Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Beggars of the Sea

I’ve been meaning to post these photos for quite awhile now. I felt like I didn’t have the words to go with the photos just yet, so I deferred it for a while. But it had only been now that I was able to muster the words to truly express how I felt about the experience I’ve had with the Badjaos in Cagayan de Oro. I’d really want to share this to everyone, so let me take you back to when I first stepped foot on Cagayan de Oro.

On a tuesday morning, aboard the Cebu Ferries Ship, Tina and I witnessed a heart-wrenching sight. Amidst the towering ships parked along the port of Cagayan de Oro, are the Badjaos on their outriggers patiently rowing back and forth at the side of our ship begging for money or for anything you could give them. At first, it was just a lonesome outrigger with three adult men and two younger men on it. It seemed to me that they were just fishermen who happened to be fishing near the ship. But a few moments after, a flock of them appeared to our sight. There were no fishnets or whatsoever to indicate that they were fishermen. It was then that I realised that they were not fishermen but beggars. It was deafening to hear them beg. I couldn’t understand what they were saying as all I could hear were the mumbling and the crying of the mothers and the babies. It was heartbreaking to have heard the loud cries of the young kids and even babies that laid almost naked on the outrigger with the sun’s glare on their fragile bodies, while their mother or father dove into the ocean each time a coin was thrown at them. The expressions on the other children’s faces were blank, as they don’t seem to fathom what was happening around them. The 'crowd’s favourite' was the father who had his baby cling tightly on his neck while he dove into the sea. I felt scared for the baby as he could easily loose his grip on his father’s neck while underwater. I was saddened to see other passengers of the ship treat them like they were in some freak show. The passengers purposely had thrown coins aimlessly so the Badjaos have to jump out from their outriggers and dive into the ocean. They laughed and applauded each time the Badjaos get to catch the coins. I gave out a big sigh each time I heard the cheers of the passengers. I hoped that they would realise how dangerous it could be especially for the children. It was inappropriate, I felt. It was not even a laughing matter. It was totally degrading. It was like being in a zoo, people throwing food at animals.

Up to this day, I can’t believe what I have witnessed. I realised what extreme poverty can do to people in order to survive. These people chose to risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones for a few coins. I could not bear to just stand there and do nothing. So while on the way out of the ship, I grabbed my bag full of snacks and threw it directly in one of the outriggers. It’s the least thing that I could do at the very moment.

I don’t even know if these images I took can encompass what I have witnessed that day, but think of it as merely representations of what was there that had affected me deeply.

Monday, July 30, 2007

'Lostsputnik' in Clickthecity.com

I thought I'd share this with you guys as I find it really funny having someone write about me.

July 23, 2007

Ronald L. Rillo

Our denizen for the week is Ronald Rillo, a freelance broadcast producer, photographer and film-maker. Ron is currently backpacking around the Philippines and sharing his discoveries and experiences through writing and photography.

Passionate about traveling, photography and film-making, Ron thought of combining all his interests by creating a online travelogue (at http://lostsputnik.blogspot.com) by blogging about all his discoveries and reflections through writing, photos and videos.

Ron started his backpacking adventure around the Philippines over a month ago, and with only a limited budget in hand, he decided to take the cheapest modes of transportation and staying at very cheap hostels.

Spontaneous, adventurous and living for the moment, Ron loves discovering new places and immersing himself in new cultures. "I just let the road take me to wherever," he says.

He loves going out of town and while in the city can enjoy a range of activities, from nights out, to chill-out days, or eating out his favorite restaurants. Wherever the night would take Ron, the most important thing for him is enjoying the night with great company.

A free-spirited traveler, Ron would rather make the world his oyster and capture all his backpacking experiences through the lens of his camera, than be stuck in the city as a producer in a local television network.

To read more, check the site at http://www.clickthecity.com/denizens/?p=111

Correction though, the last paragraph didn't come out right, I don't remember saying that I felt like I was 'stuck' in my job as a producer in a local tv network. The writer probably got the wrong impression. Defensive much? haha!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Camotes Islands

I’ve never heard of Camotes Islands until I’ve reached Cebu, and when a cab driver had suggested me to visit it. He said Cebuanos frequented the Island especially on weekends as it’s close to Cebu. So, I browsed through a bit of information about the island on the net, and in one of the sites I visited referred to it as a developing island as it’s not as commercial as the others. This aroused my curiosity, as I like beaches that aren’t too busy and chaotic-unexplored. So the next day, I hopped on an ocean jet ferry and headed to Camotes Islands.

After two hours, I arrived the island half past seven at night. From the pier, I took a habal-habal to get to Santiago Beach Resort. I didn’t get to see much of the island while on the habal-habal as some areas were pitch-black. With the faint light coming from the resort, I could see the wide and long stretch of sand fronting the resort, although I couldn’t really tell if the sand was white or black.

The next day, I was so eager to see the beach so I woke up really early to catch the sunrise. And to my surprise, the shore wasn’t that wide after all. It was low tide at night so when I looked at it last night it seemed like the shore was wide. The beach was not as I have expected it to be, there were areas where rubbish are scattered everywhere. It also didn’t help that it was the ‘Habagat’ season, so seagrass added to the pile of rubbish. Yes, it is a public beach after all but I didn’t expect it to be that filthy (in some areas). It’s sad to see such a nice beach with so much potential only if the local patrons would have the heart to look after their own rubbish. I’m hoping that the government of Cebu would do something about this while it’s not yet too late. The habal-habal driver told me that Camotes Islands will be launched as a tourist spot sometime 2010, the locals should get their act together and clean up their beach! Seriously!

I didn’t want to swim in the beach in front of the resort so most of the time I went to the other resort called Mangodlon Rock Resort (also owned by Santiago Beach Resort) to go for a swim or just simply relax in the sun. Mangodlon Rock Resort has a better beachfront and cottages sitting atop of huge rock formations. The sand is also on a cream to white shade but the shore and water are so pristine, it was inviting to go for a swim. The beach is well maintained as the area is much smaller compared to the other one.

The other resort wasn’t that bad at all as opposed to how I’ve described the beach earlier. It has one of the greatest view decks overlooking the ocean (at least from where I sat I couldn’t see the rubbish scattered along the shore) and other neighbouring islands. I stay on one of the concrete balconies with the roofs made out of nipa sheets while I wait for the sunset. It had a great view as it stood tall on top of a cliff and the breeze just passed freely. I spent hours just writing and reading until sleep arrived.

My visit to Camotes Islands was still worth it despite a few disappointments. The island is blessed with great beaches, caves and lakes. If you come to Cebu and you want to do a bit of exploration that isn’t too far, then put Camotes Islands to your list.

How to get there?

From Cebu, take the ocean jet ferry from Pier 1. It will only cost you 250 pesos one way. The trip will take 2 hours. From the port of poro, take a habal-habal to get you to Santiago, where most resorts (there’s only 3 at the moment) are located.

Where to Stay?

If you’re on a budget stay at Santiago Beach Resort, they have non air conditioned and air conditioned rooms that ranges from 500 (single-double) to 4,000 (family rooms). I only paid 350 a night as it’s off-peak this time of the year.

If you want to splurge a little, then stay at the Mangodlon Rock Resort, rooms have air conditions and price ranges from 1,700-2,500. Unfortunately, prices do not change even if it’s off-peak.

To book to either of the resorts, call +63-32-3446899

Back to Bohol

In light of the Sandugo Festival, a major event held in Bohol every year, the organizers of the said event have created the ‘Creative Industries Trade Fair’ for the very first time-a venue to showcase the beauty and the craftsmanship of each towns of Bohol. My good friend, Bianca, was assigned to design one of the booths. Bianca have invited Marty, also our good friend, and I to help her out with the design of the booth. They flew from Manila, while I took a ferry from Cebu.

This is going to be exciting, I thought to myself while on the ferry to Cebu. It was like being in highschool all over again. In our highschool, cheering competitions are big events so we really plan ahead and designate tasks. Most of the time Bianca and Marty are assigned to handle the design of the bleachers while I’m in-charge to lead our batchmates during cheering practices.

When we attended the first meeting along with the organizers and other ‘artists’, we felt so intimidated as most of them have concrete concepts already and have actually blueprinted their designs, while Bianca, Marty and I were still trying to grasp what the event was really for. Bianca and I kept glancing at each other, asking what we were doing here. And to add to that, we were the only ones in the group who didn’t grow up in Bohol--let alone speak the dialect fluently. There was this meeting once when Marty and I had to represent in behalf of Bianca because she had to do some errands for the resort. First few minutes of the meeting, we understood a word or two since most of them tried to speak in ‘taglish’ but they probably got tired of it and spoke in bisaya. We sat there, smiling and trying to look like we get what they mean. It was hilarious. I was actually nodding most times especially when they looked at me, though I don’t really understand half of what they’re trying to say. Hahaha!

Bianca was assigned to design the booth for Cluster 3. Cluster 3 is composed of 6 towns situated along the Abatan River.We spent the first week going around the towns assigned to us, gathered information we needed and took photos of tourist spots of each towns. We need to highlight each town in our booth, so we needed a lot of information. Thankfully, Bianca and her family had the right connections. We were able to get information from the government officials of some towns that definitely made our research easier. Marty and I felt like we toured around Bohol and took a different route, not the touristy route. It was another great experience for me as I came to know more about Bohol.

The next few days, we spent afternoons frequenting hardware shops buying the materials we needed. And we’d burn hours and hours of sleepless nights working on each of our projects.

You wouldn't believe how fast 'team antiquera' was able to put up our booth.
Finished Product!

Cluster 1- this one is nice too, I liked the underwater theme.
This one is pretty cool, the artist had a diorama of the hanging bridge found in Loboc River.

Marty kept telling us confidently that we’d have the best booth and true to his words, we did have the best booth and the only ones who finished just before the deadline. Our greatest gratitude to the ‘Team Antiquera’, who helped put up our booth. They were the same team who helped build Amarela Resort, so we were rest assured that we’d have a very competent and efficient team. Also, to Bianca’s Dad, Uncle and Auntie who helped us in each way possible. I remembered Tito Doy telling Bianca not to get too stressed as she has a very strong support system- her family and friends are with her to help. And that’s absolutely true, we breezed through the whole project. One day we were brainstorming and the next thing we know it’s all over and done with.

Congratulations to our team! Job well done guys!

Of course, we couldn’t leave Bohol without enjoying the beach of Bohol, especially for Marty who has never been to Bohol. Bianca gave us a treat, a trip to Balicasag Beach for a bit of snorkelling and to the enigmatic Virgin Beach. I’m sure Marty’s happy now since he got the tan he’s been wanting since the day he arrived. We also got to spend time with our other friends, Mila, Bags and Kaye. To cap our 2 weeks stay in Bohol, we celebrated Bianca’s 25th birthday. Marty and I bought Bianca’s favourite chocolate roll from Goldilocks and ate it for lunch on her birthday. At night, Bianca had a simple dinner for her family, friends and staff of Amarela.

The time I’ve spent in Bohol for the 5th time now for me, was again worth while. Thanks Bianx for the nth time!

Til Then,

The Lost Sputnik.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Got a haircut in bohol, got my ears cut too!

Sunset in Bohol

Just a quick update. Yes, I went back to Bohol for two weeks. I was asked by my friend, Bianca, to help her out together with our other friend, Marty, for the Creative Industries Trade Exhibition. I'll write about it and post photos of our booth next time. I'm currently at Camotes Islands, the internet is taking ages. Watch out for Camotes Islands pictures too!

Oh and yes, I did have a haircut after travelling for 2 months-finally! I got it in a mall in Bohol and unfortunately it was bloody well not too much but still my ears got cut. It was a tiny cut, but still it bled. I kept my calm, and just candidly told the barber to just go on and finish my haircut. haha! I couldn't react, I can't get mad at him, his boss was right behind him and I didn't want him to lose his job. oh well!

Til Then,

The Lost Sputnik.