Philippines · Surigao del Norte · Travel Tales

The brown Claver Bay, Bebie’s Barbecue in Surigao City, and the hunt for the elusive sayongsong

It was disappointing to go back to mainland Surigao del Norte after Bucas Grande. We hadn’t even reached the shore when we felt that disappointment.

DSC_3356
Hayanggabon Port in Surigao del Norte. Those boats are, yes, still at sea.

There seemed to be a clear demarcation where the blue waters met brown on Claver Bay. Β This brown water apparently comes from the mining operations around the area. This bit of news from March 2012 states that Congressman Pichay have given “marching orders” to get the mining companies to clean the coastlines up. The picture above was taken in October 2013. What has happened?

We took a van — empty at Hayanggabon but eventually stuffed with passengers and cargo before we knew it — going back to Surigao City. The scenery around was not pretty. At all. It’s like there is brown sand everywhere — on the road, in the streams we passed through, in the air.

There was a talk to our students some months ago regarding mining in Palawan, and one of the arguments against mining put forward by the speaker was that the profit generated in mining covers less than 2% of the country’s GDP. To add to that, mining in Surigao destroys what profit could have been generated by, say, tourism or fishing. I also wonder what has happened to the land, especially now that Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda has just battered it…

It was a depressing van ride, especially as we’d just been to something akin to paradise.

(Journeying James has written about the issue in 2012 and 2013. Nothing has changed. Except maybe the size of the bulge in the local government officials’ pockets?)

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Back in Surigao City. First we had to look for lodgings. Next, we had to look for souvenirs and sayongsong, the local delicacy — cone-shaped kakanin wrapped in banana leaf. Then, we had to have dinner.

We stayed in Travellers’ Inn somewhere farther from the airport than we’d have liked, but it brought us closer to the market and the port. Unfortunately we couldn’t find any fridge magnets in the market, and what’s stranger was that the locals we asked didn’t seem to know where to find sayongsong.

We headed to the port then to look for dinner. The road to the port is lined with barbecue houses. We decided to go to Bebie’s, which looked rather dubious since it was closed off and air-conditioned (for a barbecue place!), and it totally looked like a fire hazard. But it was recommended at the inn, so we went ahead and didn’t regret it.

What we ordered: rice wrapped in puso (coconut leaves), all sorts of barbecue (the best ones were the isaw and longganisa), and softdrinks. Since my birthday was nearing, it became a sort of celebration and libre. πŸ™‚

Bebie's barbecue. Picture courtesy of Edison.
Bebie’s barbecue. Picture courtesy of Edison.

#Β 

Some other adventures that night involved looking for a bar, which we found — appropriately, again — on Amat Street. The bar there was closed, however, so we went to the parlor beside it. Czhar and Weng had pedicures. πŸ™‚ When we went back outside, some men with bottles of gin and beer had already congregated on the sidewalk. Amat Street indeed.

So instead of drinking, we ended up doing something more teacher-like, which was to go to True Brew cafe in front of Gaisano. We went back to our lodgings right after, where Edison edited the video of our trip:


Really, I love how well-documented our trip is.

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Next morning was devoted to hunting for sayongsong. It had been a stroke of luck that our tricycle driver from Amat Street to True Brew found us again that same night as we went back to Travellers’ Inn. And he knew where to get us those elusive sayongsong: in Ipil.

Ipil, as it turned out, was a barangay near Mabua, which was where we’d gone on our Day One! We’d missed it. Regardless, we bought our pasalubong.

Sayongsong! Picture by Edison
Sayongsong, finally! Picture by Edison.

As for souvenirs, it’s strange because the tourism office seemed to be the only place to get them, and there weren’t even enough. I reasoned that I could find that ref magnet in the airport. True enough, I was able to buy one there.

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