Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Back to Boracay

I have spent numerous holidays in Boracay since I was in my tweens and I was even lucky enough to work there when I was in college. For more than a year, between the year 2007-2009, I spent almost every weekend in the island that I fondly called my second home. Every Friday, I would stuff my ever loyal laptop, camera, some books and notebooks and lots of bikinis in my 50 liter backpack to spend the weekend in Boracay as if I were just on my way to a classmate's house for some late night brain storming. Imagine a UST CA student, in her uniform, aboard a cargo ship or on a plane, reading her notes in advertising . A sight that looks so much like "stowaway teen".

I always looked forward to these trips not only because the guy I was seeing then (emphasis on past tense!) was from Boracay and their house is that big yellow house right off the cliff in Cagban Pier visible even from Caticlan, but because I fell in love with the ocean, diving, my local and Korean friends, the Ocean Blue Staff and the heat of the clear island sun beating down on my Muro-ami tanned skin and bleached hair.

With Choi (Tabachoi) real name Joon. He was the dive shop's Mafia Lord. :))

With Dive Master Wonsok and Dive Instructor Joon. Joon now owns Ocean Blue but stays in Korea

Alexis AKA Longlong and the muscle man Ariel
 For more than two years, I avoided going back to Boracay. Not because I didn't want to, but because my then boyfriends, feared that I'd get back together with the ex. I kept telling them that recycling is good for the environment but not for boys but I guess I don't strike them as very trustworthy... and duh, he's back in Australia now. Please.

So anyway, I just watched enviously at my friends pictures as they spent their summers and Christmas holidays on my island. On my beach. Under my sun!Thinking to myself that I could have given them a better tour, a local tour, a tour not listed in the guidebooks.

Finally, the inevitable happened. I had to go to back. The longing was so palpable that my heart will burst. I missed diving, I missed the distinct smell of the island. No other island will suffice. No other waters will compare. It was homesickness beyond belief... and to think that it's not really where I grew up... It was just the island where I found myself. The island that liberated me from the stigma that girls who have made mistakes will no longer find love, it rid me of the caste system that is still evident yet taboo in our modern world, it liberated me from all the norms that once held me prisoner.

I made friends with Tricycle drivers and the porters, my best friend was an orphan boy who did construction jobs, I saw working girls (prostitutes) as real people and not just girls to be disgusted at, I made friends with Koreans and we bonded and laughed without having a to communicate through words, I understood a father's love to his daughter, I assumed my responsibility for the environment, I learned what it felt like to dive in neck deep sewer water, I let go of fear and just kept doing what I loved no matter how many times I fell and hurt myself (not only emotionally but physically!) and many, many more. 

The island held so much for me; more than what tourists see in white beach.

Finally, after many tears and sullen fits, my ever understanding partner knew how much I wanted to go.. and so...

May 12, 2011; with only 5000 pesos in hand a piece... my three girlfriends and I made our adventure back to my favorite island!

May 12, 2011. Alimall Bus station Cubao.

  • The Bus left around 9pm... two hours to Batangas.. nothing exciting yet.
  • Arrived in Batangas 5 minutes to 11. The ship is leaving in 5 minutes, next one won't be at 12:30... We bought the tickets and arrived on the ship just in time for it to leave. Unfortunately, there weren't any seats left so the three of us ended up staying in the roof deck with just the stars over our heads. Two hours with the sticky and salty wind blowing in our faces, no lights but the stars and moon overhead and the distant city lights. Bliss!
Me standing in front of the dumpster on the roof deck. We used that as our "couch"

  •  After almost two hours of horsing around with two other youths who weren't able to get a seat inside, the captain announced over PA system that we were getting too noisy and interfering with some navigating activity whatever. LOL! didn't know we were just next to the captain's bridge!
Eljay, Aliza and Camille making a racket while I was trying to shoot a jumpshot. The captain's bridge is that white room at the back.
  •  We arrived in Calapan around 1 am and we thought we were lucky that we bought our van tickets at the port. Lucky my ass. all ticket holders were made to squeeze in one van because other vans were from a different operator. There were more than 20 of us! lucky that we were all girls with really surly "do-not-fucking-cross-me" faces so we got better seats. The driver even had the nerve to ask me to sit Camille on my lap. I was outraged! so four hours of squeezing together as we drove through the bumpy unpaved road to Roxas...... no pictures here. obviously
  • We arrived in Roxas at almost 5 am and the porter informed us that the ship just left a couple minutes ago. Next one won't be at ten am. Seriously?
  • Turns out he was serious... so here we got about a million photos. Here are some of my favorites.

Classic jumpshots done when you've taken all scenery pictures and just need to pass the time

you can see how truly happy we are just doing this.. LOL

the boatman, I guess felt sorry for us and invited us to take a picture on the motorboat.

I wanted to capture the sunrise behind Ally... but then the crazy girl started to run towards me!

Mean Girls II surprised face

Made friends with the porters. I reckoned we looked like co-workers! cute!
  •  The porters took to us and allowed us to board the ship before anyone else. We got to sit in first class even though we didn't have a car with us! the ship left at about 11am. thats 10am filipino time.
first class! yeahay!

  • The trip usually takes just 4 hours, but because there were other ships docked on the pier, we stayed at sea for almost 1 hour just staring at crocodile island and then after an hour, at Cagban Pier. this was when frustration really set in...
Camille's sour face.. Ally sleeping in the background.

Super fake Happy Face.

Finally after more than 6hours from Roxas to Caticlan, we arrived in the island at 5 pm. But all is well that ends well!

the Island is way different with all the big hotels and stuff, and the pier is bigger plus Ocean Blue is now in Station 1. The Shoreline is continually receding, and Station 2 water smells like the sewer, seaweed is piling up everywhere. But some area's remain the same. Some things are still reliable. And these are what I call: Friends!

With Jack! My best friend on the island!
Jack was on top of this billboard when I came looking for him at the pier. He said he was so excited his first instinct was to jump and hug me... and then he realized how high up he was. LOL

With Ariel... notice how big I got... not taller but wider. compare it to our previous picture.

Laughing around with Bobot, another dive master at Ocean Blue.

So excited to dive again!
Horsing around after my dive and Camille and Ally's snorkeling.

We had a blast albeit being really low on funds. I miss the island already! Can't wait to be back hopefully within the year, or if not, maybe early next year!

See you Boracay my love!
playing Frisbee with one of the locals.

P/S we made friends with the "ship boys" on the way home. Actually Ally did, so they let us stay in their cabin and even insisted we stay at the captain's bridge so we are as comfortable as possible. LOL!

Jay, Ally, Camille and I in the officers cabin

At the captain's bridge!! yew!

Shameless plug. If you are looking for a cheap place to stay in Boracay, please post me a comment here and I can book you in Casa Sta Fe. it's an apartment and each room has a private hot shower.

Amenities are: all rooms have A/C and there is a kitchen upstairs that anyone can use. Anyone can use the grill and front lawn if you want to just chill and have drinks there.
Manang Alice is really nice as well as Jay and Ernie the houseboys. They will make sure you are taken cared of. From checking if you need fresh towels to hot coffee every morning and she will even cook you a mean sinigang! Casa Sta. Fe is located in Station 1 near One real Maris... in the eskenita near Starbucks.

Php 1500/night during high season.

and if you want to dive, please go to Ocean Blue Dive Shop!

Monday, May 9, 2011

When recycling goes too far

I was talking to my partner about what Filos call “kanin baboy” a Filipino term that doesn’t have a direct English Translation because I am assuming that first world countries do not feed pigs such nasty food. Oh wait, I think its pig slop. Kanin Baboy is fed to homegrown pigs. It is a mixture of leftovers that a local pig owner collects from house to house. These are not your usual leftovers, in fact, some may even be so spoiled that they are breeding with maggots. FUCKING GROSS. You usually see these home-bred pigs in slums or in provincial areas. I don’t know if eating such disgusting rotting spoiled food negatively affects pigs but it does sound really gross. So I asked him:
“If pigs eat leftovers, does that mean it eats pork as well? that’s fucking silence of the pigs…”

He said they do so I was thinking maybe it would have adverse effects like diseases or something. I couldn’t find any information on the net, what I did learn was something way grosser than kanin baboy…
Goa is a state in India popular for its coastal areas. The beaches, churches and temples are what attracts local tourists in the summer and hordes of foreign tourists in the winter. Goa has lots Portuguese influence thanks to 450 years of colonization so its different from the rest of India, architecturally as well as culturally, which is mostly British inspired.

Other than the amazing coastal attraction, Goan food is also famous for its elaborate fish recipes. The staple of Goa is Fish Curry. But when it comes to special occasions, Goans roll out a feast of Vindaloo, Xacuti and Sorpotel, dishes made from pork.
Another food essential is the spicy Goan sausages. These spice-rich Portuguese inspired sausages  can keep for 8 months and a must-have in every Goan pantry, a perfect last minute special ingredient that is added to dishes for unexpected special meals, like when unexpected company arrives.

According to those who have tasted Goan sausages, they are bursting with flavor and has a little tang.

I am big foodie and I have always considered myself to be not squeamish at all. I eat really strange foods like insects, worms, internal organs, etc. Weird even for a Filipino (we are known to eat really exotic animals and even animal parts) with the exception of domesticated pets, because, what the hell, I have three Labrador Retrievers and they are family.
The reason I’m talking about such is because of the way Goan’s feed their pigs. Here is an
excerpt from Wikipedia: 
A pig toilet is a simple type of toilet consisting of an outhouse mounted over a pig sty with a chute or hole connecting the two.The pigs consume the faeces of the users of the toilet. They are mainly found in the Indian state of Goa, and are waning in popularity.The subsequent use of the pigs for food carries a significant risk for human health

Gross? Now here’s a photo.

Some tourists who have tried relieving themselves in these highly ingenius toilet confess how uncomfortable it is to do your on private business whilst feeling the eager pigs hot breath on your behind. Some of them did not have the slightest idea that their excrement will serve as a hot meal for the pigs. As they head to the toilet, they see these swines just below the room and did not think twice of their purpose there as pigs roaming free or housed in the most unusual places are not uncommon in India. As they approach the entrance, the pigs would start to get excited. Inside the room is a long stick near the squatting area.

(mental picture of a dude squatting for a shit and a pig’s snout excitedly awaiting for a fresh turd to drop. LOL)

Now you may wonder what the stick is for. Apparently, the pig/s get so excited for their juicy meal that they do have the tendency to attack. Don’t be too kind and be such an animal lover if this does happen because these pigs are vicious. Really dangerous, there was an incident that a German tourist who refused to slap the pig’s snout with the stick was rushed to the hospital because the hungry pig attacked and took a chunk from his behind…. EEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew.

How in hell can you take a dump if you can hear the excited snorts behind you and feel the hot panting breath on your ass AND KNOW that there is an excited animal ready to grab a bite from your ass with its 44 teeth at anytime??? tell me because I cannot fully wrap my head around this! And if you have taken a dump in these things, they say that it is not uncommon to have fat, healthy turd drop and settle on the pig’s snout! *squirming in disgust*

And okay, given that you have already taken a dump, how can some people eat these pork dishes knowing that the animal you they are eating was fed a diet of various people’s dirty, nasty, stinking SHIT??? Call me culturally ignorant or culturally discriminating but this form of recycling is too extreme for me.

And what happens to the pig’s shit? he has to shit sometime too, right? I asked my partner.
“It probably eats it too… defeats the purpose if it doesn’t.”
My stomach is in knots. This is really just too much. And get this, “pig toilet’s” meat are priced above any other meat. Some tourists were highly put off having fed a feast of pork and taking a dump and learning about this really extreme Goan tradition and that they were served these “shit eating pigs”.


It is said that this Goan tradition is dying out in most parts of Goa but still kinda popular in Arambol ( a place in Goa). I’d like to say its a good thing because, honestly, I find it really gross despite being an exotic foodie and a true advocate of environment preservation.

If ever I set foot in Goa, I’m not touching any pork. According to one chef who went to Goa to learn and start making the prized Goan Sausages
“Together we went around looking for farm breed pigs instead of the local ones, and did find a few but were put off as there were no enforceable systems to safe guard the public, and here I’m talking of the tourist as locals are used to eating these foods and don’t get ill. “
I don’t know how accurate this information is but feel free to educate me. I’d love to hear that there is a regulation on the meat quality and cleanliness like a Bureau of Food and Drug or a Health department. There are Goan Sausages that are made in UK.. maybe I’ll try those, but with a  cringe on my face because I cannot get the idea of what real Goan Sausages are made from.

*shudders again*

I found this video on youtube. It is about this BBC journalist shitting in one of the pig toilets… ENJOY! Please leave your comments.

Goan Pig Toilet-actual video