Archive | April, 2006

A Patch of Land on Sea

Posted on 19 April 2006 by Flisha

That’s Piñahon for you, a little patch of land on the sea. It’s so small that you can walk (or swim, if you like) around its perimeter in ten minutes, five if you’re quick. And its waters are so clear and pristine that you would wish your stay would never end.

Of course, I am saying that because my stay was actually very short, though not by choice. An hour in Piñahon breaks the heart, but it’s better than nothing.

Yes, I am back from Dapitan. :-) And boy, do I have a lot of pics to show! (And some stories too.)

My first adventure in Dapitan was travelling to Piñahon. And yes, the journey was just as fun as the destination! Gim’s neighbor initially offered us a package to the tiny island. We were excited because we thought, well, he’s a neighbor, we could get a great deal! But he was a fraud!!! :-( He offered to bring us to Piñahon, for, get this, P3000!!! Hello??? Who did we look like? Paris Hilton??? (OK, well, he did say he’d also bring us to Aliguay and Silinog but still.)

No, thank you, we said and so we headed for the market in Dapitan’s quirky little tricycle. On the way, Gimmi my Bisaya boyfriend used his tabian (Visayan for talkative, which is what his elementary teachers called him) powers to find out how to get to Napo (the barangay nearest Piñahon) and for how much. Thankfully, the tricy driver was an honest chap and told us all he could. When we got to Mercado, the marketplace of Dapitan, he even hailed us a habal-habal, another common transportation in Dapitan, which is a motorcycle modified to run on rocky terrain. The driver of our habal-habal was a young man who looked to be in his twenties.

Gimmi haggled with Greggy (that was his name, Gimmi was powerfully tabian like I said, and at the end of the day he and Greggy were great friends) and we got a great package. We’d pay Greggy P500 for the entire day and he’d bring us to Napo, find a pumpboat to take us to and back from Piñahon and then bring us back to the Poblacion (the center of Dapitan). Our reaction? Yes! Yes! Yes!

That was before we got on his motorcycle. To be fair, it was very stable. A Honda XRM with modified shocks and wheels and I don’t know what else, Gimmi did the man talk with Greggy, I just listened and enjoyed the view! :D But man, oh, man, the ride was scary as hell!!! Talk about driving on slippery slopes and rocky cliffs!!! I’d show you some pictures, but I was so scared to even move any part of my body for fear that a little shift could throw us off the mountain and get us all killed!!!

That didn’t happen, thankfully. Greggy was a great driver. He did let me stop once in a while to take some pics. Like the ones I’ve placed here. Yup, he was very considerate. But once I was done with the picture-taking, we’d hop on back to his bike and brace ourselves for the daredevil ride.

The ride was for the most part uncomfortable. But it was funny, too. See, we were crossing mountains, and so the ride was mostly up-down-up-down. Our seat plan was this – Greggy on the front, Gim sandwiched and me rounding up the threesome. Everytime we’d ride up a mountain I’d hold on to Gim fearfully coz I’d practically be falling off the bike. Then when we’d be going down, we’d all also be slipping down and everytime we’d hit flat ground, Greggy’d make us move back so he’d have some space on his own bike too. :-P Heehee, my back hurt real bad after that trip!

When we got down to Napo, we were exhausted! But still up for the exhilarating pumpboat ride to Piñahon. We paid 100 for the trip back and forth (and a P50 tip), and as you can see, we rode on this tiny little pumpboat but it wasn’t scary at all. It was very pleasant, and you could just put your hand in the water whenever you felt like it. And the water was sooo clear you could see everything, we saw a school of fish, we saw lots of starfishes and shells and seaweeds and even a water snake! (Gim’s bad experience, tell you about it later!)

We reached Piñahon 15 minutes later, around 3 PM, very happy and excited. It was a very pretty island, very small, very clean. Construction was going on, obviously a DOT project. We also noticed a sign saying Fish Sanctuary Rehabilitation, but I don’t know what that means.

We had a blast bathing in the beach. The “safe” area was very tiny and the water was very shallow. But we could go past the “safe” area into deeper waters, at our own risk. I didn’t dare, because it was open sea, and there could be sharks. But Gim did, while I salivated in envy.

There was a tiny canteen in the middle of the island, but they only sold some softdrinks and some bread. We were very hungry since we hadn’t had lunch yet but we settled for that; the experience was too beautiful to complain. :-)

We took a lot of pics, as you can see. Since the island was very tiny, what you are seeing in the pics actually account for about two-thirds of the island. (What I didn’t take a pic of was the ongoing construction which was ugly and the canteen which was just an ordinary hut on the sea)

On the way back, Manong our pumpboat driver let us stop by Taluloc, an enormous rock in the middle of the ocean. We didn’t step off the boat, though, we just took pics.

A funny sight we met on the way to Napo was a group of five old women in goggles and duster dresses. One moment they looked like they were talking easily (though weirdly, coz, hello, it was the middle of the ocean!) and the next they were lost beneath the sea!!!

When we asked Manong what they were doing he told us they were looking for kinason. We didn’t understand him coz we had never heard of it and he wasn’t very good in describing what it was. We thought it was starfish, or seaweed, or a type of fish, or a hermit crab. And he kept saying, kinason, oo, kinason.

But no, it was a big snail with a pretty shell. We found out in the market, where we saw the shellfishes and asked what they were. Kinason, the people told us. Ahhh.

We also saw some starfish, the first time in my life that I really saw live starfish, and Gim was so eager to show me that he jumped off the boat and took one starfish and gave it to me to hold!! (He’s so sweet hehe.)

A moment later, though, he shrieked in that little shrilly girly voice of his and jumped right back into the boat! And when I say jumped, he flew like he was Superman into the boat, it was so fast I hardly saw him do it!!! And why??? There was a big poisonous snake in the water that brushed him on the leg and if he hadn’t felt it it would have bit, and he’d have died from poison in less than an hour!!! (Now, Gimmi you can’t blame THIS near death experience on me, you brought it on yourself!) Needless to say, Manong and I broke out in laughter once we found out what had happened!!! :D I didn’t know my baby was a Superboy in training! :P

We took around two hours going to Napo and two hours going back to the Poblacion. And we spent only about an hour Piñahon. But you know what? It was all worth it. The journey was beautiful, the sights of the open ocean from up Dapitan’s peaks were breathtaking, Piñahon itself was just perfect and wonderful. White sand, green waters, everything clean and clear and deliciously untouched. And what’s more, we made a friend along the way, who also brought us to our next adventure, which I will blog perhaps another day.

Back in the boarding house, Gim and I were red and raw and extremely tired. But all in all, deliriously satisfied. :-)

More pictures here.

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Dakak, Here I Come!

Posted on 10 April 2006 by Flisha

I’ve had it! I am NOT taking it anymore! This separation MUST stop! I am reuniting with that errant little child and once I see him, I am going to kick his supple little bottom!!!

And I am going to take a nice long vacation while at it, too.

The boy thinks he can fool me, says he’s spending summer away from me to play doctor for a month in a poor little province somewhere in one of the forgotten crevices of the country.

Yeah, right. Dapitan is SO NO LONGER the same little old province Rizal was once exiled to. Check their website and see. Tourism is booming and the place is getting all snazzed up. (Sorry if I sound weird, chalk it up to my reading Terry McMillan.)

The point is, I’m jealous. And I’m not gonna sit here salivating over pretty pictures of islands, waterfalls, floating restaurants or even bump cars (so old school, I know, but we don’t have them here and I want them!).

I am going to Dapitan. And yes, I am going to Dakak Resort, Aliguay and Silinog Islands, Linabo Peak, Sunkilaw Waterfalls and even the Rizal Shrine, yes I am. Well, I hope.

So, have a peaceful Holy Week, everyone. Pray I don’t blow my entire life savings in the same week. (But if I do, Gimmi boy, don’t expect to be able to sit down in a month!)

P.S. These beautiful pictures come from Carribeviaggi. Dapitan may be getting prettier but its website hasn’t quite caught up yet.

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Zamboanga’s Worst Fire

Posted on 07 April 2006 by Flisha

March was supposed to be National Fire Prevention Month for the Philippines. I even saw a banner in front of the Zambo Fil-Chinese Volunteer Fire Brigade heralding the event.

Thus, it is painfully ironic that Zamboanga’s worst fire in history happened last month.

This is the aftermath of a huge fire that razed almost ten hectares of residential land in Camino Nuevo, Zamboanga City barely two weeks ago. More than a thousand families were displaced and some lives (including a child who was barbecued on the spot by a burning wooden post that fell on top of him and a guy who volunteered to help others stuck in their burning houses) were lost.

The fire began at around 7pm, a bit after rush hour. (Gim and I usually go home around this time but on that particular day we went home early, at half past 5, so we didn’t know about the fire until late in the evening) Firefighters rushed to the scene but the fire was blazing in the center of Barangay Camino Nuevo and all the roads inside it were too narrow for the trucks to reach. And when I say the roads were narrow, think of a Bichu-bichu (a very compact minivan) occupying the entire width of the road all by itself. The fire was put out by 1am but, by then, Barangay Camino Nuevo had been all but wiped out.

The official report on the origins of the fire cite a boy who left a lighted candle in the altar of their house, which began the horrifying blaze when the candle fell and burned the house to the ground. Rumors abound, though, that the fire was actually arson, to drive squatters away and to be able to build a road in the center of the affected area. I hope, though, that these rumors are false. Though it’s plausible, I hope no one in my city is evil enough to want to destroy a thousand lives for a single road. At the same time, I wonder whether the official report is true. The house mentioned was too close to the main road for the fire to not have been put out quickly and efficiently. I remember, two years ago, there was a big fire (though nowhere as big as this one, and that one, I was witness to) in the exact same spot. They said the fire began from faulty electric wiring or something like that. A boarding house was affected, but no one was killed, to my knowledge. And the fire was contained quite speedily, which makes me wonder why this recent fire was allowed to burn for so long and actually reach the center of the barangay, which firetrucks could not have access to.

But anyways, what’s done is done. I only hope that Zamboanga City learns from this tragic mistake. Hopefully we will finally have a fire hotline implemented instead of a landline number that is hard to memorize. And hopefully the city’s infrastructure will be improved (read: less squatters, wider roads)

For the kind hearted, donations are welcome. Cash and cheque donations may be forwarded to the Ateneo Grade School Principal’s Office. Please make all checks payable to Ateneo de Zamboanga University.

More pictures of the remains of Camino Nuevo below. (All pictures were taken from the fourth floor of the LRC Building in Ateneo.)

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Blogger Hacks

Posted on 05 April 2006 by Flisha

It”s been a month since Gim or I last posted, it’s 3 in the morning and what am I doing??? Fiddling with my Blogger template! :D (Don’t worry, a post is coming soon. That was me convincing myself that a post would be coming soon.) :(

Anyways, I’ve got two new changes to be proud of! B) The first is that I finally have categories! I love Blogger but it stinks when it comes extra features – like the very important category feature. For months I’ve been Googling for a not-so-brute-forceful hack to solve this, but I haven’t been successful ’til now. (One suggestion I’ve come across is to create a new blog for every category – Good God, I’m too lazy to do that everytime I want a new one! :P)

A lot of versions of this hack are floating but for newbies (like me!), we need specific instructions, which is why I loved Phydeaux’s 3-part tutorial on implementing Blogger tags. Tags, in my opinion, are better than categories, since one post can have many tags, rather than just a single category. Look to my sideblog for my new tags! :) I haven’t tagged all my previous posts yet, only two or three, but I’ll be working on it this summer! :D

The other new change is – yes, you guessed it! – I’ve got emoticons!! :D I got it from Free Blogspot Templates, which of course offers Blogger skins as well as other Blogger tips. I was really looking for the Blogger Hack Series which it seems to have lost. :O But nonetheless, my visit wasn’t fruitless. :P

Here’s to more Blogger hacks and less sleepless nights!!! :D

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