Speak of Cebu and images of the Sto. Niño , the province’s patron, come to mind. And so does the valiant Lapu-Lapu, sweet mangoes, the famous lechon, guitars and beaches. But it is more than that. Cebu is a special and beautiful place. It is also my home.
The ST bus of Corominas, a bus line that monopolize the Toledo – Tuburan stretch of land in western Cebu was taking it’s time, cruising the unpaved road like it had all the time in the world. Music is blaring deafeningly that if you want to talk with the conductor or another passenger, you have no option but to shout.
Its running at 20 kph or less that, at first, I was thinking that there might be a cortege in front, slowing us down at a snail’s pace. But the road was clear except for the sporadic passings of habalhabals, passenger motorcycles that got it’s name from the copulation like position of the driver and his passengers. I walk faster than this, I thought. Puzzled, I looked at the other passengers and all of them were calm, unmindful of the seeming slow pace whereas I was fidgety and losing my patience, glancing at my watch every few minutes.
I was in a hurry. It was almost 1600H and I still have to reach Sta. Lucia Parish in Asturias to take a shot of the church façade while the sun is still at a good angle infront of it. This was for a book project that I was commissioned to do. Time is running out for me and here, just a few few kilometers from Tuburan, the bus is crawling.
Curious, I asked my seatmate what is happening, and she answered that these buses usually do this especially as passengers are few and far and the next public transport is still a long way. It’s another way to buy time between buses. For the next 8 kilometers it was a leisurely cruise across the rough roads and I was resigned to such unfortunate fate. From time to time, the bus accelerates only to go back to its slow speed. After 30 minutes, it finally pulled ahead with speed and I was calmed and enjoyed the bucolic view of fields, low rolling hills and the beautiful west Cebu coastline, clean with white sandy beaches and uncommercialized.
After around 40 minutes and the bus again stopped. Just a few seconds to pick or unload a passenger, I mused. But then, the engine halted. The driver went down with his water container. What the…! Another delay and this time, it is at a standstill. No leisurely ride, nor blaring music. Just the sound of water being hosed on the underside of the bus.
10 minutes flew by and surprisingly, the passengers were still calm but I was already uneasy. After five minutes, the engine roared back again and the bus was on its way. It might have all been okay but to my utter disapointment, I was already at my destination after just a kilometer.