Thursday, January 22, 2015

On to Argao--January 2015

The Ceres Bus ride south from Cebu to Argao was very slow because the highway and bridges had been severely damaged by recent hurricanes. One of the bridges we went over was a temporary Bailey bridge.

I had decided to stop for the night in Argao because the Lonely Planet guide had described as Spanish colonial-era buildings. When I got off the bus all I saw were a collection of mostly ramshackle homes and small stores. I stopped in the local beauty salon to get a manicure and I was the hit of the place---even the top of my head hit the ceiling.

The customers and operators began asking me the usual questions while my nails were being worked on: "Where are you from? How old are you? Are you married to a Filipina? Do you have a Filipina girlfriend? Do you want one? and so it went. I passed on the nail topping and the bill was 60 pesos--about $1.50. On the tour map, it looked like the beach resorts were just a bit south of town. I had decided to stay at the Woodruff Beach Resort which was the last one in the string of three beach resorts. It cost 1200 pesos--$26 USD--for an A/C room, pool, beach view, and tv including CNN, BBC, and AlJeezra.

I took a moto-trike back into town for 8 pesos and looked in vain for the Spanish colonial era buildings without success however there were some interesting two story wooden buildings on stilts---some in good shape and some falling down and abandoned.

As it turns out the beach front has a 3 meter tide change and the water is very shallow here. When the tide is out, you can see several villagers out in the tide flats searching for sea life--crabs, clams, trapped fish, etc. Not quite like the sugar sandy beach I was looking forward to seeing.

Back out to watch the sunset, I met the owner, Bill Woodruff, a 73 year old retired machinist-stock trader from California. He came here because his Filipina wife of 23 years was from here. They sold everything in the US and moved here about 8 years ago. He said on the way here, he had his wife stuff as much money as she could in her bra. The rest of the money he moved from his brokerage accounts to the Philippine banks.

After that, he bought this waterfront property and built the resort by himself and a local labor crew. Since he was a union guy, he decided that unlike other resorts that he would not lay off his employees during the slack times and pays for their medical and social security. As a result, he said that most of his employees have been with him for all seven years. Every Christmas, he sponsors a big party with roasted pig among other foods for his employees and their extended families. He said that he enjoys watching their kids grow up and soon he expects to hire some of them to replace those that retire.

He now wants both of his two boys, now in their 20s, to return to the US to finish their education because he is concerned that they are beginning to develop an "island" mentality.

After filling up on pork adobo and San Miguel, I called it a night. Morning I planned to flag down a bus and go to Oslob for some whale shark watching before continuing down to the ferry over to Negros Island. As I would find out in the morning, the rainy weather would change those plans.


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