F Taken for a ride - jeepneyjinggoy

Taken for a ride

Being taken for a ride can be a good thing. At least, this ride I took. It’s like was one of those invitations extended a week before departure and not receiving any follow-up that’ll make you think the trip wasn’t going to happen. But a couple of hours before departure time on the appointed day, a text message “Are you ready?”

Mountain goats, green fields & a smooth drive over USAid constructed roads.....

No second thoughts, this trip instantly found itself in the day’s tight schedule. I scrambled to pack, graced a couple of opening events and a little after noon, I was in the van with my editor, a writer from another paper and our host from San Miguel, Meggy Macion, on the way to the Sarangani Province.

It has been a while since the most recent visit to our destination, a couple of years perhaps? But there was a lot more listed on the itinerary (which I haven’t seen at all) and the “unknown” (read: clueless) added to the excitement of the trip. Like they said, it’s all about the journey.

The surprises came early. For one, it was the first time I saw “everyone’s favorite puto and bibingka place”, Mer’s, new and improved roadside stop. From the humble wooden edifice this business started in by the plaza of Digos, Mer’s is constructing their very own building by the Davao del Sur highway. It has a Pasalubong Center, a huge restaurant and once the building is complete, I believe they’ll be offering accommodations.

Everybody's favorite puto place has levelled up!

I renewed my acquaintances with the puto and dinuguan, and was glad to add the amazing okoy to my list of Mer’s favorites. The whole shrimps on a single serving is very generous, it’s like one big crustacean party in a patty.

A crustacean party in an okoy & the comfort pair of puto and sikwate

Filled, sated and with packs of puto on hand, we moved to our next stop.

The Sarangani Bay Fest was fun. I am amazed as to how it has grown from the previous attendance. They’re doing a fabulous job. Though it would have been fantastic to bask under the Sarangani sun during the day, our “home” is a good hour away. Our visits would have to be during the nighttime parties and days will have to be on the road checking out the province’s other attractions. 

Why thank you for your warm welcome, Manny. Where's Mommy D.?

The Lemlunay Resort was another unexpected surprise. I call it “the closest thing” to Santorini, and by “closest” I mean by distance and the view it offers. Its location on a cliff offers a spectacular panorama of the azure Sarangani Bay from another perspective. It’s quite a popular spot judging from its visitors.

Santonrini. Minus the banca, it can be. Lemlunay Resort's splendid view of the Sarangani Bay

Awkward it may sound it was my first time to visit Kalsangi. With so much talk about the steak as a must try, I was excited to finally get that chance. The road to the pineapple plantation was a blessing with Mt. Matutum standing proud as the backdrop and the pine-laden Dole village reminding me of Baguio. 

Mt. Matutum is an active volcano, I was told. Sleep longer, please

Manicured wonder, the greens of Dole golf course

 The food at the end of the road was not as generous -- the so-called famous steak I was served was rubbery. 

Tough luck!.....A T-Bone for me, please?...........Oh I mean, a tender one.

On the bright side, the freshly baked bread was really good. That’ll do, I guess. I still have the Mer’s puto anyway. 

My consolation. 

This is one perfect example of jumping at an opportunity when it is presented. It’s the “putting too much thought” in a matter that spoils the chance of discovering and experiencing so many wonderful things. I am grateful that this opportunity came my way.

Okay, Universe, what’s next?

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