Speeding last Tuesday towards Baguio at around 2: o’clock A.M., five passengers – friends –  on board a van decided to let their driver park alongside Halsema National Highway for him to take a much-needed nap – even a one-hour sleep.

They have transited past Buguias Municipality, hoping to reach La Trinidad by around 4: o’clock A.M., but Rod Dapilan, 57, sanitary engineer by profession and from the Cordillera, kept yawning, rubbing his eyes to keep awake as he drove.

All were dead-tired, having trekked to Mount Kapugan, in Ifugao Province, locating whereabouts of one of their friend residing near Mt. Kapugan. They found their friend, but were physically spent.

They decided to traverse via Talubin Road to Poblacion Bontoc, Mountain Province and homewards to Benguet.

All five agreed better to rest momentarily along Halsema, rather than continue and invite disaster for all of them.

Numerous cases have been recorded about people who, drowsy behind the wheel insisted on driving towards their destinations and at the end, ended in disaster.

Common sense dictates if driving and overcome with drowsiness, best remedy is to pull over and take that needed rest and later resume the drive.

The five aboard the van were, Rod, Bentro Pel-ey, 59, Cordilleran, Arsenio Silate, 63, lowlander, Celso Dupines, 58, Cordilleran, Samuel Cantino, 62, lowlander and an unnamed companion, from the land of the sleepy heads.

So Rod maneuvered the van along a safe side at Halsema for rest for them. They were somewhere near Atok Central, Poblacion.

Arsenio, seated in front besides Rod, stretched his arms, yawned and said, “Iredep tayo pay biit, ngarud,” then switched to English, bantering, “Aaahhh! Sleep, my favorite!”

Hearing Arsenio, Samuel seated at the back with Celso and their unidentified companion, replied,” Agpaysu dayta, Arsenio, because O’ sleep, O’ gentle sleep, is the soft nurse of Mother nature.”

It already being around 2 o’clock A.M., they may as well take that much-needed sleep for come morning, there’s no sunrise so magnificent it’s worth waking up to see it, thought their unidentified companion.

Everybody knows that sleeping aboard a vehicle is difficult than on a bed because sleep position is the same position throughout. One doesn’t get the gratifying relaxation compared when one is abed.

So the five settled down for that needed forty winks ‘till morning. Stars, hidden by pouting clouds and rain, were nowhere to be seen while the mountains and the trees silently brooded in the dark.

Even Halsema Road kept its murky silhouette, broken only by the lights of vehicles passing by.

Hardly had 2:30 A.M. passed, the five drifting off to sleep, quietly, peacefully and sweetly, when one among them began to snore.

T’was Arsenio. First, his snoring started like “NG-R-R-R-K-K!” Hardly noticeable in fact. And predictably tolerable in the hearing ears of his friends.

But then as minutes ticked by, Arsenio’s snoring switched to a tone malignantly hideous, as if Arsenio was hell-bent on a mission to fiendishly keep his friends awake until 4: o’clock A.M.

All the friends snore, one way or the other. You, too, dear reader, snores. But you swear you don’t snore? Aw, c’mon pardner! It’s said only women swear to high heaven they don’t swear like,” NO! NEVAH!”

Any woman caught snoring will poutingly tell she’s only purring like a kitten. But never snoring.

But the four never heard anything snore like their pren, Arsenio, a systematic snoring that started like a cat purr then increasing like a motorcycle engine being revved up.

Just when they were being lulled into blissful, good and pleasant sleep, Arsenio’s snore turned to some noise that can shake the foundation of a house.

Worse, Arsenio waited until his friends had a little taste of sleep, then broke in on their good slumbers with snore that growled like, “GN-R-R-R-O-O-O-K-K-K!”  And slipping off into silence, only to resume the sound again.

Curiously, Arsenio’s friends scratched their ears and heads but true as Christians, forgave Arsenio’s snoring like a drunk. They hoped  Arsenio’s snoring was a result of his tongue, nose and his mouth arguing against each other.

Just as they settled to regain sleep, there it was again, Arsenio blasted the friends hopes and demolished their forgiveness to him. His snores sounded this way: “GN-R-R-R-O-O-OK-K-K-O-G-A-A-A-O-G-A-A-A-H!!!”

Then Arsenio doubled up on his snoring sound in a long continuous wail that seemed to remove the roof of the van.

Patiently, the four   waited in breathless suspense if the treble of Arsenio’s snoring cadence would abate, indicating, Arsenio, jolly good man that is he is, have also in him the testament that “do good unto others what you want others to do unto you.”

Finally thinking everything was returning to normal, the four gave each other “gimme five” hands clap, re-fixed their sitting positions into sleeping positions and closed their eyes.

Everything was going fine, fifteen minutes have elapsed and the four were on their journey to their dream lands when Arsenio started again.

Like a winged and breathing demon from nowhere, Arsenio’s snore blasted the peace in the van with, “GN-R-R-R-O-O-OK-K-K-O-G-A-A-A-H-a-ah, NGA-ra, ZZZ, NGA-raaa.” Again and again like a totally broken piano.

By that time, it nearing 3 o’clock A.M., the four knew Arsenio’s snoring was going to last until past 4: o’clock A.M., the weary heads of the four nodded in understanding; nothing they could do to stop their friend from blissful snoring.

Pretty soon, Arsenio’s snoring articulated from GN-R-R-R-O-O-OK to Ng-R-O-O-OK, NG-O-O-O-K, with guttural sounds that would even shame the snoring of the gods like   Kabunyan or Lumawig.

There was pause in Arsenio’s snoring, like “GN-O-O-O-K-ACK-ACK-ACK, P-H-E-E-EW-W,” and the four began to hope he had awakened or strangled himself to death, nobody cared very particularly with.

But he disappointed his friends by resuming again with a purr, to “GN-R-R-RO-O-OK and ending his snoring symphony with a “Gr-U-U-U-U-K, O-G-AH-A-A-OH-G-AH-A-A-H!”

It seemed a matter incredible to the friends, and they got out of the van, stamping their feet to remove their cramps and shoo away the Atok cold biting their bodies. They stared down the long Halsema Road and wished they were in their own beds, instead of shivering in Halsema.

Preposterous, they deemed, that such a gentle person, Arsenio, could create such snores that ran through all ranges of singing in very arguing tones. Even the van shuddered at Arsenio’s snoring.

They contemplated on how to carry Arsenio from the van without waking him, dump him along Halsema then proceed to Baguio. They looked up to their unidentified companion for suggestions.

But then their unidentified companion can only imagine what will happen when they arrived in Baguio without Arsenio.

For Arsenio’s wife would surely demand from the unidentified companion, saying, “Hoy Ah Kong, sika ti team leader yu nga napan idiay Ifugao. Tatta, nagawid kayo nga saan yu kadwa ni Arsenio. Siguro adda inaramid mu a madi ken kwana. Sika a barbasan, Ipa-pulis ko sika! Ayabak PNP (Philippine National Police) ken NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) ta imbestigaren da sika!”

Just as the four were contemplating on what to do with Arsenio, 4 o’clock A.M. arrived, the light of dawn majestically creeping with resoluteness across the Benguet sky and bursting the remaining darkness into fading bubbles.

It was then Arsenio woke up, surprised at seeing his friends outside the van, seeing them suspiciously whispering to themselves and pointing in Arsenio’s direction with mysterious and malevolent intent.

Arsenio opened the van’s front door, slid out, languorously stretched out his arms like a sexy lady from his fitful sleep and announced, “Good morning, my prens, apay anya ar-aramiden yu ditoy ruwar ti lugan ket naglam-min?”

Like criminals whose plan of dumping Arsenio on the road was discovered before implemented, they smiled foolishly at themselves. Rod said to Arsenio, “Kasanu, pard’s, tatta ta nakariing kan, diretso tayon paawid Baguio. Nu mabalin kuma sublaten nak met nga agmaneho?”

Arsenio agreed.

They finally headed towards Baguio. Rod, freed from being driver, snuggled at the front, closed his eyes and faded off to sleep. Within minutes, he was snoring, like, “NG-O-O-R-R-SE-N-I-O, Ng-O-R-R-SE-N-I-O, G-U-R-R-A-H-H!”  Over and over and louder than how Arsenio snored.

Arsenio, behind the wheel, looked at Rod, unbelieving and flabbergasted at what he was hearing. He shook Rod, trying to wake him.

At the van’s back, laughing hard and enjoying themselves were Bentro, Celso, Samuel and Ah. Bentro said, “ Hoy, Arsenio, bay-am ni Rod ta agngorook ti kay-kayat na! Musikero dayta nu nakaturog, ket musiko ti urek na.”