Traveling for Work
Earlier this year, I was (un)lucky enough to be reassigned to the account that I thought I’d never be going back to. Only this time around, the assignment’s scope is nationwide, as in I got to go to places in different parts of the country where there a project site exists. Meaning, my employer would reimburse my travel expenses as long as they’re official business trips.
This is a good time as any, for me at least, to recall these trips, knowing that travel is something I shall not be doing any time soon, until 30 Apr, according to someone. And to be tethered to the house we choose, to help to flatten the curve, except for the few times that we have to run to the nearest wet market for food supplies.
Anyway, let me put here my travel notes, plus some photos – ranging from late January to late February – without mentioning anything work-related, because damn it, I dislike working that much!
Stuck in BD’s orange Vios (which by the way, is everywhere these days, ugly as it is) with the U-Team for almost four hours now since we left Quezon City. Since I heard the term, I’ve been promoting radical transparency where applicable, but the people of U-Team take it to the next level with their misogyny and sexism! And I was supposed to listen through it without complaining. I shouldn’t be surprised, since a DOM leads them with his Boomer machismo. I remained silent throughout AA’s (the DOM) yapping. Back in the passenger seat, I was sandwiched between two men… and I truly hope that doesn’t come off as an innuendo. Nothing particularly interesting here.
San Fernando, La Union
We were booked in an inn called Little Surf Maid. This is my first beach of the year, and I wouldn’t have thought it would be because of some stupid work. In the many establishments that proliferate the beach side, the people of U-Team, headed by AA (who else), chose the most suffocating, un-ventilated, grimy nipa hut to drink one bottle of beer. His taste couldn’t be any less succinct. My colleague, AC, agrees that there are a lot of better food out there – and I know this myself because I explored a little along the street that night alone.
The only thing worth remembering here is the after-work, of course. The sooner I forget the dayshift, the better. I spent the night sharing good food with Isya’s mother, Merci, and her partner, Tito Jorge in a Chinese-filled Chinese bistro (Halang Halang it is called). This was also around the time when nCoV-19 was making its rounds offshore, still a whisper away. Before our orders even came, a power interruption made the night, uh, spicier, more than the food, even more so than the Chinese people who were relentlessly coughing and sneezing nearby. The brownout experience, though, was redeemed by their great food.
In travels involving flights, I made it a point to at least give the scene below some looking. With my limited knowledge on local geography (yes to Pinoy Pride!), I can’t always figure out what place I am on top of. It doesn’t help that I’m no navigator, nor a traveller with a sense of direction. But I’m working on all of that. Meanwhile, that mountain ridge, though…
Laoag, Ilocos Norte
I appreciate the efforts of people of Laoag to preserve and/or restore some of its old architecture, which supposedly is a blend of Spanish and Ilocano sensibilities. Whether this is by choice or by the fact that erecting new structures is costly, I didn’t have the chance to know. I don’t speak Ilocano, unfortunately, despite my wanting to. I could mimic a fragment of their accent, but that’s about it. Thus, my interactions were limited to my Tagalog tongue.
Food is good. I brought home two kilograms of bagnet (deep fried pork belly, Ilocan’s chicharon), which lasted us about a month. Natives of Ilocandia, if I may infer, are devotees of pork and vegetables. Who isn’t?
Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija
We went to a mall, everybody! One of the contractors offered lunch, and no one declined.
Tarlac City, Tarlac
It’s both hot and humid in the afternoon – typical weather in this region. Except it isn’t. These were the last few days of a fairly cool climate, and after that, everything would either melt or burn or wither in summer heat. Here in Tarlac, it would be flames, figuratively, I hope. But for now, enjoy the sun when it isn’t that warm yet.
Lucena City, Quezon Province
We were received with plenty of plates of food before our inspection. Our timing couldn’t be better: the P-Team there were celebrating their 30th Anniversary of Something, which seemed important, hence the buffet. After the work, we were invited again to partake in another set of food. It rained that afternoon. Even without umbrella, no cold nor flu befell me as I dared dash through the drizzle. Also worth noting: someone from the P-Team offered to buy me a big tin can of broas. I tried to pay him back, but he kept pushing the bills back to my palms, shaking his head, smiling.
Is Bacolod the city of smiles? I think that’s the tagline of another city. Bacolod burns its rubbish wherever it’s convenient. Thrash-filled streets were no fun to walk on. What’s worse is the perennial smoke from all the burning thrash. Some of their food is okay, though. We tried Mei’s Salmon House, an eat-all-you-can salmon-everything food place. Their fish, they say, is imported from Canada!
The first waft of air when I deplaned smelled like provincial cow shit, familiar and strong as always. I am reminded of much simpler times from way back… It was a brief visit, as usual, because the rest of it was business-related, and you know I’d drop that in a heartbeat. Much of Misamis Occidental breezed past me on a window, in an unruly car ride to…
Here we settled. I chose GV Hotel not for its outstanding services, which they don’t have, nor for their polished facilities, which they also don’t have. In fact, if you click that link, Agoda will tell you it’s a one-star hotel. No, I chose GV Hotel because of its close proximity to our next business agenda in Zamboanga del Norte. Boulevard is also just several streets away. After lunch in Grandma’s Best, we went to Dakak Beach Resort in…
This whole leg was just a side trip, but a much needed one, if only to break away from work even for just a few hours. By the beach in ‘Jalosjos Country’, I got to see again the sea, my second time this year. Fine white sand met rubber soles.
After that, we’re off to Rizal Shrine, about 10 kilometers away, a relatively short trip. The simple way of living of Pepe inspires me to do the same landscaping on our own residence in the future. We’ll see… I only have a few pictures as souvenirs.
At the time of writing, we are still in lockdown. The distance that we must only travel has been drastically reduced. Perhaps out of boredom we will document our homebound travels, so local in scope it can only be done for free; and blog about it.
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