A church under construction
“Are we all set? … Let’s go”. We all took off early on wheels to northern part of Cebu. It is 5:00 AM and the amber glow of morning light washed up the sky, evaporating the last of the evening away.
The dawn didn’t seem to have any memory of the night before. It was a night of dark clouds, rain and thunder that boomed across the horizons. And, although still soggy, cold and damp, it appears to augur a beautiful day ahead. And what better way to celebrate that promise than a roadtrip, relish on some native food along the way, be flexible with the destination and enjoy each other’s company.
Waking up and starting a road trip at this hour, either you hear the distant crow of chicken trumpeting the arrival of a new day or you hear silence – the deafening sound of silence. I wonder if Paul Simon got the kick out of writing one of their classics in the foggy embrace of early morn. I tried to ignore the thought, but the song keeps repeating itself in my brain. With no particular destination in mind, we just thread where the road leads.
Going north, one will have to wrestle through the traffic chokepoints of Mandaue City and municipality of Liloan but not today, a Sunday. Without the riding public and commuters bound for work, Sundays are a big break to traffic – and life, in general. Where have the cars gone? And in their absence, roads appear longer and wider – a big relief. It also seems like every motorist is bound for some staycations of their own.
An hour’s ride into the trip, we’re into the municipality of Carmen, Cebu. After the last flurries of houses in the town of Carmen, after its town center of bus terminal and wet market and the ubiquitous tricycles is an all coastal ride that stretches on to forever. To the left of the divide are either rolling hills and tillage of farmlands with inroads that lead to the proverbial “off the beaten track”. To the right is the expansive ocean.
As I was on the wheels, I told my son to take pictures but complained that he couldn’t get off a clear shot as our speed made the landscape change too fast for his phonecam. So, we decided to stop to take a better aim.
I parked to a secure shoulder and we all alighted and stretched. The place appears to enliven with folks just starting to do about their top-of-the-day chores. Tendrils of smoke slithered through thatched roofs of their humble nipa huts – suggesting breakfast and steaming hot coffee in the offing. Directly across the highway lay the ocean. And although almost imperceptible, I can still make out the acrid smell of receding sea with weeds caught high up in and among corals and stones. I guess these heightened senses may have been enriched by my growing up in this similar place.
We took a styro-packed breakfast in the car from Jollibee drive-thru. My kids (actually young adults now) took the extra time to fire off snapshots. We had selfies and groupies, hell I even sat on the middle of the road in a yoga pose for the camera. Hehehe. We also took candid shots of local folks.
After my fill I decided to head towards an embankment by the road shoulder overlooking the outstretched ocean. As tide receded, the sound of the waves becomes perceptible even as I was perched up high in the ridge. The gentle lappings came with a sound that strikes me as if the sea unloads itself to relieve of the burdens of a troubled soul. This reverie was snapped back only when Myrna, my wife yelled the “all aboard”.
We continued up north until we reached the point of lunchtime. I didn’t know time is sometimes reckoned by the needs of the flesh. We stopped to an eatery by the road called Duko-Duko. The place serves native chicken soup called “tinolang manok bisaya” and its roasted version, “inasal manok bisaya”. Their “balbacua” too is something else. The whole damn thing just melts in one’s mouth. And the soup – glorious.
We considered whether or not to continue the northerly route or go home. Since its all mountain crossing to Bogo from here on, we decided to head home.
We arrived home tired. But musing back on the trip, come to think of it, we went on a 100-kilometer drive for “inasal manok” and “balbacua”? I think so – yes. Well not only that. I think it’s the food, the trip and the company of family that made the century ride worth its while. It’s the roadtrip.