THEY called out at us, like they were in a cockfight, urging us to hire them.
"Where are you going? Need a ride?" drivers of all shapes and sizes surrounded us the minute we stepped out of the airport.
Unfortunately, Ned and I were not in the mood to give in to them.
"Ten minutes away lang ba yung hotel?" asked Ned.
"That's what it said on their website," I replied.
So we gave justice to our backpacks and started walking.
We said no or waved them away with a smile or a shake of the head as the drivers continued to pester us and we walked....past mangroves, past singles, past tricycles, vans and two steel bridges.
"Malayo pa kaya?" I asked, drops of sweat dripping down my face, neck and back.
"Baka sa paglagpas lang ng tulay," answered Ned. So we continued on, until we passed a second bridge,at which point, Ned turned to me and said," Siguro sabi nila ang kukuripot nating dalawa. Siguro tayong dalawa pa lang ang tumawid dito ng naglalakad." Well, it did seem true as we didn't meet anyone else walking along the highway.
As we reached the end of the bridge, we passed by a boy, on his way to school. Ned then asked him how far our hotel was. He looked at us, looked a the road, squinted and suggested in Visaya, "sumakay na kayo. Otso pesos lang." Who were we to disobey?
I'm glad we took his advice as the walk would have taken way more than 10 minutes more! And, oh, the boy was wrong. The pamasahe was only P7 each.
The tricycles in Dipolog are different. They're a bit sloped up like a spoon and harder to get out off, but they are are roomy and can take in four in the main cab and an additional two at the back.
As for the dreaded single or habal-habal, I'd seen them before in Bohol and Batangas but was too biased against them, because 1. i'm afraid of motorbikes. 2. I have no balance and envision scenarios of me falling off 3. I don't want to be a motorbike death statistic. and 4. my husband looked at my big feet and said nicely, "baka kasi tumama yung paa mo sa gulong kasi hindi ka sanay."
Headed for Katipunan in Dipolog, we couldn't convince tricycle drivers to take us to Rizal's farm. Only single bikes could manage the rough terrain, we were told. Left with no choice, I had to conquer my fear. Thankfully, I did.
It was exhilarating! I clung to the manong's shoulder tightly like a leech but he was kind and patient with a novice like me. I enjoyed the fresh provincial breeze and forgot my fear as we were as balanced as could be.
But the best thing about riding the single and the motor (tricycle) in Dipolog and Katipunan was we discovered two great dads. Through their kuwentos, we learned how hard they worked to send their kids to school. Manong Dipolog had five kids with one already a graduate while Manong Katipunan had four children, three of them grads -- two girls with education degrees and now working in Manila and a boy who has a science degree and is now married. As Manong Katipunan said, "(at least) may pang buhay na sya sa pamilya." The youngest, on the other hand, he added, is in first year college.
"Sa pag motor lang yon," he added proudly. "Yung ibang ama, pinababayaan ang mga anak, ako naghirap talaga ako."
Manong Dipolog, on the other hand, was not content on driving his trike. "I get off at five," he said, "garahe na."
"Ang aga naman po!" we exclaimed.
"Nagpapakain pa kasi ako ng baboy," he explained. He has two in his care currently and does it to be able to put his four other kids to school.
I'm so glad we gave the tricycles a second change and I'm so proud I conquered my fear of the habal-habal, through it I got to know two fascinating people and experienced the life of the man on the bike.