fell into place.

The midday sun was oppressive, the wind that met us wanted to rip my skin apart, my hair flew in all directions, lunch could not be had until we reached our destination – it was delightful!

Counting churches, Jose Rizal’s and marine sanctuaries

Going east-bound would not be the first time for most of us. Traveling by the southern rim of this ube-shaped island, with the roads, for the most part, carved right by the coastline, has always been an enjoyable experience, only impeded in the last year, by the road concreting project.

The sceneries that zoom past travelers are lovely and never boring. The natural landscapes and seascapes, and even the occasional peculiar sights are eye candies to the curious commuter. But unlike proper tours, and especially when riding public buses, you could only wish that you’d be able to stop to take a quick picture or perhaps pick one or two river pebbles at the roadside river you just passed by. And you comfort yourself by saying “next time”.

Old stone churches of towns this side of Bohol, all standing grand along the highway, except for Loay’s, are some of the interesting structures you pass by and wish to stop over. The Albur Church, with its charming arched bridge connecting the convento to the church and well-manicured church grounds, peeking from a lane of mahogany trees, is always stunning even at 70 kph.

Another, which has become a personal fascination, is the Rizal monuments.

For this particular trip, I chose to act on my long wish of taking photographs of all Jose Rizal statues in the municipal plazas all over Bohol. Perfect, because I was on the motorbike and only had to bother my designated driver. Though unable to stop at each Rizal of each town we passed by, I was already elated enough with having seen up close the Rizal in Valencia, whose raised eyebrow and rather snobbish stance has always amused me and my friends, a frequent object of our clique’s inside jokes.

The long unobstructed seascape that came with Tagbilaran to Ubay route led me to realize that we have too many marine sanctuaries. Signages announcing such, with arrows pointed towards the sea, appear in short intervals along the highway from Baclayon eastward.

By the time, we approached Jagna’s end and stopped for a quick photo op at this cute sight of a single tree on a small cliff by the road, my marine sanctuary signage count was near twenty.
And only a few kilometers ahead, the site of four concrete pillars that stood on the waters ten meters from the shore, the remains of what could have been a stilt house on sea, but looked more like an abstract version of the McArthur Palo Landing monument, caught my eye and we just had to stop for another picture.

The Canawa detour

Motorbike caught up with the van that stopped at a relative’s house a little beyond Duero poblacion. Before Anda, we were supposed to stop by La Union, Candijay to drop off Sherwin and Aura, and their three kids, though later on they decided to join us in Anda. There we had our late lunch. And hearing that Canawa Spring was nearby, we decided to put off for a few hours the beaches of Anda for the promise of cool, blue waters of Canawa.

And like all that’s ‘nearby’ in the countryside, Canawa wasn’t that near and the road was not that smooth, either. It was like driving through a dried up river. But my, what a sight that greeted us – lovely green on green terraced ricefields that glowed golden in the late afternoon sun. We just had to stop and take in the beauty. We scrambled off our vehicles, posed with all our might, took pictures with all our might.

Canawa Spring, at first sight, was almost disappointing. But as we walked further into the spring, we saw an amazing medium-sized natural pool of the bluest waters, canopied and hedged by lush vegetation.

More importantly, it was not crowded. There were only us, and this other group, locals, already dipping in the water. Not for long, we joined them in the water that was refreshingly cool and calming. We had to content ourselves at wading and immersing at the shallow side of the pool, especially upon hearing accounts of the guys ahead us that the pool was that deep that once a group of foreigner scuba divers attempted to dive down to the deepest end of the spring, to no avail. It was simply too deep. Besides, the eerie vibes of the place prompted one to the most courteous of behaviors.

The moon rises in Anda

It was already dark when we arrived in Anda. As the others went to a friend’s house to cook our dinner, the rest of us waited by the beach in front of the town plaza. We laid our mats, turned on our rechargeable lamp so we could at least see each other, and tried desperately to entertain ourselves. Just as we were about to get completely bored, a startling red glob soared at the horizon to our east, that became a stunning red yellow in seconds, and into the completely magnificent deep yellow moon, slowly rising and rising into its full glory. It was poignant. Paul Vistal took out his pen and paper. I wondered what he wrote.

Our hunger almost vanished. But not quite. Our dinner was ready and we headed quickly towards our chosen beach resort, Dapdap Beach.

After haggling with the resort management, we settled for two air-conditioned rooms at P1,500 per room, convincing ourselves that it was well worth it.

After dinner of adobong manok, sinugbang isda, Spanish sardines and vegetable salad, we wasted no time and hit the waters of Anda with only the moonshine guiding our way. And of course, like every other annoying Pinoy bakasyonista, we headed, after swimming, to the karaoke hut and disturbed the stillness of the night with our singing. We retired into our rooms at 3am. It was already Good Friday.

Early morning later, we were again swimming, sheltered under a rock canopy. It was the same sea, we’ve all swam in, in Panglao, Kainggit, Panggangan, Pamilacan, but the water was Andahon, bugnaw sii, is that not what they say?

After breakfast, Mitzi Ibaya, with the BANGON people, fetched Paul and me, for our Lamanoc trip. (Paul and Mitzi wrote about it a few Sundays back.) After the other-worldy Lamanoc experience, Mitzi’s group stayed on in Anda. Paul had to go back to Tagbilaran. I joined my original road trip gang, who has gone on ahead to stay for the night at an uncle’s place in Ubay, just near the Ubay Stock Farm.

Our road trip was not yet over.

The Ubay Detour

The overnight stay at our uncle’s house was, of course, unplanned. We might’ve discussed it but we didn’t inform our uncle and my aunt, in advance. And like most relatives, we were welcomed well-heartedly, evident in our sumptuous dinner of sinabaw na manok bisaya and fried chicken of the same chicken variety.

Four o’clock the morning after, Black Saturday, we went off to the carabao milking stables at the Ubay Stock Farm to observe the water buffalos being milked. The carabaos we were told were of imported breed, which was what we suspected at first notice since they didn’t look like the trusty Philippine carabao. They looked more like cows, really.

Afterwards, we rode up a hill, to what was the Ubay Viewing Deck, a developed mount that offered a 360-degree view of Ubay, its nearby islands and island provinces. It was breathtaking, as most views from the top are. A huge cross was recently erected on top of the hill, making it into a holy week pilgrimage site. A long trail of what looked from above as cattle approaching the hilltop, was actually a big group of students doing the ‘stations of the cross’ pilgrimage.

We headed towards Ubay poblacion and into the public market to buy seafoods and fruits for our breakfast. And what hearty breakfast it was. Tinuwa ug sinugbang isda, crabs that were so meaty and the juiciest shrimps.

Right before we left, the milk that we ordered came. It was still warm and we couldn’t help but have a taste of the ‘fresh’ fresh milk, milk that we actually saw squirt out of the carabao’s udder. It tasted just like milk, only better.

West bound, home bound

At last we were driving towards the west and home. Spent, I decided to join in the Starex group where there was a backrest and good road music. It was also a good place to muse over the adventures of our road trip of the past two days. It was bliss on the road.

We’ve tread nearly two hundred kilometers of concrete road on our travel east and a little under that back west. Past 15 towns. 13 old stone churches (Loay and Alicia, excluded). 14 Jose Rizal monuments. Swam in fresh water. Swam some more in salt water. Visited at least 10 tourist attractions in the eastern Bohol. Took more than five hundred photos. Spent considerably.

But everything was worth it.

It was bliss on the road. Priceless.

(published in May 6, 2007 LifestyleBohol)

No comments:

Post a Comment