Fri Feb 24, 2012
This morning after breakfast we went to explore the town of Boac. They have a menagerie of stalls in open market fashion with fruit, fish and meats as well as household items and accessories such as hair barrettes, and carrying cases for cell phones, both popular teen items...apparently TXTing has spread to the Philippines. The Boac vendors were absolute camera sluts, begging to have their pictures taken so they could see themselves on Facebook...the men more so than the women, who were a little more demure though you could tell they really wanted their picture taken, they just didn't want to appear too eager. Men were posing in manly fashion or goofy fashion vying for our attentions and when the flash went off, everyone would cheer and congratulate the lucky candidate
who won a chance to be on Facebook.
We were the hit of the morning...laughing, giggling and camaraderie all around us. When I up with the title for this blog, I didn't realize just how much that statement would come true. The women are open and friendly, the men respectful and helpful and they are all jolly, happy people. I didn't think I would find friendlier people than the Thai but, I stand corrected. I really am Flippin' for Filipinos.
After our “Vogue—strike a pose” experience, we went searching for a jeepney to Santa Cruz...a
cross-country trip over the hills of Marinduque. This island is covered in a forest of giant palm trees with patches of rice paddies scattered along the road where most people live. As we chug, and rind...as in clutch...up the hills we occasionally stopped or passed a small community sometimes as small as three of four houses surrounded by rice paddies. Most of the homes had straw mats stretched out on the street in front of their house, drying grains of rice. These mats would take up most of one lane of a two-way road so occasionally we would have to stop to let ongoing traffic get by. Obviously, drying rice is more important than driving convenience. I wanted to take pictures of all this but, we were moving too fast and it was too crowded to get any good pictures.
Early on our way to Santa Cruz, we stopped to pick up a package from a man sending his daughter with it. The man was holding up a large bag that looked like it might have been previously used to carry a 50 lb bag of potatoes or some produce equally heavy...reenforced mesh covered in a breathable plastic.
Whatever was in this bag was alive because the bag was thrashing around as the man held it up, tying a rope around the top to make sure it stayed closed. I peered into the bag which was somewhat translucent enough that when I looked hard I could finally make out a white dog inside the bag. I think the dog was the little girls pet since the father sent a leash with the bag. This was obviously not a usual way to transport a dog because the women on the jeepney balked at the method of transport as if the man were ridiculous and the bus driver protested a little but, eventually, the “bag of dog” was placed up front with the driver. We waited a few minutes for the dog to stop thrashing on the floor as he attempted to stand up. He finally gave up and quietly surrendered to his plight.
The motherly instincts of the women here seem to be very strong because the women are always looking out for us, making sure the men don't cheat us with high prices for tickets. Everywhere I go, the women tell me how much I should pay for a ticket for whatever and then apologize that “some of the men will try to...well you know...what can you do?” they exclaim with smiles on their faces as they throw up their hands in a show of surrender. They never come out and say the men are trying to cheat us.
The jeepney to Santa Cruz was packed full of people, mostly women, some with young children and the kids were peaceful and quiet...if they weren't sleeping, they were sitting quietly, no fussing, no whining, the perfect angels. I have yet to see a whining child here. Even the street kids begging for money, quietly knock on the windows of the taxis and give you these lovely hang-dog looks and whisper, “please mam.” They sort of remind me of “Puss in Boots” when he's trying to charm his assailants before he takes them down. God, they are hard to resist, they looks so charmingly woebegone.
Dave commented that he was in paradise because he was surrounded by women of varying ages, packed solid like sardines but, all the women are beautiful and he was the only man on the jeepney. It's like taking a bath in beauties. Men and their dreams...ha, ha, ha...that is not to say that their isn't enough eye-candy for women around here and I did my fair sharing of looking too. The men may be a little on the short side but, oh my god, so many beautiful faces...and I'm no giant myself ...so, yeah baby...plenty of eye-candy here for both sexes.
There may be a lot of eye-candy but most Filipinos are Roman Catholic and they probably wouldn't like being referred to in that way. They are all prim and proper as far as that goes, unless they are gay men...more on that subject later. It shows clearly when each time the jeepney starts off, everyone crosses themselves...where's their sense of confidence in the driver anyway? I know it's just habit but, dang, it didn't help my feeling of security. On Marinduque, everyone seems to know everyone, understandably since it is a small island and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that a number of the islanders have never left the island. People wave to each other and shout-out when passing on the jeepney. The driver will stop so someone can pay back a loan or exchange some
household items or maybe deliver a lunch, in a town along the way. I'm just guessing at what exactly is being exchanged but, suffice it to say, there is a lot of stopping and exchanging going on along a jeepney ride...it's not all about getting to some destination. The sense of community on this island is real strong. Now, if they just had a better variety of food! Ah...huh...now that I think of it,
that's my biggest complaint about Leavenworth...if they just had a better variety of food.
I realize that I didn't mention why Dave and I were headed to Santa Cruz, we want to go to the privately owned Bathala Caves just outside the town of Santa Cruz. These caves are reported to have hundreds of bats and swifts and Rock pythons and mostly I wanted to see rock pythons in their natural habitat. It took us a good portion of the day but we finally got to caves, the owner advised us that we arrived so late that we would miss the last jeepney back to town but, I turned on my ignorant tourist face and convinced him that he could take us back to town...we would pay him for the ride...because he wouldn't want to disappoint me since I've come so far just to see the pythons. I think he was just too nice to tell me no. Filipinos are just too nice to turn us away. He reminded me of Aki...about the same age...Aki is too good-hearted to say no, too.
I was not disappointed with the caves, we saw five rock pythons and hundreds upon hundreds of bats swarming and hanging in the caves maybe as low as five feet and no higher than twenty above our heads. These weren't large caves so we got up close and personal with the bats and pythons. We were lucky enough to see one of the pythons actually hunting for food. It's too dark for them to see so they hunt by tasting the air for changes in current, basically feeling the air for movement. Even the guide, Rency was his name, was excited to be able to show us this python. He said it is rare to see them actively hunting on a tour. I think my desire to see one in action must have moved the cosmic forces or something. Totally made my day! I think it made Rency feel good about the tour too.
We got back just in time to catch a jeepney back to Boac and this time we made fewer stops...there were also more men on this trip back. What does that say? It doesn't matter where in the world you are, men cut to the chase, women spend more time finessing. We read about a restaurant on the rooftop of the Lucky 7 hotel that purported to have videoke (karaoke) as well as good views of the town. So, we decided we had to experience Filipino karaoke at least once. We appeared to be the only ones eating at the restaurant. In fact, the hostess was surprised when we said we wanted to eat dinner there. That didn't boast my confidence on the quality of meals but, what the heck, we were there more for the experience.
There was one group of young men, obviously gay because they were all wearing makeup and looking pretty even though they wore jeans and t-shirts. Filipinos are not uptight about gayness. They are not treated any differently from anyone else. So, gay men tend to be real drama queens here...exaggerated hand gestures...louder voices...etc. Another table had two older women sitting together and there were a couple tables with couples sitting together. They were all drinking and had stacks of beer at their tables. They sang sappy country songs, some old rock songs and a number of Filipino songs...one of the gay group and one of the older women did the majority of singing, all off-key of course. It was quite entertaining, if not a little hard on our sense of melody,
especially for the songs I actually recognized.
The best food we had on Marinduque was from the street vendors. Some tasty barbeque pork on a skewer, a deep fried banana wrapped in a filo type pastry, and barbequed banana.
Sat, Feb 25, 2012.
While we were in Marinduque, we managed to buy cheap tickets to Palawan on the 26th
. So, today we got up at 5:00 AM to catch the 6:30 boat back to Lucena, then a bus back to Manila for the evening. The ferry went smoothly and we made it across in 2 ½
but the buss ride back to Manila took
because of the traffic. We probably could have gotten up later and made it back in the same amount of time. We've decided to take it easy the rest of the day chill out in the hotel.