April 18, 2011
To the tune of Bob Marley, I accompanied my Ninang Sally and her partner Ms. Mylene to Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija. They were to conduct a series of activities to increase the morale of the security professionals guarding the dam, which were under Southbend security agency headed by Colonel Romeo Cabatig. And I went there to shoot the Pantabangan Dam, kite aerial photography style. The journey was a good six hours or so. Five hours from Cubao to San Jose Nueva, Ecija; and another hour in the winding and rocky roads to Pantabangan Dam deep in the mountains.
Seeing the Dam for the first was amazing, it was huge. We arrived around two or three in the afternoon. We were welcomed by Detachment Commander Makaurog. Then went to the guest house where we would be staying, which was surrounded by pine and mango trees and goats. Around three in the afternoon we went to the First Gen Hydro Power compound where I was made to wait while Ninang and Ms. Mylene got a briefing regarding on the training they were to conduct. Around four I was able to fly my kite, wind was there but it was changing directions.
On the following day Ninang Sally and Ms. Mylene started with batch 1 of the security professionals to be trained. And I went on board the security vehicle, “Eagle One” as the security guards call it, with the assigned driver for the shift SG(security guard) Urgente GY. We first went to the other Hydro plant Masiway which was smaller, because SG Urgente was tasked to make the other security guards sign on IDs that was to be signed by Col. Cabatig later. Then we head to the First Gen compound. While on our way SG Urgente played a song made by his cousin on how the dam was made. SG Urgente told me that it was made in the 1970s under the Marcos administration. Most of the residents did not want to leave there homes, but the Philippines was under Martial Law back then and they did not have much choice, on the bright side they were compensated for their land. Before the construction of the dam the government promised residents discount on their electricity bill, which never happened. After that song a noisy familiar sound played. SG Urgente remarked, “Nilagyan ko ng Metallica para maguluhan ung makikinig, magulo yung Metallica eh”, I said that I also listened to Metallica. The song was I disappear by Metallica. Then we began talking about how how he was formerly a member of a band (SG Urgente plays the keys) and how his whole clan are musicians and how they have concerts whenever there would be reunions.
We were nearing the First Gen Plant and we stopped on a guard post along the bay. There SG Urgente endorsed me to the guard on post and said that he would come and fetch me later. I told the security guard on post (sorry sir was not able to remember your name) what I was going to do and unwrapped the big 7 foot delta kite. It flew but the wind was still changing directions, the guard on post radioed to the guard below on the First Gen Plant, “Pare tingin ka sa taas nagpapalipad kami ng saranggola ni pepe”. I tried to attach the rig, but it was no good, the wind did not have enough lift to carry the rig. So I packed my things just in time that my service arrived.
I had lunch and waited for a vehicle to hitch a ride to the plant (which was 7 kilometers from the compound we were staying at). I was able to join a company staff on his way home. I step down the vehicle by the bay and thanked him for the ride and said hello again to the guard on post. It was around two in the afternoon and the wind was great, it was consistent, it blew in one direction and it lifted the camera. Soon the two kite lines I brought were all used and the camera was up in the air.
The next days were windless (and hot).
Gerome Soriano would like to thank to: Ninang Sally Manansala, Ms. Mylene, Support Services Head of First Gen Mr. Joseph E. Mapulo, Southbend security agency president Col.Romeo Cabatig, SG Palad, SG Urgente and all the friendly people in Nueva Ecija. Kite Association of the Philippines for the kite and Dr. Anselmo “Jun” Tripon for helping me with the camera rig.