After another lovely lunch in General Santos City – lots of fresh tuna kilawin and Ate Gay’s yummy soft cream cheese muffins – and a couple of hours of snoozing, the van we hired to take us to Sarangani Province arrived at around 4pm. And we were off on another road trip!
The drive to Sarangani was just an hour and a half to about two hours, and although I would have liked to doze off during the trip, I found it more interesting to watch the scenery outside the vehicle. There really wasn’t all that much to see, admittedly, just acres of plantations of coconuts and bananas and some rice paddies. But I found everything quite charming in their simplicity – I especially liked the nipa houses with the characteristic walls woven with a diamond pattern. I never really got to ask if there was a term for that pattern – I noticed it on most of the houses. It’s kind of an argyle pattern, but more natural (because of the materials used, I suppose). It was difficult to snap pictures as the van was moving fast (no traffic there at all!). But here and there I managed some – though most were pretty dismal.
In contrast to the simplicity of the huts in most of the areas we passed, when we reached the municipality of Glan, we saw its municipal building in all its gaudy finery — the entire building was finished with gold. Yes, Glan is a glam municipality, like a building transported straight from imitation Las Vegas strip. I’ll have to remember to ask Dell if he got a photo of the building.
Another place of note we passed: a small market, with their ukay ukay stores right out on the road. The second hand clothes were laid out in disarray on tables and even on the road. I swear I even saw some clothing that looked like they were – um, unwashed. “Wow, you can still see the blood stains!” Dell had exclaimed, to bursts of laughter.
Anyway, as our trip continued, and as we neared the sea, we could see glimpses of the water between the trees in plantations we passed. We even saw mangrove areas – and I began to really be excited. I love the sight of the sea. It reminds me of summer trips when I was a kid, with my cousins and pretty much everyone on my mother’s side of the family – aunts and uncles and second cousins and our grandparents. We would all cheer when we caught sight of the sea from our jeepney. I still have that exact feeling when going to the beach as an adult ^_^
Again I was unable to get decent shots. After several minutes of trying (in vain) to get good photos, our van driver stopped the vehicle so we could go out and take pictures to our hearts content! He must’ve grown tired of our cries of frustration. And he picked a great spot, too – the roadside had a great overlooking view of the beach cove. And since it was close to sunset we figured it would be our last chance to get great shots with the light.
After our not-so-brief photo session on the roadside, it was back to the van and we went on our way. Since it was close to sunset we knew we would be enjoying a night time swim, and we would have to wait til the next morning to get the full view of the beach’s beauty. But that was ok – at least we wouldn’t get sunburned.
To our delight we still caught the sunset when we arrived at White Haven Resort in Glan, Sarangani. And best of all – very few people. I honestly don’t understand how people can enjoy a beach full of other people and their screaming kids and piles of refuse. There were a bunch of college students from one of the local universities occupying the rooms near ours. They were rowdy and noisy, but not too much.
We went swimming not long after. Not technically “swimming” since it was low tide and even though we were pretty far from the shore the water still barely reached above our shoulders. Also, the farther we went into the sea, the more we discovered that the sand was so fine that it started to feel like quicksand — it felt like we were sinking deeper into the sand, almost like it had a suction effect on our feet. So we were pretty careful about going too far away from the shore. It was a pleasant night for a swim, though. The water was not too cold, the waves were gentle and the moon was just past full, so it was relatively bright. We enjoyed ourselves and, being geeks, started talking about different dimensions and timelines. What if the weird quicksand thingy was a tear in the fabric of space-time continuum? What would our alternative timeline selves (a la Fringe) be like? Yes, we pass our time speculating on this stuff. Not only do we speculate but we lay out the possible narrative, with absurd and comical twists and turns.
The next morning, we were up bright and early, and were rewarded with this:
Peloy totally forgot when we wrote his name on the sand (along with a cat smile-y face.)
After taking all those photos, we were starving! It was time for breakfast. We were able to get fish freshly caught by the fishermen who just returned from a night of fishing out at sea.
We also had more of that yummy tuna kilawin. I think I must’ve eaten my weight in tuna, I swear.
And then the morning was gone, and after another quick dip in the water, we showered and the van arrived to take us back to General Santos City. The visit to the beach was all too short again, but I definitely hope to be back there just to spend a couple of days lazily wading in the water or reading a book by the shore or weave more absurd tales with my friends.
We had a quick stop at a pasalubong center (but I didn’t really buy anything), and we also bought some tasty and hot bibingka (rice cake made from galapong or glutinous rice, cooked in a clay pot), topped with salted egg. This one wasn’t flat, like the ones we find in Manila, but was covered with banana leaves and looked similar to a tamales. The banana leaves were charred, which I love. I’ve always associated the smell of slightly burnt banana leaves with home – I think it smells really nice without being too overpowering.
And then it was back to General Santos City. We made quick purchases of fruits as more pasalubong, and Shan’s dad helped us pack them into boxes for the flight home. Dell and I were boarding a plane back to Manila that same afternoon.
This was the best vacation I’ve had in a long, long time ^_^ I can’t thank Gem’s mom and Ate Gay and their whole family enough for being so accommodating and for feeding us lots of great food! The experience made me wonder if I could give up this city life to live near the sea. I’ve always lived in the city and moving to the province has always been out of the question, but now it doesn’t seem so bad, after all. As long as there is a good internet connection, I think I’d be happy (must be my age!).