Archive for the ‘Bulan’ Category

Sorsogon Floods

December 29, 2008

At the year end, Bombo Radyo reported that about 95 families had been evacuated in Bulan South Central High School, Bulan Sorsogon, on Monday, December 29, 2008 because of rising waters in the area. The Philippine National Police and the Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council (MDCC) said that because of the floods, the highway in the place didn’t allow vehicular traffic to pass. (Photo Credit: Sir Mervs) =0=

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RO-RO Politics In SRNH And Bulan

November 6, 2008

A RO-RO (abbreviation for Roll On-Roll Off) ship are ferries designed to load vehicles using its wheels to roll onto the vessel and roll off the moment it hits port.

Last April, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo inaugurated the Central Nautical Highway (CNH) of her Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH). This “highway” is supposed to connect Luzon to Visayas to Mindanao thru the central portion of the country.  From Bulan, Sorsogon, supposedly one can load a vehicle to a RO-RO bound for Masbate City. From Masbate City one should drive to Cawayan, Masbate to board a RO-RO for Bogo City, Cebu. Driving to Cebu City it could board a RO-RO for Tubigon, Bohol. Then driving to Jagna, Bohol, a RO-RO should be available for Mambajao, the capital of Camiguin. Then driving south to Benoni, Mahinog, Camiguin a RO-RO is available for Balingoan, Misamis Oriental. The final leg is a drive to Cagayan de Oro City, the terminus.

Complicated? Yes.  A pipe dream? Partly.  Some of the routes are simply not existing (maybe for show, yes) and will not exist for sometime because of lack of traffic, notwithstanding government lending programs.  There are better ways to get around inter-island and for the uninitiated, loading vehicles aboard RO-ROs is not cheap and for shippers it means a truck not rolling (no pun intended).

Obsession? I think so. Her father dreamed the Pan-Philippine Highway but Marcos appropriated it and renamed it after his fetish word, Maharlika.  No way to appropriate it back, she must leave a mark to replace what her father lost. Is it a wonder that some of the ports are named after her mother, Eva Macaraeg Macapagal?

But why is the northern terminus Bulan when the actual gateway to Masbate is Pilar, Sorsogon? Scuttlebutt is it is her way on getting back to the Escuderos who lord it over the 1st District of Sorsogon who are her political enemies.  The congressman of the 2nd District to which Bulan belongs is a long-time ally. 

Will this succeed? Fat chance. Passengers and shippers will always take the shorter and cheaper route. Decades ago Bulan was the gateway to Masbate but people and carriers shifted to Pilar even though it has no good port. But woe to all those that use Pilar. I do not know how to judge the IQ of decision-makers in the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) who would rather finish a port in Castilla, Sorsogon, a place that has no RO-ROs. Hmmm! Anyway, isn’t it known that we have “bridges to nowhere”? After all, as they say, everything in government is politics. I begin to wonder now what is the mortal sin of the mayor of Pilar against the powers-that-be.

Comparative examples? Plenty. San Isidro, Northern Samar is the official port opposite Matnog, Sorsogon. But since it is farther Allen, Samar got developed by private enterprise and now nobody uses San Isidro port anymore.

Same case with Maasin City, Southern Leyte. It is the official port of entry of Southern Leyte from Cebu. But when the port was finished upgrading only one ferry company remained using it. More ferries were using Bato (pronounced Baaato, not like the Bicol variant which is pronounced hard like the object it represents), Leyte though it is not part of Southern Leyte, all for the simple reason that it is nearer, cheaper and the travel is faster.

Is it any wonder why people cut across lawns rather than go around it?

Dimasalang, Masbate: A Place of Sextilingual People

November 5, 2008


Dimasalang, Masbate, a normally laid-back, rustic but usually obscure place is in the headlines lately because of the recent ferry sinking claiming the lives of at least 40 people including many children.  Ironic that quiet, obscure places are suddenly put into national attention not because of some achievement but because of some big tragedy or calamity that visits them.  This is what happened to San Fernando, Romblon which suddenly became world-famous because of the ‘Princess of the Stars’ sinking.  Gaining notoriety their natural characteristics and charms are sometimes just put to the shadows.

Dimasalang is the center of the 3rd congressional district of Masbate which comprises the eastern portion of Masbate island. The sunk ferry, the ‘Don Dexter Cathlyn’  which is actually a wooden motor launch or motor boat is the town’s service to their alternate commercial center which is Bulan, Sorsogon.   It usually leaves Dimasalang at 1pm arriving in Bulan after nearly 4 hours of travel.  It leaves Dimasalang at 8pm the next day.  Like most motor boats in remote inter-island corners, it serves not just  people but also cargo like a truck or bus of the inter-island seas.

In Dimasalang like most towns of the 3rd district of Masbate, it is not unusual for one to ask a question in the Waray tongue and get answered in Bicol or Cebuano or Masbateno.  All four are considered languages in their own right.  The four tongues has a high degree of mutual intelligibility because it all belongs to the Bisayan group of languages.  Given the fact that most Filipinos speak English and Tagalog/Pilipino, many people in this corner of the Philippines are actually sextilingual (speaking six languages).  But for people here that travel to western Masbate, it is probable that they even speak a seventh language, Hiligaynon, the lengua franca of that place.

Maybe, of all places in the Philippines this little corner of Masbate is the greatest melting pot of Philippine languages.  And all because of sea lanes served by quaint, little launches the size of yatchs.  This place aside from its connection to Bicol has connections to the nearby islands.  Go to Cataingan and a daily motor boat is available for Calbayog City, (Western) Samar.  Move over to Placer or Cawayan and several motor boats ply the Cebu route daily.  Go to the town of Milagros and a daily boat to Roxas City, Capiz and Estancia, Iloilo is available.  Go to Mandaon and boats are available for Romblon and Lucena City, Quezon.

The town on the southeasternmost tip, Pio V. Corpus (Limbuhan), which has its own boat service to Cebu, whose lengua franca is Cebuano produced the current medical director of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City, Dr. Julius V. Lecciones, who is a member of UP Ibalon.  Proof that being raised in a remote corner of the Philippines is no hindrance in rising to the top.

Dimasalang might have gained temporary notoriety but for me what a heck of a place!

Bicol Gubatnon or Southern Sorsogon Bicol

August 31, 2008

Decades ago i dread going to Bulan, Sorsogon. Though fluent in many Bikol dialects I really can’t follow what the residents of Southern Sorsogon speak. I came to know later that residents of that area also have difficulty following the spoken dialects of Daraga, Albay and Legazpi City once they go in those places. I just told myself, “Hah, Bikol dialects are really much different from each other.”

Decades later I came across the website “Ethnologue” which is one of the most-known language classification services, widely-cited and used by some official agencies.  And, lo and behold, (surprise! surprise!) it classifies Bikol Gubatnon or Southern Sorsogon Bikol as a Waray dialect. I asked myself, “How can that be?”.

Trying to resolve the puzzle I texted a friend in Gubat, Sorsogon. I asked her if she can understand Samarnon. She answered, “Yes, almost entirely.” Wow! “We can talk with Samarenos directly without translation.” “Do you realize Ethnologue classifies your dialect as Waray?”. “Oh, I didn’t know that!”.

I am wondering now what Ibalonians coming from Southern Sorsogon have to say on this.

(Map credit: globalpinoy)