Saturday, September 23, 2023

Bohol Diary: Day One

Left Marbel before daybreak. Drove to Gensan airport. Saw fishmongers' trucks on their way to the fish port, men and women in pajamas walking their dogs by the road, bikers and joggers in Spandex: my kind of people, they who think and work best in the morning. Manong with me in the car. As soon as I'd drop myself to the airport, he'd drive the car back to Marbel, alone. Driving makes him anxious. He refuses to drive and makes all sorts of reasons not to. He had no excuse today.

Mount Matutum

Mount Matutum, geological landmark of South Cotabato

Land, air, sea travel today, taking me through the country's major island groups. Connecting flight to Manila at 7:30 am, then Cebu at 11:30 am. Ferry ride from Pier 1 to Tagbilaran port for 2 hours. Expected to be in Bohol at 5:30 pm, just before sunset. 

Cebu, from my window at Pier 1

Cebu-Cordova bridge, seen from Pier 1

Brought a printed New Yorker magazine issue, which I'd almost read from cover to cover. The short story is "Do You Love Me?" by Hila Blum, who writes in Hebrew. Planned on preparing for a lecture on cancer biology, but seeing people around me having fun kept me from doing any useful work. Why should I, when I should be on vacation mode? The phone vibrated intermittently. Updates about patients, some clinic concerns, and other academic matters I deliberately set aside. 

Siesta time, Pier 1

Siesta time at Pier 1

Slept through plane rides. Watched an illegally downloaded copy of Ghosted in the ferry; it was shown on the flatscreen TV (all TVs are flatscreen now). Chinese tourists slept all the way through; there were no subtitles. Everyone ecstatic when a rainbow appeared as we approached Bohol island. Praise God!

Rainbow, Bohol

Arrived at Tagbilaran port and saw a man from the resort holding a sign. Starstruck that I'd be in the same van as a multi-awarded poet. Kept quiet throughout the ride, careful of my words or I'd make a fool of myself, and spoke in whispers over the phone when the nurse called to update me about a patient.   

Tagbilaran port

Already dark when I arrived at Amarela. Beautiful, fragrant, welcoming place. Bougainvilleas clung to the pillars. Room was spacious, with ceiling fan (I love ceiling fans; they lull me to sleep) and air-conditioning. Dropped my bags in my room and ran straight to the restaurant. Famished, I ordered grilled fish. Treated myself to a mojito. Joined gastroenterologist-poet Elvie and husband JP (who was a surgery fellow when I assisted him in a surgical procedure; I was a clerk who did not know how to wear gloves properly), with nephrologist-short story writer Rey who had the nicest room among us. Felt right at home with fellow Hiligaynon-speakers.

Amarela, at night Dinner

Then, before we saw her, we felt her kind, benevolent, gracious presence—Prof. Marjorie Evasco, who was the reason we came. She welcomed us and told us a story of the bell "thrown long ago by the people of Malabago," now guarded by a giant fish (cogtong)—the myth that animates her poem, "It Is Time to Come Home." 

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home