It has been a weekend of departures. Sad or otherwise.
|TRAVELTIP:That's my seat at the back. 9C. Business Class leg room at a budget price, away from any drooling seatmate !|
|HUNGRY. Halfway to Ormoc, I got hungry. So, I got this meal (P100) and Tropica (P50) from the Supercat food trolley.|
THE DRIVE. Two hours on the road (from Ormoc) and I found myself in Tacloban! Travel time would have been doubled (read: pain in the arse, butt-numbing long bus ride) if not for the warm hospitality of my best buddy and host that weekend, Amed. He was in the area for work and was scheduled to be in Tacloban that evening. Off we zoom in his car to the land of Pintados and binagul! Surprisingly, the road has been well-paved already, unlike many years ago.
|TO CUBAO and BACK. For the adventurous soles, this will be your jump-off point to Manila via So. Luzon by bus.|
GOOD NEWS. I've been immensely happy to hear the news that Amed has been expatriated by the giant multinational company that he has been working for.
It's a double-edged sword. He gets to travel far and wide and further his career but for some reasons, his wife and daughter get to stay behind for the most part. I pulled his leg saying You know my opinion, hands down! At least may matitirhan na ako sa Yangoon pag pumunta ako dun'. Hihihi
|Over beer and tequila with old friends and acquaintances: Yes, that's me with Amed, Louie, Nak-Nak, Michelle and Nel.|
MEETING TACLOBAN'S POWERHOUSE CAST. That evening, another friend of his had a send-off party as well. I tagged along with Amed and his lovely wife Michelle to Tacloban's newest entertainment complex near the gate of Leyte Park Hotel. It was Nak-nak's double send-off tagay to Europe and eventually Manila. I finally get to meet her sa kadugay-dugay na namo nga facebook contact. We stayed at Sabs Bar and I get to meet the petite and bubbly owner. Her name is Nel. According to her, Sabs used to be a vegetarian restaurant but eventually evolved into a bar that it is today. I particularly like the way the space was designed. Its childhood playfulness meets minimalist sensibility. It turned out Nel hired a well-known interior decorator to do the job. As the night wore on, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that we actually stayed in the same home-stay in Batanes! Sa bahay ni Dr. Castillo sa Babat Street in Basco! A couple of hours and several shots of tequila later, everyone called it a night.
|PHOTOGRAPHY | RV ESCATRON locale| Sn. Juanico Golf (Pang set card na ni for Ford Model or Cal Carries. Nax! hihihi)|
SAN JUANICO GOLF. The following day, brawn awt! So my host Amed drove everyone to San Juanico Golf and Country Club to escape the afternoon heat and yes, I got myself an ice cream. We also did an impromptu pictorial for his unica hija, my inaanak Samantha. We came at a good time. The sun was behind an overcast for the most part of the afternoon. As it turned out, Samantha was game and the photos simply look amazing! Pang set-card sa Ford Models! hihihi
I've been to San Juanico bridge a couple of times, so we skipped the trip there. Though a drive from end to end won't hurt. Next trip, maybe.
|GIVES ME AN IDEA! They got part of the second floor, making the ceiling one floor higher. Well-executed!|
ARTSY CAFE. Feeling the need to see more of Tacloban's best, Amed and Michelle brought me to Jose Karlos. It's an ancestral house meticulously and tastefully decorated to house a coffee shop. The artsy ambiance caught me so, I spent most of the time taking photos in the whole two floors. It was full house that afternoon (probably most of them were looking for an escape from the power outage) making it difficult for us to find seats. I got one of their chocolato chill for Php55.00. Ermmm, it tasted like an uninspired crushed ice and Milo. Regardless, I simply fell in love with the whole place I can write a novel here! haha
On my second visit, I got myself mescoccino greco with choco macadamia nut (Php95). It tasted good with a sweet nutty flavorful hint. I got hungry, so I ordered tuna in olive oil pasta (Php100). The pasta was cooked al dente but on the dry side. The tuna was soft and tasted like it was cooked in brine. The olive well enhanced the tuna's flavor.
|My silly dinner combination of pasta and chilled blend. ay pag buot! hahaha|
ZIP LINE DOMINATION. Before we headed home, we passed-by muna Leyte Park's newest attraction: Zip Line. It appears to me that zip lines are everywhere na jud in the country. The one here is rather short. Maybe less than 2-minutes of adrenaline rush for Php150.00! From the hotel's ridge it zips down toward the edge of the property, near the gymnasium. I was not tempted to try.
|OLD WORLD CHARM of Hotel Alejandro|
HOTEL ALEJANDRO. Another interesting landmark is Hotel Alejandro. The hotel is built around an ancestral house that has seen the who's who during World War II. All two-floors showcases a lot of vintage pictures and it even extends to the 3rd and 4th floors of the new hotel wing. I did a quick tour of the place.
DO-IT-YOURSELF TACLOBAN (DIY)
The following day, everyone got busy with school and work, so I tried making a DIY Tacloban series. After breakfast, I took the tricycle and headed off to the local bookstore Libro! It was still closed, so I took a jeepney bound for Robinson's Mall (Php7.00). I arrived just in time for it to open. As I was gallivanting around, my attention was caught by a big group of oldies lining up for the first screening of, guess what, Harry Potter!
|So funny how this photo got me into trouble with the cinema lobby guard! WTF!|
TROUBLE WITH THE GUARD! The photo got me into trouble with the guard! WTF! The guard said taking of photos was not allowed. It was clearly posted in the entrance, he insisted. Yes, very clear, no taking of pictures or videos inside the cinema! But outside? Pag sure oist! Wala intawun! I was in my kick-ass mood. The guard insisted I delete the photos. I got pissed, so I walked away. I found myself inside the department store and guess what, another guard trailed behind me and waited by the entrance. I played coy. Inside my head Do I look like a terrorist?
|Mga Lolo at Lola na nakapila to watch the first screening of Harry Potter! Sweet.|
When I got out, I approached the guard and asked him in the most friendly way I can may problema ba?
He said ipa delete daw yong picture ser.
Says who? Let me talk to your manager.
So, we went to the mall manager's office. The manager looked friendly naman.
She told me it's a private property and taking of pictures is not allowed.
She added it's okay pag personal use lang. Yong hindi ibang tao ang kinukunan.
I replied I just found the group of geriatric lining up for Harry Potter very interesting
so I took a picture of them. I blog about my travels and the scene earlier
was of special interest to me.
It was very quick.
I hope to see you again here at Robinson's soon, she said as she closed our conversation.
She understood my case and I bid her goodbye. So there.
Meanwhile, the guard who escorted me did the extra mile by introducing me to a guard who comes from the province where I live. We had small talk and then I left.
|The Imeldific structure left to decay, beginning to crumble. PHOTOGRAPHY | RV ESCATRON|
STO. NINO SHRINE. I took the jeepney parked across the mall and got off near the Sto. Nino Shrine. I've been here before but still felt interested to see everything Imeldific plastered all over the place. The entrance fee of Php180.00 (for 3 pax) and still the same rate for pag nag-iisa ka lang was too expensive naman oist!
|The People's Center and Library. Another Imedific structure that has seen better days! | RV ESCATRON|
PEOPLE'S CENTER AND LIBRARY. I moved to the next building which housed the fabled 26,000 titles of books at the second floor. Legend has it that the Marcoses bought one college library in the US and moved all the books here. Another version has it that Jose Garcia Villa helped out in the selection and procurement of the titles in the US.
|THE TRANSFORMATION. Books everywhere! From high-brow culture to tiangge culture in a span of three decades|
When I got inside the library, it was almost lunch break. The staff was on her way out. I asked permission if I could linger for a few minutes to take some pictures. She was okay with it. On my way out, I met her again. We had an interesting small talk. After exchanging information on what keeps us busy, I asked her intriguing questions about the library. At first, she seemed hesitant to answer any questions. Eventually, she lightened up. She said she has been working in the library since it opened. She started working as a caretaker and now, she works as a book binder. She told me the many performances that graced the stage at the ground floor during the heyday of the Marcoses, namely Cecille Licad and Lisa Macuja among others.
|Meet Mila Naval. She works in the library since it opened. Must be the best person to ask about the backstories|
These days, the ground floor is transformed into a dry goods market replete with a speaker blasting all over the place. With the kind of noise, I wonder who would want to spend time at the second floor reading room?
FROZEN YOGHURT. The afternoon sun was so intense. My energy was starting to dip and my phone battery beginning to drain. I needed to seek shelter in air-conditioned comfort and the same time charge the battery. I reckoned if I get myself a fun cup of the Perfect Combination (Php90.00. mango, sliced almond and crushed graham cracker) frozen yoghurt at Twirl Berry the staff might allow me to charge my phone. With a little smile, I was so glad they accommodated my request. And if you may ask, yes, the yoghurt has the yummy goodness!
LIBRO! I headed out to Libro! a boosktore and coffee shop at a ground floor of a charming old house with blue walls. It's a quaint kind of hang out where I'd love to get lost any given day. The colors inside are muted and relaxing. There is a sofa in the middle and more tables by the glass curtain. Near the entrance is a counter offering coffee and desserts.
|Libro. Tacloban's quaint coffee shop and bookstore. I love it here!|
CAPITOL. And finally, my feet led me to one of the most beautiful Capitol Building in the country--Leyte Capitol. What a perfect timing it was. I spent longer time than usual simply to admire its design borne out of influences from the west. Surprisingly there was none of those unwanted, hideous and tasteless additions taking place in many public buildings round the country and still well-maintained up to this day.
On my way home, I just wondered how the whole city must have looked like during its heydays because I hate to admit it but that era in Philippine history for me was the most vibrant and colorful (even if yes, the photos during that period was in sepia ha! hihihi).
Tacloban, by virtue of its geography looks very special to me. The strait, the bay, the ridge and rolling hills, the mountain gathered on one side, the sunset. Away from the decay of the old city center and many public buildings, it's truly a very lovely city waiting to be rediscovered. Imelda Marcos must have drawn much of her creative undercurrents here.