For somebody who grew up from the former town of Sorsogon, one can’t miss Rimpulas¹. Or for some, it’s called pier. It’s famous for its sunset, though people also come for the morning sun and for its cool breeze.
The pier itself is an extension of the De Vera St (where the other end is in Brgy. Polvorista). On one side, it has Brgy. Talisay and on the other is Brgy. Sirangan. The whole stretch is 1km in length from the Coast Guard station². And it has never changed since I remember my first visit – there are fishing community along the beach of Sorsogon Bay. It hosts to different cargo ships, mostly ro-ro, delivering beers (from Visayan brewery plant), spices from Davao, and other goods that the province doesn’t have. From time to time, it hosts one or two of those fast patrol crafts of the Philippine Navy.
However, the real pier where the ships dock is just a small one compared to the Legazpi port. In my estimate, there can only be 2 ro-ro ships that can dock. Thus, when fast patrol crafts of the Philippine Navy or Philippine Coast Guard dock at the same time, they will sit side by side to save some space for the transport ships.
Sorsogon Bay is one of the largest bay in the country. Its coastline stretches across several towns and one city, namely, Castilla, Sorsogon City, Casiguran, Magallanes and Juban.
I am not sure how deep the bay is, but according to a couple of divers I met 15 years ago, it’s not more than 10 feet and it’s heavily silted³. Along the coast, one can find bamboo stilts standing above the water – that’s where they grow mussels (tahong). It only disappears during red tide season, when people are afraid to buy mussels in the market.
According to one of the American authors in the 19th century, next to Cavite, this is the best port4.
I remember, there were kumpit (motorized banca) going to Bulan or Pilar; this was during my primary grades. They hauled dry goods to their destinations, together with the passengers. If I remember it right, I was only able to ride a banca once. I think, I was with my mom. I was very scared because there was this guy trying to take water off the banca with this small plastic tabo. From time to tome, one can still see these kumpits along the pier, but they are becoming fewer on my every visit. Perhaps this is due to better highway system in the province, plus the fact that most of the travelers going to Masbate via Bulan can now take the Pilar port.
One thing that is a distinctive description of the bay is that it was a well known basurahan ng bayan. Garbage was everywhere on the beach. I think they only started cleaning it when I was already in college.
During my stay in Colegio de la Milagrosa, our classroom was on the main area where the play ground is. It was some sort of aspiration for every kid (at least those gutsy or simply stupid enough) to scale the perimeter wall of the school. Beyond the walls is the beach of Sorsogon Bay, a good place to play for kids like me. Besides, I heard it was a badge of honor for those who could go to the other side of the fence.
Thus, when I saw more than a couple of my classmates – I can only remember Ernesto’s and Philip’s name – scale the wall, I didn’t hesitate. I was able to go to the other side for a couple of minutes (I was the last). For some reasons, of all people who will be caught by Sr. Maria Rey (Ray?), I was the one singled out. Apparently, she was looking over the window of her office in the top floor (before it housed the high school classes) and there I was, caught red handed. To make the story short, my mom decided to transfer me to Sorsogon Pilot Elementary School (SPES or SDC to some) so that she could monitor me closely. But not after the principal ask my mom to appear in her office.
All through out my stay in SPES, Rimpulas is our play ground. During break time, even in the afternoon heat, my classmates and I would stroll down the pier and enjoy the breeze and the smell coming from the bay (including the smell coming from the nearby garbage dump).
Of course, our teachers strictly prohibit it since one can fall off the pier into the water if not being too careful. Like the story of our teacher when I was in grade six. Our room was the last room on the right if one is going to Rimpulas: one guy, our batchmate, was about to throw the content of the garbage bin, he was caught off balance and he went in to the bay together with the garbage bin. He was soaking wet when he came back to his classroom, according to my teacher.
And when I went to Manila for my college years, it was still my favorite spot when I have time. And when I started having my own family, at least once every visit, I would drop by and check the area for something new.
Author’s note: The part 2 of this article will be published next weekend.
¹page 178, Growing Up in a Remembered Town, Tracing from Solsogon to Sorsogon, 2nd Edition
³There was a group of divers who stayed in Sorsogon for a couple of months checking the characteristics of Sorsogon Bay. They came from University of the Philippines. The author got to know them because they would have lunch just in front of the author’s house.