At the Sulu Provincial Police Office, I waited for my then escorts to Patikul. At 10am, the long wait culminated. There arrived a police car labeled PATIKUL MUNICIPAL POLICE STATION.
So I would be escorted by no less than 4 police officers. The team leader SPO1 Maradjani Abdul Moridz stepped down with the three others. He directed to the office and talked in a high tempered voice I narrowly understood.
Worried of my limited cash, I approached one of the escorts.
Sir, magkano po babayaran ko nito?
Sir, how much do I have to pay for this?
(A calm soft answer) Wala, sir.
Di ko naman kasi alam na magiging ganito. Pasensya na sa abala.
I never expected it's gonna be like this. I'm so sorry I have bothered you.
Hindi naman, sir. Mas okay na yang mag-escort kami kaysa mag-search and rescue.
No, sir. It's much better to escort than to do search and rescue operation.
(My heart was squeezed in shyness and fear)
ON THE WAY TO QUEZON BEACH, PATIKUL
The already calmed leader then cued me to step up the car. He sat beside me at the back of the armed driver. The two armed officers were seated back to back in an open back compartment of the car.
Ah, sir, taga-DTI ka pala?
Ah, sir, so you're from DTI?
Uhmm, opo sir.
Uhmm, yes sir.
So, ano bang magandang balita ang dala mo. May development na ba?
So, what's your good news? Any development?
(Huh? Sweat instantly dripped, my tongue mumbled)
Uhmm, sir, napakalaki po ng potential ng tourism sa Sulu. Agree po ba kayo na maging tourist spot ang Sulu?
Uhmm, sir, Sulu has really a great potential for tourism. Do you agree for Sulu to become a tourist spot?
Alam nyo po, sir, sa lahat ng pulis na nakausap ko dito, kayo pa lang po ang sang-ayon sa tourism.
You know, sir, of all the officers I've talked with here, you are the only one who goes for tourism.
Oo, additional income yan eh.
Yes, that's an added income.
Sir, ano po ba mga handicraft products dito?
Sir, what are the handicraft products here?
Wala masyado eh.
(Showing my wrist with native bracelets) Alam nyo po, sir, pwede po kayong gumawa ng mga handicrafts tulad nito, pang souvenir items ng mga turista. Additional income din po yun.
You know, sir, you can make handicrafts like these as souvenirs for tourists. That's an additional income.
Oo nga no? bakit ang DTI dito walang ginagawa?
Yes, indeed. Why is DTI here not doing anything?
(I just grinned, my mouth zipped)
We had petty talks while we passed through the very silent barangays. After a 30-minute trip, the car entered into a vacant lot in Barangay Igasan and pulled over.
QUEZON BEACH, FINALLY...
In extreme awe, my eyes could not contain the view of the untouched beach. Imagine a stretch of fine, white sand in Boracay absent the disgusting crowd!
Quezon Beach is indescribably beautiful with its clear waters added the view of the nearby islets. A beach so well appreciated by a non-beachy trekker.
SPO1 was my photographer. I basked in the water and sand while he kept pressing the shutter. Aside from the time I consumed, the other escorts were laughing so my poses were limited. When I felt baked in a noonday sun, I came up and said I'm done. Honestly, I never had enough of the beach yet!
THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES...
MEETING THE SULTAN OF SULU
SULU PROVINCIAL CAPITOL
MASJID TULAY: The First and Biggest Mosque in Jolo