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Published: December 10th 2017
This is a typical mangyan house.
TOURS with Marco Vincent Resort
During my stay at the Marco Vincent resort I am sure I regained the ten pounds I lost while walking the El Camino in Spain. I ate three delicious meals each day and did only 300 steps a day. Thank goodness my room was on the second floor and I had occasion to go to my room often to get my things for that was the extent of my exercise.
As I said, I hoped to catch up on my blog and rest since I couldn’t dive; my jaw was throbbing. The staff wanted to cheer me up, however. The day after the boat ride, right after breakfast they took me on a tour of an aborigine village. This Mangyan village houses about a hundred families. (There are perhaps ten different tribes of aborigines in the Philippines.) This village is subsidized by the owner of the largest chain of food markets in the Philippines. There is a school with thirty to forty students in each grade level. That is a lot of children. We walked around admiring the thatched houses. Some had concrete walls on the first floor; the remainder was made of natural
The women weave useful baskets and other household items to sell in their booths and also in Manila.
materials. Others were completely of traditional design. The women, often with small children or babies, gathered together in an open air meeting room to weave intricate baskets to sell in Manila and abroad. Unfortunately I cannot carry such items when I am traveling, so I made a small donation to the community instead.
The very next day the staff took about eight of us for a two hour tour to the waterfall…we were gone six to seven hot grueling hours, driving on serpentine roads to the top of a nearby mountain. Our first stop was a mangrove ecological park. Elevated bamboo walkways wound through dense foliage providing a unique vista of dark leaves, twisting branches and glimpses of the sea. The tide was out and it was very still. As we walked we read strategically placed plaques about these endangered trees how important they are to a healthy global environment and how through education they will be protected for future generations.
After two more hours in the van our driver stopped to buy us ice cream bars. This deed forestalled a mutiny. We didn’t stop at the waterfall but went even higher to a simple local water park.
The owners of these small cubicles were very proud of their wares and smiled shyly as they displayed baskets they had made.
While several staff members prepared a traditional celebratory Philippine meal, we tourists enjoyed splashing in the pools and sitting under cascading water as it journeyed down the hillside from one pool to another. The staff called it a nature massage. There was also a tiled sluice for adults to slide down. It took me several minutes to talk myself into trusting my old bones to the racing water. It was fun, but I put my hand out to brace myself and bumped a finger. I decided one slippery slide was enough.
We were called to the meal. On a 3 x 5 foot piece of wood covered with fresh banana leaves rested a huge oval of white rice. At the corners of the rice was seared eggplant, onions and carrots. Filling in the circumference of the rice were pieces of barbecued pork, fish, chicken and prawns and all this was garnished with “red “eggs. I thought these were just dyed hardboiled eggs, but actually they are boiled, salted, and then buried in the ground for two weeks, after which they are painted red. I thought the flavor was “soiled”…kind of a pun, but actually they have a different texture,
BASKETBALL AND SCHOOL
Basketball is a national sport. Men and boys spend hours practicing. The school is the thatched building on the right.
and an earthy flavor. We stood around the table, under a canopy to protect us from the sun, and helped ourselves to the feast using our fingers. It was decidedly different, and the food was very good.
We went back to the van and drove to the top of the mountain to a place called The Ponderosa…it featured a lookout platform and I saw the outline of the islands down below. There was also a zip line but by this time I was adventured out. The bumpy roads and the altitude made my jaw ache.
On the way down the mountain we briefly stopped at the waterfall, and made a final stop at the aborigine village. Since it was late and I had been there the day before I decided to just nap in the van. Most of the village was quiet by then, and my fellow tourists told me there were no women weaving, or babies playing but some of our group bought baskets and other souvenirs. By the time we returned to the hotel the divers were back and I was ready for a nap. No such luck. There was even more “fun” in store.
SAVING THE MANGROVE
Botanists are educating students on the importance of protecting mangroves through excursions and poster contests.
“Sarina’s Group” was invited to a special dinner. Except, Sarina wasn’t there. It was just Kris, the hotel rep that had sold Sarina the trip, and another diver from the states, Randy, and me. We went to the local restaurant where we were welcomed effusively by five lovely hotel staff ladies in cowboy regalia, black Levis, red neckerchiefs and cowboy hats. They did a kind of line dance for us, then made a parade, dancing to our table, bringing each of us a plate of food…really fun. All had huge smiles. It was a Texas barbecue. Finally Sarina and Steve arrived; they had eaten in town. After dessert we were ushered into another room for karaoke. I never sing in public, but we all sang The Gambler by Kenney Rogers (Lauren and I spent hours singing it while walking the El Camino). Soon Randy, Kris and I excused ourselves and found our way back to the hotel in the dark. It had been a long day.
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