Travelling on the rough, dirt roads of Surigao del Sur can be a mind numbing and physically battering experience but not everything about it is negative.
Since you have to go slow or risk ripping the wheels off your vehicle as you negotiate your way part through potholes, deep ruts, mud holes (when it's raining) and eroded roadbeds, you have actually the time, if you are so inclined, to take a look around and enjoy the local scenery which can be quite spectacular.
There is none of the quick, efficient and high speed zipping through concrete or asphalt paved highways where all you see virtually nothing except the view in front of you and the blur of what passes for scenery including billboards, concrete railings and kilometers of depressing urban development.
Instead one sees greenery of all kinds and shapes. The rich golden green of lush grass covering the flatlands and the gently sloping hills, the dark green of coconut trees that dot the landscape and the lighter green of the thick bushes and shrubs that grow in clumps like verdant oases in deserts of green.
Then there are the quaint houses that haphazardly line both sides of the road as it passes through the small villages. Often small, ramshackle affairs reflecting the extreme poverty of the rural countryside but occasionally some deviant souls often come up with eye-catching structures that defy the norm and whose existence proclaim the Filipino's native ingenuity, resourcefulness and boundless optimism for the future.
And there are the animals that still thrive in areas where the roads pass through. Exotic and colorful birds that can dart through the air as you pass by, lizards and snakes that try to slither swiftly across the road but unfortunately are sometimes caught by vehicle tires before they could rush to safety and whose carcasses are left to the merciless heat of the sun to rot and decompose.
This is travelling at the extreme lower end of the speed limit, not that speed limits exist here. The often dilapidated nature of the roads impose their own limits on how fast you can move along. And for those who are used to speeding along the highways and expressways of the more developed areas of the country, the change can be jarring to say the least.
The trick to surviving this kind of road trip and get to your destination in a better mood is to just consider the whole thing as a unique experience in itself; to immerse yourself in the sights, smells and sounds of travelling in a land seemingly lost and stuck in time and to find joy and experience wonder at both the mundane and the exotic.
And learn to laugh and find humor in the midst of the physical discomfort and stress of being jolted and thrown about about as you rattle over the bumpy roads. If you can't do that then the inevitable usually happens. You get to your destination mentally and physically battered and vowing never to repeat the experience again.
But for the hardy and adventurous souls who crave the unusual and the unique, road trips in our province can be eye openers and memorable experiences. It all depends on how one looks at the whole thing.
As with all things, it can just be a matter of perspective.