In My Eyes
By Edward B. Antonio
(Last of two parts)
We first took a breakfast, and then negotiated with Plaza Beatrize Hotel (in front of Ozamiz Gaisano Mall) for the billeting of our group January 26 evening because our flight back to Manila would be early morning of January 27. We next took Madam Tagapan to the division office so she could log in. We even had photo-ops in front of the division office building!
Before we parted, she talked to the driver in Visaya which we could not understand then bade goodbye saying she would attend next to her other “businesses.”
Our trip to Pagadian for the next two hours was contrary to what Madam Tagapan said. There were absolutely no tourist spots along the way to our destination. All we saw were coconut trees and wide ricefields. The length of the road consisted of coco lumber houses scarcely adorning the highway. The scene reminds me of how the Ilocos provinces looked like in the 70s. We just took a left turn to Tangub City and all we saw were lanterns adorning both sides of the road.
Before entering Pagadian City proper, we dropped by a rotunda-like place where a tower rises at the center of a building which looked like a renovated cockpit arena. We had to pay P10 each as entrance fee. The road beside it leading to the city proper reminds me of Baguio Session Road less the busy street and the urban buildings. The door leading to the tower up was padlocked so we could not climb up to see clearly the city proper which is sprawled near the sea.
Feeling disappointed of Madam Tagapan’s promise of an enjoyable, once-in-a-lifetime tour, we asked the driver to bring us to Pagadian Church to thank God of our safe arrival. We then proceeded to Sagun Elementary School where we (12 of us) paid the driver P416 each.
When we transferred to Camila Hotel two days later for our official billeting accommodation in Pagadian, we had pleasant exchanges with some members of the NSPC Technical Working Group (TWG). When they learned that we paid P5,000 in our Ozamiz-Pagadian trip, everyone was surprised.
TWG member Schools Division Supervisor (PSDS) of Pagadian Romeo Zason nearly dropped the coffee glass he was holding upon learning of our story.
He took down the name of Madam Tagapan and said: “The van fare via the PUVs from Ozamiz to Pagadian is only P100 per head. But since you had luggage, P2,000 to P2,500 could have been enough. But P5,000! That’s too much! There are no tourist attractions between the two cities. If there are some, they are very, very far away from the national highway. Ano ba namang EPS ito, siya dapat ang tumulong sa inyo! EPS pa naman sa Values!”
Our story was the talk of the evening among the TWGs. Other TWG officials took pity on us and promised to refer the matter to higher authorities. As for Sir Zason who said he has a radio program on weekends, he requested me to email him a copy of this column which I immediately did after sending it to my publication. Sir Joed was as disappointed as me. Upon learning that I write a column for two local tabloids, he requested me to write this column and send it to Sir Zason.
And so, that’s the sad part of our NSPC ’17, fellas.
Next time, we hope not to meet another Madam Tagapan again. We hope to see and meet another EPS in Values Education who has a heart for her fellow government workers in the Department of Education, and visitors to her hometown — somebody who will give us a good impression that Mindanao, particularly Ozamiz City, is really a “Land of Promise,” a land of brotherhood and love in thought, in words and in deeds.#