I thought it was going to be one of those “five seconds of fame” TV appearances that I have previously had – kind of like a “if you blink you’ll miss my part” moment. So I wasn’t expecting too much when the crew of the award-winning magazine program, Kapuso: Jessica Soho (aired on GMA Network) decided to join me on the last leg of my two-week backpacking trip to film for their Summer Special presentation.
In the five days since their researcher, Yvette, first contacted me, I had been thinking that I would sort of just guide them around as they discovered the unspoiled natural attractions in Masbate for their Hidden Paradise “Isla Paraiso” segment, and I would be assisting them mostly behind the scenes – like haggling for boat rental or asking for tips and information from the locals, since I happened to speak the dialect as well.
You see the 1st email that I’ve got five days before didn’t really give me any hint of doing a segment on the show, and I often get emails from readers asking for tips and information.
“Hi! This is yvette ramirez from kapuso mo, jessica soho gma7. we’re currently producing a segment about hidden paradise airing this april 16, 2011. We’re looking for places that are not yet really expose to the public, have the beauty of a place: haven and paradise. Can you recommend places you already got the chance to go with? contact details? may i also get your cp number so that i could reach you properly? thank you so much! ”
I was at Subic Beach, an island at the tip of Southern Luzon, when I got her email, and with Smartbro’s on and off broadband internet connection, I had managed to answer with…
You may contact me on this number, 0915-000000. Thank you.
Three missed calls and another email from her the next day, we finally succeeded on getting hold of each other – I think I was roaming the streets of Irosin then, and my phone was probably buried deep in my backpack because I wasn’t really expecting any urgent calls and I don’t really pay much attention to my phone while on the road.
Our conversations that day were mostly about Borawan Beach and Kwebang Lampas, which they were going to feature on the show as a segment for “Hidden Paradise”. I thought, okay, she must have read my blogs about them so she was calling now just to get additional information, which told me nothing about appearing on their show.
I, then recommended Calaguas Islands, Caramoan Islands and some unexplored beaches in El Nido and Marinduque for the other segment, but unsurprisingly, they have all been featured on the show. With only four days left for them to travel, shoot and edit, I suggested exploring Masbate instead and I offered to accompany them since it was part of my itinerary anyway.
After another day of waiting and exchange of calls and emails, Yvette finally told me their executive producer gave the nod for Masbate. In between, we had been researching what to see there but this is basically the gist of it all.
Yvette: Have you been there?
Yvette: Do you know anything about the place?
Me: Nothing much.
Yvette: Can you give me links or information about it?
Me: Sure, but whatever I find online is probably the same thing you already have.
Yvette: Is it virgin? Is it beautiful? What else can we visit there?
Me: I really don’t know (parang Head and Shoulders lang)
The only place I was keen on visiting at that time was Sombrero Island, fired up by my father’s animated narratives of his childhood adventures in Masbate and the unique falls that flow through the open sea on Ticao Island. Unfortunately, we had to scrap Sombrero Island from our itinerary because it had been previously featured on the show. Either way I was ecstatic mostly because I had someone to split the boat rental with, it had freed me from the erratic schedule of the passenger boats and it would make exploring the islands easier – and who knows they might need an extra or some passers-by
Still freezing from our rainy motorbike road trip to Vera Falls that day, I dropped by at my parents’ house in Ligao City just to pack up some clean clothes, and off I went to Naga City to meet the crew who were supposed to arrive on Wednesday night. But due to a glitch in the schedule and miscommunication with Yvette, I found myself sleeping in empty buses parked at the terminal all night until I finally met the crew at 7:00 a.m. the next day all in my “Hagardo Versoza” glory.
I boarded the GMA van, met the segment producer, Ton Ton, the cameraman and the assistant cameraman and after all the pleasantries, we got down to business right away.
Ton Ton: Did you bring your laptop?
Me: Not this time
Ton Ton: What do you use then for documenting your travel?
Me: I usually just take down notes of important details; take lots of pictures and the rest I commit to my memory. Why?
Ton Ton: We would need to take a shot of you writing on your blog, but never mind because I brought mine so we could just use it.
Me: What?! What is the format of the show? Why do I have to be on it.
Ton Ton: Oh, this segment is all about you and how you document a new place as a blogger. Didn’t Yvette tell you about it?
To myself: Umm , not really, otherwise I would at least bring lipstick, new swim wear and perhaps go to the salon to revive my hair, which had been nourished by salt water and dust for the past two weeks. I was lucky to even have a comb at that time.
And so the rest is history. I later found out that a fellow blogger, James Betia of journeying james.com did the segment at Borawan Beach. I was only expecting to discover and see new places in Masbate, which I have been planning for the longest time, and do it cheaply. But the universe was way more generous this time.
Special thanks to:
The 50 pesos knock-off Ray Bans I bought from the bus terminal, which was my DIY remedy for my unpreparedness. It hid well my bulging eye bags and the lack of any sort of paint on my face. Mr Nelson Mantes for providing assistance and valuable information to us. Yvette, Ton Ton and the rest of the crew for making me part of your show and taking care of all the expenses. My sisters Cristy and Bem for your oversized aqua shoes and your malfunctioning board shorts which I just grabbed from your closets without permission. And to everyone on Burias Island who made this trip possible. Thank you po.