* an army truck from the mountains; I tell you, you don’t want to meet it on your way - it scattered all the dust and dirt in the vicinity
Among the numerous eskapo (escape?) trips on the island of Mindoro, the trip to Dulangan in the town of Baco has been uniquely inspiring and risky, as would be explained fully later.
As far as I can remember, we boarded a jeepney bound for San Teodoro in order to reach Dulangan. Their jeepneys were exceptionally long, perhaps to accommodate more people for that long travel and one has to pay on a conductor at the end of the vehicle, like the ones in Davao. We dropped off at Cinco, this one I remember the most for I was able to make a poem with that title.
Tricycles were available for the trip to Dulangan proper, most of which were in contractual mode. We had to pay 90 pesos I think for it, but decided instead to wait for other passengers. Since it has been three years ago, I cannot possibly go into details about the fare. One thing is certain: it has been a long trip, battling on the way against dust, dirt, and rough roads.
Prior to the trip, I have already heard of the stories about members of the New People's Army (NPA) inhabiting the mountains and a certain resort somewhere in the mountain which was unfortunately destroyed by the onslaught of typhoon Milenyo in 2006.
* the kids after their school, it was during those moments that I had a genuine urge to be a teacher
It should not be surprising to one visiting a place in the province to have people greeting you as if you are a royalty. They treat visitors from other place (as in our case students from UP, which was enough back then to solicit respect) with so much enthusiasm you would have an idea that they long for new things. We visited some people to which my companion has relations, and they have that feeling of pride in having a relative from UP.
We then proceeded to visit a local high school. One has to cross a makeshift bridge over a sapa (creek?) in order to reach the place. A seeming isolated place, the school stands amidst the fields at the foot of the mighty Mount Halcon. If there has been any instance where I was treated like a celebrity, it was when I was there. The students almost ran out of their rooms to get a look at us, as if we are already in the Hall of Fame of the celebrity world. I can no longer translate into words the intensity of my feeling back at that time, when I realized that these young people here has so much to know about the world. They seemed to be satiated at their situation, but there was that air of longing to go beyond the borders of that wide expanse of rice fields. Thus, the title ‘Dream Land.’ Being there makes you want to dream for more, not because that not all things are provided for in the place, but because the serenity of the place and the creeping stagnation – as if things are suspended in dreams there – compels you to have a wider horizon of plans and dreams.
We talked to a budding teacher there; one who we knew has spent her college days working to sustain her school fees. Although she has so many chances of employment in Calapan, she chose instead to teach there perhaps because her family is there. In any case, I did not pursue the issue about dedication and heart for the education of the children.
With a torn Philippine flag still waving tiredly atop the school's flag pole, we traced the path back to the main road and ate a small snack of mami at a roadside carinderia. I can still remember a kite being flown on the other side of the road where an elementary school can be found. Having that experience, I would divulge later on to my companion that I wanted to be a teacher and teach there, to be there as those young people grow and share to them the things that I was able to experience and learn beyond those rice fields. It never felt like burden. It felt more of a newfound direction of my life. Too bad, things got a little out of control in the university and I am now currently treading a somewhat divergent path from that dream I conceptualized in Dulangan.
We reached Cinco by dusk time and we had to spent more than an hour waiting for a passenger jeepney (and at the same time suffer under the thought that we were not going to get home that day) before a sympathetic tricycle driver finally agreed to bring us to a certain junction. Unfortunately, I forgot the name of the junction. From there, we boarded a jeep back to Calapan. The trip to Dulangan, Baco was both tiring yet inspiring.