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!
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.
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.