Friday, September 25, 2009

Pagsanjan On My Bike

We met again with my fellow bikers at Daanghari in Las Pinas City. It was a good sunny day after a week of heavy rainfall and hibernation. Cycling hobbyists were bustling on the famed bikers’ road like roasters flapping their wings and crowing with the delight of dawn and ready to challenge every length of the road. And we, while under the shade of a Tamarind tree beside Daangreyna road where we frequently take a rest and made shaggy dog stories of our youthful days, hatched another biking expedition plan. Pagsanjan on our bike!

It was on September 21, 2009, another Monday holiday, a Muslim Eid-ul-Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan and the declaration date of marshal law by the Marcos dictatorship; that we agreed and met in front of “Jollibee” at the adjacent block of Puregold Shopping Mall, San Pedro, Laguna. At about 6:30 A.M., we made the headcount of 14 participants, namely: Mario, Jimmy, Edgar, Conrad, Roland, Jess, Vidal, John, Paeng, Ceasar, 2-Ben, Dodong and Dante -majorities were senior citizens or the old baby boomers as we say. We then started our bicycle trek after a short prayer for the Lord’s guidance led by Bro. Conrad.

Such was a delightful sight as we lined up the highway with our mixed uniforms and cycling gadgets. Morning transport jeepneys were cooperating well by giving our way and providing us a clear lane while we excitingly traversed the traffic-laden-route. We passed the busy road of San Pedro where the “Padyak Trikes” or the foot-pedaled tricycle carrying two passengers, were mixing-up with the highway users unmindful of the dangers they contribute when being hit by speeding vehicles along the junctions going to “Santo Sipulcro” and Pacita gated housing subdivisions. Next we passed was Binan town, noted for “Puto Makers” (rice-cake vendors) crowding the crossing going to Carmona, Cavite, and entry point to Southern Luzon Expressway. We slowed at SM-Sta. Rosa City and waited for other cyclists taking a hard time evading the traffic. We took the faster section at Robinsons-Cabuyao, then of Jose Rizal’s hometown Calamba, now a lively city with its hot spring resorts. We took a rest at Los Banos, halfway of our journey, and we noticed that four bikers were missing. They were Cesar and three others who composed the lead pack before but nowhere on sight at that moment. I volunteered to go back and reviewed the side road guessing that mechanical trouble might have had encountered by the tail-end group. Before I’ve gone far and by chance, I saw one of our cyclists who then related to me that he already had gone back too far but did not see the other three. We rejoined with the main group and decided to go on with the trip presupposing that the three have taken another course or back-off. Then we passed-by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) at the University of the Philippines, Los Banos, Laguna. We saw the “suso and kuhol” (native freshwater snails) vendors in an orange plastic bags hanging on a tree branch or in a makeshift shade along Bay’s roadside flower laden plants near the office of Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA). We took some fresh “Buko Juice” or coconut water near Victoria where the noted “Kinulob na Itik” or fried native ducks were abundant in the carenderia or small canteen along the highway. And there was an Itik Monument along the junction going to Calauan, Laguna, -where a mayor was charged of rape and killing a UP-Los Banos coed. We were refreshed by the cool shade of Acacia tree along the roads of Pila. Sorry, we failed to see La Noble Villa de Pila, the house built in 1610 during the Spanish occupation. And then the capital town of Sta. Cruz and we stopped near the crossing going to Liliw and Nagcarlan –noted for “Tsinelas” (slippers) and shoes comparable to Marikina’s and “Labandera” or clothes washers in the spring water which made it to the soap TV ads. And finally, we arrived at the town of Pagsanjan, the site where the world renowned “Pagsanjan Falls” are situated and are visited by local and foreign tourists all-year-round, come rain or shine.

As we passed by the centuries-old Pagsanjan’s “Puerto Real” the historic stone town gate arch which was designed, maybe, for “caretela” or a horse-drawn carriage as it will not fit two vehicles passing at the same time; we were amazed by centuries-old-houses similar with those of Vigan ancestral house in Ilocos Sur built during the Spanish colonization in 16th century. At last, this was Pagsanjan, but with our drying throats and empty stomachs, we were led to “Binalot sa Dahon” restaurant where we were politely treated at the backyard “Anahaw Kubo” (cottage) with plain rice, boiled eggs w/ tomatoes, “sinigang na carpa”, ”escabecheng isda” , and other fresh vegetables.

We took some rest with casual jokes and laughter, others made a short nap. Then Conrad urged us to have some pose for a travel portrait. And after attending to our personal needs and filling our water jug, we bade good-bye for the generous treatment at the resto.

We took another pose at the Pagsanjan Arch with our sturdy and dependable respective bikes as souvenir photo of our long and arduous cycling escapades. It was almost past noon but it was cool and cloudy as we pedaled back. Cool breezes from the leaves of Acacia trees shading the road as if humming and murmuring like crooning a baby on a hammock to induce sleep and gave us much relief when we expected before that it will be a grimming hot and exhausting highway stretch. We made a short stopped at Los Banos to buy some “pasalubong” (gift) of Buko Pie at Orient Original Buko Pie –this is frequented by travelers as it is the best fresh-oven-hot and delicious pie in town. However, customers were already lined-up so we just bought “Espasol” or baked rice powder from the sidewalk vendors.

On the road near Pansol resorts, we saw unexpectedly our missing three companions, Cesar and other two replacing a flat-tire whom we thought they back out. However, we learned lately that they just decided to stay in the hot-spring resort for a refreshing bath after a series of flat-tire they encountered. We trailed home all-accounted-for, passing again the jeepneys-crowded-route of Calamba, Cabuyao, Sta. Rosa, and Binan, and guided by the Power from above we safely made our unhampered trip.

Finally, we arrived at San Pedro at past five in the afternoon after a grueling journey of a total of 130 kilometers. A feat, we the aged cyclists, have accomplished where others did not dared to try. An age defying venture we proved to ourselves we can.

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