Part 1: Tagbilaran to Jagna
Maria Ayesa is a friend of ours who teaches high school in the small mountain barrio of Calabacita. She lives with her family in Tagbilaran and travels to Calabacita weekly to teach. She was kind enough to let us follow her to school one Monday morning. This is the report of our trip, in 5 parts.
Maria catches a bus in Tagbilaran at 4:00 a.m. Monday morning. This bus takes her along the coast highway to Jagna (HAG-na) where she changes buses for the trip inland into the mountains. The total trip takes over 4 hours. (We were riding up with Andy in his pickup, so we were able to leave a bit later at 5:30.) Maria stays at a boarding house in Calabacita during the week and then returns home after classes each Friday afternoon.
The coast highway follows the southern coast of Bohol island, passing through the many small coastal communities along the way. At the time of our trip, the rice had just been harvested (there are two rice harvests each year). The fields were filled with rice stubble and the roads were covered with drying rice.
We stopped for a few minutes in Baclayon to see one of the oldest churches in the Philippines, built in 1595. It is hard to imagine that when George Washington was being sworn in as the first president of the United States, this church was already nearly 200 years old. The Church has very deep roots in this country.
Along the road, we saw the ultimate in tire recycling. Several workshops sold a variety of products made from old truck tires, including this set of lawn furniture. In the morning, we passed fishermen preparing for their day's work. On our return trip in the afternoon, we passed the little roadside stalls where the fishermen and their wives were selling the day's catch of very fresh fish.
One of the most interesting sights we saw along the way was the burial chapel of Ermita, located behind the church in Dimiao. Today, Ermita is a ruin. It was once a large roofed chapel with thousands of small niches in its outside walls. The niches were tiny crypts to house the dead. The chapel was destroyed by fire during the Japanese occupation of Bohol in World War II. Those bodies that remained after the fire were removed and reburied elsewhere. They were cleaning the lawns when we arrived, sweeping up the fallen leaves and burning them. The heavy smoke almost made it feel as if we were again witnesses, a half-century later, to the destruction of Ermita.
The coast road continues on, all the way around the island of Bohol, but Maria changes buses in Jagna. Jagna is one of the small communities on the coast highway. It is also a town, an administrative entity roughly equivalent to a county in the United States. Although Calabacita is 27 kilometers away from the coast, it is within the jurisdiction of the town of Jagna. While in Jagna, we picked up Maria's roomate and fellow teacher, Licita Abucejo, and gave her a ride to Calabacita.
From here our route will take us away from the coast, up the Boctol Valley, and into the mountainous interior of the island, in part 2.
-- return to the 2002 Journal Archive