They say magic happens when you don’t give up even if you want to and that the universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart. Well, while it’s easy to believe on those “relatable” quotes artistically crafted and posted on Tumblr, experiencing them firsthand is a different story.
Days before my birthday, I booked a random trip to the island of Panay. Through an invitation of a former colleague, a trip to Isla Gigantes has been arranged. But the thing is, unlike them who got the P800 two-way trip to Roxas, mine was booked via Iloilo – this means I have to travel from Iloilo to Roxas to meet them. Riding on a bus for hours has never been a problem to me. I have survived the twelve-hour trip to Sagada and the fourteen-hour topload trip to Kalinga; surely, I’ll survive going Carles in one piece. But you see, no matter how many times we do something, the universe has always a unique way of surprising us.
So what happened?
By 12 midnight, I was already at Cebu International Airport waiting for my 4am trip to Iloilo. I arrived at 4:50am at the latter and directly headed to Parola Port for a short visit to Guimaras. (READ: 23 Lessons that Guimaras taught me about Adulting) By 2pm, I have requested Kuya Felix to send me back to Buenavista Port as I was planning to do a sidetrip to the 300 year old National Heritage church of Iloilo – Miag-ao Church. By 3pm, I was already riding a jeepney bound for Miag-ao City. To be honest, I didn’t research much about the journey to this renowned place. I just checked Google Map and upon seeing that the place is “just nearby” the city proper, I decided to include it in the itinerary before heading to Roxas. But due to rerouting and heavy traffic, the trip took almost three hours for that matter. Three hours! Just imagine how alarmed I was. I thought it would just take THIRTY MINUTES! My neck really hurt looking outside the window of the jeepney, trying to figure out which town I already was. Believe me, I have memorized them all in going back even if I have a very weak memory lane: Oton – Tibauan – Guimbal – Miag-ao!!! When the driver announced that we were already in Miag-ao, I automatically went out of the vehicle and went inside the church. Without removing my bag and all the things I have with me, I sat on the last pews and stared blankly at the altar. I felt too tired and the emotions inside me were in havoc: I wanted to cry. But of course, I didn’t. I don’t want to continue earning those strange glances from those people who saw me. Aside from that, the place was too beautiful and solemn to vent all those frustrations.
When I have finally settled things within me, I decided to go outside and take tons of photos of the church. I could hear Rihanna singing: Baby, this is what you came for…
After savoring such exquisiteness set before me, I decided to return to Iloilo City. I needed to catch the last trip going to Carles. I was not able to visit Garin Farm and all the rest of the hundred year old churches in Iloilo which means there’s more reason for me to come back. Sadly, it was already 7pm when I arrive in Tigbak Bus Station. It was only then that I found out that the last trip for Carles was at 2pm. Good thing the attendants there were very helpful, they suggested for me to take the bus bound for Estancia and told me to ride a motorcycle/ tricycle in going to Carles. Again, I thought Estancia would just be another thirty-minute or one hour trip so without eating dinner, I embarked for another journey. An hour passed but there were no signs of arrival. Two hours, still none. Then it began to rain hard and lighting and thunder came in alternately for the rest of the trip. Three hours, the wind blew hard like a typhoon. It was almost eleven on my watch but the bus had no plans of halting on the destination. There were three of us left inside – the conductor, a fellow passenger and I. Three guys, including the driver, in a deserted place plus the howling of the wind and the heavy rain on the background. Yes, you’ve got it right, it felt like a horror/thriller movie. And instead of feeling relieved when we reached the terminal, I got more agitated. It was very dark with only a lamppost giving light to the whole area and the only available establishments were bars with drunken guys and entertainers with heavy makeup. No “normal people”. I tried looking around but there were no inns and lodging houses that could accommodate a lost soul that night. The fellow passenger came to me and asked where do I plan to stay overnight. Afraid of divulging information about my unfortunate state, I returned the question (a technique I usually use to avoid answering a question). He shared that he’s bound for Masbate and would be sleeping on one of the pump boats in the port area since there were no more trips that night. I tried imagining myself the same way. Sure I’ve tried sleeping on airports, bus stops, and terminals before, but that moment, all I wanted to do was to get that good night sleep I so long to have. It’s almost midnight and I have been awake the whole day! Like, literally. So when I saw a tricycle passing by, I hailed it and asked the driver to bring me to the nearest inn or lodging house. I don’t know if I’d feel comforted when he brought me to a house with a wooden label outside that says “Lodging Inn”. Upon entering, we saw two couples going out. I don’t want to entertain crazy thoughts as I was very sleepy that time but yes, it was the stereotyped lodging inns where “miracles” happen. The teenage driver apologized for bringing me there saying it was the only lodging house he knew. He called out for the sleeping owner who then got the spare key of the room I’d be staying. In fairness with the inn, it was clean and big. But I can’t help but imagine the “miracles” that had happened on the adjacent rooms. Good thing my body doesn’t want to cooperate anymore with my mind. After plugging in all the gadgets that needed to be charged, I immediately went to sleep – without washing and changing clothes. That’s how tired I was.
By four in the morning, I received a message from my friends saying that they were on their way to Carles from Roxas. I then took a shower and prepared my things for the island hopping adventure. Joke. I actually extended my sleep. HAHAHA. By 6am, I informed the landlady that I’d be going and then asked a tricycle driver to bring me to the bus terminal. However, upon asking the drivers around, I found out that there were no longer jeepneys that go to Carles from Estancia and that I had to pay a habal-habal driver with Php60 in going to Balasan market. Good thing a man in his sixties approached me and shared that I can just ride the bus bound for Roxas and pay Php15 for that matter. In return, he got reprimanded by his friends for suggesting such. Crazy scumbags. When I reached Balasan, I was informed that, again, there were no jeepneys that goes to Carles at that time of the day. The coffee vendor suggested that I’d hire her husband – who’s a habal-habal driver – to bring me to Bancal Port with a charge of P250.00. I felt frustrated at that moment. In desperation, I would’ve agreed to such proposal just to get to Bancal Port, not minding how broke I have become already. But the thrifty side of me whispered that there should always be a way on how to spend less. And so I went out of the terminal and asked a uniformed personnel (whom I guess was ready to report to work) if there’s a way that I can go to Carles without spending too much. And as if heavens have heard my prayers, he hailed a tricycle for me, asked the driver to bring me to Balasan market and help me get a ride to Carles. He added that I only need to pay P10.00 for the ride. When we got to the market, the driver called out his friend (another tricycle driver) and asked him to bring me to Carles. This time, I was charged with P20.00. Finally, when we reached Carles, he called out a habal-habal driver to bring me to Bancal Port. After learning my lessons, I secretly asked him how much would be the fare, he said that it’s only P15 but if I like, I could make it P20.00.
To make this very long story short, I arrived in Bancal thirty minutes before our scheduled island hopping, ate breakfast with my friends, and enjoyed the rest of the day like nothing traumatizing had happened prior to the meeting. It was crazy, fun, and life-changing. All in all, it was a lesson to live by. And the prize of such adventure? These wonders.
Was Gigantes island worth the trip? Very.
Would I take the same trip should time permit? Once is enough. HAHAHA.
I think I have shared enough, just feel free to contact our very accommodating boatman Kuya Nonoy Rolex (0918-429-6503) or Nanay Lyd via George Cano (0920-616-949 or 0917-683-9456/ 0917-128-2655). And don’t forget to have a taste of their scallops and wasay-wasay. It’s cheap and superbly delicious!