Saturday, October 29, 2011

Backpacker: Santa Ana, Cagayan

Previously on Souljacker

Third Part: Royal Snub at the Eastern Hawaii

Backpacking presents two ways of learning from a road trip: One is to be immersed in the local setting and enjoy - first hand - the hospitality of ordinary folks. The other is to get the same kind of treatment most locals receive when entering a place strictly for tourists who have the influence, and money to spend. 

Life isn't fair.

We learn, and in my case, I write my experience.

At a sari-sari store a few steps away from Jotay Resort:

"Manong, may mga alam ba kayong resort dito na okay?" I asked the storekeeper while lighting a stick of Marboro Lights. I couldn't tell exactly that I'm looking for a place with Internet connection.

"Diyan sa Jotay, ayos diyan." was his quick response.

I puffed my stick and then replied "Kagagaling ko lang po doon, wala daw silang available na room." His wife joined us to help me with my dilemma.

The storekeepers mentioned a number of jolog-sounding resorts, which I didn't bother to remember. After all, I did my homework back in the city and what I needed was a name recall. When he mentioned Eastern, I found my next option. Read from travel blogs that it is a high-end resort and I'm expecting they have my only requirement. 

After getting instructions on how to reach the main road, I left the store with a flyer in hand.

A flyer listing all the expensive places a tourist should see in Santa Ana.

Main Highway, Santa Ana, Cagayan

Of all the things I immediately picked in town, it is that the locals are very helpful and deal situations in a leisurely manner. In another store along the highway, the lady storekeeper instructed me how to ride a trike going to my next resort, and pay the correct fare. I was duped the first time kasi.

Inside the trike, a passenger beside me forgot the keys to her house (for the nth time according to her) and the tricycle driver didn't even grumble when we had to turn around and get it from her house. I didn't rush either. For aside from receiving a very sincere apology, I was having fun seeing how such small gestures are common here. Good vibes are everywhere and I don't want to spoil it. 

However, things began to sour after the trike dropped me off in front of the Eastern Hawaii Resort.

I didn't know that the resort villas are separated from the main hotel which is just across the street. It took me some ten minutes of walking to get from my drop-off point to the side gate where the guard told me to wait, while the front desk decides whether to let me in or not.

By then, I was running out of options and had to call JC to tell him my situation. It was past 8 in the morning and the partner has not heard from me since the night before. I had to reveal my surprise and I need to.

Because I am:

Exhausted from my 15-hour trip. 
Frustrated because my idea is crumbling right before my eyes
And by being told to wait when all I ever wanted is to ask about the hotel's room rates.

I am pushed too far.  

Really hate it when I snap.

And because I felt that I was receiving that kind of treatment simply because I walked from the main road to the gate, and because I was wearing jeans and shirt, with a huge backpack on my back doesn't mean I can't pay.

I fell victim to trial by first impression.

"Sampal ko sa kanila yung credit card ko eh," I was telling Baabaa while walking away. The guards didn't allow me in simply because I have no reservations. 

Like the cool breeze from the mountain caressing my face and my partner's stern voice on the phone urging me not to make a scene, my temper dissipated the moment my eyes caught up with the open countryside. And like a flip of a switch, I changed topics with my partner and described instead the sights and sounds of the small town.

"Ay wait picturan ko yung cow!!" The cow was on the other side of the road, grazing in a patch of grass next to the highway.

Cow and Cattle Egret

"Hangkyut nung mga kambiiing!!!" I passed by a goat and behind her were her kids. I received a barrage of bleats, while trying to approach them.

The empty road stretches on to the horizon and instead of turning back towards the Centro, I took a hike going to that part of town where talahib grasses grew everywhere. I'm sure my intention was not to get raped. its almost 9 in the morning and the partner was still on the phone, checking on the Internet what other resorts were available.

I didn't know either what was going on in my head. Maybe I was trying to reach on foot that newly opened, glitzier resort the bus passed by on our way to the town center that morning. I think its called Avalon Beach Club, and as far as I know, no blogger has ever written yet about the place.


"Baaboo check mo ito," Suddenly my stream of thoughts were interrupted. "Country Inn by the Sea. I think its near your location."

Country Inn, yeah I think it was supposed to be my alternative lodging. It's not as expensive as Eastern and it has Internet connection too, like Jotay.

I walked a little further until I passed by a group of farmers heading towards the opposite direction. I asked if they knew where Country Inn was, but instead of giving me answers, all I received were smiles.

"Ask mo Baaboo saan sa Centro." Tamang tama naman a trike stopped in front of me.

"Manong Country Inn po tayo." I sat across an old lady who smiled at me. Maybe she knew I am an outsider and was lost.

The trike raced towards the town center while inside the passenger carriage, my eyes were fixed on the road to trace back my footsteps from Eastern to the very spot where I stopped. It was a half kilometer walk I think. I also caught glimpse of the snotty hotel and the villa across, where I learned that a cemetery sits nearby.

"So much for a night dip at the infinity pool." I thought.

"I don't want to have close encounters with the living dead.

- tobecontinued - 


Martin said...

Hahahahaha great adventure! Gawain ko rin kasi ang spontaneous trip. Mas madali kapag kausap mo ang mga local drivers about saan pwede magstay na mura. marami sila alam. saka tama ka sa mga nagtitinda maayos magtanong kung magkano naman ang pamasahe sa transpo. Pero generally safe ka pa rin naman dito sa Pinas eh basta wag lang pauto agad.

Nakakatuwa ang post mo naiimagine ko talaga ang whereabouts mo... hahahaha

Mugen said...


First time ko mag solo travel kaya himay na himay ang Cagayan trip ko. Lolz. Malalaman mo in the last two parts what else happened. Hirap lang magcompose ng entry pero kahit ako excited na ipakita na yung mga pictures... :)

the green breaker said...

close to beating someone, eh? haha. buti na lang you kept your cool kuya Joms. you don't want to mess with people in a completely dystopic scenario.

Martin said...

Lemme borrow GB and call you "kuya joms" too... hahahaha.. Well that made it more thrilling! Having a trip somewhere as solo traveller will give you great insights of what the world could offer. I'm sure you learned a lot in your solo trip than any other trips you had before. And it was more exciting and romantic too as it was dedicated to JC if I am not mistaken... Kuddos to you!

Pepe said...

tuwang-tuwa ako sa eksena sa gate ng Country Inn.

pero alam mo, kapag ganitong mga trip, maliban siguro sa security (minsan nga di na rin, hehe), wala na halos akong ibang major requirement sa tutuluyan. otherwise, i would feel back in the city again. i can even sleep over in a kubo, walang aircon, walang wifi, walang signal. so long as i keep my wallet with me and of course, my breathing. hehe

kwento ka pa! napipicture out ko yong mga baka at ang biglang shift ng reaksyon mo. exciting! LOL

Pepe said...

tuwang-tuwa ako sa eksena sa gate ng Country Inn. (Eastern Hawaiian pala. hehe)

Poyee said...

sana magawa ko rin yung ganito...

hot_bicycle said...

aha u wer in cagayan valeey (wink)

bien said...

Jotay Resort? Pangalan pa lang, alam mo nang walang idudulot na ligaya sa yo ahahahaha

natawa naman ako sa baka at kambing, swerte din ng mga probinsyanong gaya ko

Anonymous said...

marami ng reklamo sa net tungkol sa Jotay na yan....sabagay mababait naman tao sa Cagayan. Taga diyan din ako.

Mach said...

Never been in a solo trip pero mukhang magagawa ko na in the next few months.

Nakakatuwa ang experience mo. ;p

Mugen said...


A journey with all by yourself is a journey to yourself. :)


Isa ba sila dun sa sinasabing resort na front lang yung resort pero merong karnehang nagaganap?


Ang pakiramdam ko the whole time eh ako yung city boy na overwhelmed sa sights and sounds ng probinsya.

Its the other way around. :)

Mugen said...

Hot Bicycle:

Something tells me, duon ang iyong base of operations. Either Aparri yan o Tuguegarao. Hihihi.


Dare yourself and you can do it. :)


Now that you've mentioned it. Masisiraan ako ng bait sa isang lugar na walang cellphone signal. Lolz.

I may not be able to completely give up my urban roots. :/

Super Mario Palad said...

Awesome. My boyfriend is from Santa Ana, Cagayan also. He felt pretty excited when he read about your experience there. Sabi nya, medyo mahal daw ang singil ng mga hotel sayo. Haha. I bet they would give you lower rates if you could speak Ilocano.

But very cool travelogue. :)

Mugen said...

Super Mario:

I wonder who's your partner and how did he find out about my travelogue. Hehe. Thanks for dropping by. Wala pa dito yung walk trip ko sa Centro. I'm sure he would find the place totally familiar. :)

Martin said...

Inakala ko noon na napost yung reply ko. Anyway, minsan ayos din ang solo travel para mas makikilala mo ang sarili mo at malaman ang iba pang kakayahan mo. Aabangan namin ang mga pictures sa mga susunod na post mo

Super Mario Palad said...

Looking forward to that Centro post. :)

Mugen said...


Yup, di ako makakamove on hanggang di ko natatapos tong series na ito. Hehe.


Thanks. :)