Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Green, Green Grass of Home

My wife Lydia and I recently returned from a trip to her home town, Gumaca, Quezon, which is about 210 km south east and a 5 1/2 hour bus ride from our locale in Quezon City. It was good to get away from the concrete jungle of Metro-Manila for a few days.  Another incentive is seeing  Lydia's step-niece who roll outs the red carpet when we visit there.

Gumaca is a bustling municipality with a population of about 65,000; but it's  small enough such that the greenery of the countryside is a just a walk or short tricycle ride away from any point in town. Another scenic area is the promenade along Lamon Bay in the middle of town. One of the best times of the day to enjoy Gumaca is just after dawn while the air is still (relatively) cool.  Many people are already up and about strolling or buying pan de sal and other breakfast goodies. Property owners are outside sweeping their walkways and burning fallen leaves.  The air is redolent with that scent, along with that of  smoked copra (a form of processing coconuts), and of sea air if you happen to be near the bay.

There are a couple hotels in or near Gumaca.  One of which that comes to mind is the the Perennial.  This establishment is in Gumaca proper on Rizal Street, the main artery of town.  Lydia and I have stayed there and found it to be adequate.   The rooms are small but clean, air conditioned, and have their own bathrooms. Room rate as of Sept ., 2009 was P800, but we managed to tawad it down to P500.  Another hotel is the Acacian, about 15 minutes north of Gumaca located along Maharlika Highway (the national road).  I've never been there but from the outside the place looks attractive. I've heard that the interior is also pleasant and that there's a restaurant on the premises. So guests don't have to travel into town just to eat.

Speaking of  food, in Gumaca you will find the the ubiquitous Jollibee and Chow King eateries.  But if you really want a great  meal, check out the Kapit Bahay  Restaurant.  The selection and quality of the food there  which is mainly native and Chinese cuisine are competitive with the better restaurants in Metro-Manila, and a lot cheaper.  Fried (half) chicken for example is P125.

While we were there we visited a coconut plantation  in Barangay Rosalino near the town of  Pitogo, which is about a  20 minute jeepney ride from Gumaca.  Walking through this forest-like area was very relaxing and so quiet that the only sound was that of birds singing.  As such,  it was the highlight of my visit.

Lydia, who has a love for landscaping and a talent to match, spent time on beautification of a property which we own in Gumaca and have up for sale. She is in her element with this kind of work and does it with the passion of an artist, shaping the land and creating a rolling hillside garden. 

The only downside of our visit was the weather, which was miserably hot and humid. But it  certainly was no worse than that in Metro-Manila. Just about the time we left Gumaca in the middle of the week,  the extended heat spell over this part of Luzon finally broke, and the weather has since turned a bit rainy.

I would like to visit Gumaca more often, but due to  health considerations lengthy bus rides are no longer my cup of  tea (Lydia tolerates them better than I do).  In all fairness, I should mention that the trip itself is actually broken up by a change of buses at the Grand Central  Terminal in Lucena City, about 3 hours from Metro-Manila.  Grand Central like its namesake is huge but-- including the the restrooms (which charge P5  for use)--surprisingly clean.  One of the better bus lines to Lucena City is Jac Liner, which offers air conditioned coaches, comfortable seats, and a movie.  The trip from Lucena City  to Gumaca and points south is not as pleasant.  The buses on all the lines heading in that direction are messy and not air conditioned. An alternate means of transportation to travel between M-Manila and Gumaca (and other destinations  of course)  would be to hire a car and driver.  However, that's a rather pricey proposition, about 10 times the price of a bus ticket.

Well, homebody that I am, I'm glad that I made the decision to take a break from my routine and make this journey. Despite the discomforts it was worth the trip.


8 comments:

ML said...

very good info.

Secular Guy said...

Thanks, ML.

I aim to please.

Jonha Ducayag Revesencio said...

I don't know but I am starting to be drawn to your posts mainly because your writing style tends to be more novel-like (not the length thereof) but just how you can beautifully and aptly describe things, I think it's so magical like I don't know. Perhaps it's just an innate talent that you have and I am sharing it with the world. I have read several nasty comments about the Philippines (some are true, some plain rude and biased while others are simply overtly eccentric) but it's kind of interesting to see plain beautiful thoughts and truths in your blog. I enjoy seeing the Philippines in your perspective and I'd bet all your other readers would agree. :)

Rick said...

Johna,

Thank you so much for your kind words. It's a real job to express myself clearly and at the same time try to keep readers satisfied and interested enough to come back for more.

I am often frustrated with the Philippines is because there is so much "underachievement" here. I believe that this country is capable of doing great things if the people would only apply themselves and not be content with "pwede na".

Secular Guy

Jonha Ducayag Revesencio said...

You are right about the Philippines having the chance and potential of getting better if more and more Filipinos would give heed to several wake up calls that's been happening around us. It's saddening but I guess all we could do is to start and be the change we want wish to see in the world, start it in our very own homes and try not to criticize other people's weaknesses (of which I noticed you don't, there's a big difference between simply stating and criticizing). Thank you again for sharing your great thoughts about the Philippines! Mabuhay ka!

Secular Guy said...

You're welcome, Jonha. Your comments made my day.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind words and recommendation. We appreciate it.
- Kapitbahay

Secular Guy said...

You're welcome, KB. I'm glad to see that the restaurant is still in business after all this time.