Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A Short Jaunt in Cebu

I'm taking advantage of the free wi-fi at the hotel cafe and typing this out while waiting for sleep to sink in. I've been dozing off for most of the afternoon, since it's only here that I've realized I missed having a space of my own - especially an air-conditioning unit of my own. ^_^

"Here," by the way, refers to the Regal Business Park Hotel in Cebu City, a stone's throw away from the Ayala Business Park, and the mall, and basically I'm at the center of the city. For a city center, though, it's fairly cheap. The economy room is less than a thousand pesos, and comes with a complimentary buffet breakfast every morning. There's a clean shower and a soft, high bed that smells of sweet laundry detergent and I can walk around the room in my birthday suit and don't have to worry about anyone walking in. (I learned about the luxury of skin and cloth in Singapore; being left alone in the flat for hours on end can do strange things to a girl sometimes.) The staff is small and friendly, and will remember you by face and name and room number, and they make a mean cup of hot chocolate. I could get used to this.

Anyway, job's all done here. I interviewed the owners of Nature's Legacy, a company that specializes in stonecasting and creating beautiful pieces for home and garden use. (I'll post photos when I get back to Manila.) Their company is in Upper Cogon, Compostela, which is about an hour's drive away from the city proper. The main highway ends abruptly after a left turn and my poor cab driver, Mang Wini, had to navigate through a few hundred meters of unpaved paths before arriving at a massive green gate.

The owners themselves, Sir Pete and Ma'am Cathy, were extremely sweet and kind people, as was their head administrative officer, Sir Ed, and the human resources officer, Ma'am Thelma, who arranged everything for me. Lunch was served on a second-floor verandah, one side overlooking the rows and rows of neatly arranged jars and urns, like round pieces of the moon, and on the other side were the hills and woods, leaves rustling in the soft noon wind. A simple lunch of fish and meat, and sliced cheeks of bright yellow mangoes that you eat with your fingers, your lips sticky-sweet with juice, was enough to send me into a happy place far beyond this world.

Nursing our heavy tummies, Sir Pete and Sir Ed took me around the production floor and showed me the products. The workers on the floor beamed shyly at me, and Sir Ed would offer little anecdotes for the taking; I felt like a sparrow pecking on small bits and pieces of bread on his palm. You can tell that Sir Pete and Ma'am Cathy were incredibly proud of the things they've done, and I was extremely happy that these were the people I got to talk to: they had that kind of bright glow around them, and it showed in the way their workers also moved around - they didn't have the tired, lethargic look of a lot of lower-class workers that I've seen before; they were bright-eyed and smiling, and some of them even nodded their heads in my direction and said, "Good afternoon, ma'am," and it was just nice of them and I liked the entire place and I wish I could visit again.

Afterwards, in a fit of kindness and goodwill, my cab driver offered to bring me to downtown Cebu, where I got an impromptu tour and I got to buy pasalubong for people back at home. Hopefully, the airport people let me in, even though I'll have danggit and pusit in my bags. At least the lady sealed it tight; otherwise, my room would reek of garlic and dried fish. And then dinner tonight was at Tong's, an open-air restaurant that specializies in a seafood buffet, which means that I happily gorged myself on baked oysters smothered in garlic butter and melted cheese. ^_^

Anyway, I'm going home tomorrow, which means that tonight's the last night I can frolic in a bed of my own...a FREE bed of my own. Too bad there's no one else to share it with. Haha.

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I'm thinking of changing my blog layout again (the one on Blogspot, in case you're reading this on Multiply). The last time I changed this was when I was 20 years old. That was three years ago. I think I'm due for another revamp. Any suggestions? ^_^

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