In the last installment our brother had decided to come with us, we had worked out travel plans, and were getting ready to embark on a “tour du village” so he could say goodbye to his community.
Stateside brother had been in touch with Philippines brother and had made a plan to meet up with him in the afternoon. Our driver and bodyguard showed up at the appointed time and took us to where our brother was living, in an area of dirt streets and small dwellings a little west of the municipal center.
When we got there, the landlady assumed we were moving him out, and after some discussion between ourselves, Stateside brother and I realized that this made the most sense to move him out immediately, rather than in the morning, because it would facilitate an early start for Cagayan d’Oro.
This required another call to the mayor’s office, to ask his amazing assistant to arrange for another room at his mother’s guesthouse. Once that was done, Stateside brother and I played peek-a-boo with two charming kids while other brother got himself ready.
He and the landlady and the landlady’s husband came out with his luggage. Stateside brother had brought a folding knee scooter and had already given it to Philippines brother at City Hall on Monday, so he had that to help him get around on the dirt roads and paths of the neighborhood. The driver and bodyguard jumped in immediately to help get everything and everyone situated in the SUV, and then we were off to make the rounds to our brother’s friends’ houses.
The next couple of hours were a blur of activity as we drove from one neighborhood to another. In one case, the house we were trying to visit was at the top of a steep hill where the only access was a narrow dirt path, so I was dispatched to go up and find the people my brother wanted to see, and bring them down to the road.
I was touched by the outpouring of affection that my brother received from his friends in the area. There were a lot of hugs and well-wishes and promises to return someday. After we made the rounds to the various friends, we took a turn through the center of the main village, where there’s a very pleasant wharf and waterfront business area so my brother could see it again.
By this time it was nearing dark. We went back to the guesthouse and made our final decision about when to leave in the morning and then communicated this to the mayor’s office, who let our Cagayan d’Oro driver know. Our flight was scheduled for the late afternoon, but since we had no way of knowing what traffic would be like, we gave ourselves a wide margin.
After having our last fish and rice dinner, we retired to pack up. Wanting to leave nothing to chance I packed Philippines brother’s items for him while he spent his last few hours in the Philippines entertaining his not-quite-boyfriend on the veranda (I say “not-quite” because when I referred to the gentleman as my brother’s boyfriend he hastened to clarify that despite his best efforts, they had not become a couple yet). I felt badly for him that he had to leave before cementing the relationship, but as they say, if it’s meant to work out, it will.
We were up and at it early the next day. As it turned out, the checkpoint outside Illigan City wasn’t too bad, so we were ahead of schedule. Our driver, Ricky, was exceedingly prompt as always and got us within range of the airport in record time. He also (patience of a saint, that man) stopped at the pie place for us, but we were too early and no pie was available yet.
The extra time enabled us to stop for lunch at a waterfront seafood restaurant. Apparently we all had “eyes bigger than stomach” syndrome because we ordered a ton of food at the counter and were then unable to eat all of it, but what we did get through was very good, if lightly seasoned.
There were a lot of flies at the restaurant, so in addition to our food, we had a staff person whose entire job was to wave a fan around over our table to keep the flies off our food.
After lunch it was on to the airport and the wait for our flight. Tune in next week to learn about the odd choice of gateside entertainment at the Cagayan d’Oro airport, and to find out what I foreshadowed about that Manila guesthouse.