Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Impulsive First: Iligan

Iligan. Aside from its majestic waterfalls, I would also associate it to my many firsts: first time to stalk a local (wait, don't judge me! Read on.), first time to ride a habal-habal, and first time to come face to face with a place so iconic, it felt mystical to me.

It was my first trip after college, and my first trip to Mindanao. I was unable to book a flight with a schedule similar to my friends', so I decided to book an earlier flight. At first, my plan was just to spend all day chilling at my hotel room, since my friends will be arriving later that afternoon. I wasn't much of a travel bug then as I am now, you see.

But I realized it was too good a day to waste, and having heard that Iligan was nearby Cagayan de Oro, I told myself, why not?

So despite having no plans, no idea, no one that I know, I went straight from CDO Airport to Iligan. How? I tailed a local.

(S)talking my way to Iligan
I was also much shyer then, so instead of asking for directions, I decided to follow a person instead. I know, silly me. :)) How did I know that she was headed the same way as I was? I eavesdropped into one of her conversation. *Guilty*

But she probably noticed I was stalking her (haha), so she went ahead and asked me where I was headed. I bashfully told her I wanted to go to Iligan, and she graciously agreed to let me tag along. Because I can barely understand Bisaya let alone speak it, she handled most of my fare transactions: from the jeepney we rode to the bus tickets, even making sure that the conductor was informed where I'd be getting off.

She rode another bus, (perhaps to distance herself from a slightly-lunatic-first-time traveler?) while I settled comfortably in the deluxe bus. The kindness of strangers didn't stop with the woman-- the conductor and driver and other passengers were all nice and chatty (despite the slight language barrier) when they found out I was travelling alone.

Then and there, I learned the most valuable lesson I take with me everywhere I go: don't be shy, ask the locals. They are always nice, and I've never experience anything that would say otherwise.

The majestic Maria Cristina Falls
Encounter with Maria Cristina

Aside from the overwhelming kindness of the people I met (the people at NPC let me use the shuttle--with a driver of course-- to tour around the facility, despite me being the only visitor. I felt so special. :)), another unforgettable moment happened when I first came face to face with the regal Maria Cristina falls.

It was an undefinable but certainly wondrous feeling that I felt when I saw with my own eyes the wonders that I've only read from books and heard from social science lessons. Maria Cristina falls is a staple in my grade school books. To see it with my own eyes, and to hear the roar of the water  (and it wasn't even full force by then!)  fill my own ears-- it was awesome! It's a feeling I wouldn't mind feeling over and over again-- and this spontaneous trip had really encouraged me to travel and go after that special feeling.

...And my first habal-habal ride
The way I got to Maria Cristina falls was also a first for me. I rode a habal-habal. It felt crazy then-- I had no helmet, it was too fast to my liking, and kuya driver, I think, was so talkative to be really focused on the road. But I forgot my apprehensions (a little) when we were already zipping past industrial factories (and huge trucks!) and kuya driver was telling me stories of the time he worked there. He told me other stories too: of  other places in the area, of his stint in Manila, of what life is like in Iligan. It was fascinating, I forgot I was terrified. Before I knew it we were already at our destination. On our way back he even toured me around the city: showing me the Macapagal mansion, the several schools in the area (I like looking at schools), and other establishments. I felt like I got more than what I paid for the ride. And best of all, I got over being apprehensive of this kind of transportation. In my succeeding trips in Mindanao, I hopped into habal-habals with nary a second thought.

Macapagal House
I only stayed in Iligan for only about five hours, but I've picked up on so many things that helped me in my future solo trips. I've gotten rid of my shyness, learned to trust strangers appropriately, stopped being over-paranoid of so many things, and had gotten to see a most wonderful sight that had planted the seed of wanderlust in my heart. For those things and so many more, I thank my past self for that impulsive trip to the home of the majestic waterfalls.

I am definitely coming back. Soon.

An official entry to the Iligan Blogging Contest 2012

1 comment:

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