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Date Posted: 10/29/09

In the City of Smiles - Bacolod (October 15, 2009)

By: Arturo Valdez

By 6AM we were all set to sail towards Bacolod City all excited to see the famous Maskara Festival. Coming out of the port of Jordan, I saw the skeleton of what was once the Guimaras Sugar Bulk Handling Facility. It is now but a rusted shell of what was once the center of export sugar movement in the country in the 70’s and 80’s. It brought back nostalgic memories as I once practically commanded all the movement of sugar by land in Western Visayas and loads it to the barges of Republic Transport Corp that fed the giant bulk handling facilities. I took pictures of the rutted remains for posterity.

I remembered coming into Iloilo 3 days earlier, we had to contend with the headwind of “Habagat,” now getting out of Iloilo and moving towards Bacolod City, the wind was blowing in another opposite direction – sailing headwind against “Amihan.” It’s now mid October and this is the transition period for the change of the monsoon season. It’s a 45km stretch of sailing and I estimated a travel time of 8 hrs. Fortunately, midway, the wind shifted Habagat and we caught most of it pushing us faster than we expected. We were around the docking area of Bredco port by 1PM.

My family, friends, local officials and members of the press welcomed us at the Resto Grill sa Baybay owned by Marichi Ramos.  There was the usual welcome ceremony and we settled afterwards for a press-con with the local media.

We were in port until Oct 19 giving me time to undertake necessary repairs and replacements in our gunwales with sturdier bamboos. I had also fashioned a jib and a crab-claw sail trying to find out if this will perform better against headwind than the lug sail we are using. School kids visited the Balangay in the morning of Oct 15 and an impromptu classroom was held at the port. The next day Oct 16, the crew held a symposium in Domingo Lacson National High School before a cheering crowd of students.

Meanwhile, the few days in port enabled everyone to catch up with their laundry and communication. This also gave me precious time to be at home with my family.

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