Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon!!!
Trip Start Oct 18, 2007
51Trip End Aug 2008
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It's funny to be celebrating Christmas is such a tropical climate (sorry to rub it in for the folks back in Montreal playing in snow/slush/cold... bleeech). I have to shower at least twice to three times a day to cool down and clean off the accumulated sweat...
So far am enjoying barrio life. Quite a different vibe from the ordered chaos in the bigger cities like Manila, Quezon, Baguio, Dagupan, etc... Guiling is a funny bubble to live in. I went jogging at 5 am (still pitch black) with Uncle Ponching last week and on our way back, when the sun was rising, I could see people out for their morning walk, or just chatting on the side of the road. Uncle would introduce me to the folks standing around as either cousins of my grandmother or grandfather, or uncle of a cousin married to a great-aunt (at that point, my eyes kind of glaze and in my head, this person simply registered as 'relative'), and this barrio consists mainly of distant relatives on my maternal grandmother and grandfather's families
The last time I was in the Philippines was in 1998, and my memories of that visit are a bit hazy. At that time, I was a passive observer, just following along wherever my family led me. But now, revisiting Lola's village, then off to my dad's side in the new year, recording as much of it through pictures and blog/journal entries, will definitely help me remember my time here. Even though there are times when language barriers stand in the way, it's a humbling feeling to be surrounded by a community that I'm somehow connected to by birth. I can literally say that these are my people... With all their dramas, 'chismis' (aka gossip), joyous and heartbreaking life events. They recognize in my physiognomy my father's and mother's faces, similarities with my mom's body, traces of my grandparents... I belong to them as much as they belong to me!
In the past week since my last post, I've taken tons of pictures of barrio life, men on their bicycles leading their water buffalos to pasture, tricycles (I LOVE riding on the back of tricycles as I can take pretty interesting pics from this vantage point), rice fields, fish ponds, typical style homes of the region, people idling at the local store, etc. I've also met Mama's friends, lost 200P at a cockfight in Carmen, had my first motorcycle lesson from Uncle Poncing, watched a chicken and a piglet slaughtered for the first time, celebrated Lola Osing's 82nd birthday at a nearby resort, watched local leagues playing basketball and danced a 'surprise' number at a random Christmas 'baranguay' (synonymous to barrio) party celebrating the wins of most recently elected community leaders from five barrios with a local dance instructor, or DI
Oh, and the sounds of a pig being slaughtered would be impossible to sleep through. I don't think I'll post the video of that experience. I'm sure that not everyone on this mailing list will appreciate the pics taken during the cockfight or the slaughter so those may not make the cut for this blog. But if you're interested to see them, just let me know! I want to see, smell, taste, touch and hear as much of the Philippines as I can cram during my visit here. That's meant moonlit night masses outdoors, surrounded by a dialect foreign to my ears but dear and familiar to those around me; that's meant eating balut sold from corner street stalls (my balut count is up to six at this point, 'sisiw' or duck embryo and all!); hearing neighbourhood kids going door to door, singing Christmas carols in Tagalog, expecting change at the end of
their performance; the smell of fresh water buffalo dung on the side of the unpaved road; the sounds and smells of Auntie cooking amazingly simple and delicious meals consisting of local veggies and fish harvested/caught hours before making their way to our table, with the sweetest juiciest mangoes for dessert.
I'll post the latest instalment of pictures soon. In the meantime, MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL! I hope the holidays finds you surrounded by your near and dear ones and if you're away from home, I wish that you're enjoying every moment no matter who you're with, no matter where you are. I also hope the New Year brings you all much health, peace and prosperity.
(tagalog for 'take care')