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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

On the road: Bicol, April 07 (Chapter II)

After dispensing with our GKal duties in Albay and in Camarines Sur, we were invited to a sumptuous lunch at the house of a CFC elder in Naga City. There were many familiar faces there- titos and titas in the CFC community, including that of Koko Pimentel and Cynthia Villar.

As you all very well know, I am campaigning for candidates of the Ang Kapatiran Party- Paredes-Sison-Bautista for senator. I am constantly tempted to brandish my campaign materials and give everyone an orientation on why Kapatiran is worthy of our votes. But I couldn’t, because my actions maybe misinterpreted as part of the GK-CFC stance on whom to endorse among the senatoriables. So in the spirit of obedience, I held back my campaigning.

But lo and behold, God really works within the desires of your heart! A CFC tito was handing out Kapatiran leaflets soon after Koko Pimentel left! Amazing! He was doing a great job, much better had I relied on doing the campaigning myself.

For our stay in Naga, the leaders were kind enough to arrange our stay at the Camarines Sur Watersports Complex (CWC). Open to the public beginning January of this year, it boasts of world-class wakeboarding facilities which made it the logical option to host the 2008 International Wakeboarding Championships.

The beach-like ambiance is family-friendly, where one can stay in any of the numerous bungalow-type or container-van-type cabanas. Given its still-limited operating experience, however, the services rendered by the hospitality team is nothing to rave about, from the drought of warmth and smiles to faulty showers to the unavailability of non-pirated DVDs for rent.
Unless you’re a wakeboarding junkie, I do not recommend staying overnight in CWC at this point. Many items in their system still needs to be perfected.

After dining in yet another Bigg’s branch in our attempt to catch the elusive mouth-watering cordon bleu (a failure!), we trooped to the Metro Naga Sports Complex for the opening ceremonies of Youth For Christ International Leaders’ Conference (ILC). What we did find, however, are two CFC titos who became our guide to the ILC venue (which proved to be located in a not-so-easy-to-locate part of Naga).
With the theme “Rebolusyon ng Pag-asa,” representative YFC communities from different regions showcased their talent and interpretation of the theme. Highlights of the evening were the talks and sharings of Luis Oquinena, former YFC leader and current executive director of Gawad Kalinga, and Dino Badilla, the first ever full-time worker of YFC and current member of the National Youth Commission, who both rallied the participants to gear their lives in the service of the nation as a way of serving the Lord.

We initially planned to leave for Manila 6am the following morning but we ended up choosing to leave at around 8am. Another huge driving task loomed ahead which all three of us happily shared. What was originally thought to be an approximately 10-hour drive turned out to be 15 hours long given the terrible traffic jams in Candelaria, Sto Tomas and the SLEX which is currently being renovated.

Of course stopping to buy pasalubong also takes time.

As well paying homage again to Bigg’s Sipocot where we finally caught and had cordon bleu for breakfast.

And then stopping again to admire the waters which skirt the towns of Gumaca, Atimonan, Lopez, Plaridel…

Posing beside the boundary marker between Atimonan and Gumaca…

Having lunch in Remy’s Carinderia just off the Atimonan-Gumaca border…

Meet-and-greet with the mermaid in Plaridel town in Quezon…

Admiring the amazing roadside scenery in Pagbilao…

From Honda running as if it were brand new, to the absence of any road mishaps; from having dispensed quality medical care to participants in the Bayani Challenge, to the bonus of knowing other Ang Kapatiran supporters; from staying in comfortable accommodations to having taken all the photos I wanted, to having many good memories rush back to me when I saw Bicol for the first time, with my dad, when he took me to a work-related trip in the summer of 1991- it was a series of fortunate events that really proved how God works within the desires of our hearts.

Before Honda has stayed long enough in our parking area to rest after all the traveling his not-so-young engine endured from Manila to Bicol and back, he finds himself taking me to the airport to catch the 5.10am PAL flight to Cagayan De Oro City for yet another trip of a lifetime.

Mindanao beckons. I answer.

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