Picture this: 30 mins of a bit bumpy but totally fun truck ride; an hour-long trek along shallow rivers cutting across coconut farms, papaya farms, and flowery bushes; and the endorphin-inducing smiles and eagerness of the children and folks of Lonsi Elementary School. Plus, the hot spring, the biko, and the stewed native chicken by the pool!
Fun right? Let me tell you the details…
Oct 12, around 8AM. ROTA volunteers left Bulua terminal to Alubijid. Except for the few exchange of corny and terrible jokes here and there, the 30-mins jeepney ride was uneventful as most of us are sleepy and still wary about the new faces in the team. At Alubijid, we went on a quick coffee break, the ever-needed pee break, and the last-minute shopping for rice, water, and trail food.
By 9AM, the team is all set to leave for Lonsi. After another 30-mins of bumpy truck ride to the drop-off, everybody’s now starting to know everybody and are laughing at everybody’s jokes (as they call it ^_^). And as we trek along the river, we never forgot to stop every now and then for picture-taking (how could we when we’re all camera-whores). There was this one place that looks really lovely with all the green bushes and tiny yellow flowers and the one with the dead fallen tree.
Lonsi is a small community of less than 60 households. The school itself has only 95 pupils enrolled with 3 teachers (1 teacher for 2 grade levels). The kids were a little cautious at first but things turned around when we did the games. Volunteers and kids -everybody’s having fun! Even the parents enjoyed watching the raucous. We did the feeding; bread with spaghetti, and orange juice. Yes, unli spaghetti for everybody! Thanks Kitchen Committee!
Then, it rained.
No, not your rain-rain-go-away-type, but the sudden heavy-torrential-downpour-cloudburst-type of rain. Of course, that didn’t stop us. We gather the kids in a classroom and did the painting session. We gave each kid a turn to paint his masterpiece then judged their artworks. And while some of the volunteers assisted with the painting session, the rest are into the distribution of slippers and school kits. By the time the rain stopped, we’re all ready for the awarding ceremony for the top 3 best paintings for each grade level. Don’t ask who the judges were, they wanted to stay anonymous.
After the awarding and photo-op, we said our goodbyes to the kids and the community and started for another hour-long trek to Tugasnon mainit spring. It was a little dark when we arrived at the campsite, which is just a few meters away from the hot spring. And true to the redundancy of it’s name, Mainit Hot Spring, it really is hot I almost blanched my self.
The next day, Oct 13, around 9AM, after the boodle fight aka breakfast, we left for home. Nothing much happened, I saw and shrieked at a couple of small snakes along the trail (somebody else saw a really big one), I almost got lost at one point, more picture picture… Then we stopped over to Bagras resort for a sudden pool dip. The kitchen committee made Biko (a local dessert that you can find in Google) and stewed native chicken. The stewed chicken, for me, is the highlight for that day! So, we enjoyed the pool, had fun with jumpshots, and ate to our hearts’ content before we left for CDO.
In CDO, the fun and adrenaline rush for the whole two-day event were still in our veins as we went on a sudden ‘proben’ stopover at Divisoria. And it was with heavy heart that we will have to part ways with our old and new-found friends, but the memories and the joy that we shared will last forever. Am I starting to get cheesy? Yes, I am. It’s a sign that this long tale is about to end.
Till the next ROTAdventure! Cheese! ^_^