Wednesday, March 07, 2007

lupa sug

i slept almost the whole eight hours
going to jolo. i probably got tired from our santa cruz island
trip during that sunday. nothing could have prepared me for that
monday. i tried to leave my pre-judgements of the place as nickel
princely sailed off zamboanga port. i know i have heard some
things about the place... sadly, the not so good ones, overcome
the good ones.

i got the text from derkie, warning me not to go with the crowd.
i would learn later on that usually, the bombs go off during the
rush. so i stayed put, tried to see if my sunburn is that
bad. when i went out, i was greeted with one of the nicest
mornings i have ever seen in my life.

the sun is raising its rays in front of me. its not the hard
light of the day yet, a soft, gentle reminder of another day.
derkie is in the midst of tausugs, waiting for their beloved. its
a port scene. i missed it last night, when i boarded. but
at that time, i felt the people welcoming their loved ones. it
was as if, i am being welcomed myself.

we went off on a motorcycle to have satti. satti is a tausug
dish. it's mainstays are puso (a packet of rice cooked inside
coconut leaves) and satti sauce, and a few sticks of beef or beef
liver. the satti sauce makes the dish special. because it
can never be the same from one house to another. theirs are
secret formulations of the sauce that spells immediate success or a
ading into obscurity. if you are in zamboanga check out jimmy's
satti in pilar street.

the meal was even made more precious because of kahawa; a local,
organic, native coffee. its brew makes for a strong one and a
potent wake me upper. some say that this is where the tausugs get
their courage. i would not wonder why.

during the day, i interspersed my wonder with wander. i went
around the streets of downtown jolo and witnessed the market.
trade is characterized uniquely in this place. you can find big
fish being sold in bargain. php80 for two large barileson.
there are also a lot of pad jak. pad jak are pawnshops. i
heard that this is because of the tausugs propensity to put their
treasure in gold and jewelry. so that when they need some money, they
would just go to the nearest pad jak and pawn their jewelry. this
is supposed to be haram on the other side of things, but who can blame
the people?

i also got a chance to buy kahawa for home, and looked around their
tiangges, tricycle rides going to the kapitolyo showed hundred year old
acacias standing proud and tall. it stands as a reminder to
everyone of the history of jolo. no one can deny it, and no can
tell you all about it in one sitting.

in the afternoon, dr. barra of msu-jolo treated us to more kahawa and
bambang. bambang is a platter of the tausug delicacies. i
can identify the banana bread, fried banana fingers and this delicacy
that looks like lumpia but the filling is like bucayo. that was
my favorite. while having our snack, i shared with derkie and the
good doctor of how i felt that as if i was not being stared at.
that is quite a new and welcome feeling for me. because i have
felt that in most of my travels. it was as if all the world is
observing me. making me feel uncomfortable. however, in
jolo, ever since i woke up at the pier, i have never felt a anyone
stare me down. amazing. derkie has some propositions,
either, my features look like that of a tausug or, i am with familiar
people. either way, because of that experience, i can say that
jolo is a welcoming town.

when night came, i felt exhausted from the meetings i had. i just
wanted to curl up and sleep. but i have to go back to zamboanga
for more business the next day. derkie, invited me for my last
meal in the islands to the provincial capitol. in one of the stages,
there is this barbeque place that serves chicken barbeque with the best
sauce. it felt good talking with ustadz ibs, al and derkie and
sharing with them the simple meal. we shared not only the good
times of eating, but our faith in our god, and somehow our passions
that goes along with it.

finally, it was time to go. i shook the hands of my new friends,
after every which, i bring my hand to my chest, and said my
goodbye. my steps on the ramp was in consonant with the full moon
rising behind my back. as if telling me "goodbye, and see you

i placed my bag inside the aircon room of nickel princely and went back
outside to say goodbye. i spotted a boy, a girl, a young woman
and some old women looking up. they are waving their hands and
saying goodbye to someone on the upper deck. i can feel them
holding back their tears but at the same time, wishing for a safe
voyage for their loved one, together with a prayer to bring them back
someday. i would have waved my hands to them, but i stopped
myself in time. it felt like as if the island is saying
goodbye to me. but never the permanent goodbye, its a wish that
we will see each other again.

as i braced for the ride back to zamboanga, i told myself that i will see jolo once more. lupa sug, the land of the waves.


  1. Is this Derkie Alfonso you refer to who is "among the tausugs?" Please let him know his friend Dinna says hello

  2. the same one! i would definitely do that. take care of yourself there


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