From 2:00 AM to 2:00 PM

For Catholics, Holy Week is sacred. For some Catholics, Holy Week is Boracay Week – time to go sunbathing and see female and male humans in bikinis and trunks. People lined-up for the best view at the different beaches and churches of the country. It was really a splendid five-day vacation for everybody. I was torn between staying in the apartment and unwinding in some unknown places. At the last minute, I sketchily programmed my body to go to Occidental Mindoro and see the wonderful Mt Calavite.Organised by the Lupotz Mountaineers, the group was composed of 14 people. The group met at Jollibee Alabang, 2300H (04 April). We headed to the nearby Alabang Central Terminal and boarded a bus bounded for Batangas City Pier (fare: 110pesos).We reached the Pier and were greeted by a massive score of humans lined up outside the fences of the ticketing area. Unfortunately, the 0200H-boat left for Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro with us still lined up outside waiting for our turn to buy tickets. We learnt that the authorities stopped issuing tickets for Abra de Ilog because there was no available boat. We waited for the 0600H boat and slept on the line. That was my first experience with sleeping at the pier. Jeez!

The line started to move like a paralysed centipede at 0800H. And the sun rose up in the sky in full radiance. We were left devising armours against the scorching heat.
After hours of standing under the sun, we got tickets for the 1400H-boat (fare: 260pesos; port fee: 30pesos). For a bit longer than two hours, we travelled floating over the waters of the Verde Island Passage.
I just love this picture of a marine vessel plying near the Batangas Pier.
Is this part of the Verde Island?
Passengers adorned all the spaces, every corner and every nook. I was left with the choice of being throned along the aisle. When I opened my eyes and saw none of my groupmates, I stood and roamed like a vagabond in distress. Then I settled at the front rear of the boat. I tried to travel to Dreamland but the family having fun near where I seated kept on whining about dolphins and flying fish. Suddenly everybody went crazy with the dolphins racing with the boat. It was my first time with dolphins!I thought Abra de Ilog looks like the grand Amazon Rainforest river system but I was disappointed that it was just a name.We hired a van to Paluan (200pesos per head). It was getting dark and we were still on the way to the municipality. Everybody was talking about night-trekking, I was busy thinking about my headlamp and limited capability with trekking in the dark. I was glad they decided to rest over the night and start trekking early in the morning. But the van did not like to bring us to Sitio Ulasan. So we stopped at the Paluan Municipal Hall to ask for help. We asked for the DENR office. Unfortunately, the Park Superintendent is stationed in Mamburao, miles away (a bit exaggerated) from Paluan. Clueless what to do next, an aid was dropped from nowhere – Sergeant Arabe arrived like a knight in shining armour!

Sgt Arabe offered his place for us to stay for the night – complete with sand and sound of waves.  GOOD MORNING, OCCIDENTAL MINDORO!


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