Sunday, April 18, 2010

in search of a home

Moving is a logistical nightmare. Finding a place to move to is a pain in the butt.But as the traffic and garbage situation in CDO worsen every year, the more we feel the urgency of moving and getting out of the pollution and the desperate aura of many of the people who do not care about you as long as they get your money.

Since last year, we have been in search of the true Filipino island community. We thought we would find it in Siargao Island but the place was too humid and not enough opportunity for income as the number of visitors are not as many as we thought it would be. The people are great but they charge too much for land.

We liked this Magpupungko beachfront lot

Then we went to Davao and explored the Island Garden City of Samal. We liked it but in retrospect it was just too far from my family and only way I could work was to sail to the mainland everyday.

Wondering where the water in the pool came from at Samal

It was a very frustrating task to search for a home island. We had to rely on the internet and opinions from expats and other people. Fortunately, Charlie liked to explore and read and study. From all these, we thought that the most likely island good enough for a home is Bohol.

We didn't know anyone in Bohol. I have been there twice. Both times as a tourist. The first time I've been there, I loved it. It was quiet and reminiscent of Surigao. The people were helpful and the scenery breathtaking. The second time I went, it was hell. It was already hyped up as a tourist destination and the roads were being repaired. I felt that I went there just to ride a bus the whole day choking on dust. So I had an ambivalent feeling about Bohol. Part of me liked it, the other part hates it.

And so it was with a certain skepticism that I agreed to go to Bohol. I was apprehensive of the 2 weeks we have set aside just to explore the island. It was no vacation. It was a serious search for a home. Charlie was all excited and couldn't talk about anything else for months. He had all the places figured out, bought all the maps, wrote down the names of all the people to talk to, and reserved lodging.

When we arrived we were able to rent an Honda XRM for php350 a day. We stayed in Panglao Island for two days in a resort called Bohol Divers Club. It was a tiring 45 minute ride from Tagbilaran with all our luggage piled up in a tiny motorcyle. But the place was cool because it has complete amenities and we didn't have to pay much for it. We didn't like Panglao though. It was much too crowded with all the foreigners everywhere you look and it just seemed too far away to commute everyday to Tagbilaran.

Alona Beach at sunrise

After two days of exploration, we packed our bags and checked in at Nisa Traveller's Inn at Tagbilaran City. Here we got the greatest deal for our money. For php450 a day for two, we get free breakfast. Since the inn has been in existence for almost 50 years, they have everything figured out from room slippers to hooks in the bathroom. I've seen plenty resorts and inns that forget the little details. Not Nisa! The place was also very homey with those old molave floors and general antique feeling. You feel like you're staying with your grandmother all over again!

From there, we began to make explorations of the island. We went around the city and even ended up in a landfill. We explored every nook and cranny then headed north to Corela at the Tarsier Sanctuary.

goofy boo

The next day, we went to Loboc. There was a lot going on in that place. The floating restaurants were very busy and many tour buses came and went. We went to eat at the Buzz Cafe owned by the Bohol Bee Farm. The noodle I ate was yummy.

seafood noodle at bohol bee farm buff cafe

Then we checked out available accommodations. There was a traveller's inn right in town called Digal's but the whole place was painted bright orange and the rooms were too small.

Then we checked out the Hilltop Place and Nuts Huts. Nuts Huts is this cool place owned by a Belgian. First of all, you have to be nuts to stay there. From the high way, the place is about a kilometer away on very, very bad road. Then when you arrive you had to go down more than a hundred steps to get to the reception area and another hundred to get to the huts beside the river. But surprisingly, all the rooms/huts were almost booked. I saw only foreigners there. I then understood that the place provided them with privacy and a very rural feel. It was certainly for backpackers and those who prefer silence and solitude. I saw people there just lying on hammocks and reading books. We stayed there for a couple of hours and Charlie took a dip in the river with an English biker. Floating restaurants came by and my husband certainly enjoyed the attention.It would have been cool to stay there but with our purpose for going to Bohol, it wasn't a good place.

going down the steps to Nuts Huts

coconut foot massage

The next day, we packed our bags again and drove off to Loboc and stayed at the Hilltop Place. Charlie managed to get a fan room for two at only php500. Nobody else was staying there. All the foreigners preferred Nuts Huts.

On our way there, we passed by a side store selling fresh buko and got into talking with the owner, Manong Ondoy. Upon knowing we are in search for land, he launched into a summary of all the possible lands for sale and got us into contact with his cousin who owns a hectare beside the river. So we met up with the cousin but the property turned out to be half nipa half hillside.

But at that point, we have already decided that we like Loboc and will try to get a riverside property as much as we can. Being clear on that and with a willing local who wants to help, we set about looking at all the properties alongside the Loboc River. The next days after that was all about finding the perfect place. It was hard. Many of the properties have several owners. Fortunately, we had another help from Manong Ondoy's friend Manong Joven. He was the manager of the Loay floating restaurant and a very funny guy. He presented himself as a negotiator and said that he will talk to the families who own the land we like.

bantering with ondoy and joven

So we waited and at the meantime decided to explore more of Bohol. We rode to Bilar, Dimiao, up to Valencia. We dipped into the cool waters of Badiang Spring, got soaked in the rain, and generally had a great time on the road. It was blistering hot one time and then cool the next.

badiang spring

We also explored the hills around Loboc. We were intrigues by a giant white cross on top of a hill and our curiosity was piqued enough that we rode uphill to try and find it. We got on top just when the sun was setting. Perfect for jump shots!

taking off on top of loboc

Finally, somebody told us about a property for sale in Brgy Valladolid. The man swore that it was the place we were looking for. A bit skeptical, we went and looked at it. He was right. It was a pretty special place. It was right beside the river, with good wind, lots of coconuts and best of all, amazing people. Charlie said he has never encountered such friendliness in one place. Even a jaded Filipina like me saw the utter sincerity and simplicity of the people. It's like going to an immersion place. It definitely gives me the same feeling.

that's the property we want

But like all things in the Philippines, things are not what they seem. Yeah the property was for sale and it was in a great location but the layout was wrong. It was very narrow and not big enough for what we want. So we had to find out who the owner of the lot beside it was. That lot has hundreds of mahogany trees planted in it. So someone has to negotiate with that owner if he is willing to sell the land with the mahogany. We didn't want to get our hopes up too high but we felt that we have found the place we were looking for. We just sat there for hours talking to the people who all came out to look at the Amerikano. Another plus is that the same place we want to buy is the spot where Cesar Montano shot the movie Panaghoy sa Suba. It was that special. It was also heartwarming to know that the people there said they wanted us to be their neighbor. Sweetness.

glad they are happy

We spent hours walking through the property, pondering, imagining, dreaming. We looked at the land title and the vicinity map, talked to the caretakers, took a boat ride to look at the property from the river, we did all sorts of things just to make sure. But in the end, we had to wait for the decision of the owners.

So now we are back in Cagayan de Oro and the moment we landed a hustler wanted us to take a taxi for php150 from the pier to carmen. Everybody knows it doesn't cost php150 for that short ride. That's the thing I hate about CDO. People have become opportunistic. A far cry from what it was 15 years ago when it was called the City of Golden Friendship. Now they called it A City in Bloom. Pretty soon it might become a City of Doom if these problems are not addressed.

So that was our search. It took days and days and days jsut to figure out where we want to live. And now it's gonna take months and months to know if we could buy that land. Then months and months to build a house and create income. I pray that it will all be worth it.


Kikit said...

te shal, dili nyo itry ang palawan? :)

shal said...

layo na kaayo kit. gusto mi duol ra sa parents and friends. hehehe...

Anonymous said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

Samantha Ysabelle said...

love the riverside property te shals.. hope everything turns out well! patulga unya mi dira ha kung mamakasyon mi. hugs!


Mikki Woa said...

waaaaaaaaaah.... tsadaha atong place ui!!! makaibog! ahaha.. ma'am shal, kung makuha ninyo, pede mubisita? ahahahaha... pero seryoso, gusto kog ingana, a place to LIVE!!! T_T

I am Mr. Strange who will try to amaze you with my said...

Ma'am r u still gonna teach in Xavier? And oh, grabe Bohol is so nice, even though I haven't been there yet. :))