Monday, September 21, 2009

Ang Kagilagilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Juan Ekis sa Naga

Highlights ng Adventure ko sa Naga with Dave and Javi

Opportunity cost, di ko napanood ang first two shows ng play ko. I heard it was great. Got rave reviews from J.K. Rowling, Carlo Caparas, and Steven Spielberg. No, seriously, I hope you guys catch it. It's one hell of a ride.

Anyways, I went to Naga with Dave and Javi to look for direk's angles for her upcoming film. Yes, finally, Marilou Diaz-Abaya is cooking up something for the big screen. Unfortunately, I cannot spill the beans yet. But suffice it to say that my adventure with Dave and Javi is all in preparation for that.

It was the feast of the Penafrancia. We were actually a week late. Good thing there still was the fluvial parade to catch over the weekend. We left thursday night and arrived 2 hours early. Yes. Everyone was asleep. We got to the Basilica Minore where we were supposed to reside. Unfortunately, no one was awake to open the doors for us. We had to wait for the priests and the nuns to wake up. When we got in the room, we immediately dozed off.

We woke up after lunch and started to trace the path of the Virgin from the cathedral to the river then back to the Basilica. We were mostly on foot but we took trikes in between the four bridges that the Lady would pass through.

We caught a glimpse of various interesting characters along the way. If we had more time, we probably would've shot a short film. There was this very interesting group of preachers in the plaza at the Centro saying "Lahat kayowng worshippers ng Penafrancia! Mga criminal kayow!" I applaud their courage to preach against idol worship in the middle of the most attended fiesta nationwide. But then again, I believe there are more effective ways to insist on your beliefs and convert people. The following day, someone stood up to them and debated explaining why we don't worship Mary, we revere her.

It was a huge town and we walked most of the time. When I got to Manila, my whole body was aching and my colds got worse. The streets were filled with people. It was unbelievable. More people than what I saw in EDSA 2. Anyways, we went around the bridges and took some photos of the location where direk could possible plant her camera the next time we go there to shoot. I got a glimpse of several kids jumping off the bridge for a nice bath. We never have these things in Manila. We are also losing this in Laguna where I grew up. Too bad my children might not get a chance to do this, much more, witness other kids jumping off bridges to swim.

The following day, more people came in from all walks of life and from all parts of the country. Artistas and politikos filled the place. Banners of congratulations from congressmen who weren't from there were littering the skyline announcing that they are about to run for the senate. On the TV, most presidentiables had paid advertisements greeting the Bicolanos for their 300th anniversary of the Penafrancia.

On saturday afternoon, the three of us went to the cathedral to witness the embarkasyon, where the virgin is taken from the cathedral and brought to the pagoda in the river. It was an ecstatic experience. I always doubted the faith of the people celebrating fiestas and always felt that there were still remnants of our pagan past haunting our celebrations. But when the virgin was about to be put on her Andas, I saw people kneeling, crying, waving, and shouting "Viva La Virgen!" Never in my life have I seen such overflowing faith. It definitely is not idol workship. It is the love and reverence we give to the mother of God. No politician has commanded this kind of following. No celebrity had this kind of charisma oozing out of a representation, an ideal of the perfect example on how to be like her son.

Going home was a pain. Mas okay pa sa EDSA 2, you had room to move and walk around. Since we lived at the convent behind the Basilica, to get home means to swim through the sea of people. Dito, hindi ka makakasingit. Makakagalaw ka lang if the sea decides to move you. Thank God, I think it took us around an hour or two to get home from outside the Basilica. When I got home, I immediately crashed and fell asleep. Di na ako nakasama kina Javi at Dave mag-inuman.

Final destination on sunday was the hotsprings. Commute lang kami nila Javi and Dave. We had a hard time getting there and a harder time getting home we almost did not make it to the bus station on time. Sa bubong ng jeep kami sumakay papunta dun. And then we had to rid a motorcycle. Long hike, mga 20 minute hike siguro from the entrance to the hotsprings. Worse pauwi kasi paakyat. Shet ang sakit ng buong katawan ko. Sa sobrang sakit hanggang pag-uwi ko masakit katawan ko at napatagalog ako sa blog ko ngayon. Shet.

We almost didn't make it to the bus station, like I said. We had to wait for a jeep from the hotsprings for an hour. After an hour of waiting, walang dumadaan. Apparently, rare ang jeep doon. Good thing there was this kind-hearted family who let us hitch in their jeep.

We got to the basilica 30minutes before our bus left. Quick shower. Quick pack-up. Then ran out to get a pedicab. After the pedicab, no trike would take us to the station. Finally found one but traffic was not on our side. 5 minutes to 7pm (our bus leaves at seven) I told Javi "paano kung di tayo umabot?" The driver asked me, "Ano'ng oras biyahe ninyo?" "In 5 minutes" sabi ko. He immediately left the long queue of jeeps and trikes and moved around the bituka-eskinitas of Naga City and brought us at exactly 7pm at the bus station. The bus hadn't left so I bought the first bunch of pili nuts I saw for pasalubong without even thinking to whom they were for. It was one hell of an adventure. Sulit ang 8 hour bus trip. Shit, can't feel my ass.

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