Travelogues

Trip Information

Philippines
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Shopping (4)
Trip Date:2004-06-27 - 2004-07-01
# Photos:2 [View]
Countries visited:Philippines
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27th June 04
Having researched where was safe to go we were slightly alarmed at a conversation with our taxi driver. He asked us why we would want to go to Palawan as that was where the Abu Shayaf were (Islamic terrorists who specialise in kidnapping). Then seeing the look of horror on my face he hurridly added that he was sure we would be safe in the Capital. Our flight was leaving in an hour so there seemed little we could do on the basis of one mans comments but I resolved to find out more as soon as we landed.
The flight cheered me slightly when I won the in flight entertainment quiz matcing 'Tomorrows just another day' quote with the film Gone with the wind. I was delighted with my prize plastic day glo mini ruck sack. I havent answered a winning quiz question since naming the 4 US states beginning with A at the '98 Brewhouse pub quiz.
28th June Palawan
A province of the Philippines of over 1,000 Islands with a spread out and bustling capital city. The locals are friendly and happy to exchange smiles and chat. Although the English spoken here is more halting than Manila it is still possible to converse with most people we meet. Fortunately someone in a bar was able to confirm that the Abu Shayaf incident although horrific happened 3 years ago and there had been no trouble since. True or not it made me feel much better about venturing off the beaten track. Luckily we are here for the Palawan Barangay celebration. A huge expo of stalls selling house goods, clothes, plants and food. We caught the highlights of Miss Palawan 2004, a very professional affair with video screens and compere. A dance competition that essentially was like a strip show but without the removal of clothes seemed to determine the winner. Either the Filipinos are a hard audience to please or clapping is not part of the culture. In a crowd of about 2000 people it was the same 5 girls clapping at the end of every act despite desperate pleas from the compere. The speeches were 80% Tagalog adn 20% English. They went along the lines of 'Bantayang Tulug Pha Wat World Peace' or the intreguing 'Manapi ba tanabu to another woman' I didnt feel bad at delighting in the unintentional comic affect this had. In a crowd of a couple of thousand we were the only white folks so had spent much of the night being an object of others amusment.
29th June Off to Sabang
It was impossible to get consistant info on when the busses go to Sabang so when we chanced it by arriving at the bus station at 11 we had a long wait until the jeepney left at 2.00. This gave us the advantage of meeting other Flipinos who were also travelling our way. They looked after us by making sure we had good seats on the bus together and that our luggage, strapped to the roof was covered from the lashing rain which was now falling. Miss Novie Grace, high school teacher in Sabang invited us to the school to meet her English students. She desperately wanted to be English and travel the world and was disappointed to be born Philippino until I pointed out the things could be worse for her. Further disappointments lay in the fact we didnt have any wealthy friends who could buy the school a generator. We also met a man who was Sabangs only bus service, he regaled us with facts he had read about Britain, Ireland is off shore and Tony Blair is our PM, I wondered would he be a better lecturer on England than us. Sisters Nieley and Nitin gave a facinating commentary on the landmarks and villages that we passed. Only later did I discover that the marble mountains they referred to werent actually marble but I had misheard the name of the locality that they were in.
The jeepney I suppose was typical, 20 people crammed inside and another 20 on the roof. Sabangs petrol supplies were tied in 2 vats to the back of the bus with people sitting on top of them. We were travelling in a Typhoon which essentially meant lots of wind and buckets of rain. The wind had blown over a tree onto the dirt track that led to Sabang. All the boys on the roof of the bus lept into action to try and drag it out the way. Too heavy to move they had to run back to the nearest house to borrow a machete, they made short work of chopping it into more portable pieces so that we could move on. The 2nd time this happend it was raining harder and only 2 people disembarked to help and so on for the 3rd time. By the time we hit our 4th tree the driver had had enough so just drove through the blockage.
Sabang seemed to have only 3 hotels which were beach huts and ours was one of the few with proper plumbing. Due to its size every one knows every one else and Nitin took us to the place that we wanted to stay as it was on the way to her house. Just as well really as it was pitch balck and the rain was coming down in sheets. Typhoon Ini had hit Palawan in a big way. To get to the Dabdab guest house we had to wade through knee deep water and walk along a dark boat strewn beach. About 10 yrs ago Sabang was a thriving tourist centre but the Abu Shayaf attack coupled with an improved road which meant day trips to its main attraction, the under ground river, are possible it is now almost a ghost town. The restaurants have closed and although our beach hut was lovely it looked as if it hadnt been touched or cleaned for years. The people still living here dont seem to have much to do all day until the day bus arrives so they were incredibly happy to talk to us and help us out in any way possible, at least it seemed that way to me. It rained pretty much our entire stay in Sabang, lightning illuminating the forest and beach. As electricity is rationed to 6-10 pm there were no lights to spoil the effect. We were pleased to be able to catch a lift with 2 Manilan honey mooners up to the school though as it gave us a distraction from the weather. The entire school gathered to listen to the English people. A small shock as i thought I would just be helping a class with their English composition. A quick family, geography, weather and monarchy speech and I was running out of easy topics to talk about. The subject of food caused quite a stir when I revealed that people in England only eat rice once or twice a week and never at breakfast. The class errupted into discussion as incredulous Filipinos who eat rice 2-3 times a day couldnt believe it. Nick created almost as much interest when he mentioned that England gets all of its banannas from the Philippines. I think may be I got off track when I mentioned pixies in Cornwall but all in all the lesson went well. I think the class had fun and at the very least it was a change from the usual. We walked back to the beach in Sabang getting soaked to the skin but met the girl in the picture lugging coconuts through the rain and much better dressed for the weather than we were.
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