So, it happened that The Farm was having a 50% off promo at their room rates if you avail of a second night from them, and I was looking for something to fill in the vacation time which was meant for something else. Next thing I know I was on my way to Lipa in a Bus, armed with a Google map printout, fearing that I’ll get lost in uncharted territory.
But let me backtrack a bit. I’ve seen The Farm quite a lot in Deal Grocer, and I got my eyes on it ever since I started wanting a muni-muni type of vacation: One of those days wherein you shut yourself off from the daily grind, from your facebook account, from everybody in your life, and you just spend the whole day in introspection, learning how to meditate, thinking about your plans and writing reflective journal entries. For me it seemed like the perfect quiet place to do just that, save for the price. It’s anything but cheap, and it’s notorious for being so. So when the deals came along, I wanted to grab it really bad. Unfortunately I missed a good deal, but snooping a bit, I found out that they had the promo I mentioned earlier.
It set me back a significant amount. I was spending 15,000 pesos for a 3D/2N stay, with free breakfast, taxes included (I didn’t know about the tax when I booked), just for myself in a local destination. People will probably berate me for spending so much, but what the hell. I’m not privy to add anymore additional expenses though, especially for transportation. I didn’t take the offer to have myself picked-up from Robinson’s Lipa, the mall nearest the toll exit, which would’ve cost me 600 for the trip. Reading blogs about the place, I inquired about their employee shuttle and they said it was okay for me to join.
Now the challenge was making it to A.Bonifacio St. in Lipa by the time the shuttle picks up employees at 11:30 in the afternoon. I’m actually glad Lipa was charted in Google maps, and I was able to plan how I’ll be able to get there. However, there was no information on the net regarding local rides: what route did the jeeps take, where the tricycles are going to pass. Fearing that I’ll be paying 100 pesos Tricycle rides, I considered walking around Lipa to get to A.Bonifacio st. from the Bus Stop. It seemed to be a feasible 20-minute walk based on the Google Map route, I can do just that even if I was carrying something heavy.
And so I ventured on my own to Lipa. Rode JAM liner from their Buendia terminal in Taft, for 124 pesos. I printed everything I can use, 2 routes that I can possibly take, and kept on glancing at it throughout the trip. (Thus the life of people who refuse to get Smartphones). The bus let off at Robinsons Lipa and I walked from there (after gathering up courage at a local McDonalds). It’s funny how a map really differs from reality. A map can’t tell you why certain roads are one way only, that Mataas na Kahoy st. is actually Lipa’s version of Manila’s Dangwa flower market, what area is the Bayan (commercial center) for a certain place, that there’s a freaking Cathedral and it’s not shown in the map as a landmark, how far one place really is from another and that the traffic can get really bad on certain roads. Nevertheless, a map can guide you on what direction you should go on walking to, and it was comforting that I was seeing the landmarks in the map as I walked through the streets of Lipa, and knowing right then and there that I was headed for the right direction. I really liked the experience of walking and discovering where the post office was, the Antique-looking house that sold Batangas Lomi, feeling the wind and the sun’s heat and how it makes up the slower pace of life in the area.
Finally, I reached A.Bonifacio after finding a convenience store to rest a bit, and walking for 30 mins. Now A. Bonifacio was a long strip of road, and I was looking for a Canteen named Wilnim’s as instructed in the email sent to me. I reached the end of A.Bonifacio and didn’t seen anything that had Wilnim’s on it. There was a canteen at the end of the road, and I just had to ask: “Miss, meron po bang Wilnim’s canteen dito?”
“Ay, wala po akong alam na ganun.” Patay. Shit! I was about to walked away in panic, and then I got to ask the correct question: “Meron po ba kayong napapansin na dumadaan dito na shuttle ng The Farm?” “Ay meron po. Lakad lang po kayo dun lampas ng green gate, dun nag-aabang yung mga tao.”
Whew. So Glad I asked that question.
I walked a bit but I wasn’t seeing anything that looked like a terminal, so I decided to go back to the canteen and just wait there. Luckily, a girl dressed in a White Uniform passed by. The Canteen attendant pointed out: “Ayun po! Sundan niyo po yung naka-puti, nag-tratrabaho po sa The Farm yun”. I ran after the girl, and introduced myself as a customer. I think that was important since she might’ve thought of me as some weirdo from out of nowhere. She asked me to walk with her to the pick-up spot, which was the Junkshop that I passed by somewhere in the middle of the street. Apparently, I wouldn’t see any Wilma’s canteen in the street, since it was closed by the new owner. I really wouldn’t have known.
The girls name was Lally and she was working at the reception desk. We chatted for a while while waiting for the shuttle, and got to talk about where she’s from, if she’s from the area and how she’s not used to the faster pace of life in Lipa compared to Puerto Princesa city. She was really nice, and I’m really thankful that she happened to pass by during that moment, and we got to talk. I guess it made me comfortable and secure enough to think that I’m really going to get to my destination, and it’s a sign of good things to come.
One of The Farm’s Service cars passed by before the shuttle did. Ms. Lally said that we would get to the farm faster if we rode that. And that is how I end up getting to The Farm in a service pick-up. I didn’t mind the fact. I’m just glad I was able to made it to The Farm virtually on my own, without the extra charge (And Nope, that’s not Ms. Lally at the back).