A week ago, my high school friend Cha posted a status on Facebook saying that Rins, Katie and I should go home to Ilagan soon because she’s very bored. The four of us comprise something called the “Reverse” band. Nope, none of us can play any musical instrument. We just made the group sarcastically as a response to all the teenagers who were forming bands back in high school. Anyway, I saw the post a day or two later and out of nowhere, the idea of going on a road trip up north was brought up. Before I could even respond, travel date and responsibilities were already set. I made a suggested itinerary just because I didn’t have anything better to do (also because I like making these things. Maybe I should have taken up tourism, no?). Despite that, I believed that the trip wouldn’t push through because there was no definite plan, just let’s-go-to-Ilocos-yeah-sure.
Fast forward to a few days later, May 29, to be exact, I found myself rushing through my physical exam and hoping that I finish early to catch the next bus bound for Laoag. You see, the three of them left our hometown at 4 AM and were already on their way to Vigan, Ilocos Sur while I was still waiting for the employee’s clinic to open at 9 AM. I finished all the important things I needed to attend to at 11 AM. I was already thinking of excuses and reasons on why I couldn’t come but I promised them I’ll try my best and I take pride in walking my talks (most of the time) so I wasn’t going to back off without actually “trying my best”.
The first plan was to ride Partas Line in Cubao but I wasn’t in the mood to commute all the way to Aurora Blvd. Good thing Leigh (my roommate in my temporary dorm in Espana) mentioned that Maria De Leon buses bound for Ilocos have a terminal in Dapitan. I went to the terminal of the said line only to be told that the next trip wouldn’t leave until 6PM. I was prepared to send my excuses, go home and sleep but the security guard told me that Farinas Trans also has daily trips to the Ilocos Region and its terminal is just a block away.
Anyway, the next trip bound for Laoag was at 12:30 PM. Estimated date of arrival in Vigan and Laoag are 9 and 11 PM respectively. One thing was sure, I wouldn’t be able to go around Vigan and I would miss the first day activities of the itinerary I made. I was having second thoughts of purchasing a ticket because the long trip and the missed part of the itinerary diminished my excitement (plus, going somewhere unfamiliar, alone, made me anxious). I called Cha with the intention of telling her I wouldn’t be able to come but her opening words, “we’re waiting for you. we’ll fetch you at the terminal” etc made me guilty so what the heck, I’m going.
I rode the bus and occupied a vacant window seat. I laid my bags on the seat next to mine and put on an unfriendly face to discourage people (especially old-kind-looking-males) from sitting. I have a bad and almost traumatizing experience with a stranger (who turned out to be a creepy pervert) so I want to be left alone as much as possible.
Good thing music videos from the 80’s and 90’s were shown on the television so my nerves were eased a bit. Most of the songs were by the band Europe and I was entertained by their big hairs, high-pitched voices, funny mannerisms, rockstar attitudes and LSS-inducing songs (Carrie, anyone?). I was smiling by the time “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns N’ Roses was playing. After the music videos came action movies such as the Lethal Weapon series and Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift (HELLO SUNG KANG! :3 ). My favorite though, were The Transporter and Transpoter 2 and they would have been perfect if only they weren’t dubbed in Filipino. I have nothing against that except I wanted to hear Jason Statham’s sexy voice.
The thing I hate about day trips is the abundance of stop overs. We stopped for lunch, snack, dinner, and midnight snack. Ugh. And some passengers take forever to use the bathroom and we have to wait for them. Stopovers are bearable if the food is good and not overpriced. On one particular store, I wasted 30 pesos on the worst-tasting siopao ever. The meat filling, wait, what meat? I thought it was all fat and gawgaw. Oh wait, it was all fat and gawgaw. And you call that dough? That’s not dough for fck’s sake! It was so bad it made me want to cry, call my father, beg him to come fetch me and teach the forsaken cook the proper way to make Siopao. You know what the worst part was? I still ate everything because I was starving.
Oh, and when they tell you the estimated travel time is 10 to 12 hours, always expect that the upper limit is true. There’s a
minute microscopic possibility that you would arrive earlier than the expected 10 hours. In fact, you should even be thankful if the half-day is met. I once sat through 13 hours of butt-heating. I guess I have been conditioned to survive loooooooong trips. I have mastered the art of looking at views, sleeping seated, waking up, and sleeping again after 5 minutes (it still confuses me why I feel tired after long trips when I literally just sleep). I doubt if my friends who grew up in Manila and are used to airplanes can stand the same because they are amazed when I tell them how long my travel home usually lasts.
Anyway, the gang waited for me on the junction between Batac and the road leading up to Laoag City. I stepped into a deserted and unfamiliar ground without assurance that the red van my friends were on is really parked beside a gasoline station at 1 AM.
Thank God for the courage and for keeping me safe.