FROM A DISTANCE
By Carmen N. Pedrosa
The Philippine Star
May 16, 2009
Maria Fallarme Ronson, an old time friend who has risen to the highest rungs of international journalism (from Independent Television and I think, in AP now) travels widely. Although she is a competent journalist they have tapped her talents for selling information services to different news agencies around the world. Occasionally, she pops up in Manila and we reminisce when we were in London (she as ITN reporter and I as an exile). Recently she came home to tell the story of “the holiday of a lifetime for a world traveler.”
“Just came back from a holiday in the islands. The timing may have been a bit off — there were two reported areas of low pressure in the Philippines so it rained every day. But the four days spent there were nevertheless everything and more that a citygirl like me could ever have hoped for a great holiday.”
The travel involved taking a bus ride to Batangas Pier, a Sea Cat sailing to Calapan, a ride in a van to Pinamalayan and the final journey, a small ferrytrip to Concepcion, Romblon known as Sibale, where my father was born. It is in an island like this that the true essence of the Filipino and what the Philippines offers comes out. My initial trepidation to travel in the middle of the night on my own to reach Sibale was cast aside by the warmth, hospitality and good humor shown to me all throughout my journey. My father had left me and my brother a plot of land to inherit — which many moons ago, we thought we would never revisit because of the challenging journey to get there. But the simplicity of life in Sibale, shorn of all the distractions that a city life offers, is quite appealing. The electricity supply only runs for eight hours (they have received approval to extend to 12 but are still waiting for the electrical generator to be delivered) which means there is very little blaring dance music to annoy throughout the day. The only means of transport is a motorcycle — and you can go around the island in an hour. If you time your journey at sunset — the views are simply breathtaking and would have to be the best value motorcycle ride you can ever embark on. The waters around the island are pristine — and you can be swimming in a beach with interesting topography and vegetation — all on your own. Being a small island, most of the residents are related to our family somehow. The mayor, Lemuel Cipriano, is a nephew who is passionate about preserving the island’s environment and making the best of the mangroves that sit opposite the town centre. He is now on a tree-planting project to make sure that the island’s water supply is ample and protected for future generations.
The ride back to Manila was a great adventure. Anxious to catch a flight back to Hong Kong, I agreed to charter a small boat with bamboo outriggers for a bumpy ride back after receiving an assurance from the local coastguard that the storm had passed. The waves were frothy and I couldn’t help but yelp each time the boat navigated a huge swell. My crew of three were unimpressed by the size of the waves, having traveled more dramatic seascapes in their jobs but it was a tad more than what my adventurous soul could take. Be that as it may, I would highly recommend a visit. With an open heart and an open mind, you could have the holiday of a lifetime.”