Wenceslao: Visit

I went to Danao City the other day and was reminded once again that this is no longer the suburban place that I used to pass by when I was younger on my way to the birthplaces of my parents in the Camotes group of islands. Danao port is where the boats going to the islands are moored. In the old days, passengers had two options in going to the islands. The other was to ride on the bigger but slower banca at the Tulay Wharf in Mandaue City.

While the land trip to Danao was longer, the sea travel was shorter because the passenger pump boats then were faster than the banca and the islands were nearer — they were even visible to the naked eye. Riding those pump boats was an adventure, especially when the weather was bad because the big waves that hit the vessel splashed water on the passengers and the crew strove to maintain the boat’s balance by running here and there while perched on the outriggers.

I don’t know how to swim, so the thought of the boat sinking was always a nightmare for me. But I liked Camotes, so I endured the worries and perils of sea travel just to get there. There were times when small steel ships that had seen better days in other routes were allowed to sail to Camotes until these finally sank. With the growth of tourism in the island, sea travel has improved. A barge now sails from Danao to Consuelo in San Francisco and better wharves are in place.

I was still in high school when I started vacationing in Camotes and traveling by my lonesome. I would pass by the town of Poro, the birthplace of my mother, before going to Tudela, the hometown of my father where I would stay until classes would reopen in June. There, friendships were developed and memories built. Those were the best years of my life’s innocent phase.

Several kilometers separate the Tudela town center from the Poro town center. Because four-wheel vehicles didn’t travel often and motorcycles-for-hire collected astronomical fare, I usually walked the eight-kilometer stretch of road that connects Poro and Tudela towns. One exception was when my policeman-cousin from Tudela looked for me after I jumped bail when I was freed in a rebellion case. I walked from the hills of Barangay General in Tudela to the hills of Poro town until I reached the road in Barangay Esperanza. From there I went to my cousin’s house in Barangay Cagcagan. After a while, I decided to go back to Cebu City, reconnected with my comrades and went to Bohol where I was arrested for the second time.

My brother and his family used to live in Danao where he was tasked to manage the warehouse of a soft drinks firm. My younger sister, a midwife, is also a long-time worker in Danao. I don’t know if she is in the employ of the Danao City Government or the health department, but there was a time when she entertained thoughts of her family and her living permanently in that city. But I know of some friends who have stayed in Danao for a long time already.

Danao’s economic growth is visible everywhere. I look forward to visiting the place again when I travel again to Camotes.