This blogger is also an information officer working to the pleasure of Governor Gwendolyn Garcia of the Cebu Provincial Government. She is in Camotes as of this posting to cover the activities involving financial assistance, distribution of livestock for entrepreneurial pursuits, medical and dental mission.

SAN FRANCISCO, CAMOTES ISLAND, CEBU, PHILIPPINES (November 25, 2019) --- If there's one place in Cebu that I really miss tremendously, it's Camotes. I was in my early 30s then, but so much younger than that I felt, when I stepped into Camotes for the first time.

My trekking team of about 15 people used the Danao port to get a 30-seater motorboat to Poro which was the gateway to Camotes' two other towns - Tudela and San Francisco. Pilar is separated geographically by water. Today, the main port is in San Francisco when the port in Poro was destroyed by previous natural disasters.

As there were fewer boat trips back then, my team slept at the Danao port, on the concrete of the port itself. We spread a tarp and rolled over to relax while waiting for the next trip, counted stars and assigned our names to the constellations, joked about just anything our minds can get hold of, there's plenty of food to much and endless stories to share. Some dark. Some light. Some colorful. Some with a prick to the core.

It is convenient today that Danao Port already has a comfy terminal which collects P5 fee. The passenger ferry servicing the area is owned by Jomalia Shipping Corporation of the Lua family which owns Mangodlong Rock Resort. There is also EB Aznar Shipping but caters to cargo handling primarily. Another ship - Junmar - plies the Danao-Poro-Danao route.

I learned of a P20 additional lounge fee inside a private mall operating in government-owned property. It is a funny story, but sad as well because not all passengers have the heart to complain. I mean if it were me, it could have been different if there was just the option to pay P5 against getting a run for my other P20. Chase me all the way to San Francisco, I might as well paddle my ass there. LOL!

When we were at the port last November 24, a Sunday, things have been different. I think the management has come to terms with what passengers go through to cross to Camotes. Some skim the bottom to move goods or go home from the mainland. I think that somehow we need a driven leader to put the message across, in proper perspective that though mobility is a right it should not be hawked upon.

I have a soft spot for Lake Danao, so many fond memories here the first time and the second time when the world was a bit younger and wilder and freedom-nurturing. Must have left my heart in San Francisco, indeed!

When I stepped again into Camotes via San Francisco, I couldn't contain that child-like fervor to see a loved one again. I mean rushes of Lake Danao came back to me --- that feeling that for the first time you discovered a new place with a few good friends. That moment we rented a motorbike and went up Calvary Hills getting a vantage view of the lake. We zoomed past acres of fully grown, decades-old mangroves. It is the coastal jungle that I adore from film documentaries. I saw one upclose and personal in San Frans. Lovely coastal forest that is still there today after 18 years of my absence.

 Sunset in Barangay Esperanza, San Francisco, Camotes Group of Islands, Cebu. Notice the docking station of small boats. Adore the order in chaos.

We reached Santiago Bay and jumped for joy at the concept that it is a public beach and because of that we can have the stretch for ourselves that afternoon. It is still there today, her charm stood from that day we admired her serpentine patterns created by the action of the waves. A few stalls are there for economic enterprise, but nothing has really changed that much except more the concreted roads going there which used to be a dump of limestone or potholes that make the roads appear more of a "sungkaan" (native game). LOL!

Speaking of sungkaan, since it has two "balayans" (houses), there's a good riddle about it which goes a little something like: "Usa ka barko, duha ka ulo, 14 ka kwarto, 72 ka pasahero (one ship, two heads, 14 rooms, 72 passengers). One who has not played sungka, or has not known sungka, may find that confusing. I think that the riddle masters are the real smart pants. And those who are still to learn the native game will be riddled by the bullets of words.

Lake Danao already has boats for kayaking and a zip line charging P200 per person including boat fee back to the jetty from the other side of the lake.

I'm back as a government worker, serving to the pleasure of Governor Gwendolyn Garcia as part of her team of information officers. Her Camotes visit to deliver financial assistance, a medical and dental mission, dispersal of livestock for livelihood opportunities became part of my assignment.

It's good to be back. It's good to find that Camotes towns work on Environmentalism as a key project. In fact there are CLAYGO signs (Clean as You Go) encouraging people to me more orderly and tidy.

 Short walkway to get past the water line.

Despite its perennial power outages, Camotes still is a place to repeatedly come for. The people have this spirit of sincerity I love. I mean this is already the new age, but people here remain to be the sincere people I met 18 years ago. I met one along the road 18 years back when I was looking for pepper plant leaves to go with chicken stew. He gladly led my group to his garden where he uprooted the pepper plant. I went arrrrghhh. I only asked for leaves, but the man is willing to give the entire plant. Only because I am a guest. LOL!


As a government worker I now have the slightest idea how bureaucracy works and how a leader's visibility is important to constituents. I am now able to listen to people who talk about their concerns, their desire to see more road improvements, and that getting a direct flight to the mainland didn't come as a shock. They said it's more of a development long time coming.##