Thursday, June 13, 2013

From Luzon to Visayas to Mindanao (Part III)

Imagine this: In your East are hectares of green fields, majestic mountain plateau; in your West is a tranquil clear blue sea; up North is a peaceful and quiet road leading to a promising countryside; down South is worth looking back on.  It was my first time in the island of Mindanao. And WOW, the scenery was so welcoming.  Ang ganda ng Mindanao mga parekoy!

From Butuan City to our real vacation haven was a three hour land travel. When I saw signs of urbanization supported with my younger brother’s short tales, I was certain that we were about to have a real good sleep.  Welcome to Surigao City!

Upon arriving to my brother’s crib, we all went straight to the bedroom and laid our very very very tired body to rest. It was a Sunday afternoon. And I guess we all had Bruno Mars’ Lazy Song silently resonating in our head.  The next two weeks was a perfect blend of business and pleasure. We were obliged to assist in organizing wedding events. The job includes cutting papers, lifting props, decorating, cleaning, buying food of staff etc. As a compensation to our labor, we had buffet meal during events, sumptuous barbeque dinner, pizza galore, midnight snack at McDonald’s or Jollibee, movie nights in my brother’s small flat screen and of course sightseeing, exploring nearby hangouts of Surigaonons and some famous tourist destinations in Surigao del Norte.  

Sample stage by The Events Factory
My big brother's crib
This is my most favorite photo op in Surigao.
Every morning, my daily routine in my brother’s rented house was something like this: doing the laundry, sweeping the floor, cooking and washing the dishes. If only I can put this experience in my resume, I think Super Nanny best suits the job title (Hehe). But it was an experience that taught me a precious skill – cooking. I am still far from being a kitchen superstar. But at least my repertoire in cooking has improved one level. Through several telephone conversations with my dearest mother and best cook in the world I was able to cook typical Filipino cuisine like menudo, paksiw and tinola. However, I failed big time in slicing sayote for tinola. I did the menudo cut. Ika nga ng kapatid ko kung malalaki ang gayat nyan naubos sana natin ang sayote. Lol! My two big boys don’t like veggies. So I had to be innovative to get them eat veggies - I cut some potatoes and carrots into small cubes and mix it to fried rice and to make it look more appetizing I supplemented the platter with chicken barbeque and sliced boiled egg.   In fairness, I got passing mark. :D

This is where I learned how to cook typical Filipino dishes
Our lunch:  sinangag with veggies, chicken bbq and sliced boiled egg
In a house with no radio, no television and an internet connection without connection, listening to music and watching movies were the ultimate sources of entertainment bliss. Our movie nights served as bonding instrument for the three of us. Life of Pi, Chinese Zodiac and Unofficially Yours were the flicks that we were able to watch together while having late dinner or midnight snack. Among the three movies, Life of Pi is my most favourite. The film was so realistically and creatively made. It reminded me of our father who up to this day still works as a seafarer. It made me appreciate my father’s sacrifices specially now that he is a senior citizen and supposed to be resting and simply enjoying. On a lighter note, the film simply depicts life’s harsh realities and valuable lessons about resiliency and gratitude.

One of the best things I like about Surigao is the food. Although they don’t have an eminent food they can call their own, Surigao has plenty of places for foodies who are fond of yummy gastronomic adventure. I truly enjoyed four different pizzas by Biaños Pizzaderia. It was love at first bite. Suddenly, I welcomed the idea of franchising. That’s how good it is when it’s fresh from the oven.  Plus, the price is relatively cheap for a very delectable pizza. Next in line are tinae (chicken intestine) and barbeque in Russel’s, just one of the many ihaw-ihaw restos in a street market catering grilled foods. Their meat is so tender and juicy partnered with sweet bbq sauce. One cup of rice wasn’t enough. And a meal wouldn’t be complete without Coca-Cola. The creamy cake and tasteful breads from Home Baker are best for either breakfast or desert. My sweet tooth was more than satisfied.

Biaños Beef and Mushroom @ PhP135 only
Creamy ube cake by Home Baker
One thing I like about travelling is a chance to meet new people. I will always be grateful for the hospitality of the family of my brother’s girlfriend. The hardwork, dedication and outstanding talent and skills of the staff of the Events Factory (an event organizer in Surigao) had a very strong impact in my memory.  And last but not the least, the extremely cute little boy, AA (Albert Ace) is a potential child star in an American film.  If only I could take him home, I wouldn’t have a second thought.

Baby AA's right side view 
The highlight of this grand vacation was our tour to Sohoton Cove, Bucas Grande Island. Again, it was a lot of firsts for me. It was my first time to ride a motored boat; to enter enchanting caves with interesting stalactite formation; to see countless islets; and to play with jelly fish. Thanks to the family of my brother’s girlfriend. We had an ultimate island hopping for free - a rare experience indeed.
The majestic view of the island
Group 1 with our tour guides
A Thai national enjoying the crystal clear water
Entering Hagukan Cave. Salamat sa napakamaunawain naming tour guide
I didn't miss the water in luminous emerald color
The view going to the stingless jellfish
The stingless jellyfish giving us simple bliss
An outing in a nearby beach resort is perhaps the best way to end a 15-day vacation in a place with abundant natural scenic spots.  Together with the staff of the Events Factory we had a day trip in Mabua Pebble Beach the day before I head home to Manila. Not too far from our cottage is a hill which we climb in order to have a breathtaking view of the clear blue sea, the mountainous backdrop and the beautiful cloud formation. And of course, it was a perfect site for photo op.

Isn't perfect for a cover photo?

with my younger brother watching the sunset
On April 30, I travelled back to Manila all by myself via PAL Express going to Cebu and from Cebu to Manila I was carried by Cebu Pacific airbus. My vacation was cut off short due to an unexpected opportunity that would hang me by a thread. Personally, I would want to stay longer because I am yet to explore and discover more wonders. Nevertheless, I had a blast!!!

The panoramic view up in the sky

To be continued... 

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