Worth 1000 (Part II: Siari "Misadventure")
Mario Dandi Dalman Romano
Aim: To write about our spellbinding trip to Siari (Spellbinding...I used that word?! I mean, it was just a trip a few hours from Dipolog...it's not like we went to Mount Everest.).
The long awaited outing came at about six-o'-clock Sunday morning. Tito Gerry came to our house to take us to theirs which had been selected as our gathering place (Take us to theirs...What was I thinking?) Just as we were about to depart (great...dearly departed...), Tito Bong and his family arrived with their jeep so we transferred from Tito Gerry's truck to the jeep. When we reached Tito Gerry's home, Kerme, Rebecca, and Sarah, Tito Gerry's children, chose to ride on the jeep. So now, there were thirteen of us including Tito Bong, Tita Marisol, Jared, Ana, Miko, Faithy, Mira and I and their maid while Papa, Mama, Tito Gerry, Tita Tessie and Manang Trina rode on the truck. Tito Bong drove the jeep and Tito Gerry the truck (duh...).
On our way to Siari we saw lots of things from rocky beaches and ricefields that looked like carpets to rolling hills and trees engulfed by sinister looking vines making them look like the trees in Neverland. We could also see the silhouette of Dumaguete in the horizon.
Inside the jeep we sang almost every song we could think of. At last, we reached the outer boundaries of Siari. Our first stop was Uncle Abdon's house where he gave us a hen. After we had rested, we went on but Tito Gerry had to stop because of a flat tire. While they were changing the tire, we ate ripe mangoes that we had acquired a little way from Uncle Abdon's (acquired...bought...gee...). We finished eating the mangoes just as the finished changing the tire.
The road was getting steeper and bumpier. Occasionally we could also see cows grazing peacefully on the hillsides while others were made to pull the plow.
We had all been warned earlier that there would be a ten-minute hike. So when we arrived at the place where we were to begin our hike we distributed the load. The younger ones were given lighter things to carry while the grownups carried the heavier things (obviously...). Our long confinement in the jeep made us frolicsome. So we ran ahead of the adults. Suddenly we reached a place where the road forked. So, we rested there. After drinking from our jugs, we decided to go left. This was a decision which we were to be sorry of after climbing up and down hills and walking through cornfields whose inhabitants seemed to be determined not to let us pass unscathed by hitting our faces with their long fibrous leaves. When the girls found out that we were lost, they blamed Kerme who had been on the lead. We found out that we were lost because the house with the small windmill where we were supposed to go was getting farther to our right instead of getting nearer. At first it was kind of thrilling but as we walked on since we didn't know which way to go all the girls started complaining that they were tired. Faithy put a hard-boiled egg on the road so our parents would see it and know which road we were in. Suddenly we saw our parents only two hills away but no matter how loud we shouted they couldn't hear us. It was so frustrating since they were so near yet we couldn't transverse the hills because of the steep sides and the long sharp leaves of the grass that were growing luxuriantly around. So we back-tracked and "searched high and low", as Mira said like the song "Climb Every Mountain" that we had been singing (umm...something should be rephrased here...). So we sang it again. We were still singing when we saw the house with the windmill in it and we could also see our parents waving at us. The sight of them seemed to revive the girls who had been lagging behind. They walked with new vigor and with a quicker step than before. At last we met one of Tito Gerry's hired hands who led us to a shortcut. When we reached the farmhouse we drank as much as we could.
After a brief but replenishing rest, we departed to see the rest of the farm. It was an enormous farm surrounded with hills as far as you could see. The vales were full of trees and vines of multifarious species (yeah, it just means 'many'). The vales were said to be the natural habitat of wild pigs whose meat was considered a delicacy. We could also see some carabaos wallowing in a muddy natatorium. We also saw Tito Gerry's alpine goat and I had a picture with it. The mountain ranges far away seemed to turn into a velvety hue. There were hills that were engulfed by cornfields while others looked as plain as a loaf of bread. The wind was so cool and you could smell its pureness. It smelt like grass and the view was so supernatural and awe-inspiring I felt like I was pirouetting on a fast-turning ferris wheel. We also ate the tiny flavorsome fruit of a tree called dom-on.
As we moved on to the place where they had let the horses graze, Tito Gerry went first since the two horses knew him. Miko and I rode first. It was great but because we rode bareback it became painful after a while because of the jolting and bouncing (ouch...I could just imagine...). The girls rode next and Mama laughed and shouted till she was put down. Just as we were about to go back, two of Tito Gerry's hired hands arrived with our largest water jug. We thankfully drank from it (uh...what else could we have done?). The water was so cool and refreshing we drank till the jug was quite empty. As we went back, we had some pictures taken with a white cow that was so tame you could ride and caress it.
When we reached the shanty we had a scrumptious lunch of chicken, cucumbers, ripe mangoes, pancit, etc. and since we had expended our water supply we drank a delectable but intoxicating drink if drank in large amounts called 'Tuba'. After lunch we passed the time playing games and telling stories.
At about four-o'-clock, we departed. Because of the long hike back to the jeep and truck and because we were so bone-weary we chose to ride on the kanga. It was a cart without wheels drawn by a carabao. The carabao chosen to pull the kanga was so obedient when you told it to kneel it would promptly kneel. The ride back to the jeep was fun. The driver sometimes made the carabao break into a gallop and we sped up and down hills and gullies. But there was one disadvantage. It was the carabao's tail. Every time it swatted at the meddlesome flies the mud that was still in the carabao's tail from its previous bath in the mudpond flew towards us and since there were so plenty of us we couldn't duck. When we reached the jeep Tito Gerry who had gone in advance was already warming up his truck.
When our parents who had been trekking on foot arrived we sallied out of the beautiful barangay of Siari. When we reached the outermost boundaries of Siari we stopped beside a store and drank a replenishing bottle of coke. The first bottle disappeared down the parched throats of about fifteen or more thirsty humans (what other species could have been riding with us?). The second disappeared just as fast as the first but the third was swallowed up slower than its predecessors.
Just as we were about to go on to Saluyong as earlier planned it rained. Because of the rain, Papa, Mama, Joshua, and Samson were forced to ride on the jeep since the truck didn't have a roof at the back. It was well that they did because the drizzle that merrily pattered against our roof suddenly turned into a raging downpour. Torrents of rain pelted the roof of the jeep and the sun's bright face was blotted out of the sky. The sun wasn't seen till we reached the outskirts of Manukan. When we reached the turning point to Saluyong, the sun was shining cheerfully to the west. When we reached the house of the owner of the pool we were going to swim in the sun was quite low and when we checked our watches we found to our surprise that it was already five thirty.
Meanwhile, Tito Gerry, Tita Tessie, and Manang Trina had a flat tire and this time it was the spare. But of these happenings we didn't know till Tita Tessie and Manang Trina arrived riding a motorbike. When we arrived at the pool itself, we changed our clothes before we submerged ourselves in the pool's refreshing and delightful water. At seven thirty we left Saluyong. Since the truck had a flat tire, Tita Tessie and Manang Trina rode with us. So now, three families were riding in the jeep. Most of us slept till we reached Dipolog. After dropping Tito Gerry's family at their house we ate supper at Bebing's ihaw-ihaw. When we finished eating we in turn were dropped in our home and Tito Bong and his family proceeded to their home in Dapitan City. It had been quite an enjoyable but exhausting trip for all of us and we had no sooner touched our beds when we fell asleep. I was so tired I put aside my dreams for another night.