Where: Roxas City, Capiz
When: July 24 - July 27, 2009
With: Khae Vina and Jim Landrito
The day before I left for Cebu last May 2009, I was browsing through airline websites searching for promo fares, unconsciously planning my next vacation. I chanced upon a cheap promo fare to Roxas City, Capiz, my father's hometown, which also became my second province aside from Cebu. Flights in Roxas City occurs once a day per airline, at most would be two. The fare for Roxas is not something that is easily manipulated given the frequency of flights. Also, Roxas City Capiz is not one of the major provinces in the Philippines. Few Filipinos know that this place even exists and what the province stands for.
For few people like me who are blessed enough to know are proud to say that Roxas City, Capiz, contrary to popular belief is not home for monsters or "aswangs." Call it culture and folklore, but to me I already realized the truth very early. When we still had no power to decline, every year, my father would bring us back to Roxas for a summer vacation. As far as I'm concerned, we haven't encountered anything freaky yet. We'd roam around the city, visit relatives and busy ourselves with fishing and swimming in the beach. Unlike Cebu of course, Roxas is more provincial. There aren't any choices of malls (except for simple Gaisano) or posh places to hang out. People hang out in beaches, local pubs or with other people's houses. It's quieter and simpler there. It's a place to relax, to write and to disappear. It's also not a province for everyone.
I am also proud to say that people there are very helpful, comic and frank. They don't beat around the bush and the melodic tone of their dialect says everything. The usual loud shrill isn't mistaken for a tantrum. People there are simple and unpretentious and they can speak Tagalog, at least they try their very best.
Lastly, Roxas City, Capiz is known to be the seafood capital of the Philippines. This is the original of the Dampa by the beach. Seashells from crabs to scallops are cheap and fresh. Although, there are already established restaurants in place, one should really search for the authentic market-dampa driven restaurants to experience the best seafood prices Roxas is known for.
Aside from the fresh and relatively cheap seafood, Roxas City has a small but scenic capitol area, grand churches, friendly neighborhood, cheap and simple fishing areas, yummy delicacies (Biscocho), grand relics and a great access to other provinces in Panay.
It's been almost two years since the last time I've been in Roxas, less frequent than my visits to Cebu. It wouldn't be hard to adapt to the changes though. Aside from the Roxas Park in Bay-Bay area, Roxas is still pretty much the same.
Khae Vina, a colleague of mine from Accenture and Jim Landrito, her relative, a current office colleague of mine, joined me in revisiting my father's hometown. We arrived at the new Naia Terminal 3 bound for Roxas looking sleepy and harassed as expected in the early morning. I told them our initial agenda of settling in the house and handling out the pasalubongs my father had for my relatives including the two precious shades my father brought for my lolo.
We left Manila on time and the flight was smooth. We arrived at the Roxas City airport at 10:30 in the morning. Unlike other provincial airports, Roxas airport may be small and a little outdated, but it's clean, air-conditioned and sufficient to accommodate the expected number of passengers. The weather at that time was fine and we were picked up by my aunt, the younger sister of my father, who has lived there all her life. We found the reliable old Mitsubishi Space Wagon at the parking lot, and knowing that it's on Manual Transmission, I immediately turned over the keys to Jim for safety and convenience reasons.
Jim drove us from the airport to my father's beachhouse in Cogon in around 15 minutes. While there, we settled our things, inhaled the mothball infused master bedroom and had an early lunch of succulent pusit, sugpo and shrimps we happily consumed with unlimited rice. Upon finishing our meal, we decided to drop my aunt at their house in Punta Tabuc and do our groceries in Gaisano.
Going around Roxas City is a breeze. One could pretty much roam around the city by asking people and following obvious paths that the capitol, the market, the school and the establishments show. The capitol may be alive, but it's not bustling to the point of being stressful.
After a quick hi's and hello's to my relatives in Punta Tabuc, Jim, Khae and I drove to Gaisano mall on our way home. We did our groceries of Juice drinks, water, condiments, meats, liquor, snacks for the duration of our stay there. Since all of us were craving ice cream, we bought two pints. IN an hour we headed back home to the beach house.
It was at around 4 in the afternoon when we were eating our ice cream that we felt we were at peace in a windy day, hearing the calming waves of the beach and chilling at the pseudo-kubo was priceless. We wanted to take the afternoon slow. As we planned our Boracay adventure the following day, we took power naps until it was time for dinner.
For dinner, we went to the Coco Veranda restaurant, one of the restaurants by the Baybay beach to sample the fresh seafood. We got scallops, lechong kawali, yangchow fried rice and steamed fish. We all paid 700 for it. The food was yummy and has generous servings, but it was a disappointment for me because when I took Je and Ingko there a couple of years back, we only paid for 300 bucks with takeout. It was bad judgment for us to try a restaurant with uniformed waiters. I thought they have already put down those authentic dampa restaurants when my aunt, upon knowing this, laughed and told us that we should've driven farther. We thought there was no use crying over spilled milk, so we just relished our dinner and enjoyed the rest of the night.
Jim initially wanted to try the local bars in Roxas after dinner. I personally have no idea which ones are okay, so after driving around, we just ended up buying ice in a local water refilling station to have our own drinking session at home. After spilling facts of our lives over drinks, munching on chips while listening to Queen, we forced ourselves to sleep for an early morning adventure to Boracay.
Pix Sources of first three photos: