The trip home
Nathan Cabello (The Freeman) - October 16, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - I always come home every time there is a long weekend, to be with my family. My parents and sister would also expect me. It’s always a heart-warming time we have together.

My family is in the northeast of Cebu and so I take the bus in going home. Surprisingly, despite the fact that it’s the same route I take every time, each trip still always seems like a fresh, new experience.

Nowadays a road trip to the Cebu countryside is smooth and comfortable. Gone are the torturous bus rides that often left us tired and depressed at the end of the hours-long trip. Today there are air-conditioned V-hires that come aplenty; surely there is one that departs every 30 minutes or so. There are also a good number of big buses – some of them air-conditioned too – and even more mini-buses. There’s no more reason for passengers to be cramped together, like before, like sardines in a can. Not even during holidays and other peak seasons does overloading happen anymore.

I would take a bus at the city’s North bus Terminal. In just a few minutes, the bus would already leave the terminal and a few minutes more, we would be traversing the flyover crossing the road to the old Mandaue-Mactan Bridge. From the elevated vantage point, the aerial view of Mandaue City is nice. I always look forward to the view.

The provincial roads are now mostly asphalted or cemented, so the ride is much less bumpy. But even the occasional bumps are unnoticeable as soon as your eyes begin to catch the interesting sights along the way.

There would often be a slight traffic glitch at the Pacific Mall intersection, on the way out of Mandaue. But past that, the bus engine would begin to hum sweetly. The drive would now be continuous and much smoother. And my attention would shift back to the passing scenes. Upon reaching Consolacion, a delicious whiff from the ‘lechon manok’ stalls that line the roadsides fills everyone’s nostrils.

Then the bus would stop in Liloan, at the famous Titay’s Rosquillos. Passengers would get down from the bus, for a pack or two of the delicacy. I’d often have my favorite ensaimada quickly – which always tastes sinfully good when paired a bottle of orange soda – and then get back on the bus with a pack of sweet ‘piñato’, a peanut delicacy that come in several pieces per pack. In a while, before my piñato pack would be empty, the bus would be passing by the ‘tinap-anan’ (smoked fish) district of Sabang, Danao. Fish being smoked on bamboo trays occupy the whole stretch of one side of the road.

In Danao, there are the remaining structures of the old Durano Sugar Mills. A peculiar feeling would seize me at the sight of these. I remember how bustling it used to be. Some of my father’s friends have once worked there; they would come home to their families on weekends, brimming with groceries, after receiving their weekly pay. The guys are old now, and the sugar mill is either not as active or mostly gone.

I’d still be absorbed in reminiscing, not saddened but warmed, until the next stop. This is in Carmen, a bakery named Norjita’s, known for their ‘galletas’, a crunchy biscuit the size of a palm of the hand. This local delicacy puts Norjita’s and the town of Carmen on the frequent traveler’s mind. I’d often buy several packs to bring home to my family.

If it’s still early in the day, it possible to pass by several groups of picnickers at the KM 47 Beach, in Catmon. KM 47 is a favorite of many because of its ever-clear water; the tiny cove has a rock bottom, so its water does not ever get muddy.

But, perhaps, Catmon’s best attraction yet is its ‘budbud-kabog’, a type of suman made from millet seeds. The delicacy, though, sells very quickly that one is lucky to be able to buy a pack of it. My aunt, who would bring us some every now and then, would have to go there between late morning and noontime to be sure that there is still budbud-kabog on display. As the Catmonanons say” “Budbud Kabog disappears like the ‘kabog’, the elusive night bat that feeds on ripe fruits on trees.

The town of Sogod, right before my hometown – Borbon, also has a hit delicacy, the Sogod Torta. It’s quite unlike the usual ‘torta’ that’s a little moist. Sogod Torta is dry but nonetheless great-tasting. The dryness makes it last much, much longer, even without refrigeration.

It’s unfortunate how familiarity and having grown so accustomed to things around us often makes us grow insensitive of the ever-beaming beauty that we come across frequently. Sometimes we need to pretend we’re seeing the world for the first time and everything will look wonderful once again. (FREEMAN)  

THE TRIP HOME
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