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Date Posted: 09/26/09

An Unforgettable Experience at Maestre De Campo (Sept 21)

By: Arturo Valdez

The Balangay entered the protective cove of Concepcion town in the island of Maestre de Campo. The island is a tiny dot of 2000has. located in the busy shipping lanes of Romblon and the Verde Passage. It is in the southern edge of the Verde Island Corridor Complex. Today, it provides sanctuary for ships during typhoons because of its protective cove. But it may found its heyday during the time of sailing ships, also a stop-over during inclement weather. However, its importance as a safe haven has become insignificant because of big commercial vessels that can plod thru its rough seas even during stormy weather.

We were greeted with a welcome streamer and a marching band as we docked at the municipal port constructed by the DOTC. In a small and isolated place like Concepcion, our visit became the event of the town bringing everyone into the dock to see the visitors

In the afternoon, the Mayor requested Dr Ted if he can look into the medical needs of his constituent. They have no doctor for more than a year. Out of the many patients, a certain Aurora Matining, 68 years old, is critically ill of pneumonia and congestive heart failure, needing immediate medical evacuation in centers with better facilities. A call to PCG Admiral Willy Tamayo caused the sending of a PCG chopper to heli-evac the patient to Manila.

At 9AM September 22, Aurora Matining was airlifted to Manila and brought to PGH. The sudden visit of the Balangay and the first appearance of a chopper took the whole island by surprise bringing everyone to come to the dock to see the Balangay.

This also gave the crew the opportunity to undertake lecture/briefing at the dock among the grade and high schoolers who came in droves. We also visited Concepcion National High School to give talks on our proud maritime heritage and history.Mayor Cipriano was apologetic in the absence of regular power supply ( only from 5-10 PM daily) and the lack of RORO port facilities which the island direly need to bring in bigger maritime vessels that can travel and dock even in rough seas. When stormy weather lasts for a week, the island’s food supplies is so depleted that root crops and bananas became the alternative staple food supply.

But I told him that what the island lack in infrastructure and modernity is supplanted by its natural, untouched beauty and the warmth /friendliness of the people.

By the time we are about to leave the island, we may have talked to all the school kids about the lessons learned on Mt Everest and challenging them to achieve their own Everest in life. We practically covered the students in the island and we will not be surprised that from their ranks will emerge someone in the future to bring their town into greater heights of accomplishment.

For our food during the trip to Tablas Island, Mayor Cipriano gave us a sack full of boiled bananas.

 

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