They once said: There’s more than meets the eye. Indeed! On February 6, 2016, I embarked on my first tour that year. In fact, no one else related to me was on this trip which was a new kind of experience. Plus, the diversity of this trip made everything an everlasting experience. With my phone being stolen days prior to the trip and the pressures of a new job, the countryside touched and relieved my heart deeply. This tour calmed me of my troubles and prepared me for newer challenges! The beginning of all future adventures!
DAY 1 – The Bird Migrates
Without my phone, traveling would definitely be the same. On the 4th of February, after processing some papers for my new job, I felt a hand squeezing in my pocket during a terrible rush hour on the way home. As I figured, my phone had just been snatched. The thief had grabbed it when I was getting on a bus and I went down trying to interrogate anyone nearby looking suspicious. It was trying to bring back a past mistake – hopeless. I was tricked by a group of several men and this has traumatized me. The rush hours felt like hell in the Philippines which was a reason for me to resign in a previous employment. It felt as if hundreds of people would die just to get a space on the bus. I walked for an hour longer in the heat of the night trying to assemble my thoughts together. The next day I was nowhere in sight for my 1st day as probationary which was assumed as an AWOL until I reached out to them on facebook. I was excused, no doubt. Luckily, it was Friday and the next days was a very long weekend (Seollal/ Lunar New Year) for the new company. A fitting time to take a break.
I almost dropped out of this trip because I couldn’t stand being out of the home. Anyone outside looking strange reminded me of danger. I would like to hibernate for days but I wouldn’t let anyone down, even myself. I had to be strong and face reality.
I was to spend this trip with my old colleagues from my first and previous job. I was too young at that moment and half the time I felt as if I need to act formal, despite them being of the same age as I am. Nonetheless, I could get along better with them and I know I could place my trust In them.
Speaking of trust, they were the ones who planned everything out, from the venue, food, and the travel. All I had to do was to tag along and have as much fun as I could. It seemed they had set up a deal with some people from another department. We sort of hitched on the company vehicle going to Batangas at a company project at Ponte Verde. Since they are employed there, whereas in my case “newly resigned,” we were eligible to ride.
On Saturday that week, we met at my old company near Ortigas and waited a few hours before our voyage. The usual traffic was occurring along Southbound through EDSA but, at least, we spent our time inside the cozy van. I tried to shield my eyes at the spot where I met my tragedy as I told the long story about it. I was getting over it easily now because of the people I’m with. Sadly, they all easily fell asleep unlike me who hardly ever does. I had no music phone and only a basic phone and another android phone lent to me to take pictures. It honestly felt like a classic road trip!
2 HOURS LATER
Finally, we arrived at Ponte Verde at a construction site. It’s the farthest they can drop us. It was already 4 p.m which meant we had to move fast! As planned, we stop for a night at our friend’s house at San Juan, Batangas, but based on our location, there was a lot of road ahead. We were told to ride a jeepney going to SM Lipa which felt forever with such a distance but the air felt fresh in this part of the country anyway. Plus, it’s always fun to travel in groups no matter what kind of ride you’re taking in the Philippines! However, we were starting to get hungry! Once we dropped off at SM Lipa, we turned to our friend Ronald McDonald!
The best part about dropping by at malls during trips is the grocery! While we were eating, we made a list of the things we needed, especially water. We still had to get around the grocery before our next voyage. Also, malls nowadays provide as a terminal for all sorts of rides in the Philippines. In our case, we rode an FX going to San Juan, Batangas. The distance from SM Lipa to San Juan, Batangas was fairly a long one. Sooner or later, each person on the FX went down one-by-one and once we reached General Luna St., we seemed to be the only ones left plus the driver. General Luna St. is the go-to place in this small town which is a stop for travelers too. Multiple establishments like Chowking and Dunkin Donuts and some gas stations has found its place here. Sadly, it was late at night once we arrived and everything was in deep slumber. The good part, though, was that the driver extended his services to drive us to our destination for a couple more bucks. Originally, we had to get to the place via Tricycle but this way convenient considering our things and groceries!
The concrete was no longer. No lights either. Only the trees and the solid ground path was followed. They used their smartphone flashlights and luckily, my basic phone had a flashlight either! There was a man who came out from nowhere following us. We were sort of freaking out but kept our calm. We imagined the man was some sort of ‘Aswang’ trying to play with us. We walked faster and faster and the path felt way too long! As we freaked out, we were laughing and joking quietly while doing so. We were a bunch of crazy young people. Finally, we arrived at their residence where we just laughed that event off.
It was dark and there were no street lights outside but there was electricity here. Their home had similarities with the old Spanish-Filipino architecture: the whole structure was elevated, most of the build was wooden, and the windows were mostly sliding windows with capiz shells as the window panes. There were two rooms, a kitchen, a dining room, the big sala (living room) and the nice veranda. We set aside our things and had a nice delicious dinner specially prepared for us! Despite how nice the cold felt we closed the windows and other entryways because if fear. It was still nice and cold, however. All the best before resting another night!
DAY 2 – Embracing the Country
We were a few weeks earlier than the summer but the damp air felt wonderful that morning. I finally saw the land clearer now. The grass shines from its dew. The outhouse could be spotted near the corner of their land and beside it was the poso (water pump).
Half of us had already gone out to the market to buy food for breakfast so I had a nice morning for quiet time. Without any gadgets, I was exposed to the country life. A more time to breathe fresh air and to only focus on the natural beauty. No one even used the television. We only had ourselves to talk to. This was more than a trip. This was like an excursion!
They were to cook adobo for lunch to eat at the resort. Since I didn’t know how to cook, I volunteered to wash the dishes later. A few hours after breakfast, it was our turn to go out to the market. We walked back to the path we took last night which was eerily shorter than I remembered. Should I freak out about it, I would look silly. At Laiya road, we rode a jeepney going to General Luna st. There was a Puregold Jr. there where we bought a new set of groceries and some ingredients. During trips, I often buy personal stocks like my best friend wheat bread and a jar of chocolate spread! I always need my emergency food!
We went back and spent a couple more hours for out final duties. They really had a talent for cooking but I also had a talent in being clean! I washed the dishes the way I liked them! No dirt must be seen and felt! Sadly, it was way harder to clean with hard water! Soap never seems to mix-in with hard-water. It was like a test of patience to clean everything but nonetheless, I find success!
GOING TO THE RESORT
FINALLY! Our voyage to the resort! My friend’s parents were kind enough to schedule a tricycle beforehand. We could’ve ridden a jeep but the path going there was lengthy. Funny thing was that it was a delivery tricycle (mostly used for delivering gallons of water) which was sent for us. Well, it did make sense because there was a lot of space for all of us but we did have to stand up the whole time! So we held onto the railings while the vehicle was moving. We tried our best to secure ourselves and our things as much as we can. The breeze was strong because of the velocity but the air was fresh and clean. It was fun and crazy! However, it was not as insane as when I suddenly pulled out my friend’s phone and recorded the whole ride. My other hand was gripped to secure myself while the other was holding on tightly on the phone. I could’ve dropped that phone if I was as careless but I survived! From there it seemed I already got over my tragic moment.
We were welcomed by a clean pool at Calubcub Bay Resort & Recreation. To its right was a medium sized park. All sorts of fun activities are available such as playground rides for children and volleyball. In the middle of the park was tree-house which showed a nice view around the place. At the rightmost of the park were the cottages. Finally, at the end of the resort was a small gate going to the beach. Various activities can be enjoyed here as well.
I enjoyed the gloomy sight from the beach. Based on the weather forecast that day, a storm was coming which made the water murky and the sky dark. The breeze was very cold and was very refreshing. It was the perfect weather.
Our cottage was pleasant! It was a two-floor cottage. The first floor was open which was accessible when going out for a swim. While it was only the cozy bedroom up in the second floor, the first floor provided everything else we needed. We even rented a KTV and sang all we want. Well, not exactly. They had a rule to cut-off the pool and other amenities by 10 pm which included the KTV too. There were shutters for the 1st floor to keep everything safe and we set ourselves to sleep. It was right timing too! The storm seemed to grow severe by that time because of the thunders and the intense wind.
DAY 3 – Back to Reality!
Once morning came I always know to make the most out of the final hours. We dipped into the pool the longer we could have. It was still cold but the weather wasn’t too bad. We had our last meal of noodles and eggs and I had to clean the pots again. We consumed all food we had and sang as much as we could in the remaining time. With the long time I’ve spent with my friends here under 1 roof, the formality I kept seemed to slowly disappear. I was too young to understand that I could have fun with coworkers from time to time. This was a lesson I value up until today! I’ve been considering them as “college friends” but then I think and realize they are my coworkers! It’s like a transitional thought that confused me but I like it. I’m looking forward to another year with them.
Sooner or later it was time to go back to General Luna St. There was a souvenir and a pasalubong shop here, however, what really caught my attention here, since the first day we arrived, was the coffee shop named Cafeño. It seems like another hipster coffee shop but that’s the exact thing I wanted to see! I wasn’t able to spend time here but I was able to appreciate the interior. The tables were nicely refurbished sewing tables and the lamps gave a unique design. It’s very rustic compared to other coffee shops. I promised to go back here and try out this coffee shop! Also, I’d try to go back to the nice and growing resort.The last and final plan was to get home! It was easy to get a bus from here to Manila.
Everything felt like a brand new experience for me and I will always foster this moment. It was rather a frontier of the coming days of work and brand new travels. No matter how much my steps take, I will always find a place homely. I finally bring this travel to a close and to welcome brighter days!