Life Is A Journey

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Journey To Gutsiness: Un-Buckle Up WIth A Backpack In And Around Davao!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Arrived in Davao International Airport last August 21, 2011. It was my nth time there, but wow felt like a first time. I was in casual attire, carrying only a backpack without any checked in luggage to collect from the carousel, a far cry from the usual deck up during past travels in the largest province of Mindanao.

Soon enough, I realized the daunting task ahead of me! It was my friend Nilo's first time in Davao and he was counting on me to make all the decision - including choosing the cheapest way possible to get to our destination! I may have given him a wrong impression that I know how to commute while in Davao. My previous trips were no help, being all business-related and company arranged for everything including a rental car with driver. Worst, I really can't travel on vehicles without buckling up (though I wasn't driving or sitting in the front seat). Oh yea, George Cayley's seatbelts for me are the greatest invention!!

Stepping out of the airport was met with trepidation. I don't know where to begin (how to get out of the airport even!) on public transportation. But I am determined to give my friend Nilo a good three days in Davao. So let's go, I remember saying to him as I nodded in agreement to a smiling-face guy holding a signage for taxi to the city. It was an SUV (which I thought is a good deal at Php 350 giving us enough space to stretch our legs). But it is a bit old and viola! no seat belts!

"No Fear" I told myself (as if I read the sign on this colorful tricycle in Compostela Valley in my mind!). At this point my unbuckle up in a backpack journey has begun! Oh well, I later realized that with Davao's unique, exciting and varied public transportation, seatbelts are unnecessary!

Next to the SUV , the second type of Davao transport we hopped on was the taxi from our hotel to Ecoland Bus Terminal. The trip during early morning cost us Php 60 since taxi fare start at Php 40.00 and will add Php 3.50 per few hundred meters. I sat behind the driver and looked for seat belts but there wasn't any. The travel was fast and smooth though so I soon forgot the need to buckle-up!

From Ecoland Bus Terminal, we boarded a Mallen Express Bus to Cateel, Davao Oriental via Compostela Valley. We were seated in front but opposite side of the driver. Again, I noticed that there was no built - in seat belt. None of the passengers seemed to mind that at all, so I too embraced the five (5) hour - ride on alternating paved and rugged roads without the safety belt! (with silent prayer for Heavenly Father to keep us safe!).

When we got to Cateel, my "un-buckle in a backpack journey" seemed to get more adventurous. I spotted a motorcycle with four persons, with the person sitting sidesaddle on the gas tank in front of the driver. I was told it is called habal - habal and common transport in Cateel to stand the rough, narrow roads. I silently told myself, I will definitely not try the habal-habal, not only I have to buckle up but also I have a motorphobia(or the fear of riding two -wheeled vehicles like bicycles and motorcycles).

I spoke too soon! Our host Rhoderick "Dodong" Emboscado (brother of PTB Olan Fernandez Emboscado) already contacted a motorcycle driver to tour us around. Motorcyles are the cheapest, fastest and most common transport in Cateel, the only option if we want to see the enchanting Aliwagwag Falls located about 45 minutes on rough road from Poblacion. I hesitated big time! But getting the boost and the cheers from friendly Cateelenos, I pushed myself, and had the ultimate heart-pumping thrills of my life - on a motorcycle minus the modified seat for the habal - habal!

Back in Davao City from Cateel and after getting over the motorphobia, I opted for more transport adventure. According to the Davao Tourist Map (I've gotten from the airport), going to Philippine Eagle Center in Brgy. Malagos can either be by bus or jeepney. The jeepney fare is Php 40 while the bus fare is cheaper for only Php 30. But to take the bus, we would have to go to Annil Terminal located at corner of Quirino and San Pedro Extension. We decided to get off at Magsaysay and with the help of local police, flagged the correct jeepney that ply to Calinan. Of course, there was no seat belt, but I don't care anymore.My adventurous nature overpowered me that time, so I enjoyed the ride even though the uso-uso jeepney we boarded was a bit driving fast and playing annoying loud music!

The jeepney driver was very helpful though. When he passed by a bunch of habal-habal, he stopped and asked if they can bring us to the Philippine Eagle Center. I told the driver, we didn't want a habal-habal (coz my backpack is heavy, I don't think I can balance like in Cateel). I told him the map said there are tricyles in Calinan Public Market for Php 10 each and that's what we wanted to try. He obliged. So when we reached the market, he called out for the driver of this unique pedicab which to me looks like a motorized wicker.When we asked the pedicab driver how much the ride to Malagos, he said it is Php 80. I felt that was a rip - off, so I revealed to him that the tourist map was mentioning a Php 10 tricyle ride and a Php 6 pedicab fare. Not sure where the wicker ride fall but Php 80 is too much. He suggested we go to the common terminal which we did.

Inside the Calinan Public Market is a terminal for the shared tricycle for six (6) persons costing Php 10 each. The driver normally fills up his trike before it leaves. Since there were already three (3) passengers when we get there, plus the two of us, I decided to pay for the one passenger missing. That gives me a space for my backpack.(note: my backpack is the black one, but I always carry Nilo's beige backpack coz it is lighter!) It also shielded me from falling out, since I don't have the safety belt!

Returning to Davao City from Malagos, we basically went on the same route on the reverse but this time took the shared air con L300 van from its Calinan terminal instead of jeepney. When we reached the city, we went to People's Park. There, I enjoyed another unique Davao transport - a goat ride! haha. (Well, earlier at the Kadayawan Festival - there were so many colorful transport options. I'll write about it in another post).

I am so happy with this experience. I learn to trust in the Lord to overcome my fears. I know that while I wasn't wearing an actual seat belt around me, Heavenly Father provide me with an invisible one to keep me safe from harm and enjoy one of life's simple pleasure - traveling!

This is my entry to Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for December with the theme ‘Memorable Journeys Taken as Traveler’ being hosted by Kara Santos of Travel Up .

For previous Blog Carnival topics please visit Estan Cabigas' Langyaw.


RON | said...

wow! our ate exploring with a backpack is such a refreshing image!

girl power level up!

Bonzenti [Con Tour] said...

I know that you have a great experience during that travel Atty. With this post, it also gives me an idea about the December blog carnival. But still confuse whether to re-write it or not about mine. :-). Or defer muna kaya ako? :-).

Mhe-anne Ojeda said...

Ron, thanks for dropping by my blog and leaving comment!My computer froze after I accepted the comment and never gotten back to it because I was feverish.I am excited to see you next week!!! I will try to travel light, but not sure how much I would bring coz it is winter and need those thick jackets. Guess time to layer up after level up!!haha

Mhe-anne Ojeda said...

Bonz, based on Estan and Aleah's explanation, a blog post 6 months old can be part of the entry without any change or re-dating. just put the logo and the carnival links!!! Sali ka. And thank you sa pag visit sa blog and for the comment!

Ding said...

The P350 taxi fare is expensive! You should have taken the regular metered taxi. bawal sa kanila ang mag-over price sa davao. They would even give you yuor 1-peso change. But then, sounds like a good trip!

Mhe-anne Ojeda said...

Thanks Ding for dropping by. Yea, I realized at the end of the trip that P350 was expensive! But compared to rental cars that I used to take, thought I scored a big discount haha..And yea I noticed very honest ang mga Davaoenos sa pagbigay ng sukli.

Gladys | said...

congratulations on exploring davao via commuting :)

Mhe-anne Ojeda said...

thanks Gladys for dropping by my blog! commuting in Davao gave me a boost to commute to other destinations!!!

Kara / Travel Up said...

Glad you were able to overcome your fears and try riding a motorcycle in Davao. I guess seatbelts aren't really a big thing here in the Philippines, no matter what the mode of transport is. Thanks for participating in the December Blog Carnival! :)

Mhe-anne Ojeda said...

Hey Kara! yea,now I know that motorcycles are fun esp.if you see Kara Santos drive on them alone! are brave and very talented when it comes to writing. great compilation and I am glad I am able to participate. Your introduction made my entry worth reading!! Thanks for a job well done.

journeyingjames said...

atty! natawa ako sa motorphobia.
ganda sa cateel noh, i love the falls and the simple living

Mhe-anne Ojeda said...

Hey James! Oo ganda sa Cateel...takot lang talaga ako sa two - wheeled vehicles kasi parang di ako marunong mag balance. feeling ko tutumba ako . but it was fun steps when it comes to vehicles in the Philippines haha. kailangan naka seatbelt! nag email na MAFPRE acknowledging receipt of the form and the corrected date pero la pang computation. basta iemail kita kung kelan ka imeet ng brother ko ha. thanks

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