05-Apr-2004 -- Monday. This is my fifth unique confluence coming just two days after my successful fourth visit at 14N 122E in Plaridel, Quezon.
Our goal was to visit 12N 124E Confluence at about ½ kilometer from the port of Cataingan and merely 100 meters offshore as shown in the topographical map that I bought earlier from NAMRIA. But first we had to cross the sea between Samar and Masbate.
Santah and I decided to ride the wooden passenger ferryboat that crossed from Calbayog City to Cataingan, Masbate. We left the port of Calbayog City at noon of April 5th 2004 aware that this ferryboat would comeback only on Holy Thursday, April 8th. We took the chance that once we reached Cataingan, we could find more information about the reported daily trip back to Pena, Samar merely 30 kilometers north of our house at Matobato, Calbayog City. We planned to come back next day and to stay overnight in Cataingan. This vessel carried about 80 passengers that literally competed with the cargoes for space. Passengers needed to be imaginative how to spend their 4-hour trip. I took the bamboo floor and leaned on sacks of rice and was able to catch some sleep. Santah, like most others, sat on wooden plank without backrest the whole trip. Two surplus diesel truck engines that were started with a rope pulled by 6 men powered the boat. This is typical of inter-island vessels in this country of 7000 islands. We reached Cataingan about 4:05 PM. Just perfect with plenty of time to search the confluence before darkness fall.
We quickly rented a small banca to take us to the confluence just 500 meters away but when we reached the area in few minutes, the GPS pointed about 150 meters inland and not on the sea as expected. Again the map was grossly wrong. The beach was muddy with crowded houses creeping the shoreline and no space to land. We decided to go back to Cataingan pier and took a tricycle to bring us to “Senorita” district, where the boatman told us the area to go. We reached this small street and disembarked when the GPS read single digit. We walked through the street to let the GPS get its bearing and it occurred to us that the exact spot was on this unfinished but occupied house. I had been to four other confluences before but this was the first time it fell on a populated area. This was a surprise and totally unexpected in this very remote fishing island village. After the obligatory photos, we decided to get to the next order of business: how to get out of this island.
We went back to the pier and asked around about the next trip back to Calbayog. We were told in no uncertain terms that the next trips would be 3 days later. There was no daily trip to Pena, Samar. We had not planned to get stranded here. We checked the motorboat at the pier and haggled for a special trip and we settled at 2,000 Pesos. We left Cataingan just before sundown for the 60-kilometer journey. What helped the boatman to decide to do this trip at night was that with the full moon and clear skies, the fair sea is well illuminated. Just perfect. The travel on the high sea with the full moon’s panoramic reflections on the sea waves was a bonus experience of a lifetime.
We made it to the port of Calbayog at 9:30 PM. Another confluence mission accomplished in less than 12 hours.