“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharlal Nehru
It was still dark when we took the 5:30 morning trip to Pandan municipality so we can go back in time for the last transport. It was still dark and rain threatens. We knew from the start that it was a long trip – but we only realized it was that loooong when we reached our destination. Four hours instead of three.
Traveling from San Jose de Buenavista, the capital town, to Pandan has eight towns in between: Bellison, Patnungon, Bugasong, Laua-an, Barbaza, Tibiao, Culasi and Sebaste. Apart from Bellison and Sebaste, all of these have been familiar to me from the stories our father told us. This got me breathless recounting. I felt sad he was no longer with us to join the trip – but who knows he might be watching over us.
I wish Valderrama was along the way, too, but it is an inland town and you need to really go there exclusively. I have mentally filed this one on my must-go-back-to travel list. The scenery along the way was a feast for the eyes! Lush and yellowing rice fields ready for harvest. Some farmers were already clearing them up with their threshers – it makes you smile looking at rice husks up in the air during the process.
There was no dull moment. Orange-skirted students starting filling the transport and got off en masse with a shrill “para (stop)!”. There was a steady chatter sometimes interrupted by a collector who would ask them to pass on the tickets. Someone at the back quipped the driver must be “bungol (deaf)” to miss some stop shrieks.
When we reached Pandan, as if on a cue, the rain poured hard. I’ve had a glance of the cleanest and clearest Bugang River in the country but no way to take pictures as we scampered for refuge. Some days we cannot have it all.
The mothers immediately looked from their cupboards for some fiesta food leftovers when they learned we have not taken our breakfast. They said we missed the celebration for just a day and many are still sleepy from a night of revelry.
Conversations with locals will never be complete without the mention of the recently-hailed Miss World Megan Young. Her mother comes from the town and most of her family and relatives are still residents. Megan never got to live here but took her brief holidays. You can almost smell the pride like they know her personally. Being an Antiquena, I must claim, must have given her that spunk and confidence.
One more thing I learned that day, the people of Antique raised the bar of friendliness and warmth a notch higher. A wide smile is ready for every stranger you’d easily feel at home.
The fun has just began. Keep me company in my back-to-Antique journey!
“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu