Friday, April 6, 2012

Bugaw Lola and My Failed Attempt on Ilocandia

I have always had this illusion of grabbing my backpack and hopping on a bus to nowhere. That is cool and all, also feasible, but not so on Holy Week. So much for my attempt on spontaneity!

Holy Week this year is an awaited event and I believe that for most of us, religion is not really the reason. In the Philippines, we would be on vacation from Thursday until Monday. We do not work. We get paid. We party and play! The thing is, you would not think those airline companies would give you a cheap seat for flights departing on these days, now do you? I have been attempting to book a seat for the last couple of months for the 5th of April and I found none that was not costly. If you cannot go by plane, then go by train, except that there really is no train, and I have already been to Bicol. Ilocandia was the target and if your destination is up north, you could always take the bus. But not on Holy Week.

I am not a big fan of reservations, whether they be for transportation or accommodation. When I went to Seoul last year under the same circumstances, I found out the hard way that these reservations could save you from two hours of going around an unfamiliar city with a large knapsack on your back looking for a place to stay. Surprise, I am a rather slow learner. Those bus reservations are for the luxury seats that could be reclined and for those which come with toilets. For ordinary seats, you just appear at the terminal and go. But then again, not on Holy Week.

I wanted to wake up and go to work early so I could leave early but my definition of early that day was two in the afternoon. And so I arrived at the office at three, finished all the work by eleven, and still had the time to shower and get ready. By midnight, I was already on a bus to Cubao where we experienced some heavy traffic that was not normal for one in the morning. Did I say that it is Holy Week?

After getting off the bus, I had to ask where the Partas station was and all the answers entailed going across the street to some secluded area where whoever owns Partas decided to construct his terminal. There were a lot of people in the street as if there was some midnight fiesta or something. No matter which bus terminal you choose, there was a long line extending all the way to the sidewalk. I had to cross the highway but ending up as road kill was not really on my priority list that night so I just decided to use the footbridge, where I encountered Bugaw Lola. On Holy Week!

Bugaw Lola was an old woman I ran into while rounding the corner of the footbridge headed to the other side of the highway. I did not know her and she obviously did not know me, so you could not really blame me if I was quite surprised when all of a sudden she grabbed my forearm and said the magic words, Gimik ka, boss? Seriously, on Holy Week?

While I consider myself to be a night owl, it is simply not a habit of mine to roam the streets at midnight for whatever reason you could imagine and given that, I was a bit taken aback. Now that everything is much clearer, I could not help but imagine some appropriate replies such as, Sure! Tara Lola, let’s the Fort! Or, Sige Lola let’s make tagay at the Alley Gator! Of course what she was offering was not an innocent night of 80’s disco fun. Naman, Lola. Are you not a bit too old to be a bugaw? Just go home and make alaga your apo if you have one no. And so I yanked my arm off her pincers and hurriedly walked away to find the terminal, because I had to protect my wholesome image. And it is Holy Week.

Where I arrived was not a terminal but rather an evacuation center with passengers stranded, most of them on the floor. No, they were not dancing the night away on the floor as the song would suggest, rather they were either sleeping or tinkering with their gadgets waiting for buses that would not come. The queue at the ticket booth was not moving and there was a note saying No advanced ticketing, first come first serve. Okay. I was thinking of coming back the next day. Besides, Ilocandia is waiting and I would still have four days left. Cutting La Union from the itinerary would seal the deal, until I paused for a moment to reflect on what I really want to do this long vacation.

I have just come back from a weekend getaway in Leyte and as much as I would want to deny it, I think I am losing my passion for travel. I am not really feeling another getaway so soon. This long vacation opportunity via the religious holidays is quite rare and I have always thought of taking advantage of it to see more sights, but then nothing beats resting and reflecting and updating my online obligations for the time being. I am writing this after twelve hours of good sleep and to tell you the truth, I have never felt so rejuvenated. Doing this for the next four days is a brilliant idea that I am willing to welcome with open arms.

I must say that I am disappointed because I could have been lazing at the white sand beaches of Pagudpud or admiring the windmills of Bangui right now. Thinking about it gives me such wonderful scenarios of reflecting about my life surrounded by such awesome backdrops. But I am at home now. In my room. This is a far cry from Ilocandia but I guess I should not mind. I am at rest. And that is the point.

I sincerely hope that Bugaw Lola finds an alternative job suited for her age.

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