For it was a weekend of my favorite whats and who. — 02.22-23.14
It was supposed to be a trip with someone with an odd trip – we go to same place but not really be together. In our words, a “walang pakialamanan” (we-shall-not-care-about-each-other) weekend. It was a bit of a crazy idea but I guess as we are both ‘beach-tune-out’ persons, we were at that time just a little bit possessive and ungenerous of our sanctuaries we did not want anyone to invade it. Little did I know that what sounded like an unsound plan had a more surprising insane ending.
Unlike previous Potipot trip, I did less planning for on my how-to-go-there as I was confident there were more trips and travel time is going to be much less. What I didn’t realize was that it was a Panagbenga weekend that when I arrived at the Victory Liner terminal in Cubao about 20 before 6 in the morning (which I believe was the first trip to Iba), place was packed and they stopped selling tickets. Apparently, some buses meant for trips to certain areas were being used for trips to Baguio. Quite an unsystem in there, I thought, especially for a company that declares trip schedules.
I had to wait for about an hour in a queue – alternating between standing and sitting. When finally the booth opened, I was made to decide between two – one, should I go with Plan A to catch a bus to Iba with its 6AM trip already full and available tickets are only for the 930AM trip OR should I choose an Olongapo-bound bus with no commitment on what time it would be available. I chose the latter. And bam! A hit-on-the-head realization based on a random decision there. Well, that says so much about my tolerance, and even an uncanny preference, for uncertainty.
While smiling to self about my then seemingly blinded decision, I just tried to nap in one of the benches, waiting for the bus-with-no-time to come. And it did before 930am. Aha, Teng! That was a hell of a decision worthy of a high five to self.
Made to be awake unusually early and semi-bored from the queuing, I practically slept during the entire trip, occasionally waking up to my trip buddy’s oddly funny reminders where I ought to go and this and that. (Far from humble him for he is a regular in the place while I am a newbie).
Second time around at Victory Liner Olongapo terminal at around 11 in the morning but still clueless on what to do, I just hopped on whatever bus the staff there pointed me to. I then found myself sitting in a non-aircon bus, which is totally fine except that for that particular bus, I had this strange feeling of off-ness (which I am trying to define now but I just couldn’t). Luckily, as if someone whispered to my ears, I instinctively exited that bus and just when I was about to cross to this other platform to ask someone, I was greeted by this airconditioned bus bound to Iba. I was like “fucking yey! So that was what all that off feeling was about”.
It was about a 45-minute no-sleeping ride as I was trying to be alert where I needed to be dropped off. I told the conductor I needed to be at this Bobulan School but he was just staring at me weirdly I could not sense whether he got me or not. True enough, he didn’t because I was left to figure out when to get off. It was another wild guess because the minute I thought I saw a school and after a few meters a bunch of tricycles, I just asked the driver to stop. Maybe it was again luck striking in, it turned out that what I thought was the school, across it is indeed Bobulan. I was just looking on the right side while it is on the left.
About 15 minutes of bumpy ride and I found myself successfully (highlight this!) at The Circle. The hostel’s set-up was kind of strange that when I entered, I didn’t even know where reception area was. I immediately saw the hammock area where two people were sleeping. Luckily, an Ate came but I was hesitant to ask her because I might offend her if she turned out to be a guest too.(Gaadd, I am not very good at that). Luckily take two, she was the one who approached me.
My first intention was to set camp because I thought the hostel is on beachfront. It turned out though that beach was on the other side. I was really looking forward to camping and it was shattered (strong word!) when Ate told me that there is no spot really on the beach and it gets really dark and unsafe there at night. I was told I could set up tent in hostel itself but what is point even. In hindsight, now I realized why my trip buddy slash then-friend kept on telling me he would set up tent at the beach and sleep on a hammock while I set up tent at hostel. (What an evil person dropping hints instead of crystal warning).
Conscious that this was going to be a short weekend, after registration and locker stuff, I immediately went to shore with the usual essentials and the tent I would set up for day.
It was scorching hot and the entire strip was stripped off of any kind of shade. I immediately loved the fact though that beach was people-less, except some who may be inside that sole tent by the shore. I remember being so heat-distracted that I could not find a spot as spontaneously as I could because it was just so hot and my eye and innate sense for favorite were not working. I also lost half a bottle of my precious first beer as I was setting tent.
But it was “push your tent-setting skills” weekend so the moment I decided where, I immediately set-up my first 100%. There was a moment of temptation when I saw a local nearby that I almost asked him to help me because I could not make the tent stand. But after a series of hit-and-miss strategies, I was able to set it up. After that, I even had more difficulty setting the roof – with the wind and all. But – all sweaty and burned, I was able to do it anyway.
My first 100%
As soon as my 100% tent was done (yes I am a very proud girl), I just sat inside staring at the waves. It was so hot that I wanted to swim but I am not a brave soul really when it comes to water waves. It is a very deliberate decision to untrust myself in that department.
That track leads to you.
Here’s a free spirit who never minds the heat.
Oh when will I have the courage?
I just drank beer, read, listened to music and when beer 1 was finished, walked back to The Circle’s area to get some more. I spotted this carinderia or one-stop shop called Mommy Phoebe’s and grabbed 2 or 3 (?). I was not sure really. I just remembered the thought process of buying everything my hands could carry. (Wow. What is alcoholic, or better put as per a friend’s friend, an alcohol enthusiast.)
By mid-afternoon and when it was less hot, I went out of my 100%-made cave (still holding on to proudness) and sat by the beach. People started coming in so there was more chance to people-watch and stare in envy how they could swim and surf. I was already losing track of time as well of how many bottles of beer I have had. I just knew that whenever I ran out of beer, I would go back to Mommy Phoebe’s to get more.
I was amazed. It could be the pacing. Or it could be the beach. It’s just amusing what beach does to people sometimes. Maybe it is the calm or the absence of thought when in this place that renders every percent of alcohol useless.
More than few minutes before sunset, my trip buddy/then-friend/beer buddy (and he is becoming many) sat beside me, kind of stirred similar emotions when he would arrive at our favorite place in the city. It was the “very us” random talk – from the usual how-I-got-there to his never-ending doubt on my tent-setting skills.
A few minutes before sunset, I realized that that spot was actually no less than perfect. On the left were those dead trees and just the right amount of people to watch but not disturb. Behind me is my source of pride. In front of me is this sunset which has always been my favorite time of day. On my right is someone who was not supposed to be there as part of the agreement but whose presence makes this sunset exponentially different from others.
Reunited with the beach dog.
Yes. I was right.
I will never unlove this scene.
All my favorites
Without realizing it, it was end of day and we had to say goodbye. So in the darkness, I had to let go of my 100% then we grabbed food at Mommy Phoebe’s. My system unaccepting of simultaneous beer and food, I started to get dizzy that we just stayed at hammock to rest a bit.
We then went up to socials area and had quite some serious talk –about relationships, people, serious talk temporarily distracted by such a sexy-looking ashtray and realization how guitar skills are forgotten. Lost in talk, it was only after about an unsensitive amount of time before we realized that the couple in the area was already sleeping and we were a bit of a noise.
Despite a cold night then, we headed to beach to do what is opposite of basking in the sun. Again, there was no camera that could capture the beauty of that natural roof that never fails to trigger this “putangina! Kinikilig ako”! (fuck, I am romantically thrilled) high-pitched scream in my head. Still lost in time, it never occurred to me how we managed to be awake until dawn just by looking at stars, eating chips and using words and a more than healthy amount of laughter.
It was a stream-of-consciousness talk as usual but essentially star-watched (or star-stalked even) as my Astronomy geeky friend has been lecturing me on comments on positioning of stars blah blah blah. It was birth also of many “us-in-our-world” things – “crunch crunch crunch”, “batuhin ng buhangin”, “sea of stars equating to Nora Aunor and many “did you know this general knowledge” comments. On occasion, some group of friends would go to the beach but we were so engrossed in our little world we could not seem to care.
There were many stars that night but only these two are what my camera could see.
We were like that until someone who is obviously not me got hungry so we ended up going to that place across The Circle to get food and well, more beer. Then back to hammock until I was forced to sleep because I was accused of looking pale and blue.
After some hours of forced sleep, we immediately went to beach as I need to prove my tent skills. Armed with beer and his tent at mid-day, I just had to set up tent while someone else was watching. I was so proud again that I ended up sitting there by myself, leaving no space for who owns tent.
Okay. Stand there and watch me try hard.
And it was more talking in an unusually hot day. And over sun-roasted beer, we talked about many – from those surfers – experts and newbies alike (a Trophy-like surfer deserves a special mention) to failed selfies with lighting supported by Mr. Sun to travel-life plans to blurry conversations from previous night. People started thinning around lunchtime but we decided to stay to make most of last day.
When it was time to say goodbye, upon his prompting and my little willingness, there was an attempt to swim on my end but after less than 2 minutes, he must have been in greater panic he knew he just had to let it go.
Our view from our “we are hiding from you, Sun” haven
Sun Day, it is!
Most painful part of trip is saying goodbye but strangely for this one, our last moments were less painful due to this adorably smart little girl who we spent our last hours chatting. Captured by her opening line to me “ate, may anak ka na”, I just could not stop being pulled by the charm of this smart kid who has spent her young years talking to travelers who were staying and going in that hostel. We were fighting over her – on who she loves more. But most importantly, it was through her innocent question that finally it was clear – that my trip buddy, my then-friend, beer buddy – remains all that, and on that day, my boyfriend too.
(And after all that cheese, let me share some transactional details. Wow. That was such a crappy transition).
How to go there :
From Victory Liner terminal in Cubao, ride buses bound either to Iba or Olongapo. Better if Iba so you would not have to transfer to an Iba-bound bus from Olongapo terminal.
Then just ask to be dropped off a Bobulon School or simply say San Felipe town (you would be dropped off on a tricycle terminal near a public mall). Or if you don’t feel like asking help from conductor as we might end up useless just like what happened with me, school is easy to spot on your left.
Ride a tricycle to “The Circle” from there. Fare at Php50-60.
How to leave :
Target to reach Olongapo terminal. Buses pass by main road in San Felipe anyway. Ride Manila-bus bound from terminal.
Or if you get lucky, there are Manila-bound buses along the main road.