PNR and the thoughts

It was the 6:30 pm Bicol express to Naga ride that we took, It was 5pm when we got at the Tutuban terminal station, very hungry and very excited as well.  I have all the anticipation on my mind, of how will it feel, how will it be and never minding about the safety despite our colleagues jokes about train ride.  Until, finally the personnel start the call for the passenger and (as we wish) someone offered us help as a porter for the boxes and the bags that we have.  Then it came, finally I will now experience a long train ride.

Even before the driver start the engine we already open the bucket of chicken and start eating, we haven’t eaten the whole day due to cramming packing and maybe (for my self) adrenaline ranging. So, there it us looking like children deprived of food.

KFC and train dinner

After sharing our thoughts about the train, the outpouring of blessing from our colleagues, friends and family for the outreach and the thoughts of pushing this through even in the absence of a defined plan and even without serious conversation about this so called (as our friends named it) “singles with a cause”.  It still (thank God!) happened.

As my friends get on with their respective bed and I decided to squeeze in Franz bed assume that like them will be able to doze off but apparently, sleep didn’t recognized my wasted body, mind and soul.  I tried it hard, watch a movie (courtesy of Marela’s laptop) listen to music, pray and even drained my mind, sleep still ignores me.  After turning around in Franz free space, find the position, even the right angle just to sleep I already gave up, I stand on the bed, pull the flip chair located at the walkway of the train, borrowed Crystal’s book “the unbearable lightness of the being and just plug in the earphones, read and guard them on their sleep.

thanks Marela for the photo grab without permission

Then suddenly I realized Crystal had the same dilemma, I was not alone.  Crystal went up of her bed and talk to me about the book, travel, philosophy, reasons, life and about PNR. We even made an issue (as we usually do) about the train being just a second hand thing from Japan (as we guess), that well I guess Philippine can only afford a used thing. Comment about the creepy trains stop over, about the smell of the cabin, talk about the late comedy king Dolphy and the life along the Riles. Naiitindihan ko na kung bakit sila nambabato, sa ingay ba nman ng tren mapapasigaw ka talga ng “kung ayaw nyong matulog, magpatulog kayo” tapos may yanig factor pa. Sad to say that Filipinos and all its tax payers deserved what is best not just better because we pay taxes, pay for the ride and also pay for a lot of extra fee.  PNR, terminals is not just the issue there are a lot actually including best settlement area for Filipino people.  Everybody deserves a safe, comfortable shelter as our basic necessity.

Coffee break…..

It’s 4 o’clock in the morning already then I ask again the train police if where we are, I forgot the name but it was in Bicol area already, Marela said half way through Malilipot and ask if he saw manong who sell coffee then he look for him.

presenting “Manong” and his shaky cafe

I wondered if “Manong” rides the train 24 hours back in forth Manila-Bicol-Manila.  I forgot to ask because my mind is loaded with hesitation to ask Mr. Train police if we can see the driver’s train and witnessed the Bicol Sunrise in full glimpse.  If I was able to ask I actually did but Mr. Train officer declined my curious thoughts.

coffeeing and sneezing

After drinking coffee I had the chance to sleep or lets just call it power nap.

It’s 7am when we got at Naga Terminal, a little bit late but it’s okay.

our cabin and my TMC visitor sticker (forgot to remove)

Naga Terminal and my glimpse of good morning Bicol  (my longest train ride so far and farthest Luzon South travel)

Rise and Shine Bicol version

If Train or bus ride? In terms of comfortability I’d go for trains, when you want to get rid of stiff neck hop the next train ride but if you are the kind of person very sensitive to noise well train ride is not for you.  The ticket fee is almost the same.  On train ride we spent 13 hours more or less, we depart at Tutuban station at 7pm we arrived at Naga terminal 7 am or 7:30am while when we took the bus going back we depart at Tabaco at 8am we arrived at Cubao 11pm.  So you choose, which do you prefer.  In Bus ride you have a lot of stop over plus a bonus stiff neck while in train ride you don’t have very little stop over, CR is already available inside the train, you can sleep lying down position but with free annoying signal horn sound and thousands of allergens to make you sneeze.

And the things I realized while cursing sleep for ignoring me is in cherish every chances of solitude.  It is not a bad idea having taking train ride going to places you have never been as one of your bucketlist.  Forget the world for just one moment, drift without being afraid of not coming back.   This whole vacation made me forget about work, home and Manila, this is one of the vacation I will really cherished.  Thanks Marela and thanks for the hospitality of your family, you made us all feel on a vacation plus plus thank you for a yummy three times a meal.  It is indeed an adventure to cherish and a vacation to remember.

If only the  railways could talk.  PNR has been there ever since the time of Rizal, it has been through world wars, revolution, a lot of typhoons and volcanic eruptions.  It has its fair share of history and story.  It remain still despite the many hardship the Philippine had been through.  I just wish that its service will continue up to my futures “apo’s” adventure.  I just wished that PNR mattresses and cabin will kept maintained and clean and hygienic.  I wish that they will allocate budget for Lysol or any disinfectant spray.  You’ll never know high end traveler might consider train ride on their next vacation.

This has been Liza looking forward for another long train ride, through Russia with the changing of timeline while on a train ride.


This little island called “isla”

When we were asked by Marela’s grandmother to where we want to give the school supplies, to “isla” which is obviously an island or to “putok Mayon” a place located at the bottom of the famous and beautiful Mayon Volcano we actually can’t decide and just leave the decision to her grandmother.  After thinking it through we decided to bring the school supplies to “putok Mayon” since they only have school their unlike in “Isla” they have two school but before the day of the school supplies giving day her grandmother “Mammy” decided to change plan and give the school goodies to “Isla”, I think  they consider our sense of adventure.

at their VIP table, yes! feeling VIP

                      ***Mrs. Amparo Bien is a former vice Mayor of Malilipot, Albay and is still active with social works even at 74.  Still very groovy and always on the go.

Fast forward to the day itself….

The Bacacay port is half an hour away from Sta. Theresa while the island is more or less 30 minutes boat ride from the port.  The “Isla” is actually San Antonio Santicon Island, one of the baranggay in the Municipality of Malilipot, Albay and is included in Luzon group of island.  An Island where beautiful and famous Mt. Mayon and another famous Mt. Isarog is overlooking, a small island hidden from the off beaten path of the tourist.  An exit and entry point of typhoons that goes in and out of our archipelago.  A place where struggles, hopes and dreams remain unchanged.

Bacacay Port

Bacacay port is the entry point to San Antonio Island and other islands like Pinamuntugan Island.  Thanks to google for all this facts, I hope I googled it right. hahahaha.  When we go to places we researched but for this we leave it all to Marela.

Then after the 30 minutes boat ride and 30 minutes of excitement and 30 minutes of thirsty thoughts we finally arrived.


boxes are coming kids

stones are a bit slippery so we take every step carefully

Upon our arrival we were greeted by a lot of smile and curious faces from the little kids

After emptying the boxes, we proceed to of course eating.  yahoo!

We are not expecting anything about the food, what ever will it be we will eat it, after all we don’t have any problem with food especially when it is free but we know its gonna be good because hello we are in Bicol, a home of good food.

The home where we will take our lunch is at the other side of the island, they are the owner of the boat we rent going there and a good friend of Marela’s family.  We are supposed to ride again a boat going there but it becomes low tide already so we decided to walk going there which is pretty far away from the school but no problem we’re very much used to walking.

Until the food were served. Charan!


Don’t ask my name, I forget it.  Lechon paksiw, adobo, veggies with crabs, tilapia, crabs and crabs.  What more could you ask for?  See the crabs are smiling.  They are all fresh.  Hayyyy…Thank You Lord!  Bless them.

Burp.  Excuse me.

After that very sumptuous lunch, a few videoke songs and after digesting everything this is what happened.

we jump for joy

This is San Antonio Island very far from the look of the  luxurious Misibis bay, not as famous as Mayon Volcano but few hours spent here are as good as the holiday we spent at CWC.  I love the people here, the kids and their genuine smile and how they appreciate the little things.  I just hope that all this kids will remain hopeful and will still hold on no matter what, they will hold on the way that this island hold on.

Travelling with a cause is travelling with not just your backpack, not just your things but things that you can share.  It is travelling beyond your reasons.  It is spending a holiday with people whose notion of holiday is vaguer than yours.  Next time you travel, travel with a little something, travel with a cause.

Special thanks to Marela and the rest of her extended family, to our friends who share their little something and those who gave us a lot of good vibes.  Thank you!