Road trip (continued)-A A +A
Saturday, June 23, 2012
WE TOOK the familiar route to Morong. Somewhere along the way, we stopped to buy supplies, since I had been earlier advised by Daisy Fernando, contact person for the park, that we could eat, but not cook, in our “apartelle” accommodations. And that restaurants could be found only in Morong, a good 15 minutes away from the park. While on the road, I prayed that she would be proven wrong, and that the old Vietnamese restaurant in Neighborhood Six would still be there…
As we put stuff into a shopping cart, Maichie, Thess, and I could not help but notice that we did so as we had done so more than 20 years ago – when we had been young teachers working for the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), en route to work in PRPC, where we taught refugees many a lesson about the U.S., to where they were headed. Then, we had had to stock up on groceries before hitting Morong, as we were doing on this trip decades later. Some things don’t change.
For hours, we travelled in the rain, getting to the park just as the sun was setting. Once there, we were told by the park security to just look for the old administration building, and we confidently did so, only to get lost. The old Khmer temple was still where it had been, a landmark that Thess said once marked her mental map, telling her that she was back in PRPC. But the roads between the temple and the old administration building, still one, were quite, quite, gone. Hence, our getting lost.
Ironically, it was our driver, who had been to the park only once or twice before, who did find our way to the area of the administration building area, where some park personnel awaited us, wondering what had taken us so long. They had expected us at least two hours before we got there, wondering why we had taken the long route, when we could have taken the SCTEX to Subic and gotten to the camp through the old “back door.” Said back door had been there when my friends and I had worked in PRPC in the 80s. If I remember right, it was then a restricted pathway to Subic. Now, it is everybody’s route.
Thess, Maichie, and I had earlier wondered what our “apartelle” was going to be and had been before, even fancying that it would perhaps be our old dormitory, where we had been roommates. As it turned out, the “apartelle” was one of many that had been ICMC housing for our program officers. We had called them “P.O. dorms.” We had also been informed by Daisy that we would be in Apartelle No.5, and we were ushered to No. 10. I wonder now, which of the old ICMC program officers had stayed in No.10?
Fronting our door was what the park personnel called the “Pavilion” – from where we were advised we could get hot water for coffee, though they decided to lend us an electric thermos. Off from said pavilion was a swimming pool where, the evening we arrived, a number frolicked, with the rain falling and all.
That rainy evening, my friends and I were caught with a rather urgent desire to walk around and get our old bearings back. But it was not to be. No one had an umbrella. The park personnel could not produce a single one either, to lend us. And after a makeshift supper of tuna on whole wheat, my very hungry son decided he would brave the rain, the night, and the new place, because he was hungry and had to eat a real meal.
Off he went with Macky, who was in charge of the apartelles. They headed to Morong, and ended up in one of the now many resorts dotting the once empty Morong beach. Kublai’s bulalo, he told me later, had been really tough. But the night was redeemed by the locals inviting him to a birthday party a town or two away. Trust my son to happen upon a birthday party on his first night in a new place, and to get back hours after we expected him back.
But, as Maichie said later, he enjoyed himself, which should be what matters. (To be concluded)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 23, 2012.