Maripipi: A Very Brief Reunion

After almost a decade of being away, I went home on the 27th, not exactly for a vacation but to attend a friend’s wedding, which was on the 28th. It was a really short stay at the island I miss the most but nonetheless, fun and refreshing.

On the 27th, at 9 a.m., I was aboard Seair on the way to Tacloban. Estimated length of travel is an hour and fifteen but we landed at Daniel Romualdez Airport approximately 45 hours after take-off. My friend Jomari met me at the airport and took me to Kuya Kent’s house for lunch.

After a home-cooked meal and a brief siesta, we went to the terminal of Van-Van’s to board a shuttle to Naval, which is the capital of Biliran, my province. It was a 2-hour ride.

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The sun has set when we reached Naval, hence, there were no more motorboats bound for Maripipi, my hometown. We then took a tricycle to Kawayan, a town directly facing Maripipi. It was a short ride, about half an hour. It was already dark when we reached the port of Kawayan, but the sky was full of stars and the moon was bright, buttery yellow. It was a lovely sight.

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Then it sunk on me, I was almost home. The sea wasn’t so rough when we crossed to Maripipi, just a mild swelling of the waves. It was a beautiful summer night. Van Gogh would have fallen in love with it.

If you want to know more about Maripipi, the size, population, livelihood, history and what have you, you can easily use Google and/or Wikipedia. I’m not going to detail those information for you. What you need to know is I grew up in this island and will always consider it home. The town has a close-knit community, and many of the people I love are from and/or here.

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Recently, the island has become popular to  tourists. They fell in love with the blue waters, especially that of Sambawan.

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Since I started my trip back home at early morning, I was pretty beat when I got to the Zafico’s house. That’s where I stayed for the weekend. Polay and Jayby Zafico are my childhood friends, and their parents Nay Delia and Tay Pedring are one of the nicest people in the island, also close friends of my parents. After a dinner filled with catching-up, we headed straight to bed. The sea breeze, crickets and the sound of the waves lulled me to a deep sleep.

I woke up refreshed at around 6, without an alarm, which is kind of a rare thing for me back in the city. The house was already abuzz with the two kids, Dwayne and Jedric, playing at the yard; Nay Delia fixing breakfast; and Polay packing clothes for the beach wedding.

This was the scene directly from where I was sleeping.


I eagerly took my tablet and went outside, circling the house and took shots. I was like a giddy tourist. This is the mainland of Biliran, a view from the back of the Zafico’s house.

Mainland Biliran

Mainland Biliran

The house stands on a cliff and surrounded with trees. Down below is the sea.

view from the bedroom

Bananas don’t come from the fruit aisle of the grocery. They come from a faraway place.


Tay Pedring had just finished painting this table. Ain’t she pretty?


Nay Delia still prefers using a traditional stove for cooking meals in their dirty kitchen rather than the gas-operated one they have inside.

Old school

Old school

After breakfast, we were off to town to board Ma. Lourdes (motorboat), which would take us to Sambawan where the wedding will be held.

Sambawan is a group of islets, which has white sand and pristine blue waters, home to a diverse marine life. This was recently developed and has been made more accessible to tourists.


Although, personally, I was disappointed with how they’ve run the development and of their new policies, I’m still grateful to have visited Sambawan again. The last time I was there, I was still in my early teens.


After the reception and fully enjoying the waters despite the unforgiving heat of the sun, we headed and boarded a motor banca. I was shocked when they initially asked for a 700-peso fee. That was just outrageous. 300 is the usual amount. This is what tourism brings to some people, capitalism and greed. Polay haggled with the banca operator and they agreed on Php 400.

After a quick shower to wash off the salt, Polay and I went back to town. I wanted to visit the church and light candles. It is tradition to do so plus I wanted to offer prayers of thanksgiving that I was able to visit the island again.

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This is the St. Michael Archangel parish church. It stands on a hill directly facing the sea.

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The islanders believe that St. Michael watches over and protects the whole town from natural disasters, pirates and all sorts of bad things.

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I grew up in this church and I love the stained glass windows. I wish I could get married in this church, if only because when you go out of the front door, you’d be facing the sea.

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Early Monday morning, I was aboard Ma. Lourdes again to take me to the mainland. After a short reunion with my island town, I was again on the road back to the city.  While I was on the boat, the sun had exploded into a beautiful array of colors, and so then I started slowly counting the days when I’ll be back.

early morning

The Nine People You Meet In Your *Commute

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1. The Sleepyhead
You should avoid being seated next to a sleepyhead. At some point during the commute, his head is gonna rest on your shoulders. You can try to nudge him off but sometimes they’re dead to the world, hence, you might end up with a stranger’s drool on your sleeves. Plus all that heavy breathing is gonna drive you nuts.

2. The Broadcaster
With the advent of mobile technology, came the demise of privacy. Technically, in a public transport, your privacy is greatly diminished. But don’t you just hate it when the passenger you’re with is yapping on the phone endlessly? Most of the time, I am rather proud of my “zoning out” capabilities, meaning, I go in a zone where there’s just space for me and block all external distractions like smell, sight and sound. But there are people who just would love to test your limits. When a Broadcaster travels with you, before you reach your destination, you would have already known that she is planning to break up with her boyfriend after Christmas because she thinks the new IT guy is cute. Also, she and her friends are going to Boracay and so they’re planning to shop for swimwear at divi next weekend. And oh, her cousin is having an affair with a married man.

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3. The Sweatman
I know that we are all helpless against the sweltering heat when we’re outdoors but would it be too much for you to have a hanky or tissue paper handy to wipe off your sweat? I am sweaty that’s why I carry tons of paper towels in my backpack. When it’s 40 degrees outside and you’re squeezed in random bodies in a train, the last thing you want is a sweaty arm rubbing your face. A bonus is if he reeks of body odor.

4. The Hottie
This doesn’t happen often, at least not to me. or maybe I just don’t notice them often enough. But sometimes, it’s like the universe conspires to tease you with a hottie on board. When I say hottie, it could be a hot guy or a really pretty girl. Oftentimes, I get self-conscious when a hottie sits right in my line of vision because then I split my time staring at him/her and pretending to not stare at him/her. All else being equal, a hottie is an interesting distraction for your commute and a reminder that sometimes people who are thousand times more attractive than you also take the shuttle.

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5. The Congeniality Awardee
My parents instilled in my mind at a pretty young age never to talk to strangers lest they kidnap me, put me in a sack, harvest my organs to be sold to rich Westerners who need a transplant. That, my friends, is deeply ingrained in my heart until now. If you are just asking for directions or the fare at the shuttle or bus, then I’d respond properly. If you’re gonna launch into a discussion with a preface about the weather, then I’m just gonna stare at you like I just recognized you as the Most Wanted Person I just saw on TV. If you’re an older person who wants to chat, out of respect, I would smile but you are never gonna get anything more than that. My commute is a commute, simply getting from point A to B. Conversations are not included in the package. If you want to fully experience my awesomely brilliant personality, then you have to call my agent and arrange for an audience.

6. The Serial Complainant/er
Some people are just oozing with negativity that you just want to smash their face into pieces before putting said pieces into a blender, hitting the max button. I kid, I kid. Seriously, serial complainers/ants, tend to make me think of homicidal thoughts. Everyone knows traffic is bad. We don’t need you to remind us. If you’re running late and you’re pissed that the shuttle is still stuck in the terminal waiting for more passengers, then how is that our fault or the driver’s fault? It’s nobody’s fault that you overslept and is now running late for a meeting, but yours. If I’m seated next to you, I’ll give you a gazillion of imaginary eye rolls.

7. The Makeup Artist Multi-tasker
These I mostly encounter on my early morning train ride. I have to admit, I admire their skills. I have a hard time applying makeup on solid ground, i.e. at home in front of the mirror. But these girls are so evolved, they could actually do it while the train lurches and screeches to a halt with just a tiny compact. And then voila, fully made up to face another day at work. Way to go, sistah!

8. The Bricks
When you’re on a public vehicle be it a bus, train, shuttle or jeepney, you have to share the seat space. Share is the operative word not hoard. Some people are like bricks that just won’t budge even if he or she knows that the next person is uncomfortably seating on the edge of the seat. I am pretty sure there is a special place in hell for the Bricks.

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9. The Nitrogen
My favorite commuters are the Nitrogen(s). Just like their namesake, they’re invisible but definitely essential. Let me qualify invisible. You sit or stand next to them but their presence does not bother you because they’re not noisy or sweaty or chatty. They’re just there, just like you, trying to get from point A to B. Why essential? You need Nitrogen(s) in your commute because that shuttle/FX/AUV won’t depart unless all seats are occupied. You don’t wanna be alone in a bus. If you are, you either missed your stop and is on the way to the bus depot or you’ve been kidnapped or in a similarly scary situation. Check your person if you have a bomb attached to you. I kid, I kid. Can you imagine if you were alone on the train? Well, it’s never gonna happen and you very well know why.

*In the Philippine context, commuting mostly refers to taking public transportation.