Friday, February 8, 2008


Our family house was scheduled for blessing the other day, January 23, and I was obliged to join the family going to our hometown, Sta. Cruz, Occ. Mindoro. Since my two sisters, Myrna and Enor together with their husband have just arrived to Manila from abroad, they decided to proceed to our hometown in advance. They were accompanied by my brother, Noli, with his family and oversaw the preparations for a modest celebrations and thanksgiving. I was not able to join the party --my daughter, Myla, was scheduled to go to Singapore for a company meeting and I was to assist and drive for her to airport some 30 kilometers from our residence in Laguna-- so I followed the next day driving alone through the stretch of the highway going to Batangas Pier. At the pier entrance, I was required to observe the rules, pay the terminal fee, security check, and passenger registration --being a pier of international standard-- and got ready for boarding. I got in at 12:00 noon, Jan. 22, in a Montenegro Ro-Ro Ship (Roll-On, Roll-Off traveling by wheels) and securely parked the car to withstand the wave shaking and proceeded to passenger lounge for some snacks and a perfect view of the sea. After a light snack and sipping a hot cup of coffee, I positioned myself in an unobstructed view portion of the ship --with an aura of a Titanic experience-- and enjoyed the freshness of the sea, the breezes that engulfed my whole body inspite of the warm rays of the sun. With this reinvigorating experience extended by the warmth of the sea, I enjoyed every minute of my stay in the upper deck. We passed by the strait between Bonito Isle and Tingloy Island, the astonishing view of the islet, the coral reef or shoal with the variety of marine species visibly seen in a clear water near Tingloy shore. In not so far western isle was a lighthouse guiding the passing vessels during the night or cloudy weather --how I wished I could jump the sea and swim through the islet and stay in the lonely lighthouse for self-rediscovering, privacy, and retreat. As we negotiated the distance, we got the view of Mindoro Island; the Corregidor, the historic island where several battles were held during World War II; and the Lubang Island, where the last Japanese straggler Hiroo Onoda was found -he refused to surrender, believing the war is not yet over, and hid in the jungle for 29 years until l974. We passed by the row of flying fish and a group of 5 to 6 dolphins playfully leaping up and down in tandem with one another as we slowly left them behind the waves caused by the mild northeasterly winds. At 2:30 P.M., we moored at Abra de Ilog pier at the gateway town of Occ. Mindoro. The tide started to ebb and the level of the pier and the mooring bridge was quite high and I have to cross precisely as the ship is raised by the waves. At first, I dilly-dallied crossing the bridge fearing that I might miscalculate the rising waves unviewed from the garage deck and got stalled on the ramp. I requested the stevedore to watch the waves and give a signal for me to cross. After so many trials and attempts and the stevedore had been prodding me to go ahead, to the extent of him being irritated because of my indeciveness, I switched for the go. At the moment signal of go, I accelerated and successfully overcame my fears and passed the bridge right in synchronous with the rising waves. "Wew! and a sigh of relief." I have disembarked and trekked the land travel. Passed the well-cemented road lined-up with coconut trees and cutting through the ricefield. Sometimes you have to avoid the segments on the road as the farmers were using it to dry corn grain --a hazard on the road when you happened to run over the slippery seeds. I traversed the lowland where it used to be often eroded by flood, but now a well-paved road, then up the mountain passing the Mangyan Tribe Settlements, then slowed down at the capital town of Mamburao. Some ten kilometers after was the barrio Balansay and there starts the long-dusty-rough-road. I haven't remember that this road have tasted the asphalt since 1955 when it was cleared and declared farm-to-market road. No thanks to municipal and provincial officials for neglecting this road which the farmer-inhabitants use to ply their trade and agricultural produce to Manila. This province are now considered the food basket of Metro Manila displacing central Luzon. Maybe no one has brought this dilapidated and sorry-state road to the attention of the national leadership and the do-nothing Senate. I arrived in Sta. Cruz at about 5:00 in the afternoon and was greeted by the family members and closed relatives. All were busy preparing foods such as: "dinugoan, pork-adobo, and letchon" --all native delicacies. These were in preparation of the house warming, the birthday of Myrna"s husband, Niel, and looked like a family reunion, combined together forming a great celebration. The house was almost complete. Only the upper portion remained to be plastered-finished. It is situated facing east with a beautiful view on the roadside much more when the rays of the morning sun reflected from the glittering wall and the stainless roof-gutter. It was considered as the biggest in town and the best designed building presently existing in the area. Inside the house was a very roomy receiving and dining room and separate kitchen. In its ground floor were three bedrooms and a lanai area facing north with a grotto and artificial waterfalls. Going to the second floor was a two-phase stairs with a 3-inch diameter stainless pipe railings, a well-decorated landing, and an ambience of fresh air while ascending to the family room. On the hall leading east, was balcony/terrace with a 4-inch diameter stainless pipe railings and you can view the rising sun behind the silvery white mountain edges. At the back of the family room was also a balcony/terrace facing west where you can view the ever famous sunset along the horizon of the China Sea. You will also admire on this uncovered terrace a view of heavenly galaxies during the night or a crescent moon while savouring the scent of the refreshing sea breezes as well as listening to good music from radio stations directly from Manila. This second level floor consisted of four big rooms, complete with closets, toilets and bathroom each. While it was a vacation house in the countryside, we enjoyed the style of urban classy living in view of its amenities adaptable to ones environs. Just a few walks on the westside was the seashore where we took a jog, swim, and enjoyed the fresh air every morning. This beach is comparable to the white beach of Boracay and with a fine azure sands and clear blue waters. There were no cottage but there were small bancas of fishermen berthing from every night fishing. The complexities of this town's beach which astounded me more were the presence of gold panners mining on the sea banks. I was too curious on how the gold dust abound in the area. The mountains were kilometers away from the shore and in between was the townproper. The folks were saying that the main gold deposits laid beneath the sea and . . ."the gold dust is carried to the shore by big waves during stormy weather", as Mang Bert Salania, a gold panner, shyly attested the folks' claims. I asked how much he got in a day's panning: "I got 5 grams yesterday and a size of corn grain gold nugget the other day," Mang Bert proudly claimed as he continued shoveling the metallic sand to the seashore, a few meters away from our family house. No one has ever explored the shoals and coral grounds in the area and no one can testify the truth beneath the sea which abound the treasures men are obsessed ever since.

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