SAFETY FIRST. TOF viewers see me and Joaquin as they go through the photo-essays and read up on our travel narratives. But there are times I do solo travels too. I do this most of the time when checking out a place to make sure that it’s child-safe before taking Joaquin with me for another trip. Just like travels with my favorite travel buddy, I have equally memorable experiences as a solo traveler and here’s one:
It only took a few hours for a talented tattoo artist in San Pablo City to complete the Sarimanok on my forearm. I have lots of spare time to explore nearby towns nestled at the foot of Mount Banahaw.
NAGCARLAN. A town that got it’s name from a local heroine, Ana Kalan –Nagcarlan is a town famous for its underground cemetery and church. We’ve been to Nagcarlan before but just like our previous trip to towns that sits at the foot Mount Banahaw our outdoor photos were in shades of gray because it was always cloudy. But the day was nice so were the people.
While looking at the antique statue of San Diego Alcala, which said to be made from melted Mexican silver that became so abundant at the time of Galleon Trade so people make them into spoons, candelabra and orinola, an old lady offered to take a photo of me while I am acting like a tourist inside church. She was very kind.
LILIW. Next stop is a town made popular by its brick church, uraro biscuits, and sandals is where I had late lunch. Arabela is an Italian restaurant set in the silong of what used to be a sandals factory in Liliw. I was hungry and the food in their menu looks appetizing so I forgot about budget. When I received the bill, I realized I didn’t have enough cash to pay for my orders.
I am thankful for the nice and trusting dining staff who allowed me to leave the restaurant to get cash from an ATM.
MAJAYJAY. After a few minutes on a twisting mountain road, the jeep dropped me off in front of the old ermita in Majayjay. The popular history of this town is linked to the infamous parish priest, Fray Victorino de Moral.
Locals say that the friar must have used the large baptismal font to convert the natives to Christianity in order to increase the labor force to build its massive church and a bridge known as Puente de Capricho.
HAY. HAY. MAJAYJAY. Traditionally, Majayjay had a reputation for being far and secluded. In the olden days, they say that traveler sigh catching their breaths ‘hay… hay.. Majayjay.’
Not only that Majajay is far, this mountain town is located higher up than the previous towns. But I wanted to go higher so I requested from local children on their way to choir practice to show me the way to the ancient bell tower of the massive Majayjay Church. There, while listening to nice voices, I see Mount Banahaw covered with clouds.
KUWENTONG BARBERO. From Majayjay, I took the mountain road that connects the town to Lucban in Quezon Province where I had a new shave in a local barber shop.
EPILOGUE. Traveling the dark, winding mountain road as a lone passenger back to Majayjay from Lucban, only god know where when five men with armalites and two gallons of lambanog took the same ride. Uneasy me until one of them looked me in the eye and then offered “tagay?” Yes. It was in this trip from San Pablo, Laguna to Lucban, Quezon, I had a close encounter with the Nicest. People. Around.