Once in a while – if budget and schedule permits – my family and I go road tripping to reset. We’ve had a pretty rough October (with a back-to-back hospital confinement) and we thought, taking a break from the paper chase was a must.
We had the opportunity to try Toyota HiAce Super Grandia. It’s spacious, humungous, yet an easy to maneuver van. We used it on our day trip to Matabungkay, Batangas.
A pleasant scenery like this definitely helped us regain our senses.
But, more often than not, the travel becomes work related because we get to discover interesting activities to do and inspiring people.
This is the balsa or floating boat we had that day. It doesn’t look as grand as others, but decent enough to make you enjoy the clear waters of Batangas. There’s a small room for your things and a table where you could feast on fresh seafood offered there. (Yes, there were vendors selling fish, shrimps, lobsters, sea urchin, oysters, and more!) The rate is P2500 for peak season or P1500 for off-peak.
I’m not adventurous with food. According to my partner, it tasted okay and a bit sweet.
Apart from the joyful feast we had on the floating boat, we also met our bangkero for the day, Kuya Enteng.
This is Kuya Enteng and his son. Not only do they take you places safely, they can also help you cook and grill food.
They prepared this staple Filipino seafood variety, buttered shrimp.
Bangkero is the Tagalog term for “boatman” or a person whose job provides a means of transportation on the sea or river using a “bangka” or boat. (Locals from the area)
Kuya Enteng’s humble beginnings
Kuya Enteng and his family live in a small bamboo-made house. He shared that he worked for someone as bangkero for many years. He was tasked to drive tourists from and to the seashore for a relatively low minimum wage. Moreover, his main responsibility was to take tourists to a part of the sea where they can fish, snorkel, and dive.
For decades, this has been his “office.” People from downtown like me wouldn’t mind having this as a workplace. Kuya Enteng said, though, “mahirap kasi po pag bumagyo. Marami din pong ka kumpetensha.” (it’s also hard as you have a lot of competitors. Also when it’s rainy season.) But for him, rain or shine, the work must go on.
“You reap what you sow”
As the main provider of the family, he would work doubly hard just to get by. And despite their financial standing, his children’s education remained the top priority. One summer, a group of Japanese tourists hired their boss’s bangka for the whole day. At that time, he feared the tourists wouldn’t be satisfied as his English isn’t that good. Still, he tried his best by being the best “bangkero” they could ever get in Matabungkay.
According to Kuya Enteng, he cooked for them, drove them to the best places to dive, and he basically became a tour guide. Thankfully, one of the Japanese tourists appreciated all the help that he gave them and offered something he couldn’t resist: capital to start his own “boat ride services.”
This is now his own bangka (boat). He named it after him and the generous Japanese tourist named “Akio.”
“Napakabait po nun, Ma’am. Siya po ang pinaka tahimik. Nag tanong lang po kung akin ang bangka. At kung gusto ko raw magsimula ng akin. Siyempre naman po, oo ang sinagot ko,” he happily reminisced the day ‘Akio’ gave him money to start his own.
(Translation: He is kind. He asked if I own the boat and if I want to start my own. Of course, I said, “yes.”)
Di po ako naniwala nung una. Baka rin po kasi may kapalit na di ko maibigay. Kasi sino ba namang matinong tao magbibigay ng pera sa taong di naman niya talaga kilala, he added.
(Translation: At first, I couldn’t believe it. Who would’ve thought of giving money to someone you barely even know.)
I asked Kuya Enteng, if the “good samaritan” asked for something in return, like a percentage for every booking or what. Surprisingly, he genuinely said: “Wala po, Ma’am. Pero kapag dumadalaw po siya, di ko na po siya pinagbabayad.”
Waves of Life
Whilst looking at my children enjoying the beach, I realized that life is like the waves in the sea. You’ll never know where it will take you. You can only hope it takes you somewhere you won’t sink and stay complacent. Kuya Enteng told me that with all the trials and hardships his family faced, especially, during the typhoon Yolanda, he refused to sink. Rather, he used it to become a better person, father, and husband.
Sometimes, in the waves of change, we find our true direction.
If ever you’re looking for a breather, choose Matabungkay, Batangas and look for Kuya Enteng Villasin or call him at 0928 497 8613 and 0935 567 1953 for rates and booking inquiries.
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