Wednesday, May 13, 2015


We came to have Bulan enrolled.

We came with his admission letter, medical folder, several 2x2 ID pictures in case these are needed, and a 5-day reservation at the Circle Inn Hotel and Suites in Iloilo City in case the 4-day medical-dental and enrollment procedure stretches to full schedule.

It was supposed to be easy until Bulan's urinalysis from Nueva Ecija turned doubtful so the doctor prescribed a retest, with the same result, which sent us in a frantic search for a specialist who can examine Bulan and issue a medical clearance.

We were referred to one in Miag-ao and while waiting for her, I toured Pugad Baboy around the magnificence of the Miag-ao Church so rightfully declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I climbed the towers too with Balong and encountered the bats and smelled their shit and saw empty bottles of liquor stacked on the wall, the combined power of which assaulted my senses and reminded me that it is past lunch time, so I called Pugad Baboy and told them about this great batchoyan in Miag-ao I read from blogosphere, that we have to walk to find the place but then decided to take the red tricycle instead and ask for Mang Iking as instructed by a friendly bystander, which we found to be a most unassuming place more fit for a pansit-kanin carinderia that what it is famous, until the batchoy came and made me cry.  

It was indeed a superb bowl of batchoy and the best-est I've had so far, prepared by a chef in shorts and kamiseta who turned out to be Senor Boni Legazpi's brother who sent him to Letran and have him cremated when he died so he can finally come home to Miag-ao.

Back at the specialist's clinic, our circumstances got us No. 1 in the queue and the specialist warmed when she learned that Bulan will actually be a classmate of her daughter, that we know her friend from Cabanatuan, and many more pleasantries until we realized that there is still a long line waiting outside and we need to submit the medical clearance before the offices close at 5 pm.

At the end of the day, Bulan got issued his medical certificate with barely enough time for submission to the registrar who finally gave him his admission slip, which made me so happy I decided to treat Pugad Baboy to the famous Rawit's Native Lechon Manok at the Iloilo City Central Market which we however could not locate so we ended with halo-halo for dinner at Roberto's instead.

That was Day 1 in Miag-ao and it was not bad.

The next day, we took the yellow Ceres bus since it has fewer stops than yesterday's elongated PUJ, with the objective of course of getting ahead of the enrollment line to which we miserably failed since we arrived to what is already a long line with the enrollment starting an hour late, plus another hour of wait for the department's signatory to show up, and then a distraction from a 40 percent tuition discount which we got to know only at that time, but still somehow managed to beat the lunch break and finally have Bulan enrolled at 12 noon.

It was actually only 1.5 days in Miag-ao because after lunching at the Student Union Building, I thought it was too hot for a visita iglesia to San Joaquin, Guimbal, and Tigbauan so we went back to Iloilo City to kill the afternoon, to the Jaro Cathedral and its masculine saints, and to getting lost in our walking tour of Casa Marikit and the Lizares Mansion.

We did found Casa Mariquit after two wrong instructions that led to two wrong turns and there, the student interns tried to awe us with the hazy shadows in background of VP Fernando Lopez's old photograph, the usual secret tunnel to the cathedral, the holes in the walls and the floors where the Lopezes hid their money and jewelry, the pink mansion built by the gay son, and the servants who were not allowed to get inside the house.

Bulan got enrolled 2.5 days ahead of time, we were all happy, so I treated Pugad Baboy to a real Ilonggo dinner after the siopao of Day 1 and halo-halo of Day 2, at iconic Tatoy's where the world changed into Andy Warhol colors as we munched on grilled fish, ceviche, baked oysters, and two whole grilled manok bisaya washed down with a coconut each.

Our flight back to Manila is still two days away so how do we kill 48 hours in Iloilo?

That's when the aroma of cooking inasal wafted from the other side of the sea...    

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