Sunday, April 11, 2004

Lenten Trek 

We left the house at 12 midnight of Wednesday to meet Ollie's and Vivian's families at Megamall. Together with Ollie were Jenny and her son, Jamoi, and Wat sans Ompong who was indisposed with work. Joven couldn't come too, as he's busy with work. Riding with us were Edgar and Vivian's family, Tetay and her Japanese boyfriend Hokto, Ate Linda and Bong, and Dante, our designated driver.

From there, we drove for about 6 to 7 hours to reach our destinations. The first stop was at my nephew's wife's place in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. Her father, the town's former Vice-Mayor, Board member and now campaigning again for this upcoming election, is a respected politician up there. We had our lunch in their home, slept a few hours.

Mr. Mumaric, is a very unassuming man, honest and very simple and quiet. My friends were impressed with the family! The family has 6 children, all professionals and all magna cum laudes in college. We were in awe at all the medals and trophies the siblings have in their show window. My nephew's wife has the most number of the medals. I guess my nephew married well, hehehe. They are migrating to Toronto, Canada soon. Yes, again, the brain drain the country is experiencing.

From there, my nephew took us to Banaue where the rice terraces are
located. We stayed at the Half View hotel. The hotel was okay! We managed to get three rooms. Stayed there for a night cap where the group ate dinner, sang songs in a videoke machine, drank a few rounds of beer while the kids were either watching or playing cards themselves.

The following morning, we rented a vehicle to take us to where the rice
terraces are. It's a series of mountain ranges which the Ifugao tribe
carved for rice plantation during the early times. It is an ingenius way to
tame the land as the irrigation came from above the mountain and trickling
down to the entire system. It was awesome and breath taking. However, I
think it's partly deteriorating. I can see traces of rice paddies (steps) losing its
appearance to either erosion (more than a hundred years of existence will
surely show signs of deterioration somehow) and modernization and
commercialism. I have reason to believe that the hotel where we were
billeted was part of the rice terraces itself. Now, it's been turned to
residential houses and commerce. Most of the Ifugao's have been modernized
and they would rather sell souvenir items than work the fields, I guess.

From there, we travelled another 5 - 6 hours going to Tuguegarao in Cagayan
Valley. There we visited a famous cave, Callao, which was again,
spectacular. The size of that cave was tremendous it probably strectch to a mile. It had three huge sun roof openings. The closest to the entrance was turned into a church where they put pews and an altar. It looked like a cathedral of some sort. We were teasing Hokto who does not speak either Tagalog or English, that they can be married there. The Japanese guy laughed
knowing it's not that accessible as you have to manage more than a hundred
steps to climb to get there. The children had a wonderful time!

When we got back to the hotel, the kids took a plunge at the hotel's
swimming pool.

What I don't like about it is the long hours of constant traveling that
took hours and hours! Why don't they make these places more accessible?

That night after dinner, I won about two hundred bucks in our favorite card
game, Red Dog! It's a game where you're given two cards and you place a bet based on the ante hoping that the next card would be in-between the two cards that you have. Ollie lost about a thousand bucks. He would get a king and an ace prompting him to place the biggest allowable bet and
guess what, he'll get, another king or an ace. We were so noisy I feared
the hotel guests would be complaining. Well, we stopped at around 2 in the
morning with nary a complaint. So, I guess the hotel rooms were sound
proof after all. Nice, no?

What I don't

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