We trek up north Wednesday night for the MLE forum and launch of Sukimat. To save your precious time, let me just paste here the portion taken from the blurb for a preview. Here we go: " . . . Sukimat—the work of scholars, academics, and cultural workers committed to the exchange and diffusion of knowledge and information on Ilokano and Amianan Studies—offers a way to rethink of education to democracy and freedom."
A few weeks before, I had been to La Union on a related business, and thought the Ilocos trip was no different, except that it would take five more hours on the road. I took the Partas bus to La Union and it was relatively a good ride, except that, again, I could not and will probably never sleep while travelling by either bus, car, or plane. Maybe my insomnia or probably some unresolved psychological issue has something to do with this inability to sleep during travel, except by boat on a long trip.
I assumed then that the longer the trip takes, the more comfortable the ride is. I was darn WRONG! The four of us had purchased our ticket about 10 minutes before departure. It turns out we got the last four seats on the de luxe bus that was to take us to Laoag. Except for Dr. Agcaoili who had taken seat No. 24, Dr. Nolasco, Lucy, and I and a lady passenger from Paoay had the misfortune of occupying the last four elevated seats with defective backrests and recliners. WORST, the seats are too high that our legs were hanging like columns of chicken feet being drained in a Mongkok kitchen. The "ottoman" or the leg support was defective, too, making it extremely difficult to stretch our already tired hanging legs.
Minutes before rolling along EDSA, I had asked the conductor if he could lend me something to keep my back from being reclined too much and he was kind enough to part with his still unopened inflatable pillow that looked like he rarely used it. I had no choice but demand some comfort. After all, I paid not just the miles but for a comfortable ride. Remember it was "de luxe," whatever that means to Lakay Chavit. The defective seats, I learned from the conductor, had been left unrepaired for weeks already and I was given the lame excuse that repairs can only be done once the parts--purchased by bulk--arrived from Mars or Jupiter!
Will someone blow this bus into pieces, please? I'm sure, replacement will come faster that they can claim insurance.
After La Union, I thought my ordeal was over because early on I had psyched up for a sleepless day or two and kept telling myself to get a full doze in my bed on weekend. I was wrong again. As soon as we hit Tagudin, signs of more inconvenience were all over the roads.
A few months back, the region had been battered by storms, and its network of national and provincial roads took the beating to the worst. Bad timing!
The bad roads and the ongoing repairs along the southern stretch of Ilocos not only lengthened travel time by more than an hour; it kept most passengers awake as the bus negotiated with potholes and had to tilt left and right more often than we could curse DPWH and the bus company management.