I hardly understood the bus conductor as he spoke to me in their local language. I assumed he was asking me about my destination, and I replied, “Loboc.” I was on my way to Loboc River to chill out after my (very) short walking tour around Tagbilaran City, and my destination was a small place called “Sarimanok,” where I was supposed to get a boat to take me to Nuts Huts (the name of the place I’ll be staying in).
I tried conversing with a few passengers in Tagalog (the only local language I know) to ask for directions and our current distance to my destination, and I saw some difficulty in their eyes as they attempted to answer in words I’d understand. I almost forgot that while I was traveling within the bounds of my homeland, this particular area spoke the Cebuano language.
Finally, someone answered in Tagalog, “Malayo pa. (Still far.)”
I think the bus conductor assumed I was traveling to Loboc for its famous “floating restaurants,” because they dropped me right where the boat-slash-restaurant operators sell lunch tickets to these local attractions. I felt too tired to ask my fellow passengers about Sarimanok, whether it’s within a short walking distance from where we were currently, or if they knew where Nuts Huts was, so I just got off and lit a cigarette, signalling a short break from my adventure. I took a minute to breathe in the scenery and to ask myself, “Where the hell am I?”
It turned out that I was standing right in front of the Church of San Pedro Apostol (commonly known as Loboc Church), currently undergoing “detailed engineering studies” by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). There was not much to see as the church has been closed down, but it was given a different sort of imposing appearance because of impending rains and very dark clouds. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take photos of it, but little did I know that I would only have less than ten minutes to shoot it before heavy rains poured. It was unfortunate that I didn’t have much protection for my gear and I had to seek shelter soon after the first raindrops fell.
Someone named Dodong Tales tried to sell me the idea of trying out a “floating restaurant” along Loboc River, but I declined, citing my confusion and my real destination which was Nuts Huts by the riverbanks. He wasn’t too convincing, and he soon gave up and contented himself with telling me all about that huge cross situated on a mountain top which was visible from where we were.
“Tawag namin diyan, ‘Cross Dako,’ kasi malaki, tsaka patayo! (We call it ‘Big Cross,’ because it’s big and erect!)” he told me, phallic pun intended.
Soon after the rains subsided, I resumed my travel, walking all the way to Sarimanok for my ride to Nuts Huts. I bade Dodong Tales and a cultural center that’s (almost) a namesake farewell; I wished Dodong luck in the coming months when I suppose they’d be swamped with summer customers wanting to trying out Loboc River’s floating restaurants.
I took a minute to breathe in the scenery and to ask myself, “Where the hell am I?”
Church of San Pedro Apostol
Loboc, Bohol, Philippines