In Southern Leyte province, recently, I was billeted at the Philippine Port Authority Hostel located inside the Liloan Port compound. It was my second time to stay right inside a port area and it is for this reason that despite the lack of amenities, I liked the place. First to do me in were the floor to ceiling glass windows at the lobby area. Perhaps because I live in a mountain city that by the way I nicknamed Forks (of the Twilight fame) where it’s damp and dark for much of the year that to have plenty of sun and warmth for a change was heaven.
Another of the hostel’s feature I liked was the picturesque sight of the docks framed on the windows at the lobby. I love the sight of the sea. In fact, as my companion and I went around the towns which were all near the sea, I told her, “people here don’t realize how lucky they are!” She merely nodded, perhaps because the sea and port-side places aren’t her thing.
I also liked the hostel’s design. The buildings in the compound, built in the time of the late President Marcos, have that nipa hut look. One can also view all of the port terminal and the docks from the five-paned lobby window. I was by myself during my stay there and when not catching up on sleep I go sit by the windows. I got to see a ship docking. It was bound for Surigao, only four hours away, later that day.
(On the side, I think local architects should get together for a project, produce building designs that’s Filipino. Like Cobonpue for furnitures, for example. And for government to promote them, starting with public infrastructures such as in the MRT terminals for instance. These hopefully should transform public places, revive in locals love for their own, and non-Filipinos to grow in respect of Filipino. The private sector – builders – can also promote Filipino design. Nationalism starts off this way, little things we do until it catches fire and spreads itself out.)
The hostel has only eight twin-bed rooms and one dormitory. My room looked out to the back lawn and garden. The beddings and towel, I had to go borrow them from the lady who owns a canteen at the wharf as the hostel doesn’t provide these (so be forewarned). The blinds, it’s color already fading, were not long enough to cover the entire window panel and just needed a bit of tugging into place. The bathroom was relatively in good shape. The shower head however was very rusty and I couldn’t bring myself to use it. Thank goodness, a pail and tabo are provided although the pail looked aged and rust-streaked. I believe it’s sea water in the pipes. But the most inconvenient thing was the absence of clothing hooks or rack. After my bath, I had to go out the door naked and dripping wet just to retrieve the towel on the bed. And, oh, I had to bathe at the crack of dawn because at sunlight for some reason water in the pipes comes out in droplets.
At the front desk, a woman was on duty during the day, a man at night. I was out in the barrio the entire day so I haven’t need of the woman’s services although as chambermaid at the same time, she kept my room tidy and clean. On my first night, I had been the only guest. I was more alert than usual. The man at the front desk apparently wasn’t paid to be guard too because he couldn’t be found anywhere inside the building. Other guests arrived the following night, filling up the rest of the rooms.
Meals, one takes them at the port terminal. The hostel didn’t serve.
But, customers are customers right? There must be minimum standards of quality to be complied with by those in the hotel business (and monitored for compliance). The hostel which is managed by the DOT is obviously subsidized (one night costs PhP500). This may be the root of the “problem.” Maybe, if the hostel’s privatized? That would free up tax money for other more urgent projects instead of it being thinly spread on a lot of expenditure items that don’t necessarily contribute to growth and development. What this country need to do is offer some items out to the private sector.