BALER is similar to Maui in many respects. They both have beautiful waterfalls, rock formation, board walks, mountains, beaches, surfing waves and maybe others. Maui has its centuries-old giant banyan tree while Maria Aurora has its huge balete tree.
And that is where the similarity ends. When it comes to Balerianos, these are a few of my experiences in three-and-a-half days. I admire the people of Maui in my almost two weeks’ stay there.
First I went there to teach at the Tour Guiding Seminar, batches 1 & 2, of our Department of Tourism (DOT). Our participants were tricycle drivers, surfing instructors and homestay owners. They were all so eager to learn and are proud to be tour guides while driving their tricycle. Tricycle is the only public transportation available around Baler. In my last morning, one of them brought me to the surf beach and even gave me lots of sabutan seedlings. Sabutan is the material they use to make hats, mats and others. He didn’t accept my payment, but I insisted on paying the fare and his time; tricycle driving is his only means of livelihood. One of our participants gave me nuts and coco jam and a beautiful necklace.
On my second morning, I slipped and fell on the stairs of Machiavelli Lodge. My new and expensive Lumix camera and my handbag containing another Lumix camera went crashing on the tiled floor. Worse of all, I fell hard on my right side (palm, arm, butt, thigh and leg). It was a DOT staff and a lodge kitchen helper who helped me up. The front desk clerk did not even bother to look at me. My fellow speaker screamed and asked for help but continued to use her IPad. My scream could have been heard miles away but the other DOT officials in the nearby room did not bother to look. I told them later but they just shrugged their shoulders. Technically they were responsible for my safety since I am on official business with them.
We were having breakfast when the owner came by the hotel. Vice Mayor Karen Angara-Ularan is a niece of ex-Senator Angara. She exchanged pleasantries with the DOT personnel. Nobody even hinted on my mishap. So I told her when she was about to leave.
She simply let out an almost inaudible “I am sorry.” The DOT people had nothing to say.
My butt still hurts to this day and I intend to have it x-rayed as soon as I could. Vice Mayor Ularan should have brought me to a hospital for an x-ray. She, according to the DOT people, sent a “hilot” since I had asked for one the night before. The “hilot” came and she talked all the time but she definitely does not know about “hilot” technique. I know because I have a regular “hilot” here in Manila. And she insulted me big when she told me that I look like a 70-year-old. Even if I did, she shouldn’t have said it and I definitely look younger than her 68 years. Baleriano!
DOT assigned a tour guide for me so I could see the beauty of Baler and Maria Aurora. The first afternoon was okay because the guide was already there. The second time, the morning of the day I was leaving for Manila, she suggested that we start off at 5 a.m. so we could admire the sunrise at Sabang Beach and have time to visit other places. I was up early and I waited and waited and waited. The DOT staff tracked her whereabouts. At 9:20 a.m., she arrived smiling. No apologies. Baleriana! She wasted my time. I sent her home.
We also asked one of the local DOT provincial personnel to help us buy some goodies to bring home—fish, beef, lobsters, etc. He didn’t have anything to do at the seminar anyway, he just sits there, chats with the others and does some errands. Well, he called another person to do the marketing for us. I would have wanted to do the marketing myself since the market is just around the corner. I feel the goodies were overpriced. Of course, the guy needs to earn.
One last—among many more—I went to the bus station by taxi here in Manila twice to get my tickets in advance. I even got a senior citizen discount. When I got my reimbursement, it was short by P44, no excuses. Baleriana! The worst can’t yet be printed here.
I might go back to enjoy the beauty of Baler and I know now how to deal with Balerianos. I had a brief chat with Mayor Nelianto “Pilot” Bihasa, a close and trusted ally of the Angaras, and I gather that he seems to be interested in tourism. Baler came into the consciousness of local tourists when Kris Aquino featured it in her TV show for a week.
And so Baler is scampering to receive a surge of tourists with their limited facilities and that “attitude” of people. BTW, the whole Aurora Province is dominated by the Angaras in all aspects.
I long to go back to Camiguin. Governor Jurdin Jesus “JJ” M. Romualdo set the mood and the pace and all Camiguingnons follow suit. The magic of good management and leadership by example.
Feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org