Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stranded and Rescued: Management Rotation in Bicol, Day Zero and One

The Management Rotation is the highlight of Third Year (LU 5) in the UP College of Medicine. During the week-long field work, the 20-membered block picks a hospital anywhere in the country to evaluate and assess. Throughout the years it has become an excuse for a decent vacation. We know of groups from previous batches who've gone to Boracay, Davao, Baguio, and other tourist destinations in the country. Clearly we weren't planning on being the exception.

Our destination: Bicolandia.

Nine of us opted to take the 10-12 hour bus ride to Legazpi City. We wanted adventure. We wanted to feel our gluteus muscles atrophy after prolonged immobility. The rest, who probably knew better, took the 45-minute plane ride.

We got the elite bus of Cagsawa Bus Lines. The seats had recliners and were therefore comfortable, but it was freezing cold. On hindsight I should've brought a bonnet, a thick scarf, and a thermal jacket. 

Bus, Cagsawa

I sat right across Migz Catangui, one of the twins. It looked like we'd been to Tokyo.

Tokyo, parang

The bus started running at 7 pm. We had a stop-over at Tiaong, Quezon two hours later. I had goto at an unrecalled restaurant.

Goto, Tiaong Quezon

The lights inside the bus were turned off, and we alternated between sleeping and talking. When I'd wake up, I would hear Bon Buno was singing along with the Pamulinawen and Salidommay instrumentals playing in the background.

At 2 am, the bus stopped in the middle of Ragay, Camarines Sur. We thought it was the usual bathroom break for the drivers, but those don't last for 30 minutes. When we saw other passengers leaving—in the middle of pouring rain—we felt something was wrong. The bus' air break system broke down. We had to wait for rescue for the next three hours.

We jumped off the bus and waited at the nearby gasoline station. A part of me was relieved because I was out of the cold. We waited for hours. Elizabeth Ching and Franco Catangi were playing games in their iPads. Meanwhile I fell asleep beside a gasoline pump.


A few hours later we saw the breaking of dawn: our first sunrise in Bicol. Praise be to God for keeping us safe thus far. Franco Catangui texted his relatives to have us picked up. Rescue would come at 7 am.

Meanwhile, Jegar Catindig finally awoke from his slumber. He was probably the least affected among us: he could sleep anywhere.  


Thankfully we were right beside a park. In keeping with the innate Pinoy barkada culture, we had a photoshoot.

Below (from right): Franco Catangui, Bon Buno, Joseph Brazal ("Kuya"), Elizabeth Ching, Casti Castillo, and Miguel Catangui.


The bus group was an all-male band, save for Ching.


From above

I'll upload the famous jumpshot as soon as it becomes available.

Our rescue did come: a white van that took us directly to Iriga City, Camarines Sur, where the hospital we were visiting was located. We'd meet the rest of our groupmates there.

We had a happy reunion at the Catangui ancestral home, locally known as the White House. The house was beautiful, filled with old family pictures and artworks.

The Catanguis treated us to breakfast. The set-up was so pang-mayaman.

Catangui ancestral home

I loved the coagulated tsokolate (hot chocolate) made with real cocoa balls melted in warm water. The tsokolate was served in charming little cups. But I enjoyed it: the flavor was rich; I even tasted bits of the cocoa balls. I had three servings.


We surveyed Lourdes Hospital, and we finished just in time for lunch. The hospital is family-run,  owned and operated by the Catangui family. It's a secondary care facility that caters to the local community. We met the owner/founder, Dr. Josefin Catangui, and his son, Dr. Josefino, both of whom were very acommodating.


We were hosted to a late lunch (around 2 pm). I had laing.


And Bicol express.

Bicol express

Both were mouth-watering, and I was stuffed. It was the beginning of so many gastronomic adventures.

At 4 pm, we were on our way to Legazpi, some 1.5 to 2 hours away from Iriga. We passed by Daraga, Albay, home of my old friend Jef Sala. And on that cloudy and rainy day, I had my first view of the majestic Mount Mayon.


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