Cam South. Come Sur.
March 31 - April 4, 2010
Coming home to Bicol, my mother’s hometown, is an annual thing for the family. This time, however, is not just a regular hometown visit.
We went there for three main reasons:
- For my Aunts to attend their respective high school reunions;
- To visit my cousin who just gave birth to a cute baby girl; and
- To hand over the “dress” they were donating for the family patron- Our Lady of Sorrows (Latin: Mater Dolorosa)
LIBMANAN: 20°42’N 123°04’E
The first one is the usual reason we go there, but I heard this was somewhat different as well (I didn’t bother asking). There’s not much to do in our rural town of Libmanan anymore since my cousins and I are all grown-ups now, we essentially don’t enjoy the same old activity we were all used to doing which is to ride the local pedicab and just roam around the town square.
There’s a new “attraction” in Libmanan, however, which is a bit funny. They are calling it the San Juan “Baywalk” which, ironically is not actually a “walk” by the bay, but rather, by the river. We went there just after we participated in the Good Friday procession, which we usually do when we are all there. After the brief stay at the new local attraction, we went to the town plaza to try for the first time fried chicken intestines (I’m more accustomed to the grilled version of it).
Most of our stay there, I was home watching dozens of Survivor seasons and playing the summer’s hottest game: Plants vs. Zombies. But time, when you’re in a province on a Holy week is very lengthy so boredom definitely struck me. The sluggish feel was however compensated (aside from watching and playing) by going to two key destinations - Naga City and the Municipality of Caramoan.
NAGA: 13°37’N 123°10’E
Naga City is a 45-minute drive from Libmanan. We don’t usually go here because it’s a little far from where we stay, but this time, we go here at least once every day. The reason why we went here a couple of times was to visit my cousin who just gave birth to an adorable baby girl. After almost 25 years, a new baby girl was welcomed to our family.
Other than our occasional visit to my first niece, who was in an incubating sort of thing, we also went to the church we never fail to visit whenever we’re in the city - the Peñafrancia Basilica. After which, we went to SM Naga. It was opened just a few months before my first visit. This SM only means that Naga City is really approaching a great stature. Hopefully though, the mall doesn’t change a lot of good things that the ‘Heart of Bicol’ has to offer.
CARAMOAN: 13°46’23”N 123°51’54”
Aside from the first three reasons why my family went here, my cousins and I had a common idea of what else to do and that is to visit the beaches of Caramoan.
Desperate to see this newly discovered paradise in the Caramoan peninsula, me and my cousins decided not to go to sleep just so we’ll be up until 4am and able to wake the rest up and catch the 9am boat. But as usual, my family moves slowly, making us feel stressed instead of being excited. Despite this we were able to leave home before the sun was completely up. I hardly noticed the approximately 2-hour drive to Sabang port because as soon as we hopped in the van, I fell asleep. When we got to the port, our morale was boosted upon learning that there was more than one trip to Caramoan for that day since it was a Black Saturday.
After about two hours of adventure-filled pump boat ride, we were surprised to learn that we would have to take a 30-minute rough road jeepney ride to get to the beach, and rent an outrigger canoe to get to the famous white sand beaches. Of course, since we were already there, we had no choice but to follow as instructed. And then we got there. The main beach had “black” sand which gave us no choice but to hire a boat service just so we could get to the islands and see the real beauty of the place. We managed to see some props being used by Survivor: Israel which gave me the “Survivor” feel. The islands were scenic, but due to time constraints, we had to leave a little too soon.
The whole Caramoan experience was fun but what made the trip so memorable was the part when every single one of us were forced to ride behind big men’s (who actually looked like the goons you see on a typical filipino action film) shoulders just to get back to shore (since the tide was low that the boats can’t go closer to shore) without getting really wet. Too bad we were all preoccupied with the moment that nobody thought of documenting what was happening. This was truly the best family experience I’ve ever had.