Sunday, August 9, 2009

Taking Out the Trash


Saw that I had a hefty number of drafts still lying around. Before closing my blog down for good, I figured I might as well publish these. The plan is one for each of the coming days; by the time I get all of these out, I'd have been able to write an appropriate farewell. I apologize in advance if most of them are half-written; there's a reason they were on the back burner all this time. Reading through some of them, I cringe at the fact that most of what I've written does not conform to the punctuation guidelines set by the Chicago Manual of Style and the spelling standards of Merriam-Webster. Still, I think it's best I publish them as is, as editing them will be too much (unpaid) work. Heh.

I have just returned from a one and a half day stay at Sarangani Province--not to mention a butt-killing 3 hour bus trip from GenSan to Davao. No, I wasn't there for a respite; rather, I was there to work--specifically, to interview a couple of Sarangan personalities for an article.

It all started with a text message(from a previously unidentified source) last Sunday, asking if I was available from Monday to Wednesday. Intrigued, I asked, "What for?" And so I was informed by a guy named Kit that they had a sideline: they were asked to write for a travel/promotional magazine, and were wondering if I would be willing to come along to Sarangani with them. My first impulse was to say "no," since I have yet to come up with my interview and article for Sir Don's class. But(unfortunately), I thought it over, and figured, "Ah what the heck, I need the experience anyway." I had grand visions of diving expeditions, whitewater tubing, caving, being taken on a tour of the province and being fed with native food. So on Monday afternoon I went to the Tambara office for the briefing with Ms. Maya, the convenor of the, ahem, writers, and my former teacher in English
11 and 13.

At the meeting I was acquainted with my two fellow division mates, Kuya Kit and Ate Krizza; a fresh graduate(who is now working with an NGO), Ate Ayi, and a guy whose long hair was held up with a chopstick, Kuya Pi(as in the Greek symbol π). I also learned that, aside from being a last-minute-choice writer, I had to fill-in for another writer who had fallen sick and begged off from his assignment. Meaning, I had to write two articles. The worst fate of all was learning that the two articles I was assigned to cover were business articles. Aww man! I hate writing business features! It's not like I know anything about it--I mean, come on, have a heart, I'm only a student! But anyway, I just nodded and convinced myself that this is a necessary obstacle I must overcome, blah blah blah. In other words, napasubo na ako.

The few hours before the early morning bus trip to Sarangani I spent lying wide-awake in my bed. I have never gone to Sarangani before, but that was not what was keeping me awake. Rather, it was the prospect of having to interview strangers(that and the fact that I have to write a business story). How I dread interviewing. I really couldn't sleep, so I just tried coming up with good questions. I was able to sleep for, I guess, around 30 minutes, before my alarm clock sounded off.

I came to the bus terminal and boarded the bus at 4:35 a.m.--a chilly dawn coupled with blasting air conditioning--with me sans jacket. The whole 2-3 hours inside the bus I spent hiding my cold, lifeless hands inside my armpits,in between the seat and my gluteus maximus, trying desperately to keep warm. Meanwhile, my four other companions were blissfully nodding off in their seats. I kept staring at Kuya Pi as he would occasionally wake up, and then start making these weird twirling movements with his hands. "Must be a yoga practitioner," I thought.

Around 7:30 a.m., we stopped in front of the Caltex station in Lagao, GenSan, where Ms. Maya told us Dodoy would be waiting for us with the service vehicle. I was only too happy to get off the bus with its arctic conditions. As I stepped off and headed towards the other side of the road, I could barely put one foot in front of the other--they were that stiff.

As we neared Star Mart, I caught site of a smallish man, sporting shades, and wearing what appeared to be a colorful barong of sorts (like the one the Dencio's Kamayan mascot wears, sans the buri hat). He introduced himself as Dodoy, and proceeded to shake every one of our hands. The minute he did that, my eyes were instantly fixed at his totally hairy-to-the-point-of-being-wiry arms. I have to say, I have a natural distrust of hairy men. I decided to regard him with sly hostility after that.

We were herded off to Jolibee for breakfast and briefing for the day's itinerary. There, we also met with the rest of our Sarangan guides. There was Coco, a tall,twentysomething lady who was to accompany Kuya Pi; two middle-aged women, who were going with ate Ayyi and me to our respective destinations. While eating our breakfast, Sir Dodoy took out a laptop and presented a slide show showcasing everything about Sarangani, from tiger prawns, to Mt. Matutum, Sarangani Bay, various indigenous tribes, and the youthful Governor Miguel Dominguez.

After breakfast, the two women, Tita Taqs and the other Tita went with us, along with Pi and Coco towards a L300 van which would take us from GenSan to Malungon, which I figured wasn't that far since I faintly remember seeing it while we were still on the bus towards GenSan.

Lack of sleep finally caught up with me after we dropped Kuya Pi and Coco at the Capitol. On the road towards Malungon, I couldn't help but doze off with the warm breeze wafting in my face. I must have slept for thirty minutes, before I woke up and saw the van turn towards a small dirt road marked by a signpost that was painted with a big "H". "There's a Hospital here?" I thought, still groggy with sleep. The dirt road led us to a 4-tiered, pagoda-like tower, which appeared to be in the middle of construction. I had come to the Diamond Head Mountain Resort, whose owner, a certain Mr. Ben Figueroa, I was supposed to interview.

The resort was a bit small for someone who has grown used to spending summers at Eden Nature Park, and the facilities were a bit wanting,too; aside from the concrete pagoda which currently serves as a seminar hall, there were only a couple of huts
around the hills. But the view of winding, landscaped hills was beautiful, and the air was cool and fresh, too--it made me want to breathe full and deep...haaah.

A couple of minutes after, I finally met Mr. Ben. He walked around the resort with bare feet. He asked to be excused since he hadn't taken a bath yet.

Around 40 minutes later, after Ms. Taqs was half-way through her life story, Mr. Ben arrives. I was nervous as hell as this was my first time to interview someone. It didn't help that he threw a tiny tantrum at my first question 'cause he said he couldn't understand where I was getting at.

Originally written on December 20, 2006

. . . And it ends there, as I eventually realized the post was too long to finish in one sitting. I did finish the article for the magazine though. I never saw the actual magazine (I doubt the project ever pushed through), but my article did get printed---more than two years later---in a local magazine, with the help of my editor, Ms. Maya. Ah, memories.