Saturday, February 19, 2011

ARGAO: 01 – The Habal-Habal Abs Exercise


Argao is a municipality located halfway between Cebu City and Santander. It was a rather affluent town during the Spanish occupation because it served as a stronghold of the colonial government in the Visayas area. Today, vestiges of colonial rule could still be seen around  town in the form of old houses and structures such as the Puerta Marina in front of the St. Michael Parish Church, which is a remnant as well.

                                                                                                                  
Much to my delight, we only paid 10 pesos at the bus terminal, only to find out that it was just the terminal fee. The fare is paid in the bus obviously and was still reasonably priced at 86 pesos for an air-conditioned trip under two hours. The bus goes all the way to Dumaguete, which requires it to cross the sea on a ship, I guess. I would not know because we got off at Argao, which was our destination. We ruled out Carcar from the itinerary due to lack of time but we were still able to see their beautiful plaza. It seems all buses going south pass through Carcar.


The bus conductor informed us where to get off and after an hour and a half we finally reached our destination. Argao is quite easy to spot. Once you see the old houses that give you the impression that you have just been transported back to Spanish Colonial Philippines, you would know that you are there. We hopped off the bus and immediately saw an old brown house to the right which was, in my opinion, the best looking old house of the bunch. This makes me wonder why I did not even snap a photo of it.


To the left were the tricycles. The driver in front immediately offered us a ride to Riverstone Castle. We said we were going to Coal Mountain Resort. He gave us a puzzled look, which made me a bit nervous. If the tricycle driver did not know the location, how far was it then from the town center? Quick answer: over an hour on a habal-habal. The driver yelled at someone across the street, which turned out to be the man who was with us on the bus. Apparently, he works for the Argao Tourism Office. Lucky us!

We caught up with him and he spoke to us in Bisaya. This is what I find funny about the situation. In multiracial cities like Kuala Lumpur, for example, you would immediately have an idea as to what language to use once you see the physical appearance of the person. Here in the Philippines, we just do not have that indicator. Everyone looks exactly the same that you would not be able to distinguish a Tagalog speaker from a Bisaya or an Ilokano until you hear them speak. Since we continued speaking to our new friend in Tagalog, he eventually replied to us in the same vernacular.


The people at the Tourist Information center were very accommodating and even accompanied us to the market to buy the food we were to bring to Coal Mountain. We got there on a tricycle after getting a glimpse of St. Michael the Archangel Cathedral. Back in the market, instead of buying food to cook, we decided to buy food that was already cooked. The rice meal with viand was only 25 pesos. After that, the guy from the bus, whose name I have forgotten, which is so ungrateful of me since he had been very helpful, bid us goodbye and left us with our habal-habal driver, whose name I also forgot. Amnesia much?


The habal-habal ride was 250 pesos split in two and was around an hour and a half long. It was not boring since there were three of us on that thing. In case you are wondering, a habal-habal is just an ordinary motorcycle, so fitting the three of us on it was quite a challenge. I took the rear and held on as tight as I could to the metal thingies there. The road to Coal Mountain was far from friendly. It was like a ride on a mechanical bull. The only difference is that, when you fall off a mechanical bull you actually land on a padded surface while being ogled and laughed at by the resident drunkards of the bar. When you fall off a habal-habal en route to a remote mountain destination, you would probably end up hanging on a cliff for dear life while being stared at by a deranged goat chewing grass.


The trick to surviving a habal-habal ride lies on the stamina of the abdomen and the legs. You could alternate between slouching and sitting straight. This way, you alternate the pressure between your abs and your hamstrings. It is also good to be a bit chatty so your driver would know that you are still there. He would probably be very surprised if after a long and silent trip he eventually realizes that you are nowhere to be found because along the way you fell off some random ravine.

2 creature/s gave a damn:

Anna Velasco said...

"He’d probably be very surprised if after a long and silent trip he eventually realizes that you are nowhere to be found because along the way you fell off some random ravine." I guess he'd really be shocked to discover that! I'm excited to try this Habal-Habal ride!

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ihcahieh said...

@Anna Velasco - Basically it's just a motorcycle ride that is common in the provinces, but exciting nonetheless, and challenging if going uphill, hahaha. =)

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