Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Biringan (Part 2): Portals

Portals to and from an ethereal city. There are places in the island of Samar that have been described thus.

There’s one story of a bus plying the night route from Catbalogan City to Tacloban City. Somewhere halfway, when the bus had been emptied of its passengers, the driver and conductor stopped to pick up two young lady passengers. Their stated destination was quite off the main route but the driver consented because the two had offered triple the usual fare. When the two mysterious passengers had alighted, and the driver turned the bus around to get back on the highway. But, to his utter bewilderment, he could no longer distinguish the dirt road they had taken just moments ago. Conceding that they were lost, they decided to spend the night at that very spot. At dawn the next day, they were confounded when they found themselves and the bus at a desolate mountain top. A large tow truck had to be sent through rough mountain trails just to bring the bus back to civilization.

Then there’s the story of a bus that somehow lost its way and the driver stopped to pass the night at some sort of depot. When he and his passengers woke up the next morning they were in themiddle of a clump or bamboos with no roads anywhere around them that would have brought them where they were.

Perhaps the most classic example of these gateways involved two motorcycle riders riding tandem on one bike. They were traveling the highway at night from (Western) Samar to Eastern Samar. It was around nine o-clock in the evening and they were negotiating the foggy, winding passes halfway to Borongan, Eastern Samar. The night air was chilly and only their motorcycle headlights split the dark ahead. The deafening silence was only punctuated by the occasional chirping of insects.

Suddenly, as they rounded a sharp curve, they were suddenly engulfed in a bedlam of sound! It was as if they had entered a very busy freeway, invisible to them but its sound assaulted their ears. Shrill air horns blared from every direction and sudden gusts of wind rocked their motorcycle as if huge trailer trucks were passing them by on all sides. The driver tried his very best to keep the motorcycle handlebar steady.

It was only after they had round the next curve that the noise suddenly died down and the night air was deathly still once more. Still, these two motorcycle riders and scores of other highways travelers will never forget their encounters with Biringan’s portals.


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