1/28/2012

Bogavilla Trail, Mindoro


We decided to leave the beach for a few moments on our last trip to the Philippines. Our destination: the Bogavilla Trail, Aninuan on the island of Mindora. From our hotel, it was a 20-minute walk. 


Along the way, we picked up Mila. I'm guessing now she'd been following us since we left the hotel. She told us she wanted to be our guide. We didn't need a guide, as the way was clearly marked, but I asked her what the going rates were. She said: "How much will you pay?"

"100 pesos?" I answered. She rolled her eyes, so I doubled the rate and she was on board.


Along the way, we came to Lucy's Bridge. Historical and beautiful, it was the only bridge over the stream running adjacent the Bogavilla Trail. We soon learned to appreciate it, as we were required to cross the stream at least a dozen times. I was wearing flip-flops, not the wisest decision for a two-hour hike. Mila fished them out of the stream on more than one occasion. 


Mila also bundled my child over the water several times. She's brought 11 offspring into this world, so it was second nature to her. She easily earned the 200 pesos we paid her, plus the tip.


Housing along the Bogavilla Trail. Life is pleasant in paradise.


Bogavilla Road, before becoming a trail: I've talked to other Western friends and we're roundly impressed by the upkeep of neighborhoods in the Philippines. Coming from Taiwan, I find this pride striking to say the least. Just to clarify, I was diving into my travel guide the first time I arrived in Taiwan as I had been educated to view Taiwan as a prosperous country. Looking at the surroundings coming in from the airport in Taoyuan my very first time, I couldn't believe my eyes. I didn't understand how rich people could live in such dilapidated buildings or let the landscape fall to such disrepair. When I asked the locals what was going on, the typical answer was as follows: we're going to retake the mainland - there's no need to waste our time or money on Taiwan. More recently, I've been told there's a concept that the home is a castle and anything outside it sucks. In all fairness, Taiwanese people are shaking the dust off this legacy and starting to reclaim their heritage, see lots of restoration of historical sites, park construction and what have you.


Fork in the path along the Bogavilla Trail.


A home and possibly business along the Bogavilla Trail in Mindoro, Philippines.


Here we are at the head of the Bogavilla Trail once again, at the Lucky Store.

There is a connection between Taiwan (and China) and Mindoro. Mindoro, the first major island due south of Luzon, has been on the Chinese compass since the 9th century. This is when trading between people of southern China and this island entered the books. There is museum in Puerto Galera, the major town on the northern part of the island, with vases from China dating back five centuries: http://www.flickr.com/photos/patrick_cowsill/6709732175/ 

On a more personal note, my grandfather was stationed in Mindoro during the Second World War. This is his record:

On June 8 [1945] we flew to Biak again, from Biak to Moratai, from Moratai to Zamboanga, from Zamboanga to Tacloban, and from Taclaban to Mindoro in the Philippines, about 200 miles SW from Manila. This was to be our permanent base for a while. We arrived at the beginning of the rainy season, and for the next couple of months, the rain fell in torrents. Our first tent had no floors, and the ground was usually muddy and [wet]. Everyone was trying hard to find some wood to make floors, but lumber just doesn't exist on that island. However, a couple of weeks later, another crew shipped out and we got their tent, and it had floors in it much to our satisfaction.

Our crew was assigned to the Jolly Rogers outfit, of the Fifth Airforce. Being assigned to the Jolly Rogers was considered a break. This outfit was well-known as it had done some spectacular flying. On June 20 we were formally initiated to the group. We stood around our plane, with skull and crossbones, the Jolly Rogers symbol, hung around our necks, while a colonel administered the oath. The oath was to the effect that we promised to fly every fourth day and lay in the sack at all other times. Anything for a little joke!

When we weren't flying, we could do just about as we wanted. There was a small town about 15 miles away, consisting of approximately 25 houses. This town also boasted a big sugar factory, which had been out of operation for some time, a small railroad and about four engines, a school-house, a jail, and a justice of the peace. Every thing was very primitive, and since there was less to do in town than at the field, I seldom left the field.

My grandpa did leave the field on missions though. I'm pretty sure that since he wrote this in late June, 1945, when he hit the Gang Shan (岡山) Airport in southern Taiwan on July 9, 1945, he did so from Mindoro, Philippines.

To get to the Bogavilla Trail, grab a tricycle at White Beach and head west along the main road. You're looking at about 20 minutes and 50 pesos.

21 comments:

valerienicole said...

I had never heard about that reclaim-the-mainland sentiment. Is that because younger Taiwanese people today don't really feel that way? Interesting!

philippines travel guide said...

It was so adventurous. I really like the place.

Kaminoge said...

I've heard that "reclaim the mainland" explanation before, but it strikes me as just an excuse. After all, only the "waishengren" segment of the population would in theory not bother much with the upkeep of their homes in preparation for the day when they can "return" to the "Mainland". What excuse do the "benshengren" folks have for continuing to live in those hideous concrete boxes?

Patrick Cowsill said...

"What excuse do the "benshengren" folks have for continuing to live in those hideous concrete boxes?"

That is about the most challenging question I've had on this blog. I can't come up with anything off the top of my head.

Actually, it's probably something that could occupy a chapter or two of a novel; in other words, I think the answer requires much thought plus creativity. I will ask my wife about it plus try to figure out a response or two of my own.

So then . . . Why do you suppose ""What excuse do the "benshengren" folks have for continuing to live in those hideous concrete boxes?"

EyeDoc said...

收復大陸, or reclaiming the mainland (by force), was the unreachable goal touted between 1949-1987 by the KMT, finally abandoned in 1988.

And the "hideous concrete boxes" were initially built as two-story row houses, known as 港樓. This was in the early 60s. This structure was vastly different from the old-style Taiwanese brick houses and the Japanese wooden houses. With the availability of concrete and steel, the 港樓 evolved into the "concrete boxes", seen also in Hongkong and Singapore. In the US, they are known as housing projects. It is simply a quick way of packing the greatest number of residents onto limited land. The excuse to continuing living in them? Can't think of any.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"This structure was vastly different from the old-style Taiwanese brick houses and the Japanese wooden houses."

There are lots of wonderful old brick houses, like you say, around the country. I saw a couple today on the HSR near Hsinchu. They pop up suddenly and disappear in seconds.

You can see beautiful Japanese-era buildings all over the place. Like I said in the post, Taiwan is starting to restore them instead of, like in the past, knock them down. There are also Japanese-era buildings constructed in a neo-classic style; they still retain a Japanese flavor to them as well.

I have to admit I photograph the concrete blocks all the time. They are so ugly that they fascinate me. I have friends who say the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Bricks are heavy and brittle; not suited for the seismic resistant structural construction unless heavily reinforced with rebar and concrete. Concrete blocks are lighter compared to the bricks and easier to reinforce with rebar and grout. Architects like to decorate and cover up those stony walls with wood surfaces since they give out worm and soft feelings to the inhabitants. Personally, I prefer the 2x4 wooden constructions of the residential houses in the State, which is cheap and easy to build. For maintenance, the wooden houses need painting every so often, so are re-jointing for the brick buildings.
Not all waishengren are Living in the small houses or the hideous concrete boxes waiting to go home; only those who cannot afford the bigger houses are. Many people use the shipping containers as their houses, which are merely 8x8x20 ft in size; many people live in tent; they call themselves as “occupy wall street.” Homeless who are called 路上生活者in Japanese are living under the blue sky.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Not all waishengren are Living in the small houses or the hideous concrete boxes waiting to go home; only those who cannot afford the bigger houses are."

I never said they are all waiting to go home. Actually, I said things are changing here, that the neighborhoods are starting to look better, with parks, restoration, etc.

A lot of Taiwanese people used to be "waiting to go home" because they were brainwashed to think China was their home by the KMT invaders. They had been here for generations; many didn't even know when their ancestors arrived. In these situations, learning about history is especially important.

Anonymous said...

"A lot of Taiwanese people used to be "waiting to go home" because they were brainwashed to think China was their home by the KMT invaders. They had been here for generations; many didn't even know when their ancestors arrived. In these situations, learning about history is especially important."

Our ancestor never intended to stay in the foreign country forever; instead, they planned to return home one day. It was considered the most miserable thing to be buried in the foreign land; what they created was a special jar for the bones to be taken home, called "黄金壺仔”. However, what good is it to return to your home, which was once your ancestor’s foreign land? Our foreign country today will be our decedents’ motherland tomorrow. Nobody knows where we come from originally and who are we exactly. Why bother? After all, we all belong to one family, “The Family of Man,” and we are all on the same boat, “The Spaceship Named Planet Earth.”

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Nobody knows where we come from originally and who are we exactly. Why bother?"

Because it is interesting to bother with trying to understand who we are.,,.

Besides, a lot of silliness has been conducted around the globe by people in the name of their ancestors, trying to reclaim something they had, in maintaining race or blood "purity" and all that kind of nonsense.

"Our ancestor never intended to stay in the foreign country forever; instead, they planned to return home one day. It was considered the most miserable thing to be buried in the foreign land; what they created was a special jar for the bones to be taken home, called '黄金壺仔."

Interesting point. I've heard many people had this idea. On the other hand, why did they leave their homes? Was it because their homes couldn't provide enough for them. What is there to cherish in that? Anyway, there is another idea: a lot of Chinese people came to Taiwan because they wanted to get as far away from prying mandarins and an overbearing government as possible. Remember also that the very first Chinese in Taiwan were pirates and traders (pre-Holland).

Anonymous said...

“On the other hand, why did they leave their homes?"

The main reason making people to abandon their sweet homes and go abroad is certainly poverty. Natural disaster may also contribute to the matter; forced by the potato famine so many Irish have moved to the New World is a good example.
Of cause the political pressure is also one of the reasons to make people leave. Confucius wrote in his 礼記 that 苛政酷於虎 (The bad politics is worse than the man-eating tiger.) So many scientists including Albert Einstein have left their homes due to Nazi government. We cannot tell but how many Taiwanese students who have left the island since 50s, under the name of higher education, are truly due to the political reasons?
One thing puzzled me more and also beyond me is that nowadays so many young foreigners are leaving their comfortable homes in the politically stable and prosperous country like Canada or USA and moving to Taiwan; what are they looking for, merely the lovely local girls?

Patrick Cowsill said...

"One thing puzzled me more and also beyond me is that nowadays so many young foreigners are leaving their comfortable homes in the politically stable and prosperous country like Canada or USA and moving to Taiwan; what are they looking for, merely the lovely local girls?"

I think probably the number one reason is to learn Chinese. In recent years, it is one of the most popular languages to learn. That's why I went to Taiwan. Then, of course, I married a lovely local girl and so I couldn't go home. She is very rooted to Taiwan.

Kaminoge said...

I can't answer my own question, but I can share a few short anecdotes:

1.) I took a photograph of a couple of houses standing side-by-side in Taichung. The reason was both homes had monstrous (and illegal) additions on their rooftops, marring the scenery in an otherwise nice middle-class neighborhood. I sent the photo to an Australian friend, who posted it on his blog under the heading "Ugly Taiwanese Architecture". He was criticized for poking fun at the poor people who have to live in the Third World!

2.) I took a photo of central Keelung from Jungjeng Park, and sent it to an American friend. It was the usual urban scenery - highrise apartment and office buildings. My friend wrote back asking what the crime rate was like there.

3.) A couple of friends visited from Belgium in the fall of 2010. I picked them up at the airport and drove them to their hotel in Taichung. They woke up early the next morning, and took a walk. When I met them later that morning, one of them apologetically asked why the houses were so ugly.

Perhaps the best answer came from a Taiwanese who commented on my Australian friend's blog:

"Reading this article as an ex-Taiwanese, I’m filled with a mixture of embarrassment and pity.

Yes, Taiwan is an economically prosperous country. But due to its 3rd-world past, we have shaped our culture to become a society that values money and wealth above all else. As a result, the first aspects to suffer are those such as aesthetics and good taste (desparately lacking in other fields too, such as design and advertising)."

Anonymous said...

Pity, so many comments from Kaminoge(上野毛さん)on ugly Taiwanese architectures yet no pictures are available for viewing; how can we make comments or express our opinions?

Patrick: For learning Chinese to Taiwan? Do you mean to say Mandarin Chinese? If it is so, then you should go to mainland China instead of Taiwan unless your purpose is learning so called Taiwanese language.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"If it is so, then you should go to mainland China instead of Taiwan unless your purpose is learning so called Taiwanese language."

Should have gone? I meant to, but that was a long time ago. Lots of factors contributed to me changing my mind. And I can speak Chinese now; I'm not a student anymore.

Kaminoge said...

"Pity, so many comments from Kaminoge(上野毛さん)on ugly Taiwanese architectures yet no pictures are available for viewing; how can we make comments or express our opinions?"

If you live in Taiwan, all you have to do is look out your window :-)

Here's the link to the original blog post: http://www.antipixel.com/blog/archives/2002/12/22/taiwanese_architecture.html.

The comments re the Third World have been removed (when, I don't know), but my response to them is still there.

Anonymous said...

Kaminoge-san,
Thanks for the pics.
Certainly the buildings are ugly but ugly buildings are not only existed in Taiwan. I saw many ugly ones all over the world including Canada and the States.
BTW, the architects are funny breed of human beings. Once I have designed a multi-span continuous bridge over the railroad. The project manager has hired an architect to review my structure. After studying few hours, the architect commented finally that the bridge needed more shadows.

Patrick Cowsill said...

Chosan,

Are you caught up in Linsanity? Jeremy LIn from Mountain View, I think: http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_19954877

Do you know him or his family? I'd be interested to hear your (same goes for eyedoc or Felix's if you're out there) take on the first ABT (American Born Taiwanese) to make a splash in American sports. I watched the fourth quarter of the game today (Toronto v. NY). He was on. He plays (and moves, with those flailing passes) like Steve Nash.

Anonymous said...

“Are you caught up in Linsanity? Jeremy LIn from Mountain View, I think: http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_19954877”

Ah, that #17, Jeremy Lin, the American boy who plays professional basketball starting this month. His family is located at Palo Alto, 35 miles from our place, so close yet we don’t know each other. You know, there are two different groups of Taiwanese in the States; arriving as foreign students or come as businessmen. Those businessmen look down on us, the other group and saying “you, Americanized guys are nothing but the slaves of money but we are the ones who have money.”

It is funny that most of Taiwanese think Lin is a Taiwanese; so are American public who do not accept Lin as an American. As an American-born Taiwanese Lin is qualifies to be elected as the president of the United States. It is sad to say that Lin, as a foreigner cannot stay in Taiwan for a long period without jumping over so many hurdles as Patrick has gone through.

BTW, I am neither basketball fan nor football fan but a golfer myself. As an armature golfer I am still trying to hit my first hole-in-one.

ChoSan

Patrick Cowsill said...

"It is funny that most of Taiwanese think Lin is a Taiwanese; so are American public who do not accept Lin as an American."

I think he is an American absolutely. He's also a barrier breaker; hardly anybody wanted to give an American born Taiwanese (ABT) a chance to play point guard in the NBA. I think Andrew Kerslake has got it describing this American phenom:

"In Taiwan there is a lot of local pride in the success of Jeremy Lin and the realization of his hoop dreams. I can not help but consider that had Lin actually grown up in Taiwan, he may never have realized his dream or even dared to dream it. Under the current educational system he would likely have been discouraged by his teachers and peers. He would likely have been buried in the type of meaningless placement tests and endless cramming that extinguish intellectual curiosity and the passion for learning. He would likely have had 2 hours of PE a week and told that athletics are a waste of time. Taiwan has no reason to be glad handing over Lin. Only in America."

Anonymous said...

"I cannot help but consider that had Lin actually grown up in Taiwan, he may never have realized his dream or even dared to dream it."

It takes a fine seed and rich soil to grow a good crop.

ChoSan