At least one of my long weekend plans pushed through. I just had to really be somewhere after sitting on my butt and staring at my laptop Saturday the entire day. Okay, I should have knocked my head instead and hummed, “I’m such a jerk,” for ditching the Tirad Pass hike on the last minute of Friday night.
At around 6:30 Monday morning, together with Jeannette and Julie, whom I managed to persuade to join me, we were at the Partas station in Cubao waiting for a Vigan-bound bus to start rolling off the bus bay. There weren’t many people and the station was surrealy serene. The bus, however, was almost full. We finally departed at around 7:30. The bus wasn’t dropping by Dau anymore so we arrange for Buritsky to just meet us at Agoo.
The first class bus (Php 391.00) had wider-than-usual seats and leg room which was a real luxury as I could really incline my seat and stretch my legs. I also discovered the pleasure of having a neck pillow. It does make a difference— no sore neck and better sleep! It would have been tops though if I had a window seat. I was seated beside a Carmelite nun who bought a bag of chicharron and 12-for-100 sweets from one of the many vendors traipsing up and the down the aisle. I wanted to laugh out loud when asking what newspapers one woman was selling, the vendor rattled off “Bulgar. . . People’s Journal . . .” choices that sister would obviously not approve off. Fortunately, sister saw “The Inquirer” at the bottom stack.
Because of the heavy traffic at almost the entire stretch of Tarlac, we hit Sison, Pangasinan for the lunch stop-over at past 1 pm already. Had a plate of rice, paksiw na bangus, and pakbet and a bottle of mountain dew for Php 120.00. It was good especially the pakbet or maybe I was just plain hungry in spite of the donut Jeannette offered me. Heck, even that Mister Donute mini choco dunut tasted delicious!
It took us close to thirty minutes before we could get off the stop-over as traffic was at standstill due to ongoing road works turning the highway into a one-way road.
I have often wondered if there was a decree stating that all business establishments along the national road should put the name of the town and province on their signboards. On road trips, I have always looked out the window spotting those signs and gratefully using them as markers to know which part of the Philippines I was. Times have really changed now and easier to spot and prominent are signs that read, “SM Rosales 3 km away” and “Jollibee Urdaneta 500 m.” Maybe some day those arches with the “Welcome to . . .” and “Thank you . . .” marking the boundaries of towns and provinces would have an SM or Jollibee logo on them. How about the McDonald’s arches?
Past 3pm, the conductor quietly announced, “Agoo.” Finally! We disembarked and made our way to——– Jollibee! I think every Pinoy has a built-in GPS system that leads him to the nearest Jollibee. In fairness, the Jollibee just beside the Agoo basilica was made to look like a modern bahay na bato which blended with the nearby structures including the small Museo Iloko. A few minutes later, another Partas bus deposited Buritsky on the pavement.
Our purpose of heading to Agoo was to visit Claring who was afflicted with Parkinson’s and whom we had not seen for a couple of years. It was really time to pay her a visit especially as she had been asking for us. At Marie’s house just a few hundred meters off the main road and across the Don Mariano State College, we were finally reunited with her. She had physically changed a lot but she was much stronger and lucid than when she was in Manila. We spent the afternoon with her joking around and reminiscing the past. Heart-breaking really to see that she was just a shadow of her former active self. I’m really glad I visited her.
It was almost dusk when headed back to the main road and to Jollibee for dinner. I had 3 pcs of Chicken Joy, a spaghetti, and 2 large fries. Burp! I had intended to head to San Fernando to stay the night but decided to just head back home with the girls. The Viron Bus was caught around 8pm only had about 8 passengers all seated in front which meant we had the entire half of the bus to ourselves. I took out my pillow, my sarong and stretched out back at the last row for a good sleep.
At the Pozzorubio stop-over, it took a while before we could start going as they had to change one of the inner tires at the back. We arrived back home past 1 in the morning already.