Doing the Luzon-Visayas Loop: a Masochist’s trip

Luzon - Visayas Loop theloop.gif This is the 2nd of 16 installments of the Luzon – Visayas – Luzon Loop series. Click the image on the right to check out the rest of the posts.

Call it madness, call it a masochist’s trip but, after much ruminations, I finally made it: The Luzon – Visayas – Luzon Loop. Of all the days of 2007, I picked the end of the year holiday rush to head for home in Cebu from Makati and back (after 3 weeks) by land and sea. I intentionally didn’t book any plane tickets so that I will be forced to take the land route.

No doubt about it, the trip itself is a bit brutal, taxing, draining and not for the faint of heart as I had to endure almost 30 hours of no sleep negotiating the Bicol – Eastern Visayas leg and partly clinging my butt on an improvised wooden seat without cushion inside a crowded van just so that I can at least make it to Ormoc on time. But despite all these hardships, it was an experience!

Just imagine:

  • 2,600 kilometers
  • 63 hours of total travel time
  • 3 taxis, 2 cars, 5 vans, 5 buses, 3 jeepneys, 4 tricycles, 2 pedicabs, 3 fastcrafts, 3 barges and 2 pumpboats
  • P4,700 total expenses for fare, terminal fee and a dorm type accommodation, and
  • 16 provinces

The loop actually traced the following: Makati City – Laguna – Batangas – Quezon – Camarines Sur – Albay – Sorsogon – Northern Samar – Western Samar – Leyte – Cebu – Negros Occidental – Iloilo – Capiz – Aklan – Oriental Mindoro – Batangas – Makati City.

Ready… set… go! Me and my gear.

I did not travel light. Maybe this was one major mistake considering the breadth and duration of the trip. I was lugging my full camera gear crammed inside a convertible LowePro bag, a mid-sized 5 year old backpack filled with stuff and things and my aluminum, heavy duty tripod that really saw little action, except for a church visit in Cabatuan, Iloilo, that I was regretting bringing it. The planned Cebu church interior photography didn’t materialize. When I got to Iloilo, my shoulders were already aching especially when I was changing vehicles frequently.

Also because of this heavy load coupled with uncertain schedules, I totally skipped Tacloban – Maasin via Sogod in Southern Leyte, Ubay in Bohol and Dumaguete in Negros Oriental.

Guide book, notebook, pen and receipts.

My main reference for the routes, trips and other information was my two month old and ever reliable Lonely Planet (9th Edition) guide book. I took lots and lots of notes like travel time, expenses, routes and stops and observations on a cheap spiral notebook where I crammed all my tickets and terminal fee receipts.

The LVL Loop is not easy to negotiate. One has to prepare for it. But frankly, I should confess that I didn’t have all information ready like the travel times and fares that I have to discover it en route or at the stop itself. I’m not regretting this part, though, as the uncertainties add up to the sense of adventure, discovery and fun.

Will I do this again? Sure! And when that time comes, I’ll take my time, include as much provinces and routes as I can and enjoy again this masochist’s trip.

NOTE: This is the start of a series. The rest can be read at theLOOP.

Map by Eugene Villar’s Lakbayan

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