Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Manila to Ilocos in a Picanto, Part 7 (Pagudpud and Claveria)

The trouble with staying in paradise is that it tends to get boring after a while. Normally I would just plonk myself on the bed and switch the TV on but since our room doesn't come with one (the other available room did, but with only one free channel so why pay more for it), I had to force myself to read a book, which is something that I haven't done for quite a while. Nay, that's not entirely true. I read enough labor and employment books for my thesis at university, so the rest of the time I just want to stare blankly onto something which didn't require much processing.

It took me exactly a week to pick up the book I brought for this trip, which I didn't even think that I would do considering the assortment of gadgets and free wi-fi I seem to find myself surrounded with, but I'm glad I did. The book was sent via Amazon over a year ago by a friend in Spain who was determined to introduce me to modern Iberian literature. For some reason I didn't take the Spanish books with me, and I ended up with two books by Jose Saramago which are brilliant. Everytime I hold a book in my hands which says "Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature" it makes me a bit pissed off that our F. Sionil Jose still hasn't won it. It's worrying because they don't give the prize posthumously, and Sionil isn't exactly getting younger. The other Nobel Laureates I've read are awesome, but none of them made my weep like Sionil's Rosales saga did. I just hope the Nobel Foundation can get their act together and award Sionil for writing THE Filipino novel.

After spending the first half of the day getting lots of sun and jumping into the water for an attempted snorkle (nothing to see in Pagudpud), Pedro and I decided to head back to the resort, change and drive off to Claveria in Cagayan. On our map there was a short road which leads to the Portabaga waterfalls. The road to Claveria from Pagudpud was straightforward enough, so we thought it would take us about 30 minutes to get there, have a bit of look around, maybe lunch if we see somewhere nice. Of course what the map failed to show is that the seemingly straight road to Claveria is actually a mountain road with bits that have collapsed onto the ocean some hundred meters below or enormous boulders blocking half the road from some landslide a few weeks ago. And it was raining so the road was actually quite slippery. Terrified, I was driving extra carefully. Then we crossed the Patipat Viaduct which led to a mini waterfalls on the side of the road. It was gorgeous, and the water was cold.

We drove on and through the town of Sta. Praxedes, and then whizzed past the sign for Portabaga waterfalls and decided to carry on to Claveria for hopefully a cheap lobster lunch, as Hans said we might get. We didn't. After a quick drive at the depressing, wet beach, we decided to head back to the main street and found the Claveria Grassroots Cooperative Kitchenette where we had grilled prawns and baby back ribs for PhP 200 per plate. Best meal we had on this trip, bar none.

Driving back to Pagudpud, we stopped at a roadside shop and bought a few discs of Royal Bibingka, which are made from glutinous rice flour and lots of shredded coconut. It was delicious. The photo looks horrible, but it actually was the tastiest thing to have with coffee, or brandy, whichever you were able to smuggle into your resort room.

It's new year's eve, so better ask around the resorts if anyone is doing a countdown tonight. Tomorrow we're driving all the way back to San Fernando, La Union, staying in Sunset Bay Resort for at least one night, before driving back to Manila and getting on with life.

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