Saturday, February 18, 2017

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Some destinations are wonderful stopovers. In your meandering, it can be where you get stuck and find inspiration.

Even if I have scoped parts of mainland Luzon for the past four years more than most of my relatives had, there are still a lot of cities and towns that I haven't had the pleasure of enjoying a full day in. Most of them were simply a break in the journey.

One such place was Dingalan where I spent a few hours to reach its neighboring town of General Nakar. It was supposed to be for just a few minutes, but unexpected river-crossings kept me lingering in more than one spot unnecessarily during my trip last October of 2016. The whole ordeal sort of became an intrepid prelude to my memorable immersion in Maktang, one of the settlements of the Dumagat Tribe that's roughly forty minutes of boat ride from the border of Aurora.

Patient locals on their way for morning errands after Typhoon Lawin
After Typhoon Lawin, kids had a hoot to play outdoors again.
My first river-crossing in Dingalan
A cliff-side dirt road in Barangay Butas Na Bato

Dingalan happens to sit where a portion of the vast Sierra Madre is, making its beaches dramatic at best. Stunning cliffs and rock formations buffer its shoreline and the weather can sometimes be far from balmy. Most of the time, it's unpredictable.

My trip happened to be just after when Typhoon Lawin hit the Philippines, so I was not surprised to see the windswept trees and the sorry state of the town's bridges. Some of the shallow rivers we tried to wade through to get across from one village to another looked like they were widened by strong currents of flash floods days prior. It turned out that a lot of old makeshift bridges were destroyed.

What was surprising was the presence of patient locals who were trying their best to cross the rivers like it was an ordinary day and nothing was unremarkable about it. It appeared that they're used to it -- the destruction and the many ways they have to cope. They were just glad that the typhoon was over and they could resume with their daily errands. As concrete as that observation is the lack of decent bridges where there should be.

Stunning Sierra Madre
An elderly woman being helped by male locals cross the river

I actually had fun lifting my bum inside our chartered tricycle in one river-crossing where the water actually overwhelmed my ride. We stopped in the middle of the river where I had to get out and manually reach the other side.

In another river-crossing, I chanced upon a group of male locals engaged in an afternoon snack in the middle of all the action. These guys who were supposed to be the ones to help the ladies and the elderly cross had to take a break in the thick of everything. Imagine that!

A view of the beach in Barangay Butas Na Bato
This type of travel would've easily persuaded me to go home instead back when I was younger. Seeing remote places in the past four years of travel blogging from secluded waterfalls and fog-draped hiking trails had led me to look past such obstacles and just treat them as minor bumps along the way. If it were not for the breathtaking rural scenery, river-crossing in Dingalan would be worse than dreadful. It would be boring.

Check out my visit of Baler, Aurora here.


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