I will certainly watch this thread. I'm sure it will be as interesting as it was last time.
Some say, third time is a charm. For sure, I will make it to Mindanao, this time around, no matter what happens. Several friends wanted to come along, but conflict in schedule left me on my own again. No worries, it is my preferred mode of travel.
This is my first time flying with PAL. What attracted me this time is the shorter flight time across the Pacific due to the straight flight. A brief stop in Honolulu for 45 minutes was made, for fuel and whatever an airline needs to satisfy its needs. I prefer the window seat because I like to sleep. Years ago while serving Uncle Sam, the thought of jumping out of a plane always made me nervous and the best way I can deal with the anxiety was to force myself to sleep before the we “stand up, hook up and shuffle to the door.” Now, as if brainwashed into me, I start yawning as soon as I get seated in the plane.
Sixteen hours of airtime take lots of patience. Fortunately, PAL’s special terminal is much better looking than the international version of the Ninoy Aquino Airport. Waiting for luggage to arrive is nothing to write about, taking nearly an hour from the time the plane landed at 5:45am. Outside, a small mass of humanity waits for their loved ones, their faces smiling, curious, in search of a familiar face from arriving denizens like me.
My place of residence for the first week in the Manila is with my friends James and Pia. This is my third time visiting them in nearly the same amount of years and so far, I’m glad that I have not worn out my welcome. There’s a new addition in the house – a bubbling bundle of energy and love – Aaron, who is less than a year old and a source of joy from everyone who interacts with him. I’d be quite popular with the ladies if I have half his charm, but no such luck.
To tide me over, James makes a call to Jake to borrow a bike for his guest. Come on down! I ride bitch on the back of the AT with a camcorder on one hand, doing my best to capture the local traffic on our way to Pasay. It is good to see Jake again, looking well fed, must be the delicious pizzas in the neighborhood.
We also meet his new instructor, Peter M., an American expat who is now residing in Romblon. Beer, coke and Halo-Halo at the corner store exposes us to the local attraction. Beautiful young women. Inquiring minds want to know. I know Philippines have a lot of beautiful women, but why such a concentration in such a non-descript place. Agencies seeking talent to send to Japan are here and the girls are here to match their needs. The optimist in me hopes for the best while sentimental and traditional side of me, feel sadness. The realist understands that one must do everything she/he can do to survive.
Later, Jake introduces me to his beautiful bike, a Honda Super Four. “Be careful with the Titanium exhaust”, Jake tells me. What other quirks do I have to know? "Oh, I need to change the shift pattern back from racing to regular," a quick fix done by Pete. A short ride up and down the street gives me a good feel of the bike. Small for my 5’10” frame, but not uncomfortable. The handlebars are easy to reach, but the legs are tucked a little tight when compared to the spread out ergonomics of my GS back home. The engine has a lot of pep, considering this is a 400. Jake must have been tinkering with it, knowing him, to get more juice out of the small four banger. Jake advises to keep the revs up to the 6-8k range for power. Back on the road, it is good to be back in the saddle again, sparring with the local vehicles doing their best to find the best position on the road. The ride is very firm due to the preload being set to the max. Oopps, I forgot. This is Jake's bike. James takes it easy while I follow him.
Last edited by Rene Ybardolaza; April 1st, 2005 at 02:01 PM.
I will certainly watch this thread. I'm sure it will be as interesting as it was last time.
PSRC - NCR Member NC04002
MCP Member # 100501
Suzuki Shogun R 125
I was trying to get in touch with you last week, guess you were to busy getting packed to leave.
Hope you have a safe a dry ride on your travels over there. Please keep us all in touch when you can.
Elena's family home in Tanauan, Leyte is right on the road you will be taking. Elena's family know's of you and seen pictures of your family in our vacation pictures. I know they would like it if you could just stop to say hello as you ride by. Please let me know, you can PM me our send me a e-mail for more details.
Keep the Wind in Your Hair and the Rubber Side Down. 1978 Honda GL1000 -- 1998 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2002 Suzuki 1200 Bandit
This is gonna be exciting, I am so excited here for you! Hope your plans push thru all the way this time, God bless on a safe ride. I can still remember so clearly in my head how exotic Samar looked like when approaching by ferry from Matnog.
Here, its almost time for our yearly ride to Death Valley but I sure wish I was there riding with you instead!
Glad to know you're back in PH. Give me a call if ever we can hook up one of these days - 0918-9236013
Regards and have a nice and safe trip!
MIB, MAP, Pirates
Honda Sabre VF750S
Yamaha VentureMax 1200
"Safety is not the absence of DANGER but the presence of GOD! "
"Life does not give us what we want or what we need, life gives us what we deserve"
"Man's way leads to a hopeless end, GOD's way leads to an endless hope"
I enjoyed every bit of your narrative when you ended up riding up north instead of going to mindanao.
Have fun! Good luck!
I can't wait for the ride stories.
Ride Safely, Ride Wisely, Ride Free!
Mga Independent Bikers | Motorcycle Advocates of the Philippines
what is this? another Reverse Andrew ride in the Philippines? I'll be watching this thread with a bib.
Hi Rocky. I most likely did not get your call last week because me and my phone are already in the Philippines. I'll be passing by Leyte in a week.
Alex, this Ro Ro experience is a blast. Always heart pumping highlighted by meeting a lot of great folks.
Rommel, I'll call you when I get back to Manila.
RD, Bragster, I will do my best to describe the experience, but nothing beats doing it in real life!
A couple of calls to the ferry services only produced frustration. My planned visit to Palawan does not look like it will happen. Ferry service only comes out of Manila and no connection is available to the Visayan islands or Mindanao from Puerto Princesa. This means I have to come back to Manila to head south again. Also, the loading of the bike is handled by the shipping personnel, something I don’t want to give up especially with a borrowed bike.
James and I met with Tom in Makati for lunch. Getting there is tough. Damm, this traffic is hell. Such a loss for everyone wasting their time sitting idle, stewing on the road burning up precious fuel, and doing nothing. Traffic is so tight, that motorbikes are forced to invade the sidewalks. Later, Pia joins us for lunch.
I needed to get a link to a website. I cannot get away from work. Got to make sure things are working okay. PCAnywhere allows me to access my computer at the office back home. Slow as molasses, but great technology. James recommends Seattle’s Best Coffee at Eastland. after two hours of fumbling around, James and I figure out that their WIFI is not working. :F We huff it to the other SBC and quickly got a link – 100pesos per hour. This can get very expensive.
On Wednesday, James and I rode to Alabang to see the Colonel. Sorry to say, but Frank looks like sh!t. He’s got tube down his nose, IV on his arms and a foot long tape running up and down his stomach to cover the incision done to him during surgery. Some of his intestine had to be removed – Cancer. They also diagnosed him as diabetic. That what happens when you don’t ride – I tell him in jest. He says the doctors are good and the hospital is first class, but the nurses stink. They need a lot of guidance and training, these young ‘uns. James blames me for pirating them to America. I agree and made sure to blame the wife as well. I ask Frank if he gets porno on the television. No. That does it! We will have to bring some girls next time we visit him and soon. These off color remarks finally woke up his wife Beng, who was trying to sleep in the corner. She got up smiling, enjoying the nonsense banter only guys enjoy having. We left Frank as he goes off to la-la land induced by morphine flowing from the machine connected to his arm. Pain management.
Last edited by Rene Ybardolaza; April 1st, 2005 at 02:06 PM.
Thursday - James surprises me by taking me to the Polo Club for breakfast. As we are about to enter the club, I heard someone on the side of the road yelling, “Hey, Uglies!” My initial reaction is to always ignore such attention, primarily to avoid any trouble, but the guy on the side of the road was insistent with his name calling, so I looked. The bald head, massive frame, warm and generous smile could not come from no other than Mr. Ned Hourani. I quickly turned around and gave that man a very firm handshake and a loud yell. He later joins us for breakfast and a very pleasant experience it is to be with friends.
Our mission this morning is to get Tom’s BMW registered. First, it must pass emission testing. James and I rode off to Alabang to pick up the bike. We dropped off the Super Four at Tom's garage and I boarded the behemoth GS. Before taking off, I noticed the Sportster parked on the side of the garage. Two years of little use has left it in need of a lot of TLC.
In Alabang, the GS passed its emission test with flying colors. Unfortunately, the branch office of LTO in Alabang only do licenses. We will need to go to the Muntinglupa office for registration. We are missing another piece of paper and Tom has it in his office. James and I scoot back to Makati to retrieve it. James has another appointment so I volunteer to finish the job. Back to the SLEX and exit Susana Heights. Gas for the GS attracted every pump jockey in the station. The same question pops up. How big is the engine? How fast? How much does it cost? Where did you get it?
At the LTO office, Rudy, an LTO inspector helps me process my paperwork. He takes a long chrome stick with a flat pencil at the end and starts scratching the pencil against a piece of paper. He says I’m missing proof of insurance. Oh no, not again. I give James a call and he says no worries. You can buy the Third Party Liability at the LTO shop for a few pesos. I go back to the LTO office and Rudy takes care of me again by taking me back to the insurance department. The lady who assisted me was kind enough to complete my insurance request, as the hour strikes 12 noon. Like magic, everybody breaks off from what they are doing and unpacks their ‘baon’ to share with office mates. After an hour of waiting, I get all of my paper work done and I’m back on the road.
Last edited by Rene Ybardolaza; April 1st, 2005 at 02:11 PM.
I had the priviledge of attending two meetings. The board meeting of MAP and the Annual General meeting of FRMC. Needless to say, there's a lot on the agenda and exciting things are in the future for motorcycling enthusiasts in the Philippines.
Last edited by Rene Ybardolaza; April 1st, 2005 at 02:14 PM.
I woke up at 5am and Ritchie T., who is my co-rider, called at 6am to confirm. At 8am, Ritchie and I took off for the long ride. Half an hour later, the daring duo ended their relationship quickly when the rear tire of Ritchie’s Honda started leaking air. We both decided that it was better for him to call it quits where a 170 profile tire can still be had. We parted ways hoping for a successful ride together in the future.
Now that I’m my own, decision making can be impulsive without harming or benefiting anyone but myself. As I near the end of the SLEX, instead of turning left (to Legaspi), I turned right to Batangas. I’m feeling excited and scared at the same time not knowing what lies ahead for me. Having the familiarity of the GS underneath me gives lots of comfort and assurance. As I enter Batangas city proper, it dawned on me that I don’t know where the pier is located. Congested traffic leads to a feeling of bewilderment and temporary confusion. The 2610 Garmin GPS gives me indication where the water is located so I make a beeline for it. A couple of questions with folks on the street brings me to the passenger terminal. A couple of guys wave at me before I can ask the question. “No sir, you want to go to the cargo terminal where the Ro Ro is located. Just turn around and turn left.” “Salamat po (thank you, Sir),” I say with a wave of appreciation. Everyone I’ve met have been very helpful.
In the cargo terminal, the first stop is the Arrestre booth – 55 pesos fee. I rode straight to the ferry boat where a few vehicles are already waiting. Fee for bike and passenger is 401 pesos. I sense the curiosity and attraction of people to the bike, but I also feel their hesitancy to approach me. I try to break this impasse by starting the conversation with some deprecating humor, like a comments about the enormous girth of the bike. Within seconds, I’m surrounded by smiling faces with questions that are needing answers. Questions abound, how much, how big, how fast, where are you coming from, where are you going, why are you by yourself, etc. After answering theirs, its my turn to satisfy my curiosity. How long does it take to cross? Two hours. What are in the sacks on top of your jeep? Fertilizer, sir. Is the ferry safe? Today, yes – good weather. Is there a RoRo in Roxas? Yes. There are three ferries leaving every day.
The GS is the first vehicle on board and it sits on the middle of the hold. At first I thought it was the front of the ferry where salt water spray might reach it, but they guys tells me that the ferry will turn around as soon as it leaves port, positioning the bike facing to the rear and the first vehicle to leave when we reach Mindoro. I give thanks to Ed Pascual's recommendation to bring extra long straps. As seen below, I really needed it.
The ferry quickly fills up. The buses unload their passengers before driving into the bowels of the ferry. Like animals entering Noah's ark, the passengers climb up the stairs to board. We said goodbye to Batangas at 10:30am. I checked the bike a few times during the crossing to make sure it is safe, but the sailing was smooth. An elderly couple sat next me. The old man has a juvenile rooster in a cardboard box with holes. He got up to walk around and I volunteered to keep an eye on his rooster while he is gone. He tells not to worry. No one will take it. A family with a small boy offers to share their lunch. I humbly declined the generous offer. They are spending the weekend in Mindoro for some R&R. Two and a half hours later, we are in Mindoro.
I’m the first one out. Where's the keys? Sh!t! I'm blocking the whole procession here. Found the keys and I bolted out of the hold like a scalded cat. The erratic waiving of arms tells me I should stop. The official at the gate asks for the blue piece of paper the Arrestre gave me in Batangas. Panic! Where is it? There it is. Lesson… never throw away anything official.
Everywhere I go, people stare. The combination of a big bike and rider wearing strange riding gear is an unusual sight. Calapan to Roxas is a little over 150 kilometers of paved road. Quality of tarmac is good most of the way with a few surprise potholes here and there. Traffic is ‘Batagas Light’ and road users are not as aggressive as their Manila counterpart. The road climbed and slithered its way through the hills as I pass Lake Naujan. Today is Sunday and people are out relaxing. Tricycles are still on the road along with a few bikes - small ones. As I leisurely watch the countryside roll by, a big red bus suddenly began to fill my rear view mirror. Oh no! No way am I going to let you pass me and fill my lungs with diesel fumes, not a big clumsy bus. I turn the speed up a notch to 100kph and the bus disappears from sight. A few more miles later, the red menace begins its attack again, its time to turn the speed up. This game of cat and mouse continued all the way to Roxas where I arrived around 4:30 pm. This is my second time with the officials. All are very polite and professional. Arrestre first and the Coast Guard next. No fee with the Coast Guard, just a stamp. He did not ask for any documentation on the bike. Nobody has asked for any documentation, so far. While waiting to board, a rider stopped next to me on an XR200 Honda. I introduced myself to the rider with an Italian accent. He says he’s a Catholic priest working in Antique, Panay. He’s been in the Philippines for a seventeen years now, going back to Italy only to visit his family. How many of them (foreign priests) are here? Not many and they are probably the last. He encourages me to ride down Mindanao especially Zamboanga. What about the Abu Sayaf? “They leave bikers alone,” he responds. I sure hope he is right. Fortunately for him, he's got connections in high places.
On board, I sat my tired body in the cabin area where a television screen is showing Shania Twain in concert. The ferry left at 5:30 pm just before the sun begins to set. Several guys parked themselves a few rows behind me and started talking between themselves. I heard one guy say, “Ang bilis nyang BMW na yan! Hinahabol ko yan buong hapon eh hindi ko maabutan.” (That BMW is very fast. I’ve been chasing it all afternoon and I can’t catch it.) I turn around and the speaker is smiling at me. I said to him in Tagalog, “So you’re the one who’s been filling my rear view mirror all day. It’s you who have my respect. How anyone can drive a vehicle that size, with all the traffic and hazards of the road is beyond my comprehension or abilities.” They all busted up laughing.
Throughout the trip, I talked some more with the drivers – there are three Philtranco buses are on board. The long distance buses carry two drivers who alternate driving duties. They warned me of some places to avoid at night when I reach Mindanao. They’ve encountered logs placed on the road to stop traffic. This gives the bandits the ability to board the bus and rob the passengers. “We don’t stop. We jump the logs,” said one bus driver. One suggests that I should follow him on the way down to Iloilo after we disembark from Caticlan so I can make good time. He estimates three hours of driving between Caticlan and Iloilo – a 213 kilometer distance at night. He did say that I might not be able to keep up. No argument there, because he’s right. Night riding is one dangerous activity I told myself not to do on this trip, but…..
Getting on and off the Ro Ro is a scary experience. If the car or bus parked only a couple inches from you does not nick your bike as they leave the hold, the slick surface of the boat will. Diesel fuel and oil leaked by parked vehicles mixed with sea water on the metal surface, makes a very slippery ride out of the hold. Gingerly, I inch my way out smoothly. Keep in constant motion, without stopping and turning and most likely all will be alright. By the time I got off the ferry, the clock says 10:48pm.
The Philtranco buses are lined up outside waiting for passengers. The rabbits are giving me a head start. A dark strange town leaves me wondering where to go. I turn right only to see the other cars behind me turning left. A quick u-turn brought me back on the map. The GPS is earning its keep. Although there is not much detail on the screen except for the main roads, it is enough to keep me going the right direction. I pass four vehicles and soon, I’m the only one on the road and the dogs. The dogs own the street. They sleeping on its warm and smooth surface and they don’t seem to mind the periodic interruption of passing vehicles like me. Most are smart enough to move aside when they see me coming, some needs a little urging with the horn, while a couple tried to chase me as I pass. The dislike of dogs to motorcycles is universal.
Last edited by Rene Ybardolaza; April 1st, 2005 at 02:33 PM.
Great posts Rene. I too will be watching this post with much interest. Your good natured and openess to others gives us a nice and different perspective of our country. For a person who lives in the Metro and has learned to be cynical of others, the description of your adventure sure dissipates some of my cyniscism of the Philippines.
Please keep your posts coming and have a safe trip. Hope to see you when you get back to manila.
Freedom Riders MC
Ducati Unlimited Club
A great post indeed! . . . and very well written. Everything about it is tremendous. . .and not to mention the bike. You also captured the local folks' reactions very well.
We will be going thru the same route next week up to Caticlan. Your post gave us much needed information and makes me more "mentally prepared" on what might be in store for us.
Have a great adventure ride!
Past midnight and over an hour into the ride, a bright set of lights slowly shows itself in my rear view mirror. Given the wide formation of its beams, I have a feeling that one of the rabbits is finally catching up with the turtle riding a German Kalabaw. I move to the side to give the red Philtranco bus some room. My new found friend gives me a friendly toot as he goes by. Let me see if I can follow. I watch him negotiate the curves. He makes full use of the whole street like a road racer taking the opposite lane on the left before making a right hander. No horns needed, no brake lights, just pedal to the metal. I keep up with him for only a few miles, but the speed is too much to ride safely. I quickly overrun my limited lights especially when the bike is leaned over. He slowly pulls away until I could no longer see his red tailights. In Kalibo, 68 kilometers from Caticlan, I find a 24-hour gas station open. Not one to take unnecessary chances, I filled the half empty tank of the GS.
Midway through the trip, it got cold enough for me to turn on the heated grips and stop to put on a jacket. Stopping in the middle of nowhere in the dark to look for my jacket gave me a creepy feeling. There is nothing to see and all around me is silence. “The Ranger owns the night,” says my First Sergeant almost three decades ago. The words still ring true, but Ranger no more is the rider looking frantically for a jacket. I wonder where First Sergeant Jackson is now. An hour later, I catch up with my Philtranco buddy as he stops to pick up passengers. We switched leads a couple more times till we reach Iloilo. This strange relationship helped me stay awake and complete the five hour trip to Iloilo without any incident. Thanks.
At 3am, the city of Iloilo looks deserted. My hope for an open hotel was answered when I saw the lights of Sarabian Manor. Tired and sleepy, the hotel porter helped me unload the bike. The beautiful, but sleepy desk clerk gave me the room till Tuesday morning for a one day charge. Nice reward for a long day on the road.
Ten O’Clock am wake up time. I was on the road (and sea) for 19 hours yesterday and I plan to do little riding today. I will do much less in the future, I promised myself. Riding through the length and breadth of Panay in the dark was no way to see the island. After eating breakfast, it was time to explore the city of Iloilo. The hotel fronts one of the major streets in Iloilo called General Luna and traffic congestion greets me. A visit to a 19th century church called St. Anne’s was a cultural treat. This Gothic renaissance, coral stone structure has tall twin spires and a domed roof that can be seen from far. Bamboo scaffolding surrounds the building walls as repairs on the roof and balcony are being made.
In preparation for tomorrow, I trolled the pier section and found the place where I can board the Ro Ro area. There are two schedules leaving for Bacolod, an early bird at 5:30 am and an afternoon departure at 2:30 pm. Riding around the city gave me a bit of flavor of Iloilo.
One of the surprises is the sprinkling of old mansions throughout the city center, some are just the skeletal remains of their past grandeur. I can only imagine the affluence that once inhabited those premises.
The streets are crowded, but at least the traffic is moving. Unlike their Manila cousins, the Jeepney drivers here do not drive like Satan's employees.
One of my major mistakes on this trip is going to the hotel beauty salon for a regular haircut. I’m sure the lady who butchered my hair today is good at what she does, which is cutting women’s hair. She had a different idea all together for what kind of cut I would need versus what I told her before she got started. She later confessed that she was sweating from the experience. In her effort to make me feel better, she tells me that I’m good looking enough not to worry about the cut. As if that not enough, she recommends that I keep my hat on. It compliments my haircut. :bouncy:
Last edited by Rene Ybardolaza; April 2nd, 2005 at 03:44 AM.
Rene.... Nice trip and great pics! Keep 'em posting!
Wait a sec..... where's the haircut pic? or the hairdresser's pic?
Have a sweet trip.....
Cool Bike Rider
yeah, where's the haircut? lemme see
No way guys! It is cruel enough to see myself in the mirror every morning. Good thing about bad haircuts, they grow right back.
Tuesday - Rooster alarm woke me up at a few minutes past 5 am. I’m too late for the 5:30 am ferry. I’ll have to catch the afternoon one instead. This gives me a little time to check the bike and later, do more exploring of the city. Plugs are fine. The air cleaner is dirty. It needs half a quart of oil. Valves are not ticking loudly. Bolts are tight. Air pressure needs 5 lbs on each tire.
The city of Iloilo has a small town charm about it, but the hectic traffic takes away a lot of the quiet that only envelopes the city when people are asleep. I explored the poorer section of town near the pier. Hard looking men with wary eyes try to make a quick assessment at the intruder on the big bike. A friendly wave and warm greeting bring out the smiles on their face. A brief stop at one of the piers gave me an opportunity to meet the local boat operators. These boats have large outriggers and are used to fish and haul anything it can carry. At first, the guys are reluctant to speak with me, but the bike is a big magnet and it draws their attention. I broke the ice by speaking to them first and soon, a dozen guys abandoned their work and proceeded to ask the same questions I’ve heard before. Funny, the common guess for the price of the bike is one million pesos…. about $20,000. It sounds really expensive. The bossman came over to tell one of the guys to finish his work, but Bossman stays behind to satisfy his own curiosity. After some picture taking, I bid goodbye to the boatmen of Iloilo and went to the local market to buy some mangoes and pastries to replenish my munchies stock.
A couple of guys stopped for a chat about the bike. They say that big bikes are around in the island of Panay, but this is the first time they have seen the GS. In a country where vehicle size means something, the GS makes a really big statement on people.
I made a quick jaunt to the Ro Ro station and faced the same process all over again. Arrestre first – charge of 55 pesos. I still wonder what this Arrestre fee is for. Afterwards, I wait for the trucks and Jeepneys to organize themselves inside the ferry before I was allowed in. To the side of the ship I go. I could never tell who works for the ship since nobody wears any uniform. T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops is the normal wear. A man who is holding a book of tickets came over to chat with me. Later, I asked him how much is the fare and he smiles. He tells me this time, it’s free. Huh? Nice guy. A couple of the guys grabbed wheel chocks and placed them under each wheel of the BMW. Another one came up with a skinny set of ropes and I asked him if I can use my straps instead. As I pulled them out of the bag, the guys surrounding me all began to laugh at the guy with the rope, jokingly mocking him for bringing out these cheap ropes which of course, is not as fancy as the tie-down straps.
A few minutes after the ferry left the dock, I watch a faster, sleeker boat skim by us speeding by at 30 knots. The fast boat carries passengers only and it will reach our destination within 45 minutes. Our slow ferry, chugging along at less than 10 knots per hour will take over three hours to get there. I get to hang with three guys who live in Bacolod, Negros. They gave me lots of tips and stories about the area.
For example, the island of Guimaras to our south grows some of the sweetest mangoes in the Philippines. Why? Because of the abundance of lime on the ground. We pass a group of islands called Siete Pecados Islands. On top of the largest island is a large house. “That house is owned by the Lopez Family (one of the richest family in the Philippines),” said one. This sets me thinking. How often do you go out shopping for supplies? Where do you get fresh water? I wonder what its like to be there when it’s storming? Fighting salt and corrosion must be a never ending task.
Our little ferry entered the small harbor of Bacolod behind the giant WG&A Supperferry. Two tug boats came up on the Superferry’s side to get it properly parked. It is past 6 pm when I got off the ferry. A guy waves at me before I got out of the gate. He said I need to pay Arrestre. What? Another one? I just paid before I left? Another motorist was also stopped and we both went to the office to pay.
Another night and another town equates to another lost biker. It would have been worse if I did not have the GPS. It took me a couple of inquiries before I found a hotel on the main drag. It is called L’Fisher and a very nice accommodation it is. "Leave the bike in front of the driveway, it will be safe. No one will touch it," said the man in charge. The guard area is ten feet away. Hesitantly, I accepted. A long hot shower and a nice rib eye dinner make it right all over again.
Last edited by Rene Ybardolaza; April 2nd, 2005 at 03:59 AM. Reason: Tuesday
I'm glad things are going well for you, partner. Now where's that emoticon for "envy"?
nice read! keep 'em comin'
What a wonderfull trip you have. . This trip you have now is one of our guide to duplicate this with our group here in Region 1 probably next year. That's why I take some note of your inputs in this thread. . .Take care happy and safe riding. . . .
Tom, through your generosity, the ride has truly turned into a dream come true.
To all, I know this might sound like a BMW commercial, but as an owner of a GS back in the US, I've developed quite a high regard for the bike and consider it the best bike I've ever owned. Now, after putting in hundreds of Philippines miles on the GS, I'm more convinced that this is the bike to ride in this country, or something similar to it.
What do I mean? Our roads here are very unpredictable. Sometimes it is smooth, most of the time it is rough (wavy cement, patched asphalt) and a few times, all dirt. The GS handles it all.
Do you want to go fast? Even the best handling sportsbike is going to be left behind once the road starts getting rough, while the GS soaks up the bumps even when leaned over on a turn.
Do you want to travel? I liken the GS to our beloved Kalabaw. Carrying capacity galore and comfortable to make the long haul.
What about the weight? The sucker is heavy only when I'm moving at less than walking speed. The means parking lot maneuvers can get a little hairy, but anything else above that, the bike is a ballerina.
What are the negatives? It is not cheap and it is a tall bike.
Wish I could have gotten all of my affairs in order so I could be there riding with you right now.
Seems like you are having a good experence exploring the Philippines. Please keep all the post coming so we can have follow along the ride with you.
I am so envious of you right now.
Are you going to be traveling North to South through Leyte, or South to North? When you are in Leyte, you might want to stop by and take a few photos of General MacArhur reflective pool, or Leyte Landing Memorial. It is a mile East just off the main North-South road through Leyte in Palo.
I'm going to PM you.
Ride safe Rene, I know you are going to have many stories to tell.
Keep the Wind in Your Hair and the Rubber Side Down. 1978 Honda GL1000 -- 1998 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2002 Suzuki 1200 Bandit
The following morning while having breakfast, I met Eric who asked if I am the one riding the GS. He just bought a Honda Super Four (I know that bike! Thanks Jake) and is slowly rediscovering riding again after being out a few years. He rode dirt bikes before. Now, he is happy just to putter around the neighborhood for therapy. I can certainly relate to that type of medicine. Recommended that he takes one of Jake's MSF approved course. Eric tells me that he works for the Lopez family and he is here to inspect land the company owns. I asked him about the house on the island and he confirms that it is owned by the family. He has been there before and it is not being used much nowadays.
Four to six guys in front of the hotel watched me pack my gear on the bike. What fascinates most of them is the GPS. I’m also a newcomer to this interesting contraption and when I explain that the little box is in constant communication with several satellites to keep me informed of where I am, how fast I’m going, when is the next turn and more, their eyes light up. Plug in, turn on the switch and the Garmin 2610 quickly fills the screen showing a map everybody recognize.
I turn the bike north towards Silay. This town, located about 15 kilometers north of Bacolod used to be called the Paris of Negros when Frenchman Yves Leopold Germain Gaston began planting sugarcane commercially in this region during the 1850’s. Its port became an international port of call during its heyday. Today 31 ancestral homes built between 1880 and 1930 remains in the city. I love old houses and I live in one – a seventy-eight year old beauty my kids initially called the Haunted House.
Today, I decided to visit the ancestral home of Monsiuer Gaston called Balay Negrense Museum. In 1990, it was donated by the family to the government to manage and operate as a historical building.
Maintaining a home like this takes a lot of money, time and love from those who are entrusted to care for it. My guide today is Myrna. She was very apologetic about her informal state of dress, which is a comfortable house gear instead of the formal wear she uses whenever there is a visiting tour group. I tell her that I feel very fortunate to have an exclusive audience with her and assured her that she looks fine.
Myrna with old phone
As we walked through the different parts of the home, she gave me background information on the family, their history and where they are now. For example, the Gaston family had 12 children.
The format of the house reminded me of some grand homes I’ve seen including the palace of Versailles and the Hearst Castle in California where connecting doors lead from one bedroom to another. Myrna explains one of the reasons for this is to keep the kids invisible when there are guests. If guests are being entertained, the kids can go from one room to another through the connecting doors. I've heard of the saying, "Children are not heard, only seen", but I guess they can also be invisible. Glad to know those practices are no longer popular.
To manage the heat, the house features high ceilings and flow through ventilation on top of each wall. There’s a regular kitchen and a dirty kitchen. Myrna asked if there are two kitchens in American houses. My first thought was no, but then I remember some of the grand old houses I’ve seen and true to the times, they also have a dirty kitchen. Today, slaughtering chicken and pigs in my kitchen would be a really messy affair.
There are two banks of stairs leading to the second floor. Myrna points out that the right set of stairs is for the men and the left is for the women. Why? For modesty purposes. Myrna showed me an iron, which is nothing but an open container like a small cooking pan with a handle. Hot coals are placed inside the pan to heat the metal. Pity the poor garment if a coal spark flies out of that container. Pity the poor maid who has to explain to Senora about the damage. (see middle display in photo below)
Downstairs, in the carriage area, I discovered a treasure - a four-cylinder FN motorcycle. The world's first mass-produced four-cylinder motorcycle built in Belgium. I could have sworn I saw one on display in Las Vegas when The Art of the Motorcycle was showing.
This one will need a lot of TLC to return it to its past glory. Another person I met is Ian who is the resident artist. His specialty is what he calls "continuous single-wire art sculpture". He shows me a couple of his work and the man truly has a lot of talent. This time, it is unfortunate that I’m on a bike where carrying capacity is very limited. I would have bought one his smaller pieces.
The house also featured a rooftop garden. Unfortunately, the cement roof is cracked and leaking. Funding is always a problem and there is little or no money coming from the government to keep these national treasures going. Only funds collected from visitors are their source of money. In addition to the contribution, I purchased a couple of small items from the gift shop before heading back on the road.
The northern part of Negros is my route to go to Cebu, th next island initinerary. Like a big U-turn, I went north then east then south to the town of San Carlos where I hope to catch a ferry that will take me to Cebu. Negros is truly sugar country. Fields of cane extend to the farthest horizon.
Narrow gauge rail cuts across the road, but they lead to nowhere. The metal rails past the road are long gone, taken off the track and recycled for different use. I see a locomotive engine on display as I pass the Lopez Sugar Company. Large trucks fully loaded with cane are now the means of transport and they dominate the roads like lumbering giants, too slow and cumbersome. Some of these trucks are refugees from World War II and Korean War era. Now, they are painted in wild gaudy colors looking like worn-out prostitutes trying to make a living way beyond their prime.
From these trucks fall the cane, littering the tarmac like large straws of grass blown by a giant mower. In general, the condition of the road is good, but there are sections where potholes and cane can make riding feel like a form of ballet if you are quick and graceful enough to avoid them.
I reached the port of San Carlos at 12 pm only to find out that a boat is leaving for Toledo in half an hour. I was quickly surrounded by a number of dock workers offering their services to help me lift the bike to the boat. Having done this process a couple of times already, I confidently told them that I can manage to ride it in. They continue to insist that I will need their help and they would take responsibility for riding the bike in. Horrors! I can just see myself explaining to Tom that his bike is now underwater because I trusted one of these guys to ride his GS into the boat.
"Let’s do the documents first," I tell them. Arrestre for 55 pesos, followed by the bill of Lading, then to the Ro Ro. With time running out, I made a quick dash to the gaping mouth of the Ro Ro, surprising the crew members inside having lunch. Ooops. "This is the wrong boat, sir." Apologies and a quick u-turn. A couple of guys from the dock pointed me to the other direction. What I saw is not a Ro Ro, but a regular boat with a plank. Oh sheeeet! Now, I understand what the dockhands earlier were saying. They do have to help me bring the bike into the boat.
A little gas and a minor pop of the clutch lifted the front wheel up on the foot -high plank, but the rear, with the heavy bags, must be lifted gently by hand. Realizing a photo opportunity, I handed the video cam to one of the guys while I sat on the bike to guide it in as four other guys push the massive GS across the plank. What a sight! Through all the excitement, I failed to properly instruct the guy who got the video cam, thus, no photos were made of the incident. The bike was parked in front of the passenger area where everyone sat. I saw one curious kid touch one of the cylinder heads and he recoils from the heat. Six live chickens in a basket had to be moved away from the engine to keep them from turning into KFC with feathers. After all of the commotion, I sat in the corner feeling both tired and embarrased. I only hope that there will be dock hands to help me unload the bike when we get to Cebu.
GS with Passengers
Crossing from Negros to Cebu took only a couple of hours. In the docks of Toledo, before I can get the bike ready, several dock hands are already upon me to offer their services. This time, I left them to do all the hard work while I work the videocam. Success at last.
Last edited by Rene Ybardolaza; April 4th, 2005 at 06:21 AM.