gaston ancestral house, manapla

victorias, negros occidental

after getting off on the wrong bus terminal in the morning of the next day of our so-called bacolod adventure, we finally got the terminal right but had to wait for the bus to fill up with passengers. skipping breakfast because ram, my scapegoat, woke up late, we ventured into an unknown territory happy but hungry. he wanted to grab a quick bite but i assured him we could find a place to eat once we get to manapla (not manpala!), another city(?) in negros occidental. “all for the sake of adventure,” i kept saying. so like the obedient boyfriend that he is, he managed to shut up about it and enjoy the scenery. an hour’s worth of watching endless haciendas whiz by. relying solely on the bus guy to inform us if it’s our stop.

manapla, negros occidental

which was where the shit surprise came in. apparently, we were in the middle of effing nowhere. there went ram’s breakfast. hehe. not that i was sorry for the dude. being the optimistic travel buddy that i was, i continued to reassure him that surely we’d find a place to eat. it’s a freaking museum, after all. tourists flock there. so it goes without saying that some kind of food business have sprouted to accommodate the guests’ needs. i don’t know if he believed me, though. i was just glad we found a tricycle that would take us to the museum that we traveled hungry for one hour for.

gaston ancestral house

turns out we were in for another shit surprise. it’s a private ancestral house, not a public museum! and we had to find out about this in the most uncomfortable way — a situation that could very well have been considered trespassing.

so after taking pictures of the beautiful house and its garden with its fountain, we casually walked inside (note to self: just because a door is open doesn’t mean you have the right to barge in.) and i immediately tried to absorb the interiors and everything, slightly irritated at the fact that no tour guide welcomed us, and that i couldn’t seem to find the information counter or whatever. we did, however, see several people coming down the stairs with their fancy digital cameras and what-nots. people who i thought were visitors too.

boy, i sure thought wrong! while i was busy studying photos on the wall, i didn’t notice that a particular lady in the group asked ram, “how may i help you?” ram must have noticed that something was amiss. he was trying to call my attention because, well, in the first place, i was the one who found out about the house (thanks to the internet), and in the second place, i virtually dragged him there so in a way, it was my business to explain why we were there to the woman who claimed owned the house. ram was like, “ga!” i looked at him and then at the woman, and i didn’t know what he wanted me to say because like i said, i wasn’t listening to the conversation because i was in an autistic mode so i just shrugged and i was like, “huh? wala ko kahibaw.” because truth is, i was still kind of pissed that they didn’t have a tour guide. lol.

ram had to spell it out to me by saying we were trespassing in a private property. i thought we could wing it by blatantly asking the lady if we could tour the house with her permission. of course she said no. but she was kind enough to offer us to go see the church of cartwheels that her lolo, the first bishop of negros, had had built for their farmers. a little chapel situated at the back of their mansion.

gaston ancestral house

because i owed ram his breakfast, i had to give him some kind of an instant peace offering, which i easily found in the form of wild yellow flowers growing abundantly among the weeds. i told him i was sorry. and that he could eat it if he was hungry enough. and that i would be willing to pick more if he was still hungry afterwards. i don’t know if he found that funny. i don’t even know if i was trying to be funny. because i meant what i said when i said he could eat it if he wanted to and that i’d be willing pick some more of those flowers to show how sincere i was and how much i care about his health and well-being.

which was why never, in my whole life, had i been so relieved to see a little sari-sari store. breakfast was so far gone. lunch seemed like two more hours away. so i bought him a cracker. well, he bought himself a cracker but i was the one who shouted my lungs out for manang to hear my desperate call so we could already please have some of those crackers. and perhaps a bottle of water. of which they had none. but, of course. they had sprite, though. sure, it’s not healthy but what the heck. them crackers did keep ram from getting grumpy for about an hour. that was enough time i could stall so we could enjoy our visit to the church of cartwheels in peace.

church of cartwheels

which was actually a little chapel made of, obviously, cartwheels. it’s not ancient. the owner said it was built somewhere during the 60’s, if i heard her right. it was pretty cool, though. even Jesus was strapped to one of the wheels. although i found it a little off to have Jesus there like that. because it reminded me of circus performers. of how a magician’s assistant would be strapped to a spinning wheel and the magician, blindfolded, would aim daggers everywhere but on the assistant. the latter escaping some of those attempts by millimeters.

i know it’s sacrilegious of me to think of it like that. but maybe that was just me thinking when i was hungry.

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