NOTED NCR RoadTrip (Second of Four Parts)

Though the planning and organization of this road trip took at least three months, it almost did not push through. People whom we thought would join suddenly couldn’t, and we ended up having only five NOTED participants (plus two assistants to help with the heavy cargo, my nephew who became our photographer, and a driver). We were somewhat disappointed at first, but we eventually realized that this was God’s will. Had there been 30 participants as we had originally planned, the teachers and administrators of the rural schools that we visited would have been sorely inconvenienced by the hospitality that they, being Filipinos, would have had to extend.

So, acknowledging God’s providence, the first thing that we did on our second day (April 27) was to visit the pilgrimage Basilica of Our Lady of Piat. After around 30 minutes of diverse acts of reverence and thanksgiving to God, we were given an unexpected treat: mass!

The miraculous statue of Our Lady of the Visitation was brought to the Philippines (arriving at Lallo, north of Piat) by Portuguese Dominicans fleeing Macao in 1604, as this glass window in the Basilica depicts.

After mass we again went through kilometers of rough dirt road (see photo) to get to our fourth and last major outreach stop, Cordova Elementary School in Amulung West, Cagayan, where we distributed books, fellowshipped with the district supervisor and several principals and head teachers of the schools in the district over a sumptuous Ilocano lunch (my favorite dish this time was Ilocano pinakbet using ingredients from the garden of one of the district’s schools). We also shared stories and encouraged the administrators to prepare their teachers for and nominate them to the 2012 Metrobank Foundation Search for Outstanding Teachers.

We saw many jeepneys overfilled with sacks of corn. Notice that the sacks of corn occupied the interior of the jeepneys while the people sat outside, on the roof. Note, too, the angle of the sampaguita garlands hanging from the rearview mirror, indicating how bumpy the rough dirt road was.
Seated are Sally Calabucal, who headed the planning and organization of the road trip, and Melita Cuarteros, the smart supervisor of Amulung West District schools. (Mel’s husband had earlier turned down an opportunity to migrate to the U.S. He eventually quit his government post to be a full-time farmer. Their eldest son is studying to become a priest. Thank God for families like Mel’s!)

From Amulung West, we then drove toward the northernmost tip of Luzon island, where we had a fantastic view of the sunset. Though the plan was to stay overnight in Claveria, Cagayan, we decided on the spot to spend the night in Pagudpud instead. Thanks to the very capable Divine de Asis, whom I called while driving through the impressive Patapat viaduct en route to Pagudpud, we were able to find via the Internet a good, reasonably-priced resort right in front of the beautiful Saud beach.

Next: Pagudpud, Bangui, Paoay, and Vigan

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