<$BlogRSDURL$> dodong flores Official Travel Blog: My Sweet, Sweet Butuan

My Sweet, Sweet Butuan

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

(June 28 - July 3, 2006)

Having been away from my hometown for ten years and ten months, going home should be a thing very well-planned and self internally prepared. Well, at least, that was what I had in mind. Reality is, I was much occupied with lots of job-related activities that I kept on moving until the 11th hour. The day before my departure, I can't imagine myself being in SM Southmall the whole day and staying late until 11 in the evening doing some dirty jobs in our store in SM Fairview. Anyhow, the good thing is, I had my checklist of what to prepare detailed in my PDA a month ago so fixing everything up would take a little mess. When I arrived home at midnight, following the checklist, I kept track of everything to pack up, from my clothes to wear on that vacation, my communications and entertainment gadgets, photography equipments, down to the indispensable - cash and my plane ticket. Enthusiasm and excitement kept my spirit high so I didn't bother to sleep after that couple of hours of preparation. By the way, pasalubong includes T-shirts for my two brothers and a best friend, and shoulder bag for my Mama.

Prior to boarding the plane, I was at the departure area calling and sending emails to few friends. There's sudden downpour that obviously a regular occurrences throughout the season. I also called up Marex, my brother, to fetch me up at the Bancasi Airport in Butuan City. It was supposed to be a surprise visit for everybody home but I'm thinking my brother somehow will be of great help for me to be optimally prepared for the reintroduction of the place. Yes, ten years and ten months literally being away from Butuan City and thirteen years being away from our village sixteen kilometers away from the city.
The next two hours, I was standing face-to-face with my Mama. She was very surprised, and teary-eyed, embraced her towering son. Her voice and looks was already different the way it was when I left home in 1993. Well, I may have look differently as well. Marex, as we oftentimes see each other over the webcam, had witnessed each other's faces getting mature. Our youngest, who was just a teener when I left, had already grown to a 30 year old adult - surprisingly, a premature adult (sorry). Ways and means still belongs to a fourteen year old kid, still annoying, but we already accepted that fact.
Old neighbors came to see me; at long last, we meet each other again. They started to spoke Tagalog to me. I spoke straight Cebuano to them. Yes, that can happen. Some people from our place who have gone astray to Manila for just a few years, or even just a couple of months, were already Tagalog-speaking when they return back. Well, at least, nobody dared to speak with me in Butuanon. I can't just simply understand anything about our own dialect. I only speak broken Cebuano and broken HIligaynon - all broken :( I also took notice of new neighbors who just didn't seem to mind. After all, they didn't know me in the first place. Well, Mama handed biscuits to all of them.
My pasalubong includes a shoulder bag for Mama, T-shirts, for my two brothers and one close friend. Our youngest isn't satisfied with the shirt only. He asked for my Nokia phone. Oh, that's my favorite phone!!! In thirteen years that we didn't meet, It's just too rude of me to say "no" to him.
At that day, I didn't leave the house. We just talked, and I checked the entirety of our house that grew dilapidated over the years. In the night time, I ask Marex to bring me to the nearest Internet cafe. Past 8pm, he is hesitant due to the scarcity of public transport going back home. The 24-hr internet cafe is still in the city which is sixteen kilometers away from our barrio. I insisted, and as always, eldest brother always win (you wouldn't believe how particular our family is about hierarchy tradition, and you wouldn't believe how abusive am I giving all the burdens to the younger).
We arrive at the city 10pm. Marex told me that the jeepney we were taking could be the last trip going to the city. I could be crazy, I silently told myself. We rented internet for more than an hour.
11:30pm, we were already at the jeepney terminal. No more jeepney going home. Again, I gave the burden to my brother to solve the dilemma. We only have a two-year gap but this brother could sheepishly grant all my requests without any complain. Anyway, he solved the problem when he find a jeepney, last trip, going to the next town, passing our barrio along the highway. But it also meant walking from the highway to the barrio proper which is literally three and a half kilometers away.
It is sometimes very sweet reminiscing the past. I used to be walking exactly in this same place long years ago when I was in my first year and second year in college, in the middle of the night, at that. I was gunned several times by drunken notorious goons of a newly-constructed beach resort in our area but cheated death. When the only son of my former Grade V teacher (her husband is the school principal), a law student in Cebu, was shoot dead exactly the same time I should be walking into that place, my Mama decided that I should stay in the city.
Marex and I had just barely walked a 300-meter distance from the highway when suddenly strong rain fell down. We kept our wallets and cellphones secured in a plastic bag that contained the lechon manok we bought from the city. Later, Marex would complain because his wristwatch got mixed with the soy sauce.
We arrived home 1am. Mama was startled to see his two cute little kids at the entrance door dripping all over. She quickly prepared dry clothings for me. Marex prepared dry clothings for himself.

Butuan City's lechon manok

I woke up feeling disoriented and suffered stomach upset. Only to find out I got diarrhea. Aside from suffering diarrhea, it was raining the whole day so there was no point of going out. Mama summoned my youngest brother to buy bottled drinking water for me in the city.
It was a rainy lazy day and all of Marex' friends were in the house. I offered them jamming, and asked what they would like to drink. Liquor? Beer? They hesitated, knowing for a fact that I'm a non-alcoholic drinker. Finally, we settled for a few bottles of Coke (in the province, pronounce as "Kuks'') and several bags of bread.
Suddenly, I remembered my things and collections that was kept intact when I left our house. I asked my Mama if I can see those. Unfortunately, some of those collections already gone. What were left were a few audio cassettes that I started to collect since 1986. They brought it down from my room when the second floor of our house became shaky. And that was also the start of the part of my collections to be vanished away.
I was once had a home-made 100 watts audio power amplifier that my close friend Vincent helped to assemble. The creation was actually an inspiration from the boom boxes of drag racers at the 3 km. stretch North Reclamation area when I was in Cebu, 1989 to 1990 (if my memory serves me right - but I do remember I was just foraging on decent carenderias a P1.50 worth of cup of rice plus a free extra soup just to survive Cebu).
Anyway, the home-made amplifier was already replaced with a more sophisticated one and that Sony Walkman auto-reverse (the best in its contemporary) that used to drive those audio cassettes, though still working, was already replaced with a low-end VCD player.
Well, that was my day, and I did what I wanted to do. Marex' friends wanted to watch concerts. And I wanted to listen to my collection from the old days. Instead of playing concert, he plugged that old Walkman to the input of the amplifier and my collections started to play. Audio cassettes' sound quality maybe inferior as compared to the present MP3 music and high fidelity audio CDs, but the feeling of being transported into some twenty years back was just an extraordinary feeling. My collection of audio cassette tapes as far as I can remember includes the following: Phil Collins, Lobo, Eagles, Simon and Garfunkel, Styx, Little River Band (LRB), Deep Purple, Reo Speedwagon, Led Zeppelin, Foreigner, The Cars, Pink Floyd, Toto, Scorpions, and England Dan, to name a few. The whole day I was just listening to my old audio cassettes, and was carried on by a trance.
In the night time, Marex approached me with a dog's grin in his face. He told me that we could go to the city for internet rental. I told him it's good because he saw that dehydration caused me so weak to move.
Another challenge I had to face during this second day home is about my cellphones. My carriers are Globe and Sun Cellular. Only Smart Communications' signal is available inside our house.

Jackie Chan and Marex

I decided to roam around our barrio to visit friends and to take photos around. It was good that we were accompanied by Jackie Chan, Marex' batch mate. We used Marex' motorized traysikad to tour around. By the way, motorized traysikad is the modified version of a three-wheeled pedicab (foot-powered), complete with suspension and planted a 9 horsepower general purpose engine. It looks similar to a typical tricycle.
We first visited my close friend, Brod Vincent, a polio-victim when he was a toddler. Electronics is his forte and it was he who helped me assemble my home-made audio amplifier. Brod Vincent is now married and has already a nine-year old boy as the eldest in a brood of four. It's not surprising. I've learned that my former high school sweetheart Elena has already a granddaughter :(
We talked a lot of things, especially life in Manila. He himself is a former Manila boy, graduated at Guzmantech in Quiapo. We reminesced those days I could get drunk I can no longer manage myself he has to carry me piggyback and drive me home (a polio-victim carrying me on his back!). We remember those days he had to fetch me at the highway when I go home from school, after that fateful incident that I was chased by drunken goons onboard a Wrangler jeep with semi-automatic pistols on hand. For months, this friend had to patiently wait for me 10-11pm, in the coldness of the night, and mosquitoes that swarmed around him. He would even endure rain when it happened, and to think there was no waiting shed yet at that time to take shelter. Brod Vincent had always been a sacrificial friend to me. Oh, those are just sweet memories. We were separated in 1993 and only see each other again on this day. Yet, time then was very limited for the reunion of the two of us.

We were supposed to go out together the day I visited him but his being a family man wouldn't allow him to do so. "Will I'd be tied-up also in the house as soon as I can get married?" I jokingly asked him. At a later time, he would visit me in our house and the following day, we would go together visiting more of our comrade.
The rest of the day was spent strolling along the beach taking pictures, at the same time taking the opportunity of bragging off my telephoto lens to Jackie and Marex. Jackie was pretty amazed at how near is the fish cage when photographed when it is actually a few kilometers away from the shore. I supposed to use a tripod but its strength is not sufficient enough to resist the wind that blew head on towards the lens hood. So, I did the shoot handheld instead.
Jackie told me that Belinda had already inherited the resort that his father owned after the latter passed away (the resort was named after her). He's planning to introduce the two of us as we're both single. We slowly walked towards her place - the same canteen in the beach resort as before. As fate may have it, she was there. I could still recognize her from a distance. But just like my mother, she had already changed a lot in physical appearance. Anyhow, what can be expected of a woman in the mid-40s?
No, for some reason the planned introduction didn't pushed through.

Agusan marsh adventure together with Marex. Prior to that, we visited the Agusan del Norte Provincial Capitol. This was the place where, during night time, I taught him many years ago how to drive - and security guards would also drive us away (No practice driving!). It was funny.
From the capitol, he brought me to Butuan City Hall. He told me it is already new, and he proves himself right.
He then brought me to Weegols, famous place in the city specializing in chicken barbecue, chicken inasal, and anything chicken, served with locally available condiments and optional banana leaf. Patrons would eat barehanded. I requested for spoon and fork.
Agusan River was not at its best when we conduct the visit. Torrential rains from the highlands, like Agusan del Sur and three provinces of Davao had discolored the water into chocolate brown (Nay!). The sky was overcast - no summer blue sky and white-cotton cloud to be appreciated. But since we were there, we tried to take a couple of shots. Photographed Magsaysay Bridge from a distance using telephoto lens, and shoot those kids taking a bath in the river. We then took a passenger pump boat to Magallanes municipality to visit the Magellan Historical site and the Centennial Tree.
Right after, we took another boat going back to the city. We took photos anything that interested us along the way.
We took photos of the Rizal Park and the Urios College Cathedral when we were back to the city. We originally planned to take night shots at Suez Canal, where colorful rolling stores offering native chicken delicacies are stretching along Suez Canal and Montilla Blvd. But later he negated due to security issues. We went to an internet cafe instead.
On our way home, we passed by to my friends who belong to well-to-do families and happens to share a single compound. They are remnants of Spanish hacienderos in our place. My friend Vincent also went there to complete the group. My friends have already their own houses and individual families, with kids to become another youngster in just another span of years. They don't work hard for a living much as ordinary people do. They have enough fortune as reserve resources in time of needs. Some people are simply born in this world lucky.
It was getting dark, so we had to leave. Along the way, I met my former kickboxing instructor in the mid-1980s. I almost could no longer recognize him. Already retired, he already had grown a belly like mine (and several nodules in his back; I have one on my forehead). He's now driving a motorized traysikad for daily subsistence.

Butuan City Hall

Agusan River

Chicken Barbecue at Weegols in Butuan City

The day to say goodbye. My youngest brother was throwing a tantrum I almost broke his neck had Mama didn't twist it back. Marex hired a jeepney that would be used to send me to the airport. It was just a smaller, five-seater jeepney, and Jackie Chan accompanied us. Had he hired that eleven-seater jeepney, the whole barangay will be sending me to the airport. That's how popular Marex is in our place.
We passed by Uraya Farms to where tourists usually bought variety of fruits as pasalubong. I handpicked myself fresh and frozen fruits (though I didn't know anything about fruits). Four pieces of fresh durians on a specialized container, eight pieces of fresh durian wrapped on a newspaper and placed on an ordinary plastic bag before being slipped inside my travelling bag. Then two styro boxes of frozen durians, a bagful of assorted processed durians, and the count went on. When everything was fixed and bill was already paid, I positioned myself to take photos of the fruits on display (I asked the consent of the shop tender ahead of time) when I took noticed of a huge number of people leaving their work and start gathering around us, and there were other customers, too. I felt uncomfortable so I refrained doing such. We hastily left the shop. Later did I found out the people were intrigued with the huge camera bag slung over my shoulder and with the black utility vest I was wearing with the 23rd SEA Games print on it. They must have thought I am a man from media or the local TV or some sort.
When I checked in at the airport, I found out they don't have X-ray machines. Baggage inspection is done manually (I can't believe such airport still exists at this present time!). It was, oh...(Seemed like I was transported back to the primitive age).
The inspector found out that eight out of twelve fresh durian were not packed properly, and I was told the airline didn't allow such because of its pungent smell (Of course, I knew that. I was in the travel agency before). I argued with the inspector that those durians didn't give off such undesirable smell until he ripped opened those plastic. Anyway, I gave up right away. I know it doesn't make any sense arguing with personnel who were just following orders verbatim from the higher. I instead decided to call up Marex. He and Jackie had just left. I knew I had enough time if those questionable goods would be repacked properly. I tried to dial their numbers, only to find out I didn't have any signal (damn!)
I ended up leaving those fresh durians behind. Of what they are going to do with it, I no longer care :( At least I still have four as pasalubong for a very special friend way back in Manila.
Flight was delayed for more than an hour (I hate to say it's two - I'm still grateful with Cebu Pacific for its P20 airfare promo).
Up in the air, I took several aerial photos. I also thought of taking photograph that beautiful flight attendant. Yes, I did it. I had exactly in mind my good German friend since the beginning of MIP, Francis Veilhart, when I took photo of that lovely face.
Then, there was a game onboard. I forgot what the question was as I was too sleepy then but what I do remember is that I won a cellphone pouch that you would have to tie around your neck. It has two pocket back to back, perfect for a guy like me having two cellphones. But what should I do with it? I already bought the same kind for P80 when I was enroute to Butuan!
When we reached the high altitude, clouds can be seen everywhere. It was an awesome feeling, way, way, up in the air. If only I can make a choice, I wish I'd be suspended in the mid-air forever. I no longer don't want to go back to my work.






Postscript: Update as of Oct. 25, 2007 Please see the photo album for this adventure that can be accessed from this link: http://dodongflores.multiply.com/photos/album/22/Agusan_del_Norte.


published by dodong flores 도동 플로오리스 @ 2:36:00 AM Permalink Links to this post 15 comments from: Anonymous Anonymous, Blogger dodongflores, Blogger Third, Anonymous dodong flores, Anonymous tani, Blogger dodong flores, Anonymous RennyBA, Anonymous dodong flores, Anonymous Rey, Anonymous thess, Blogger dodong flores, Blogger philippine dragonfly, Blogger dodong flores, Anonymous Carlfinity, Anonymous Anonymous,


  1. At 3:32 AM, December 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…
    Just came across your blog. It's nice.  
  2. At 10:08 AM, December 25, 2006, Blogger dodongflores said…
    Thank you very much. I wish I know your name...  
  3. At 11:22 PM, February 01, 2007, Blogger Third said…
    Hahaha. It's really true. People mistakenly think of you to be forgetting your mothertongue that they try too hard to be speaking in Tagalog.

    It also happened to me. And I was thinking "What's wrong with these people? I miss this dialect and I want to practice speaking it here. Why can't they give me the indulgence of talking in straight Bisaya? Bakit?"  
  4. At 12:38 PM, February 02, 2007, Anonymous dodong flores said…
    You're right, Third :) Very true!

    Anyway, I did speak in Bisaya so they were kind of amazed of me. The only difference then is that while they were speaking in a hard accent in Cebuano, I was speaking in the way of soft Ilonggo accent. Our choice of words differ a little bit but nevertheless, we understood each other...

    Thanx for dropping by :)
  5. At 6:46 PM, October 25, 2007, Anonymous tani said…
    as usual, you had another interesting travel to Butuan. nice photos particularly that lonely stretch of dirt road. sarap siguro mag-bike dun. guess you thought your kickboxing instructor would stay forever lean... :)  
  6. At 6:59 PM, October 25, 2007, Blogger dodong flores said…
    You're right, Tani. He sported a lean body the last time I saw him (about 20 years ago, Hehehe). I never realized how time had flew that far **sigh**
    Thanx for appreciating those Butuan photos. Yes, we used to bike there before... :)  
  7. At 3:20 AM, October 26, 2007, Anonymous RennyBA said…
    Thanks for sharing your hometown and with passion and great information. One can tell you've prepared very well for this trip and I liked the trick of using your PDA for taking notes.

    This was very readable and since I've never been there, it was interesting to see it through your eyes in all the details and with well documented pics.  
  8. At 9:12 AM, October 26, 2007, Anonymous dodong flores said…
    Hi, RennyBA!
    Thanx for taking time reading this entry and I thank you as well that you like it the way it is written. Good day to you...  
  9. At 1:56 PM, October 26, 2007, Anonymous Rey said…
    Hey dong!

    Never knew you're from Butuan. I grew up in Gingoog City before I moved out for college and finally settled in Cagayan de Oro(before going here in Singapore). I have many freinds in Butuan.  
  10. At 7:35 PM, October 26, 2007, Anonymous thess said…
    Hi Dodong!

    Same thing happened to my belongings too, I found out that most of them have 'vanished' :-( From old photos, clothes, recordings (tapes even 45s) were gone. But I'm glad you're able to listen to you old cassette tapes. I can imagine the reminiscing you had.

    My eyes got stuck to the chicken images *yummy!*
    and sayang hindi mo na-meet ulit ang ex mo..that would have been interesting.

    I wish you a good week end, Dong!  
  11. At 3:50 PM, October 27, 2007, Blogger dodong flores said…
    Thess, thanx and you can relate of how I feel :)
    There's no need to meet my ex :D
    Lechon manok there in Butuan is simply delicious ;)  
  12. At 11:21 PM, January 21, 2008, Blogger philippine dragonfly said…
    i already saw this before sometime ago when i googled butuan but i found no travel related post.not much info on butuan in the internet.will postmy own travel guide on butuan one of these days  
  13. At 5:23 PM, January 22, 2008, Blogger dodong flores said…
    Tutubi, yes, unfortunately, the story is more of personal account than a travel guide.
    I'll wait for your travel guide about Butuan and let me know when it's up. That's very much appreciated...  
  14. At 11:28 PM, February 04, 2010, Anonymous Carlfinity said…
    What a long and interesting blog post you have here. In my opinion, Chooks lechon manok is the newest craving in town.  
  15. At 5:42 PM, May 06, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said…
    Bakit wala pics?  

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