Rice farmer. I dreamed of being a rice farmer's daughter instead of the proudly ambiguous farmer and fisherman's daughter. I dreamed of having a bahay kubo in the middle of rice paddies running for miles.
I spotted her uprooting rice seedlings on my way to Bislig Falls and asked Chemuel, the habal-habal driver, to drop by later because I dreamed of taking a picture of a rice farmer because the image of ang-magtanim-ay di-biro painting, Amorsolo's, lingered in my head since third grade. (Bislig, Surigao del Sur)
Rice. The newly planted seedlings looked like an abstract painting to me. I often stared at the reflection on the water and found it beautiful. Always. Always beautiful. (Bislig, Surigao del Sur)
Youth. The river was murderously enraged, but an enraged river couldn't stop youth and its healthy laughter. (Bislig Falls, Bislig, Surigao del Sur)
And a question rose, not my usual "Did this river claim a life or lives already?" but "How many lives has it claimed already?" And Nong Alejandro, who is working here for 15 years, said two. (Bislig Falls, Bislig, Surigao del Sur)
Butuan tricycles are painted orange, Tandag yellow. Surigao del Sur's habal-habals have a customized roof, which is convenient when it is hot or raining but inconvenient when time is pressing. (Bislig, Surigao del Sur)
Mystery. The very reason I came to Surigao del Sur and booked my flight without even knowing Surigao City is part of Norte, and it roughly takes eight hours to reach this part of Surigao. I am insanely charmed by this river and vowed to come back again. (Enchanted River, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur)
It is a river. It is not. And that makes it enchanted. It has the flowingness of a river, the fishness of the ocean, the mystery of a river, the blueness of the sea. (Enchanted River, Hinatuan, Surigo del Sur)
Abstract Fish. These fish tolerate humans for food. The river becomes a sanctuary for ocean fish. They come in different colors and sizes. When the caretaker rings the bell, they swarm around, almost revealing themselves, waiting for the food to be thrown, hungry like stray dogs. (Enchanted River, Hinatuan, Surigo del Sur)
To eat like doubt doesn't exist. Being a fisherman's daughter, swaki (sea urchin) is part of my childhood. But its unappealing look discouraged me to try it. Traveling makes us do something what we would have never dared to do in the comforts of home. (Britannia Group of Islands, Britannia, Surigao del Sur)
A relatively big wave hit the small outrigger I rented for P500, which made the motor drowned like human. Fortunately, the boat of three sexy Aboitiz ladies—Mylyn, Mayette, Ronnie—and a guy they called Derek Ramsey, was there. They let me hitch a ride and made swaki-eating memories. (Britannia Group of Islands, Britannia, Surigao del Sur)
The needles of rain pricked the sea. We didn't allow the needles of swaki pricked us. These women waited for their husbands by Boslon Island to have lunch together. A bottle of Tanduay, Coke, home-made vinegar, and a huge container of rice waited by the rock's nook. It's a picnic, the Britannia's way.
A gloomy Britannia on my first day. This was the view from my breakfast area. "What should I do with the weather?" "None." "What can I do with my day?" "A lot." After enjoying my breakfast, I approached these guys by the shore and met Nong Tony, who's been in Britannia for fifteen years. "What brought you here?" I asked. "Love," he answered.
"Where are you now?" "Britannia, P. The shore is inviting me to stroll. Too bad. Don't have anyone to hold hands with." While waiting for my dinner, a boatman emptied the water from his boat. The water-hitting-the-sea kind of sound accompanied my quiet evening, which was interrupted by the history of the place—shared by the owner herself. (MacArthur's Place, Britannia Group of Islands, Surigao del Sur)
One of the many rivers I met. The logs floating are falcata, grown up to five years before they are harvested. Chemuel and the loggers confirmed they are farmed and legally harvested. But I don't know how legal legal is. Legal, according to whom? Law? Politicians? Nature finds it helplessly illegal. Perhaps, not helplessly. Because nature herself is ruthless. (Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur)
Tandag bus terminal is an eccentric place. People watched boxed and muted TV. They looked like they understood the muted program. The bathroom cleaner had a hilot corner by the public toilet's door. Instead of staying in an inn for five hours, I decided to stay at the terminal and waited for the earliest ride to Surigao City. (Tandag, Surigao del Sur)
One of the three kids I met. They ventured beyond the rocky end of the pebble beach. On their way back, I shared the dark chocolates I got from P. Perhaps they found the chocolates delectable. Perhaps they didn't notice the messages written on the wrapper, which I found more delectable than the chocolates. Love rules without rules. A good love is delicious, because you can never get enough. Don't settle for a spark, light a fire instead. (Pebble Beach, Mabua, Surigao del Norte)
Look beyond the old men and appreciate the tunnel-like lines. Aren't they mesmerizing? (Pebble Beach, Mabua, Surigao del Norte)