The sceneries plus the ricefields laden with golden grains were a perfect setting for GUMIL Filipinas’ theme: Nabalitokan a Dawa, Narangpaya a Literatura.
If not for our vigilance, we would not have noticed that we had arrived in the convention site in Barangay Diora-Zinungan. The Moonlite Paradise Resort is some 200 meters away from the highway. Going there is passing by a road laden with savanna-like terrain with coconut trees and tall grasses in both sides, overlooking the sea separating Cagayan and Batanes Islands. The Batanes Islands are vividly seen from there. We arrived at the hotel at around 4:00 PM. After settling down (thanks to the hotel manager, the English-speaking Dr. Delfin Ting) we had to go to Sta. Ana market to buy some forgotten stuffs and to eat our dinner since our first meal would still be lunch the following day.
The market aisles and vicinities reminded me of my childhood when I and my brothers used to frolic in the wide market of Cabugao to buy slingshots (palsiit) or take a halo-halo break at Nana Idot’s halo-halo store. The surroundings were green, of course; the forests were thick and business establishments were sprawled everywhere. Sitting down in one of the ordinary carinderias (toro-toro restaurant) in front of the public market, we had a dinner of dinengdeng and laing (served in platito) at P30 each, fried layalay at P40 per slice, two bowls of 2 sliced pork pata at P60 each, a mini-platito of pagi (ray) at P40 etc. etc.
The dinner cost us close to P700, fellas. We were surprised it cost that much but it was okay. The food was delicious and the manager was courteous.
Going back to the resort hotel, we had a better chance of observing the surroundings. There’s the CEZA, Cagayan’s economic zone which we noticed was no longer functioning because the buildings already seemed abandoned. Or maybe, the employees were all inside and busy working? Alongside CEZA are two buildings with one named Casino Hawaii.
“That’s really a casino,” said Mang Eliseo Contillo, a former Bannawag publication employee. He traces his roots in Cagayan.
The 2 ½ day-seminar added a ton of knowledge to my mind, fellas. There were lectures on radio drama scriptwriting, poetry writing and other forms of writing in Iloko literature plus I got the chance to meet other prominent Iloko writers from all over the country.
Going home on the 22nd, we had to drop by Gonzaga for fresh and dried fishes where the price was much cheaper than in Sta. Ana during ordinary days. But we missed the adjacent road to Magapit. We followed the main road until we reached Camalaniugan. Turning right, we were told that the road leads to Aparri, so we had to make a U-turn and follow the road via Magapit Bridge leading to Lallo and Allacapan.
But overall, the Sta. Ana trip was a big success and an adventure of a lifetime, thanks to the first class accommodation and hosting by Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Vilmer Viloria (GUMIL Filipinas president) and the other Cagayan writers including the student writers from the Cagayan State University (CSU) in Sanchez Mira and also by Apayao Vice Governor Remy Albano who brought to Sta. Ana his stage actors and entertainers, and the famous Bugnay wine which Apayao is known for.
And who can forget the beauteous Elsa Marie of GUMIL Isabela and the array of songs she rendered during a get-together party beside the swimming pool adjacent to the seashore?
Another convention in Sta. Ana in the future?
Why not, fellas?
As long as Elsa Marie will again be there!#