An excessive dose of stupidity and an excessive reliance on kind hearts: that is how I reached Sambawan. I was in Ormoc, Leyte fooling students that they could take the ambiguous “travel writing” (in the Philippine context) as a career.
Sleepless and restless, I answered several wise questions from students. One of them, do I make money from writing—travel writing specifically.
There was that hackneyed anecdote on love.
“Do you make money from love?”
“Writing started like that. You do it as an act of unconditional love. But money comes in later.”
I was half-asleep when I said that. After that short stint, I headed to Naval, Biliran only to realize that boats don’t ferry passengers on Sundays. I met a kind guy at the pension house who happened to be a town official in Maripipi, Biliran. We jeepneyed to Brgy Kawayan and rode with interesting island characters. Yes, the expensive boat ride was on him. Thank you, Sir Noe Bacolod!
For the past two years, I found it tedious to prepare itineraries. I mostly rely on the kindness of strangers. I know more stupidities are waiting for me. Because, really, beautiful, storied moments are mostly accidents, accidental, not itineraried.
“Basin makita akong itlog ana, day, ha” joked the blurred man behind. Taogi (beansprouts) are really cheap in local markets. An essential ingredients for noodles. But for the Visayans, it is primarily used for lumpia.
After my walk around the port, it was time for barbecue. There was a middle-aged woman pedicuring a barbecue-han staff. I just talked with them while they kept glancing to the old Westerners with young Filipinas.
On the following day, I found myself in Brgy. Ol-og. I left my backpack at the store across the street. I later learned the owner was the brgy captain. They know Sir Noe, and they called him—like everyone else in Maripipi—SB short for Sangguaniang Bayan (Town Councilor).
It costs P300 to go to Sambawan. This is Kuya Rodel, my guide and boatman.He also works as a steward at Sambawan Island. During his days off, he ferries guests to the island. They invited me for lunch. Who was I to refuse! Haha! Everything was so fresh: tinuwa, kinilaw, sinugba, pinirito. I exchanged banters and stories with them over food and tuba. “Unyag sunod balik nimo, Jon. Pagdag tsiks. Eleven mi kabuok,” he teased. This is JC, the leader of the stewards. After I explored the marine sanctuary on the other side of the island with Kuya Rodel, JC shared his adventures, yes, over tuba and kinilaw.
Rodel doesn’t like being photographed. He ended up giving off this creepy grin. He was very reliable. Don’t let this picture disturb you. The eastern bend of Sambawan. I love this island. It was kinda gloomy when I arrived, but I thoroughly enjoyed my short stay despite the weather.
Clouds are low at Leyte and Biliran. They hover between ranges, cover peaks. Past this popular scene is Mt. Maripipi, a mountain I planned to trek with fellow climbers. Someday. I planned to come back here. Perhaps, another solitary sojourn. Perhaps with a special someone. Perhaps with a welcome ruckus called friends. Perhaps.
Traveling is a world of perhapses.