Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Borongan Homecoming

I left my hometown back when I was four years old and did not come back till 2006 when I came for a vacation after resigning from my first job. It was a great trip as it energized me and gave me time to think about what I should be doing with my life. I came back in 2009 and have been going "home" for the past three years.

I schedule my annual trip to Borongan every second week of July as it is the fiesta in our small barangay, Brgy. Pepilitan. Borongan's feast is held every September but I choose to come home for Pepilitan's celebration. Christenings are usually held during this time and I was even asked to be the godparent for a cousin's daughter last year.

For the second straight year I traveled alone and thanks to an office mate, I was able to buy tickets at a promo fare. There is no direct flight to Borongan so Tacloban is the usual gateway to Region 8 (where Eastern Samar belongs to), from there you just have to endure the four-hour land travel to Borongan. Your only consolation is seeing the beautiful scenery and the magnificent San Juanico Bridge which connects the islands of Samar and Leyte.

I recommend  you ride the Duptours Shuttle Service, located in Sto. Nino St., Tacloban City, they are very reliable, hindi kaskasero. Tacloban to Borongan fare is at Php180.00. You will pass by a lot of towns in Eastern Samar, most notable are Basey (the banig capital of Region 8) and Balangiga (where the infamous bells come from).

My only pet peeve are the bad roads, pot holes start to jolt your ride especially upon entering Eastern Samar. How I wish that the tarpaulins showcasing the politicos greetings was just used to repair the roads. No wonder not a lot of tourist go to my beautiful province.

Upon arriving in Borongan, you will be greeted by another tarpaulin, yes, tarpaulins are the wave of the future, this time it features Mayor Fe Abunda (sister of the King of Talk Tito Boy), I just forgot to take a picture. Tarpaulins aside you will also see the Borongan Cathedral.

Formally called the Our Lady of Brongan Cathedral, it was originally built in 1710 by Jesuit Fr. Francisco Diez. It had been burned and rebuilt in 1781 by Fr. Roque de San Jose or de Osma. Fr. Juan Navarrete installed a new roof in 1843 and constructed a circular bell tower ten years later. The convent was constructed from 1895 to 1897. Its facade was restored. The cathedral houses the image of Nuestra SeƱora de Borongan, the towns patroness. (WikiPilipinas)

Photo from the Heritage Conservation Society
The church, city hall and the public market (Mercado) are all in the Poblacion, which everyone calls the Sawang. Tricycles and motorbikes are the popular mode of transportation. Sorry guys, jeepneys are not the king of Borongan's roads.

Brgy. Pepilitan is a tricycle ride away from the Sawang, here people know everyone unlike in Metro Manila where there are times when you don't even know your neighbors. I arrived at around noon and there was no electricity (bummer), ESAMELCO, the province's electric cooperative was replacing old posts so the folks just have to bear the heat amidst the busy preparation for the fiesta.

Lat year we visited my grand aunt, Apuy Coling who turned 92 last April or May, I am not sure (senior moment). She and my grandma, Apuy Guimay are the only ones left among their siblings. She lives in the nearby Brgy. Sabang. Apuy by the way is the Waray term for grandmother.

(to be continued)


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