Friday, April 25, 2014

“…the final brilliance of life that would never, through all eternity, be repeated again”

Friday, April 25, 2014

It’s like he’s talking about himself here:

Then he crossed his arms over his chest and began to listen to the radiant voices of the slaves singing the six o'clock Salve in the mills, and through the window he saw the diamond of Venus in the sky that was dying forever, the eternal snows, the new vine whose yellow bellflowers he would not see bloom on the following Saturday in the house closed in mourning, the final brilliance of life that would never, through all eternity, be repeated again

~Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The General In His Labyrinth, 1990

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Discovering Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It was 19 years ago, but I can still remember that very moment: the afternoon sun bathing those old musty volumes in the PQ section of the UP Baguio Library, running my hands through their broken spines, scanning the titles, and hoping to find refuge in their pages.   And then Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude caught my attention. Tingling with excitement tempered with reverence reserved only for great works of literature, I picked it up, turned to the first page, and read these words:

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs."

I then looked for a chair, sat down, and read page after page after page.

My pleasure that moment reached orgasmic heights.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lucky Morel’s Inn in Sagada: Worst Accommodation Ever

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I’ve been to small inns and hostels in Malaysia, Peru, India, Nepal, Thailand, Indonesia, and here in the Philippines, but Lucky Morel’s Inn in Sagada is the worst.

One would think, “Oh, it can’t be that bad.” But it is. It’s much worse than you can ever imagine.

Here are the facts:
  • The rates. The inn charges PHP250 per person per night and breakfast of PHP100 per person. My sister made a reservation for four adults for two nights, 18-19 April 2014 at the inn. She paid the 50% deposit of PHP1,400.
  • Our arrival. My two sisters, my brother-in-law and I arrived in Sagada in the afternoon of April 18, Friday. The owner, Mary Lily Bagtang (also the owner of Lucky Shanghai Haus in Sagada), informed us that the inn is just a “simple” place.
  • The house. One of the inn’s helpers immediately lead us to a two-storey house near some rice fields in Dagdag. The house is constructed out of GI sheets and devoid of any signboard that would identify it as an inn.
  • The room. We were given a corner room on the second floor of the house. It was very different from that advertised in the inn’s website and Facebook page. It contained one single bed and a thin foam laid on the floor and no space left for our bags or even for walking. The room’s walls are the GI sheets themselves.
  • The bathroom. The shared bathroom is simply unsanitary, horrible and disgusting: it stinks; it has a toilet with no flush, uneven floors, no tiles, a container full of used dried soap, a plastic bag hanging on the wall overflowing with trash; there is no faucet inside the toilet. The source of water for flushing the toilet is a pail catching the water from a drainpipe that is connected to the drain of the kitchen sink just outside the bathroom. Thus, if somebody washes his or her hand or brushes his or her teeth, the dirty water including all the germs and spit would flow to the pail inside the bathroom. This dirty water is supposed to be used to flush the toilet. If one removes the pail, the dirty water will just flow to the floor of the bathroom.
  • The breakfast. The PHP100 worth breakfast consisted of a tiny piece of hotdog, an egg cooked sunny-side-up, fried rice, and coffee from a vending machine.
That night we decided not to stay for another night. The following morning, we transferred to a nearby inn and my sister informed the owner that we are leaving. Mrs. Bagtang, with her voice raised, insisted that we pay for the second night. What fool would pay for another night in that hellhole? Of course we refused.

The owner then yelled at my sister calling her names, shaming her in front of the people at the restaurant, threatening that we could never set foot in Sagada again (as if she owns the entire municipality). Throughout the day, she continued to send foul text messages to my sister.  The four of us went to the Sagada Tourism Office to file an official complaint. The officer informed us that they would immediately act on the matter.

“Simple” doesn’t mean “unsanitary” or “disgusting,” does it? Before Sagada, we came from Batad where lodgings were basic, yet still very clean. And it’s also not our first time to stay in Sagada so we know what to expect. We’ve stayed in inns there that charge the same rate but are a hundred times better than Lucky Morel’s Inn.

It is disheartening to witness how greed can be the ruling force in managing a business and how a beautiful place like Sagada can be befouled by people who think of nothing else but their own gain.

Here are some pictures of the inn as well as my sister’s account of what happened.
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