18-Jun-2003 -- We planned this trip early this month when June 19th, a Thursday, is a holiday in Laguna where I work, the town where the Filipino National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal was born. I took a two-day leave on June 18th and June 20th to complete a five-day long weekend. It would be a 670 kilometer trip from Manila to Calbayog City in the island of Samar and along the way near the southern tip of Luzon is Sorsogon, the city about 3 kilometers away from 13N 124E. Calbayog City is our final destination and is the hometown of my wife. We were inspecting an ongoing construction of our two-storey vacation house in the fishing village of Matobato.
The previous postings of two attempted visits of this confluence served as fair warning that this may not be an easy visit like my first in 15N 121E in May 2003. On the other hand, the photos of those attempts show that the guy was not serious enough to veer away from the highways. We were prepared to walk the last mile.
Santah my wife, Remus my eldest son and I left Manila at 2:30 AM of June 18th. We reached Sorsogon boundary at 10:00 AM and started changing my GPS direction to the coordinates of the village of Ticol and started counting off the small villages after another aiming for Macabog, where I thought the confluence was. We picked this detour rough road route avoiding the traffic of Sorsogon City and made a left turn to the only service road pointing the general direction of the confluence. Upon reaching the dead-end, we left the comfort of the car and asked around which way to go to Macabog. When the locals pointed direction at almost 90 degrees to the left of my GPS pointer, I knew that our target was not Macabog but the next town, San Juan.
At a good 1.2 kilometers away, we started walking across the rolling hills of coconut fields, streams, farms and bushes. We always followed trails even if these were slightly off the GPS pointer and made decisions to change course along the way. I will not make the same mistakes of my engineer brother Raul in his visit to 11N 124E who followed a straight line, believing the theorem that a line between two points is the shortest distance. Believe me it is not. Trails are the product of statistical attempts of men trying to reach a point in an uneven field full of natural obstructions and therefore it is the shortest distance, all elements considered. You will not find this in any geometry books because it is only a keen observation from a developing confluence hunter.
The confluence is in the midst of a newly planted rice field. We had to walk single file in the last 50 meters on the very narrow dike in a zigzag pattern to reach it. It was pure luck that it was near where the dikes intersect so we had enough grounds for the three of us to stand plus that of the local boy to get our photographs. One small problem: I wanted to pull out the farmer’s flag used to scare off rats so Alex Jarrett won’t ask me to have photo no. 1 without “things we put there”. I can’t because the stick has rooted and evident by the leaves at its tip. Well, we did not put it there so that should be OK.
We spent two hours for the confluence diversion but we still made it to the 4:00 PM schedule of the ferryboat crossing from Matnog, Sorsogon to Allen, Samar.
I decided to cancel the plan to visit 12N 124E near Cataingan, Masbate on June 20th because of lack of preparation. We needed to travel by small pumpboat from Calbayog City to Masbate but I cannot find a reliable boatman who has the experience to do the 4-hour trip across an open sea. I have a high respect of the sea and another neophyte like us as boatman is taking too much chances. Also, Raul wants to do the visit himself. Well, he can have it if he will not waste too much time. There are enough confluences to visit in the Philippines anyway.
So long for the next visit probably in November this year. For the meantime Remus and I will savor the enjoyment of offshore fishing!