(I wrote this for my April 21, 2006 column in Sun.Star Cebu newspaper)
It is good to get some confirmation of what I have been writing. Sun.Star’s EVP and General Manager Orlando Carvajal brought his family to San Francisco, Camotes during the Holy Week. When he got back, he described the Santiago beach as better than Malapascua. That’s good news for Bobby Masamayor and other resort operators there.
But Camotes is not only about San Fran, one of the four towns in three islands between Cebu and Leyte. San Fran is a municipality straddling one island, which in turn is linked by a land bridge to the neighboring island where the towns close to my heart—Poro and Tudela—are. The fourth town, Pilar is in the third island nearer to Leyte.
I know more Poro and Tudela than San Fran, for obvious reason, my mother being from Poro and my father from Tudela. My favorite hangout in Poro was a hill, Hambabawod, which afforded me a view of the town’s harbor and even Lake Danao in San Fran. In Tudela, I’d prefer Kanmanok peak, where the port and sea was also visible.
Okay, I am writing this because Tudela Mayor Demetrio Granada, Noy Demet to us, texted me about what the town will offer next month: the Cassava Festival. “The plan is to hold the festival in tandem with the Suroy-suroy sa Camotes,” he said when I called him up yesterday. The “Suroy-suroy,” of course, is a pet project of Gov. Gwen Garcia.
Talking about Tudela reminded me of the youthful frolic in a town I frequented growing up, and which became my refuge when I was once a fugitive. There was Dike, the harbor and, yes, the cave in Barangay MacArthur. Noy Demet said they are concreting the road leading to the cave, where we used to go for a picnic and bathe.
The Provincial Capitol also has an asphalting project in place for Camotes, Tudela included. Noy Demet said that for the first phase the asphalting would involve the six- kilometer road from the town proper to Barangay Villahermosa. And for my relatives in Dike, good news: the fallen bridge there is among the four spans that will be built soon.
I haven’t been to Camotes for a few years now, but I am happy it is now poised for a leap. The number of tourists, both local and foreign, has grown. Noy Demet told me that a fast craft, Golden Bridge Express, has started its Cebu-Camotes run. Maybe it’s time to make the long-overdue visit with the family, and embrace my roots once more.