When it comes to touristy things, Butuan doesn't have much to offer, especially for people from outside Manila. There are beaches, but Iloilo's coastline is virtually one long beach. There's a historic site or two, but aren't all cities similarly equipped? If you're looking for a unique experience akin to Palawan's famed underground river, then you're better off going to Palawan.
What Butuan is, however - like many provincial cities, and here I'm only making a personal generalization - is a place for relaxation, not so much for tiring the self from an entire day's sightseeing as it is for reuniting with (or for the imperialist people of Manila, meeting for the first time) fresh air, clean waters, clearer skies.
It will be two months next week since Butuan. The photo below essentially sums up our Sunday.
Saturday night, there was a debate over where to spend the following day, or rather, which beach. Someone suggested Siargao Island, and I was totally game for it, but we all knew it was obviously impossible to enjoy the fabled place in just half a day. After many other options, we settled for the nearest one to the city, and the place is actually so unremarkable that I can't even recall its name.
Sunday morning, we stopped at a market to buy lunch. The girls snacked on cassava balls.
This is the beach. There is a shadow of a reindeer on the loose. Beyond the perimeter is a rocky wilderness.
The Frisbee lovers started a short-lived game. The sand wasn't good, I reckon.
The girls practiced their wife skills by preparing the lunch we had bought. Grilled pork, humongous grilled fish that we savagely ravaged, etc.
Creative shot: Man and leaves.
Creative shot: Lamps.
Creative shot: Chair and Frisbee in flight.
That's Justin (left) and Teddy. Creative shot: Teddy pointing.
Creative shot: Chair by the sea, for the thinking man.
We ended up playing the card game "Killer Killer" for the rest of our stay. Yes, card games by the beach, as city kids are wont to do.
This is the roof of the nipa-cabana that we rented.
On the way out, there were doves.
Wednesday, we visited some of the birthing homes in the city. Butuan has 24 of them, if I'm not mistaken, and that's a curiously high statistic for a relatively modernized city. The birthing homes that we'd chosen didn't have patients though, so our host Dr. (I forget her name) gave us a mini-driving tour instead.
We did the iconic Macapagal Bridge (literally - we had jump shots while trucks and buses passed by). The bridge straddles the Agusan River, meaning my wish to see said river was fulfilled. Crocodiles supposedly inhabit its waters.
Here's a country road and a carabao - my favorite farm animal. My mother and aunts used to - still do, I think - confuse the carabao with the cow.
On our last day, we finally visited - as we had initially promised we would - the Balangay Shrine. History classes in grade school all go gaga at the mention of "balangay," where our beloved "barangay" supposedly came from. Ancient Southeast Asians got to the Philippines by way of these huge wooden boats whose structural properties I'm not exactly an expert of.
Butuan is the heartland of the balangay. To date, there are at least seven excavation sites in the city's tricky river delta system (see photo of map below), but the one we went to is the most accessible to tourists.
This is how the museum works: One small building built like a prototype provincial house. A giant lawn with a flagpole greeting the arrivals. The building is open air. A balangay in a glass display is its only notable occupant. The tourist guide doubles as the resident archeologist or something.
That's the rudder of said balangay, in two views.
Note that this balangay site was once a peaceful residential area. Now, the backyard houses balangay-sized excavated ground. When it rains, there are balangay-sized ponds. Imagine a saltwater crocodile making its way to the pond.
More photos of said ground. Third photo gives us a glimpse of the neighborhood.
Here are the other occupants of the Shrine: wooden coffins, or maybe just huge pieces of wood; skulls; ancient Chinese wares.
Mr. Tourist Guide/Archeologist has his dingy, archeology-looking and -smelling office in the compound. He thrilled our girls when he let them hold some of the porcelain. He also let me be an "instant archeologist" (his words). (He asked if I wanted to be an "instant archeologist," and I, being one of several hungover people in the group, didn't actually understand him at first.)
We couldn't leave without a requisite photo for each anatomy table. One of ours - G, who's now a blondie - was unable to come with us due to a severe bout of gastroenteritis at 4AM that morning secondary to matters that will not be discussed in detail.
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