The most organic and natural travel experience

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Flag of Philippines  , Visayas,
Monday, May 24, 2010

Wow Wee what a beautiful day (Using Northern Irish words and accents of course). There are very few days you will ever have like this in your life and days like these can not really be described or discussed except with the people you shared them with. For me Chris summed this up perfectly when he described it as "The most organic and natural travel experience you could have".

We woke and had a quick hot and sour soup before leaving for the Fiesta in Loboc. The celebration was that of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. We crossed the river being rowed by the boat belonging to nuts huts costing 10 Peso per person. We walked along the river bank taking in the wonderful views of the rain forest / tropical jungle, the river, and river life. The walk lasted about 40 minutes just chatting and looking at animals, peoples homes etc.  We missed the start of mass at 10am much to my relief, however looking at the crowd of people outside trying to get a look in from outside we would not have got in anyway.

We had a quick look around the trade stalls selling all manner of holy artifacts like ball bearing guns, helium inflated balloons and stallls to gamble on the outcome of a dice roll. We then headed over to the sports building next to the town hall and upon entering to be nosy noticed hundreds of musicians with wind and brass instruments. I got chatting to one girl who explained that the band split up and walk around the town before joining together again in front of the Town Hall. The band started and they all danced and did moves whilst playing to make an incredible show (possibly made more amazing for us in the fact we were the only 'tourists' there).

We watched the band until the music finished maybe an hour after commencement we then went to a local eatery for a soft drink however found the jumbo size San Migs for (from recollection) 50 peso (Steve this pro-rata’s to maybe 15 piso per small bottle V is for value). The guys had something to eat as well but we ended up having two of the large bottles each and we (the non eaters) felt a little tipsy. We then found the motorcross but could not find the sack race much to Chris’s disappointment. Although he denied he wanted to take part I think it may have taken him two jumps to win the entire race. The town started to get a little less busy and we had heard that people retired to one anothers houses to eat and drink together so we decided to have one last go at trying to find the mayor to get an invite to his house. Unsuccessful again we decided to walk back towards the river and look out for a party to try and gate crash.

We found one of the little local off licenses with a few people on the patio of the house it was ‘in front of’. We ordered a bottle of Tanduay and some large San Migs then I cheekily asked if they had anywhere we could sit. Bingo! We were quickly asked to sit on the porch, we agreed and walked towards the porch. Then before we had chance to sit were ushered into the house sat in some lovely antique chairs and had a whole array of food not offered but forced upon us. We had caribou arombol, stuffed river crabs, pork, curries, shins of caribou and goodness knows what else. It had all been cooked by the Grandmother who it transpires had been cooking for over four hours. Whilst eating the Karaoke was put on and we were told as soon as we finished eating we could sing. We presented them with Rhum and beer and we had an incredible feeling of taking part in the ‘proper’ fiesta.

There were three or four generations of the family, all the families friends (about 20 people in total), we discussed, religion, politics (the Filippino election was a couple of days after the UK election and they can vote separately for local Mayor, Vice Mayor, President etc), work, local culture, friendships, working in the UK and so many different subjects its difficult to recall them all. We continued to buy more beer from the shop (although they were adamant we should drink their booze free) and we all just had a great party. The Filippino people are so warm, friendly and generous they were appauled at the thought that in the UK we would not welcome people walking past in for a drink on a bank holiday. Anyway we exchanged all our details and are likely to put one of the families up for a few days while they are working in the UK (likely to be working on yachts or cruise ships as his wife is a nurse).

We got on to the price of food and we were shown that many of these guys did not work, they bred chickens, caribou, had papaya trees and coconut trees and simply lived very cheaply. They were appauled by the cost of papaya in the UK so we then got a big stick and tried to knock a ripe papaya off the tree. Chris ran over with another of the family to try and catch it when it dropped and much to everyones delight when the fruit dropped it exploded all over Chris and the other guy. Everyone was laughing so much it was fantastic. We then had ripe Papaya, followed by unripe papaya in salt and vinegar, followed by unripe papaya in chilli.

Other guests continuds to come and go, eating and drinking for free, chatting to us and the family and it started to feel like we were just having an afternoon with friends not that we were tourists. We genuinely just felt like everyday Filippino’s. (Note: Again we find something else Manchester is famous for, in China, Russia etc we are famous for football, in India it was cotton mills, in the Philippines, Manchester who, ahhh Ricky Hatton”). Fair play to Ricky he has given the Philippines a lasting memory of how nice people from Manchester are, everyone here says Ricky Hatton is a great fighter, not as great as Manny but still great, a real gentleman and a lovely man. We have met so many people who share this view. I think when I get home I will treasure the signed photo of Ricky Hatton and I a little more.

The light of the day started to disappear, we were drunk (not only on booze but the whole experience) and decided as the walk through the forest was dangerous in the light with only a little wind up torch between four of us we must set off. We made our goodbyes to some of the best friends and most generous people you could ever imagine meeting and set off down the road until it changed into a track. We then found another group who asked us to do a karaoke number with them but as soon as we had the microphones a power cut hit and the song was cancelled. The walk through the forest was so surreal it is hard to describe and we were still on the wrong side of the river to Nuts Huts. We eventually found the crossing point and as we were starting to get undressed to navigate down the rocks and swim (bags over head lifeguard training re-enacted) a tiny boat with a fisherman came meandering up the river. Chris immediately started Morse code with the head light (god knows what message he was trying to send), Erica was shouting “excuse me, excuse me, would it be possible to help us cross”. The surreal nature of the day was held up as we got a lift across the river on a boat with a man who’s face none of us saw in the dark and we paid him 10 peso each. We walked back to the huts amazed at the day we had. And still the day was not over we arranged to meet at the bar in half an hour and try and find a way to the disco in town to celebrate the end of the fiesta.

After a quick hot and sour soup and a few more beers we managed to get the bar to ring two motorbike drivers to drive down the forest track to come and collect us, then drive us to the village / town for 50 Peso per bike (25 peso per person). We climbed the steps again and promptly we heard the roar of two bikes coming down the tracks. Chris and Sarah hopped on first before disappearing into the distance (Erica and I didn’t even know how to get on as there was clearly just not enough space for three of us).

Without any kind of safety equipment we undertook the three man moto cross course across the boulders and tracks being whipped by the bushes (we thought they were nettles in the dark) and we were quite convinced we were already dead never mind at risk. (Mum’s don’t read this part). Anyway fair play to driver he got us there safely and seemed worried about how we would get home.

Well the Filippino’s have rhythm alright, it was a little bit gangster rap meets dirty dancing, from backflips and handstands to serious bumping and grinding it was great. We drank and danced a little bit but there did appear to be a few people heavily influenced by narcotics who when I got up formed a circle and shouted “Go Andy, Go Andy, Go Andy”, thankfully Chris got exactly the same treatment. Some of our friends from earlier in the day were also present so it was great crack. The mens toilets... well one urinal was out of order and two were blocked with vomit, both cubicles were also blocked with vomit. One urinal drained but very slowly so Chris waited while a guy used this one then said “I wait for this one”. On leaving the toilet he found the guy who had been using the toilet had blocked anyone else from going in thinking Chris had asked if he could block the door while we went, Chris felt somewhat bizarre to find a queue of people outside who would enter and think he had blocked all the loos.

At about 2am we decided to call it a night and go and try and find a way home. There was a tricycle outside but the driver appeared extremely drunk and was asleep at the wheel so one of our FilippIno friends tried to get us a motorbike each. The drivers wanted 150 Peso each and then they got extremely aggro when we explained the fare to get there was 50 Peso. We think they were also drunk and it just didn’t ‘feel’ right so we decided to walk. After about of an hour walk we had to climb a mud bank which Erica just couldn’t get up. Chris and Sarah were both slipping and sliding but kept their centre of gravity low and used the grass and shrubs to stop them sliding back down. Lady E ever the athlete and scrambling fan either would not or could not get her centre of gravity low so kept almost toppling over. We ended up scaling up the hill in a rugby scrum formation with her basically leaning on my shoulder with her bum consistently falling back nearly taking us both out. Anyway we made it up and about 15 minutes later found the top of the forest track indicated only a km to go.

We walked down this deserted forest track into the villages at 3am to be met by the rather unfriendly guard dogs. I was absolutely shitting myself as these dogs were barking like mad at me being the first one through. Chris rather novelly kept saying “don’t attack we are your friends” but the barking went on. I found out afterwards that everyone else had rather large rocks and boulders in their hands in case the dogs did go for us, stupid me at the front hadn’t even thought about it. Erica got back home and still had a rock in her hand. Bizarrely, the conversation for the last km surrounding the farcicle Rabies vaccine that only Sarah had had, which was nice as we thought the best outcome we could hope for was to survive the dog attack and be left with Rabies.

A perfect day.
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Jan on

Ha ha beats my day! Had the day off and defrosted my freezer! I need to get out more! (although I did go and have a facial and massage this aft which was nice) sounds like you're having a fab time! Still weird looking over the fence and having no neighbours although you do now have 10 squirrels nesting in your shed (joke!)

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