Getting Ahead of Time

Getting Ahead of Time

By Apolinario Villalobos


People who are always late in reporting to work or for their appointments, make me wonder. When I still had a regular job,  it has puzzled me a lot of time why I could make it to my job site on time despite my living a good fourteen kilometers from it and others who live nearby could not. Just like the management of other offices, ours also got worried because of rampant tardiness among employees.


Our management, to remedy the situation, has asked all department heads to advance their wall clocks by ten minutes, except for the bundy clock (used for timecards) which must be on time always. The instruction was filtered down the line and as expected, caused quite a stir among the employees.


Although, I was surprised by the request of the management, I was even more surprised by the unpleasant remarks heard from the ranks. What these complaining colleagues did not understand was the objective of the whole exercise. In the first place, the bundy clocks still ticked the standard time so the work schedules were not affected. What was affected was the ATTITUDE towards time.


It is not necessary for one to finish post-graduate studies to understand the adage that we cannot move back the hands of time. Time wasted is really time wasted in any language.


People run after time catching rides to their offices and other destinations. In Manila, everybody blames the traffic for not getting to work on time. What is funny is that we refuse to recognize the solution, which is just waking up early and taking the ride ahead of time.


In the offices, comfort rooms are crammed with employees at exactly one o’clock to wash up. Very few ever think of washing up several minutes before, so that they can begin working before, or at least exactly by one o’clock.


At the airport, passengers clog check-in areas when it is almost closing time. This causes long queue and sometimes, lost flight for some due to the on-time closure of check-in counters. The same scenario can be seen in piers and bus terminals.


My suggestions are:


-during workdays, there should be limitation in the time spent for socializing after office hours so that employees can have enough time for their travel home and catch up with enough sleep;


-in the morning, one should try to be at his/her desk minutes before the official start of office to review the previous day’s accomplishments and pending matters, aside from  other things to do before doing those that come for the day;


-have a grand time in doing weekend bonding activities with friends or families  on a Friday night or whole day of Saturday, so that Sunday can be spent for rest;


-to beat the pestering traffic jam, be on the road at least two hours before appointment time, never mind spending time a in coffee shop near the meeting place, if you arrived earlier than expected.


Most people tend to oversleep on their days off on the pretext that they need to rest. I tried this, but it just gave me a headache! My suggestion on weekends is for one to wake up while the sun is still peeping from the horizon, have a cup of coffee and contemplate on things to be done for the day, then, take a brisk walk or jog. The midday, can be spent for a nap.


What is sad, is that we only feel the ill effects of our bad attitude towards time when we become a victim, such as missing our flight, opportunity for a bus or taxi ride, resulting to lost revenue or job opportunities.  If we will not change, we will never be able to educate our children, too, and they will surely carry this habit with them when they will have their own family. There is a need to break the vicious cycle.


In looking for jobs, the hiring companies are looking for those who respect time. There is a story about an average college graduate who bet his co-graduate but a summa cum laude (they both came from the same school), to a much coveted job. On the appointed day, the interviewer of the hiring company who had the habit of going to the office early found the average graduate waiting outside the yet closed door of the office as early at 7 AM! The interviewer was impressed and lost no time in interviewing the “early bird”. After the interview, the applicant was told to report to work the following day. The average graduate applicant learned later that his summa cum laude co-graduate arrived for the interview, at past nine.


Finally, being on time is alright, but getting ahead of time is much better. Using the principle of space, I could say that more time gives us the opportunity to do more things. The best thing to do then is, get ahead of time… as lost ticks of its hands cannot be recovered. We must exert our best effort to “earn” time that can be used for other better things to do.


Again, lost time cannot be recovered, but we can “earn” time by getting ahead of it.



Spelunking in the Philippines

Spelunking in the Philippines

By Apolinario Villalobos


Spelunking is another reference to caving or cave exploration. But to give it a challenging and curious sound, the enthusiasts of this outdoor activity, preferred to use spelunking, a word derived from “spelunca”, a Latin word which means “cave”.


Just like any other islands in the Pacific, the Philippines is also replete with caves due to the coralline character of its topography. Foremost of these caves is the cave through which the Puerto Princesa Undeground River flows, and found in Palawan. The said geological system earned for the city and of course, Palawan, a berth in the Seven Wonders of the World.


The first cave that I explored in the course of my touristic info- gathering, was an unnamed cave in Calbayog, Samar, whose entrance was neck-deep in water. It was accidentally mentioned by my guide that he regretted later. Due to my intense curiosity, I forced him to bring me to the barrio where it was located. His being an ex-convict due to cases of highway robbery and murder, failed to hide his fear when we reached the site. It took a promise of additional tip before he was convinced to go with me inside the cave.  The cave was lighted with sun rays that found their way through the holes on its ceiling. The strong stench of guano forced us to retrace our steps back to the cave’s entrance after about twenty minutes of attempt of going deeper down the chamber which was neck-deep in water.


Unknown to many, Aklan province is not only popular for its Ati-atihan festival celebrated at Ibajay and Kalibo. It also has a cave system, near Kalibo, called Tigayon, that lures spelunkers. The underground chambers are interconnected to each other by several small tunnels  that even the local guides are extra careful in negotiating them. I was able to reach only three chambers as I could no longer stand the scarcity of oxygen that I experienced as we were leaving the second chamber.


In Dumalag, Capiz, I went inside an unnamed cave whose bowels spewed cool spring water. Though not cavernous, the cool pool inside fed by a spring was just irresistible.  Dumalag is not far from Roxas City, and is recommended as an inclusion in a list of destinations for a one-day tour of the city.


An intriguing underground cave was the one at Dauis, Bohol. I went down to its cavern, eerily lighted by streaks of sunrays that illuminate the crystal clear pool. Going down to the cave was through a small hole using a ladder. When my eyes got used to the dimly lit chamber, I found it to be just fascinating. On weekends, locals flock to it for a refreshing dip.


The Callao Cave of Tuguegarao, in the province of Cagayan, is so enormous that it can be used as a gauge in sizing up other caves. Inside is a chapel where Mass is held during the fiesta in honor of the town’s patron saint. The cave is located on top of limestone hill and could be reached after negotiating several hundred steps leading to the gaping entrance. The cave is within a park where tourist facilities are available.


In Basey, Samar, a town accessible from Tacloban City by jeepney, can be found one of the most beautiful caves in the country. The locals call it Sohoton. It is fantastically set against the backdrop of lush vegetation teeming with birdlife. Multi-chambered, it is full of sparkling stalactites and stalagmites. During Holy Week, traditional folk healers venture inside the cave to look for amulets.


Not to be outdone is Albay’s Hoyop-hoyopan cave which has four entrances and four chambers interconnected to each other by slippery trails. The cave was used as a sanctuary of the locals during the WWII. According to local stories, it was also used as a venue for “benefit dances” that were planned to go beyond the curfew hours during the Martial Law.


Agusan del Norte has its Diwata Caves, so called because it is believed to be inhabited by fairies. I found out that during high tide, the only time during which the caves can be accessed, the waves that splashed against the coralline walls of the cave’s entrance, produced eerie sounds, which perhaps the locals associated with supernatural beings, fairies included.


For a really thrilling cave exploration, I tried the Bathala caves of Marinduque on a Holy Week. The cave has several chambers, one of which is the Phyton cave. At the entrance of this chamber are pythons recoiled and unmindful of the steps of intruders. I was told by my guide that they were harmless, but woe to those who would harm them even just a bit. I almost believed the story when a drunk intruder who went inside the chamber alone, killed one of the pythons. On his way back to the barrio, he suddenly fell dead. I found it out to be a case of heart attack. I did not know if his heart failed due to tipsiness or he simply got the curse of the pythons. It is suggested to make the visit to the caves after the Moriones festival, as some sort of a respite.


One cave near Manila, is the Wawa in Montalban, Rizal. The cave is precariously located on a hill of Wawa and used by a small retreating contingent of the Japanese Imperial Army  during the last days of WWII. I explored the cave in the company of the Philippine Airlines Mountaineering Club. On the way to the Wawa Cave, we passed by a smaller cave that we named “Cueva de Nerissa” in honor of a persistent member who was always assigned as cook during climbs. Some of those in the group were crazily wishing that they could find left-behind war paraphernalia, but what greeted us was eight-inch thick guano bed that soaked our sneakers. Crawling through a three-foot high tunnel, as we aimed for the “window” through which we could have a fantastic view of the river below, our backs got scraped by sharp stalactites.


The aforementioned caves were personally explored. There are still other caves that have been explored but not publicized and still many more that are still waiting to be explored, such as those in Laguna and Cavite. With the encouragement of the Department of Tourism, the local governments have initiated moves to document discoveries, relying only in words of mouth as a means to spread the information about them.


The spelunking as a sport is not expensive unlike surfing that requires an expensive board, and scuba diving and mountaineering which require equally expensive gear. For spelunking, what one needs are guts, strong fingers for gripping small crags of walls when going down and up small entrances, firm feet for support, strong lungs for the thin oxygen once inside the chambers, and most important of all, sheer determination to make it inside and back outside – alive.