04-Sep-2011 -- On our way back to Samar from Davao, we took a quick detour to visit 8N 126E Confluence in Barangay San Jose, Town of Santa Josefa in Agusan del Sur.
8N 126E is located one degree north of 7N 126E Confluence that we previously visited in Banaybanay in Davao Oriental last September 1, 2011. This new confluence is about 110 km north of 7N 126E and happened to be within 10 kilometers from the highway. It was first visited by an American in 2008 but he chose to invoke the “within 50 meter” rule to consider the visit a success. I thought this was not enough for me and we decided to go to the exact spot. I knew the rice paddies during this time of the year cannot be knee deep and it should not be a problem. If I can do it, Santah, my wife can also do it. So we did it together. The location was a mere 200 meters walk from the nearest dirt road and one of the easiest hike for me.
This confluence visit was the culmination of our week-long trip to Davao. Francis brought us to Paradise Resort in Samal Island for a quick swim and a dinner at Jake’s “Tacubo” Place at the hill overlooking Davao City together with his wife Lita who just arrived from Hong Kong. The next day, Saturday, we visited the place of Ms. Betty More in Panabo City where she has a small processing plant for coco sugar. This is the main reason we went to Davao, to understand first-hand how she did it. As a side trip, we visited Tadeco’s (Tagum Development Company) 5,212-hectare banana plantation in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte owned by the Floreindos, considered the biggest banana plantation in Davao where 800 workers are prisoners in Davao Penal Colony. They get half of their pay which they can spend or share with their families and the other half is a forced saving which they can collect at the end of their sentences. Cavendish bananas produced by the farm are bought solely by Del Monte and exported to Japan, Hong Kong, etc. Over 30 million boxes of banana are exported yearly. Cavendish variety of banana is not sold locally but Santah & Francis were able to get a bunch each from a kind worker-supervisor who happened to be harvesting outside Tadeco but he refused our offer to pay and he gave the bananas for free instead.
Up to the last days, Esper & Fe took care of us. We went to Ahfat Chinese restaurant for dinner and Probinsiya for breakfast on the day of our departure. Many “pabaon” were given to us for our trip back home. It was a total pleasure to have them as our hosts.
I tried to catch the 4 PM ferry boat schedule from Lipata, Surigao but to no avail when I made an error to go to Surigao City. I should have used the backtrack feature of my GPS. We made it to Lipata late at 4:30 PM. For a confluence hunter, this was an embarrassing mistake. We took the 7:30 PM Maharlika 4-hour trip to Lilo-an, Leyte. I could have taken the shorter Montenegro trip to San Ricardo at 8:00 PM but what worried me was the unassisted “The Saddle” zigzag road which is definitely dangerous if there is an encounter during the U-turn climb. I fancied myself as a good, experienced driver and my Isuzu D-Max truck is probably one of the most reliable pick-up trucks in this country but the 3rd element for safe drive, the road, is beyond me. This route was skipped when we chose the ferry to Lilo-an. They need to expand the road width at “The Saddle” or provide 24-hour traffic control just like what is done in “Bitukang Manok” in Atimonan route.
We reached Lilo-an, Leyte at midnight and we decided to sleep in my pick-up truck until 5:00 PM. We had a leisurely drive to Samar and long stop-over in Tacloban. We made it at lunch at our place in Matobato, Calbayog City. This was a good trip. Thanks to Francis, Lita, Esper and Fe.