Last week, I arrived in Cebu City on Tuesday. On Wednesday I had plans to head north to Bogo. I had never been north of Cebu City before (on the northern part of the Island of Cebu, I mean), so it was a trip I was looking forward to. Anytime I get to see a new area of the Philippines for the first time, it is a special thing for me. I’ve lived here over 9 years now, and there are still a lot of areas where I am still exploring and getting to know the country better. I have visited Cebu City a number of times, and headed pretty far south of the City, but this was my first chance to head to the north.
Cebu Roller Coaster
Over the years, I have heard from several expat friends living in various areas of Cebu how bad the bus drivers were there. I mean, they are not bad drivers, but they drive in a totally crazy way. Very fast, and very wild. Well, I am pretty familiar with the buses in Mindanao, and I figured that the Cebu buses were operated in much the same manner. Oh, how wrong I was! My friend, Rusty, had told me that the buses were the “Cebu Roller Coaster” or some term similar to that. He was right on target too.
I started out the morning by catching a taxi from the Pacific Pensionne House where I was staying in the City. I was kind of caught off guard when the taxi driver started talking to me as if he knew me already (speaking in Bisaya to me from the start), and he knew that I was going to Bogo and everything. Hmm… very strange! How could it be? Well, I soon found out that he thought that I was somebody else. There is another expat living in Cebu, that I suppose looks a little similar to me, he speaks Bisaya, and he goes to Bogo pretty regularly. Unfortunately, he has kind of a bad reputation, though, from some of his antics. After my experience with this taxi driver, I soon discovered that a LOT of people thought that I was this other fellow. Just what I needed. Anyway, the taxi driver took me to the Cebu North Bus Terminal, and I caught a bus to Bogo.
After having been told how wild the bus drivers were, I probably made a mistake by choosing the bus that I did. But, the next bus ready to leave was a bus from a bus line called “Rough Riders” and indeed, they lived up to their name! The first half of the trip, once we got out of town and on to the highway north, if I looked forward through the windshield of the bus, I literally was scared to death, seeing the way the driver was driving! Any of you who have visited me and gone anywhere with me know that I drive pretty aggressively, and it scares some people the way I drive. However, I drive like a grandma from Pasadena in comparison to this bus ride. Even if there was oncoming traffic, the driver would pull over to pass – the guy coming in the other lane would just have to pull off the road, too bad for him. When he was following traffic, he would literally ride the tail of the front vehicle with only about one foot of space between the two vehicles!
With this kind of driving, I sent a text message to Rusty in Bogo, and told him I was scared to death. Rusty replied to my text:
Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you, don’t look out the window and see the traffic. you can’t do anything about it anyway!
Oh, my, how comforting! So, Rough Rider was an interesting bus drive. It took about 2 1/2 hours to reach Bogo, with some very scenic views along the way (when I dared to look out the windows!).
A farm bus?
Riding on the bus with me were a whole lot of guys with their fighting cocks. For the most part, they would have their fighting cocks in boxes, but you would often hear the cocks crowing along the way. What an interesting ride! One fellow got on the bus in Danao, Cebu, with a chicken (I think it’s a female, or maybe just a young cock) that was not in a box. Rusty told me that he had never seen somebody have a bird that was not in a box, so it was rare to see this.
While riding the bus, I noticed a bumper sticker on the wall of the bus advertising “Balitang Bisdak.” Balita is “news” and Bisdak is kind of a cute made-up word that means “Bisayang Dako” or somebody who really speaks Bisaya. So, Balitang Bisdak is the Bisaya News, I believe it is a TV program on the GMA network in Cebu. Being a Bisaya speaker myself, I got a kick out of this bumper sticker. And, riding the bus gave me plenty of opportunity to speak Bisaya with other passengers. The people were so friendly and helpful. I noticed how they would kind of “look out for me” since I was a foreigner, and the fact that I could speak Bisaya kind of made me their friend, and they made sure to take special care of me and made sure that I had a nice trip. I met a girl from Bantayan Island who was sitting next to me on the bus. She was always pointing out things along the way to me, telling me what town we were in, pointing out any landmarks along the way, etc. Very friendly. I got a little laugh, because as we started getting near to my destination of Bogo, she asked if I was already married (maybe she was looking?) and I told her that I was. She was a cute girl of maybe 25 years old or so. She told me that she was a teacher, and seemed to be bright and intelligent. I told her that I thought she was already married, because she was wearing a wedding ring, but she told me that it was her mother’s ring, and she was still single. She asked if I had any friends that I could introduce her to. ha ha… so typical here in the Philippines. Nice girl, though. Anybody interested? 🙂
On the way back to Cebu, I rode on a larger bus line, Ceres. They had a big fancy, rather new bus, compared to the rather old worn out bus that I rode north on.
Gun on the bus!
One thing that was kind of interesting on the trip back to Cebu, about 30 minutes into the ride, the driver pulled over to pick up some passengers. It was a family of 2 or 3 kids, a lady and her husband. The people looked to me like they were probably farmers. I was kind of surprised to see that the man was carrying a rifle with him! It was an old rifle, and all rusty. Looked like it had seen it’s better days. I’m not even sure that it would still fire a bullet, and I sure don’t know why the fellow was carrying the gun with him on the bus. Feyma told me that he might be NPA, but I am not really sure about that. He seemed like a nice guy. I really wanted to take his picture, but I was hesitant to do so. You don’t want to get a man with a gun angry at you, after all! A little ways down the road I heard the man and his wife talking and it was obvious to me that they would be getting off the bus pretty soon, so I took a chance. I turned and asked the man (in Bisaya of course) if it would be OK if I took his photo. He smiled and said “Walay problema” (no problem). So, I snapped it. By the way, the ride south was a little calmer than the ride north. The driver was a little more relaxed, I think.
Don’t forget to check back tomorrow, when I’ll be writing about my visit to Bogo, meeting with Rusty and my day there. See you then?