I promised to visit my home place Camotes, after several years of absence, at the onset of summer. When it seemed the rainy season would stretch into the Holy Week (the traditional kuwaresma), I decided to go there Sunday. My three-day stay was both a learning experience and one that reinvigorates the spirit—my version of “Cool Change.”
The sky was cloudy when I left early in the morning for the Pier 1 where Golden Express, which plies the Cebu-Camotes route, was moored. I wasn’t prepared for the formal ritual of departure, a far cry from that of past years when you go directly to the gangplank sans ticket. It was like I was flying to Manila instead of cruising to Poro.
I espied a few Asian foreigners as we headed to the sea craft at 9 a.m., proof of the growing tourist traffic to Camotes. I remember riding the same vessel—or one similar to it—years before, but as Ocean Jet. This is a boat that lacked arrogance, so hugging the sea it wasn’t visible from atop the pier. But it was better than not having a fast craft at all.
Rain did fall during the more than an hour trip, but the sea was only a bit rough. One thing I hate about these vessels is that it shuts passengers out of the sea, tinting the mirror of windows and forcing you to watch television. I always believe that when you travel you should be one with the sea. There’s pleasure, at least for me, watching waves.
With millions of pesos poured into the development project, the Poro port is now presentable: wide, concreted and about to have a better departure-arrival system. After a brief chat with Tiya Gonyang (Gonzales, owner of the Ave Maria pump boats), I went to more familiar grounds. Tudela town, save for a few infra works, is basically the same.
Rain hounded me during my entire stay, stopping only at dawn yesterday when my cousin Eddie drove me on his motorcycle to Poro for the trip home. It turned out Golden Express got stuck in Cebu City for repairs the previous day, forcing us to look for other vessels headed for the mainland. We found one in Consuelo in San Francisco town.
RJR-4 is a small and old pumpboat but had outriggers like the muscled arms of a body builder. Its owner, the septuagenarian Gorio Latonio who often rides his boat, was amiable. I enjoyed the trip because it was like what I grew up with: passengers (we were with three Caucasians) and cargoes cramped inside and the sea only a meter or so below.
In trips like that, you enjoy the sight, like that of flying fishes flapping away.
–This came out in my February 28,2008 column in Sun.Star Cebu