This is a guest post from one of Road Tripper, Narl Marquez, for Singles Road Trip #2 in the beautiful province of Mercedes, Camarines Norte. Narl just left her job in Malacañang to be able to work for a company where she can express her creativity and love for math. She loves to travel, read books, and binge watch series and movies. You can check out here blog at https://nargoesfar.wordpress.com.
Hindi lahat ng pag-momove on nadadaan sa inom.
I’ve always wanted to travel differently. I have tried traveling alone, with my friends, or with my family but I have never tried traveling randomly, with random people. And so, before summer officially ends, I decided to do something out of the ordinary – I joined a random road trip.
With only the hint of, “We will be traveling 500++ kilometers” and meeting in Cubao, one would assume that we’d be traveling north. Well, that’s why they always tell you to never assume.
The Meet-up and First Hellos
And so, Friday came by and before 8:30 in the evening, most of us were already at the meeting place. While waiting for the others, most of us got introduced and asked how we knew about the road trip. Some said they found out about the trip from friends, while stumbled upon the site. It felt surreal that we were already there, in the meeting place, anticipating where these people would be taking us. It was also a very curious thing, finally seeing the faces of the others who were just as crazy as me to book such a crazy trip and entrusting our time (and maybe our hearts) to these people we have only spoken to virtually.
When it was time to go, Gian, one of the Travel Managers, led us to the nearest bus station. It was bound for Daet. Being clueless and geographically challenged, I searched where Daet is located and found out it’s in Bicol. South! We were going South. I’ve been wrong with my assumptions all along.
We rode the Superlines bus bound to Daet with no stopovers. The bus had superb facilities: power sockets (YES, you can actually use them cause they really do work!), individual plugs for your headphones to hear whatever is playing on the screen, and a working rest room (that is clean).
With a long drive, we had no choice but to sleep. But because of all that anxiety, most of us talked with our seatmates and had a chance to get to know each other more.
We arrived at around 4AM, an hour early. Gian instructed us to just wait and that this was just a stop over. In my head, I was like, “SO THIS ISN’T WHERE WERE HEADED? Saan ba talaga tayo pupunta?!” After a few of us asked and guessed (wrongly), Gian finally said we were to go to Mercedes.
Finally, Kuya Arvin, our tour guide came and fetched us. We had our first meal in Daet before we went to Mercedes. We actually kept on bugging Kuya Arvin on what we were going to do in Mercedes but he was briefed well. Not a word. He just kept on saying, “Basta, malalaman n’yo pag nandun na tayo (You will know when we get there),” which made us even more intrigued and excited.
After dropping off our things and changing our clothes in Colasi, we had a little get to know game where we had to introduce ourselves and have an adjective that starts with the letter of our name and then say something special about ourselves. Some had a hard time thinking of adjectives (O for Owsome) and some had notable special (or weird things) about them (Like the love for talking about poop)!
Some of us were able to experience riding on top of the jeepney (which was Owsome) on our way to our destination (which we really did not know where since we only knew it was in Mercedes). But before that, Kuya Arvin had a spontaneous idea of stopping by a pineapple farm (I don’t know if they call it that) for us to pick some fresh pineapples! Most of us went down to experience it first hand (which I gladly did). I found out that it takes a year for pineapples to grow which made it more special for me to pick one.
After a few guesses that we were to go to the Colasi Falls (which was correct since some of us saw signs and tarpaulins about it), they told us we had to trek for about an hour to get there. After walking on rocky roads, climbing 90 degree steps, and braving slippery slopes, we finally arrived. How was it? Well, it was simply breathtaking. Imagine, a three storey falls, pristine and clear. It was such a refreshing view. It’s a wonder to me how come we were the only people there. Being excited and tired humans, we didn’t hesitate and took a plunge. We just had fun. Before you know it, a few locals were there with us (I don’t know how they got there so fast) with food!! We spent most of the afternoon there, eating, swimming and jumping from the rocks to the water. It was during our stay here that we were able relax and talk (and throw hugot lines). After having a hearty meal (blue rice, ginataang manok, ginataang langka, pusit), we stayed there for a while before heading back.
Upon arriving back, Kuya Arvin had us eat merienda with some of the locals (and his wonderful hospitable family). We ate kamote within a kamote (We all just called it that) while enjoying the breeze. We thought the day was over and we’d stay in the Church where we left our things, but no, the day was far from ending.
After getting our things, we traveled for a while and reached the port. We met another of our tour guides, Kuya Mike. Thinking we could trick him, we asked where we were going next. He just smiled and said we’d get there soon enough (Briefed by our travel managers)! What was really intriguing was Kuya Mike had this devious smile, like he was born to do this, keep secrets. Frustrating but funny.
Colasi Waterfalls. Blue rice and wonderful new friends.
The waves, the sea, the sand, and us
After about a half hour boat ride, we arrived at Apuao Grande, one of the Mercedes’s islands. It was already getting dark so we weren’t able to enjoy the view. Cielo, Tom, and Gian had all of us clean ourselves up before having dinner. We didn’t expect though that we’d be taking a bath using a poso (water pump)! With all of us just wanting to be refreshed, we had no choice but to to take a bath all together, girls first then the boys.
Finally, it was dinner time – rice, kaldereta, liempo, fish, and laing. As usual, Pash was one of the last ones to finish his meal (being the growing boy that he is). When dinner was over, Cielo prepared some games for us to get to know each other better. Divided in to two groups (with our groups having the names of famous hugot movies: That Thing Called Tadhana vs. One More Chance), we played Trip to Jerusalem (the chairs were replaced with the boys holding talongs) and passing of the orange using our necks. Losers had to drink. When everyone was already tired, and the winners were announced, Gian suggested we play Lasing Bobo.
From categories such as hugot songs for your ex or whoever, table of elements, boy bands, girl bands, names of the Powerpuff girls, Power Ranger members, and more, eventually, the bottles were emptied out. Since we were still game to do pretty much about anything, we played truth or dare (or rather just truths) and asked about who among the participants we’d spend our time with if we were to be stranded in the island. Since the game pretty much became a teasing game and nobody took it seriously, each of us had a chance to ask everyone a question that all would answer: When was your last heartache, your last kilig moment, and finally (since we were all getting sleepy), what advice would you give right now to the people. It was very heartwarming to listen to each other’s stories and to hear them comment and listen about your heartaches or just make fun of you (who wouldn’t forget being relative-zoned, right?).
When everybody called it quits, some of us decided to walk along the coast and just enjoy the moon and the waves. We walked for a while and when it was getting darker, we decided to call it a night. Unfortunately, when we got back to the house, all of the beds had occupants. It was also too hot inside so we decided to get some sheets and just lay them on the sand – beach front, and sleep there.
We Could Not Wait
During breakfast, we gathered around while talking about the talks we had last night and listening to 90s songs (Backstreet Boys and Nsync). We then prepared for the day ahead, our last day.
Still clueless on what we would be doing today, with Kuya Mike and Kuya Arvin not giving in. We started walking towards the other side of the island (which used to be a separate island) and trekked. Kuya Mike guided us and had us see bats (big bats). We then waded the waters to go back. Unfortunately, one of us got stung by a jellyfish. Nobody panicked, though. We were even joking that we’d be willing to urinate on him. After that incident, we stayed close to the shore as much as possible until we reached the boats to go to another island (that we figured out).
It was still early so some of us snorkeled while some rested. After snorkeling, we were greeted by a boodle fight (rice topped with chicken, pusit, laing, tinola on the side). WE COULD NOT WAIT! After what seemed to be a nonstop eating fest, one of the locals showed us how to make jelly seaweed (with the special guesting of Kris aka Justine).
By 1PM, we were to set off to another island again! This was a really jam packed road trip, I must say. We asked the other locals if they knew where we were going and they nonchalantly said we’d be going to Canimog. (which we didn’t even had a clue what or where was that). Kuya Mike overheard it and was shocked (maybe appalled? He was that determined for us to never find out). We argued that we didn’t even know where Canimog was.
It turns out, Canimog is home to the first lighthouse of Camarines Norte. Unfortunately, since it was low tide, our boat had a hard time to dock. The others were able to see the lighthouse but our boat decided to wait and some of us swam. Our joy swimming was shortlived when Mommy Su shouted that there was a large box jellyfish near our boats. We panicked and immediately went back to the boat. Those who saw the jellyfish said it was large enough to be scooped by one of the boatmen and be thrown far away.
Of Coming Home And Embracing My Wierdness
The afternoon went by quickly, and before you know it, we were back in Mercedes. We stayed in Villa Criseldas where they had a room good for 10 (we were there just to wash up and wait till it was dinner time). It was funny how everyone was desperate to take a bath and had their slippers lined up at the door, waiting for their turn. While waiting, one of us decided to create a viber group and exchange numbers.
The location of the resort was perfect, it was in front of a small fair/carnival. By the time most of us were done, it was already opened and Gian asked us to go (excitedly). We gambled, won, and lost (just like in love HAHAHA) but we did not regret it. It was fun while it lasted but we had to go.
For dinner, our last meal together, we ate in GoodChow, a famous restaurant in Mercedes. We had the third floor all to ourselves. For dessert, one of us treated everyone to ice cream since it was his birthday. We had a few more laughs and by8:30, we were already on the bus bound to Manila.
Most were still chattering in the bus, still not over the fact that we were going back to Manila. It was amazing how this trip started as random for everyone but ended as something of a coincidence. For those two days, we felt like we’ve known each other for a long time. We may have one thing in common when we started (being single) but I realize we’re all crazy, just looking for a place to fit in. And I think I would be speaking for all of us when I say we ended up knowing we’d still be friends after this.
Without expectations, I met friends (who don’t know the words boundaries nor space) who embraced my weirdness and craziness.
Experience Philippines’ Single’s Road Trip 2 offered a different kind of travel, something that one should definitely try, moving on or not.
Of sands and seas
and new friends for keeps
It was when I lost you
That I found myself
Of squids and jellyfish
and happy memories
It was in randomness
I felt happiest
Of falls and cliffs
where true friendship begins
and it was in meeting strangers and our pure craziness
I felt happiest
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