I’ve never explored Zamboanga quite like these past few months. I’ve always wanted to see all the beauty of my hometown but I never thought a Cebuano would be the one to show me. Last Saturday, Gim and I set out to visit PTK Resort in Manicahan. Gim’s best bud Marvin told us about the new beach place. On the way, we got sidetracked. Before the barangay of Manicahan was a road leading to Cacao, a barangay high up in the mountains of the East Coast. We had heard from fellow debater Elery about Vernell Farms, a nice new vacation spot.
So we took the motorcycle and followed the gray rocky path. And followed. And followed. And followed. Good thing there were some very nice people along the way who told us that, yes, Vernell Farms did exist and was not just a concept to trick people into touring this charming homey barangay. We passed a lot of fruit and vegetable farms on the way, before finally arriving. Vernell Farms was nice. Not nice in a classy sort of way but nice in a homey sort of way. There were 2 kiddie pools, fresh un-airconditioned cottages, a wide expanse of hills filled with fruit trees, a nice peek of the ocean from the topmost hills, horseback riding, karaoke and videoke… It’s a nice and affordable getaway for families.
But there’s one harsh danger lurking in this seemingly safe haven. It’s the novelty slide! Well I don’t really know what you call it, but see the picture of Gimmi below? That’s it. Basically you swing from one hill to another, and the thrill is swinging above the valley. It’s a very cheap thrill, 5 pesos for 3 rides. But as with cheap things, you take a great risk.
The thing is operated by a native who looks about 13 or 14. There’s a little piece of wood held in place by lots of seeminlgy-not-so-tough knots and it is hooked to the cable that connects the two hills. You sit on the lil piece of wood, have a tiny belt loped over your lap for *protection* and hang on to the rope gingerly as the kid pushes the the wood, you and the ropes away from him, so you “swing” away. When you reach the next hill you’re supposed to pull the rope to produce friction so that you stop swinging and you can get off the other hill.
But what happens if you’re a scaredy cat who’s hanging on to the rope so tightly because she’s scared she’s gonna fall right in the middle of the valley, not realizing that the tightness is already so tight as to create lots and lots of friction, thereby making you and everything else stop *right* in the middle of the valley?!?
Then you end up like me, bozo. OK, so I wasn’t right in the middle, I was more like near the next hill, but still, there I was, fledgling helplessly in midair, looking so stupid. I look to Gim for help. Not to the kid, what could he do, he was just a teenager! But, I suppose, being afraid he’d run into trouble if I died or something, the kid runs down the valley and stands right below me. He says he’ll pull me to the next hill, just I wait. So he takes ahold of the piece of wood I am sitting on and starts pulling. I, meanwhile start to *slide* away from the wood because it’s slippery and he’s pulling me so that I’m starting to go horizontal! And I know the belt’s gonna do nothing for me, it’s a friggin’ tiny piece of cotton! So I start shrieking, “Stop, stop, I’m gonna fall!” And then I kick my sandals off and they fall down the valley and I tell the kid to take off my belt so I can jump off from the piece of wood down to the valley. (Really, we’re talking about just 5-6 feet of space from my soles to the ground here.)
He gets a horror-struck look in his face like I just declared I wanted to kill myself. And he says, “No, no, I’ll pull you to the next hill!” All the while my butt is slipping farther and farther away from the wood. And right then all I could think of was, damn, I want this belt off because if I fall off this flimsy piece of wood I would rather break my legs than die from hanging by my throat! I couldn’t take the belt off myself because I was so scared my hands were gripping the ropes so tightly and they were the only things supporting my entire weight!!! My butt was just gingerly and desperately holding on to the last shred of the piece of wood.
Thankfully, Gimmi has had enough laughing and guffawing from over the next hill and starts to think maybe I really am in deep shit. So he runs down the hill and stands directly under me and tells me to put my feet on his shoulders. Confusedly, I do, and ask him what his plans are for the immediate future. I tell him, maybe he should make contingency plans, because I *might not be there*!
He takes off my belt, earning a murderous look from the trembling teenager but a hoot of joy from me. He then tells me to stand on his shoulders. He says he’ll carry me down to the ground. I look at him like he has grown another head, and tell him, “What do I look like? A fledgling acrobat?” And he certainly can’t support me. I weigh more than he does!!! But he tells me not to worry ‘coz he’s got me.
At this point I am just so happy the belt is off. I am ready to jump. Gimmi just has to get outta my way. So I tell him this and he looks at me like I am crazy, and he won’t let go of my feet. So we’re in a standoff. Unfortunately, the piece of wood has just had enough of me and my butt starts to slide off, off, and awaaayyyyyy…
To make this long story short, or, well, end (like I can make this shorter anyway), what happened in the next few seconds is something that Gimmi will keep in his happy thoughts forever. I fall on my butt, my feet in the air, and Gimmi tries his best to catch me, but unfortunately he fails and we both fall butt-down on the ground as the teenager stalks away, muttering incoherent (probably spiteful) words.
All I can say is, that was quite a getaway.