Thursday, April 22, 2010

Of Beaches and Blackouts, Dogs and "Aswangs"

The romance with the city of Boac ended so soon, I was a little melancholy with having to part from Boac. The breakfast of caldereta and leche flan and coke at Kusina sa Plaza were definitely to die for, the Boac museum that housed artifacts of ship ruins, of Chinese plates and ceramics which proved the Philippines' participation to barter system so many years ago etc etc. When I was young I only read about this in some History book. Some random quiz item. One can only wonder why these things matter so much to some people. I realized now, because those facts gave this little remote island some pride.

And oh, the Beautiful Boac Cathedral...


There are a lot of realization at this time, but I have to find time to make a solid capsuled article on how Marinduque's people are its heart, and how it changed my thinking.

The ride to Torrijoswhere Poctoy White Beach is located was a scenic, relaxing one. The main road is winding and zig-zaggy, but no bother as the drivers are always very very careful and cautious  - they've mastered the art of driving on winding roads. One tip - the public transport in all of Marinduque are all on schedule so better ask around what time the jeepney going to a certain place leaves. In my experience, the last trip to Torrijos from Sta Cruz district is as early as four in the afternoon.
At Poctoy instead of going to Rendezvous Resort as recommended by the guidebook, I was lead to a private cove some distance from the White Beach. A private cove for only 700 pesos, or a little more than ten dollars!

Dinner was to be spent at the public part of Poctoy White Beach where there were cottages, and grilled food, little stores, booze and whatnot. The place is overflowing with people, most of them locals. There was even some "diskuhan" or dance, and videoke and the locals sure know how to groove. The star of the dance were she-males. It was fun to watch them, they know how to shake their booties and oh, such cam-whores!

The night wore on, and after some minor commotion the dance was abruptly put into a halt. It was time to go back to our private cove. But! Suddenly there was a blackout!

In the dark I got to talk to some locals. A nurse working in the UK who hailed from Marinduque, and a student studying in Manila who also hailed from Marinduque. See the thing with Marinduque, it is a victim of manpower exodus. Or whatever that means. The sons of sons of sons of locals study in universities in Manila, find work in Manila, live in Manila and only go home for vacations such as these, leaving Marinduque the bucolic town that it is. But what to do in an increasingly developing world? If you were a local who wants more employment opportunities? And you search for your own backyard only to find that there are none. Seriously. If you want to be an artist there is no room for anyone there. Or even a nurse? Could I blame them for leaving town? I am not to judge.

Marinduque may be near but the province could be as far as any remote place can be. Some province even further from Marinduque were even more developed, with reputable university systems. I don't know if I want to preserve Marinduque's simplicity, or improve its facilities. But there is always a need to develop, but a responsible development should be done.

My new friends had to leave so it was time for me to head back to the private cove. As I was walking dogs began to bark...and they are plenty!!! Even tried to head to a new path going to the cove but there are more dogs!!! A friendly local helped me and accompanied me back to the private cove. So much for being responsible.With no flashlights, or whatsoever. But I was thanking God that no accidents happened or that I was not bitten by stray dogs!

One thing I learned from this is to be medically-prepared while traveling, to protect oneself apart from just mosquito bite lotions or sunblocks. Especially when traversing unknown territories. Rabies shots, medicines, insurance. I am not invincible so I should travel responsibly.

Upon arriving at the private cove, the tenants (who are also visitors) beside our apartment told a very scary scary tale about seeing an aswang. Yes. That night. An aswang, surrounding our apartment. With footprints like humans, bigger than a dog, with sharp eyes. Ok,  I came from running for my life from dogs, I thought, what could be worse than that?

The tenant and his brother were actually holding a vigil, to protect the females and kids in their group. Oh my God. The guy said he's from Dipolog and he's had so many encounters with aswangs and mysticisms. He also said that Marinduque has its share of real life aswangs. That yes, though some tenants are from Tagalog regions but Marinduque being in the middle, people from Ilo-Ilo, Siquijor and other "scary" provinces also take refuge here.

I was panicking, scared...and it was a wonder that I did not cry. I thought, how unfair, it was my first local backpacking and yet I'm in danger of being eaten by an aswang already?

In the morning, surprise, the aswang that the neighbor is referring to is none other than...tada. a small cow. 

Lively, happy and giddy to explore after an aswang pseudo scare, it was time to bask in the sun and soak at the beach! The beach I was referring to was actually at the middle of the public White Beach and our private cove. The Beach stretches about a kilometer and the middle part is actually the cleanest and most refined. Pure work of nature. There were no resorts at the middle part. Only families with fishing boats. What a treat! The beach was clear and beautiful and well-maintained. The families by the beach respect nature and their resources.

Leaving Poctoy Beach was hard, really. I wanted to stay. Especially after the funny scare. Save for the dogs, this was a perfect location, perfect beach. But sadly, it was time to say goodbye. And I left with a heavy heart.

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