Asgad the third

I’m keeping the entries down to a smaller size to facilitate uploading, sometimes the uploads are unsuccessful if they are too long.  Hence, a third entry from Asgad.

A few miscellaneous things.  The man of the house has an unusual job in the evenings.  There is a piece of pipe or hollow metal hanging on the fence across the street.  At 7, 8, 9 ,and 10pm he walks over and bongs out the time.  The dogs within earshot all join in and soon the ring of the bell is muted by the howls of the dogs.

I’m getting quite adept at gauging the weather here.  Actually, it’s very easy to know what the future weather is going to be.  If there are clouds in the sky, it’s raining.  If you see the sun or stars, it’s just about ready to rain.  We average about 1/2 inch of rain a day here, cloths are hard to dry. 

Up early on the 6h, Praxy was planning a trip to Guiuan to purchase repair supplies for our house.   Bricks, cement, plastic to cover the windows, curtains, and a few other items like drinking water and food.  The old jeepney was loaded with dried coconut for sale and took off at about 6 am.  Just after Praxy left, everyone in the house announced “brown out” and we were without electrical power.  No problem.  Except Praxy had purchased a bunch of spiny lobsters for dinner.  I fretted a bit about the lack of refrigeration, after my crab experience I’m understandably paranoid.  Come the find out that the freezer was full of ice, they sell it to the locals that have no refrigerator.  Good news!

While Praxy was gone, she arranged for me to have a tour further out the road along the shoreline, clear to the end.  The next door neighbor Frank is a relative (no surprise there) and he had volunteered to give me a motorcycle ride wherever I wanted that morning.   He was reliable and spoke English, I accepted.

9 am, after breakfast we took off.  The road was rough and muddy, I was hanging on and took no pictures while we were moving.  40 minutes later, after passing two small barrios, we arrived in Matarinao. 

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I got all excited about this “School of Fisheries” but it turned out to be a fancy name for the local High School.  We wandered around campus, but there wasn’t much to see.  So Frank dropped me off downtown so I could wander around and take pictures.  So I did…

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The main street.  Electrical power was out here as well, the lines to Matamarinao pass through Asgad.   No big deal, life went on.  There are no real businesses in the entire town, just little miniature “sari sari” grocery stores.   Items have to be hauled in from Guiuan, which is over a two hour jeepney ride away!  They have two jeepney trips a day, but no one from Asgad can board.  The jeeps are jammed by the time they leave town.  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  2 1/2 hours each way to go shopping in a hot, crowded jeepney on a rough muddy road.  More on this later.

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I stopped to photograph a woman busy filling these bags, but she quickly disappeared when I brought my camera up to take a shot.  This is the ingenious solution to a problem throughout the Philippines.  Buying in large quantity is much cheaper, but the average household can’t afford the expense and probably doesn’t have the storage space.  So the store owner buys big bottles of soy sauce, different types of vinegar, different types of cooking oil, salt, and sugar at the discount price along with a bunch of small plastic bags.  Using a funnel, the stores meter out the large portions into smaller portions.  Mom sends one of the kids to the store for another bag when she runs out.  Win win for both household and store.

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The local Catholic church.  There is only one priest for the 6 barrios on this side of the mountain ridge.  The churches are beautiful, but silent.

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Readying a net for the local industry, fishing.  I asked Frank to take me to the local pier.

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A local fish catch drying in the sun.  There were hardly any flies, I would consider eating these.

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Looking back toward Matamarinao from the dock.

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The town of General MacArthur in the distance across the channel.  We had driven to the end of a peninsula.

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Looking south I noticed two things.  One, the Pacific ocean was breaking over 1/2 mile away!   As common throughout the Philippines, there is a shallow reef area near shore, but this was the furthest away I’d seen the ocean.  Most of these shallows are a couple hundred yards or so.  Two, another large rainstorm was on it’s way.  I suggested that we start to leave and Frank agreed.  On the way, I asked him his opinion, ride or hide.  His response was in crystal clear English and quite terse, “Let’s take shelter!”  We hopped back on the cycle and took off into town.  As it started to sprinkle, he had an idea.  His cousin owned a little store; so we took off at good speed, making it just as the heavens opened up. 

We sat and watched the rain come down in sheets and thunder on the metal rooftops nearby.  Waiting around like this for the rain to end is commonplace.  The town came to a complete stop with no one in sight.

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I asked for a cold Coke, but none was available.  The store owner felt bad about it and apologetically offered up a substitute.  Thus, I was introduced to a delicious type of lemon-lime soda pop called Sparkle.  It reminded me of Mountain Dew from back home without the odd taste.  It was so good that I ordered up another bottle.  I also tried a different type of soda cracker that was excellent, better than anything in the US.  Light and crispy with plenty of salt.

The rain storm ended, but Frank had another idea.  We drove around town looking for “oysters” for sale, but none.  So we left.  After a few miles we stopped again and yes they had the oysters.  But they weren’t “oysters”, they were some sort of clam or snail.  Frank bought two bags for dinner.

Back at the house, I ate lunch and waited for Praxy.  The jeepney showed up at 1 pm with a very hot wife on board.  While waiting, another relative had shown up and mentioned the brownout was planned (6am to 6pm) and stretched throughout the whole province of Eastern Sumar.  The electric company was repairing and replacing a main transmission line.   So, no internet, no air conditioning, no restaurants, not much of anything except to wait in the hot sun (no rain in Guiuan) for the jeepney to return to Asgad.   She got a quick bite to eat and we went down the the ocean.  Then we sat in the cool water and enjoyed the respite.

After a half hour or so, the clouds were building again.  The rain came rapidly and soon we were sitting in the surf with rain pounding on our heads.  I’m very glad I had not brought the camera.  We walked back to the house in the pouring rain, took a quick bath, and hung around the house chatting.  The rain came off and on (mostly on) through the afternoon, the power returned just at dusk, about 5:30. 

Time for dinner, and what a dinner.  Lobster, rice, fish, green beans, “oysters”, and squash.

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All those lobsters cost 180 pesos, lets say 4.50 USD.   Been a long time since I’ve had any and they were totally yummy.  The “oysters” were rubbery like the clams I suspected they actually were.  But both were shell fish.  I’m pleased to say that I didn’t get sick.  My paranoia was not justified.  But who ever said paranoia was logical?

So the end of another day in Asgad.  But I have more…

Next day we arose to an unusually clear day.  We ate breakfast, then decided to go for a walk.  This turned into a parade.

We started up the road to the well with a couple of children following us.  More showed up.  Then more.  We turned around to head back and I had an idea.  How about we take the walk to the old stairs going over the hill to Salcedo?  Soon we had 14 young escorts willing to show the way.  It was bedlam.

We trouped by the school and then off through the forest of coconut trees.  Because of the rains, the area was swampy and soon all of us were wading in  muddy water.  But we found the steps after a 1 mile hike.  It was time to return, and our young guides were up to it.  Making enough noise to scare all the “fairies” away and keep us safe.  We got back to town and I was covered in sweat.  Hot and a little irritable, I talked Praxy into going swimming in the ocean to cool off.  Of course our guides were also up to that as well.

We all trekked off the the ocean and soon there were 23 moppets keeping things lively around us.  They played in the surf while Praxy and I chatted and cooled off.    We were a little boring so we lost most of our helpers, but 10 of them held on till the end.  We went back for a lunch of spaghetti, beef stew, chicken macaroni salad, and buco salad and left our young entourage to fend for themselves.  They were fun to have around, but it sure was quieter on school days!

Sorry about the lack of pictures.  With all the rain around here, I’m concerned about taking the camera out while I’m walking or swimming.  I had to grab a plastic bag from the store in Matamarinao to protect it on the ride back.  This is by far the wettest place I’ve ever visited.

Tomorrow, the 8th of Jan, we leave for Tacloban.  We will take the jeepney to Guiuan, then catch a multivan to Tacloban, spending the night in a motel.  I’m staying in air conditioning for the remainder of the trip.  One night there, then on to Tagbilaron in Bohol.

01/07/2012   1:00pm

About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
This entry was posted in 2011-2012 Philippine trip. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Asgad the third

  1. arman says:

    As matarinaonon, I’m so pleased to reading this message indeed. Matarinao; my beloved Home Town is such a fortunate place to be one of the high lights of this article and I like it.

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