Category Archives: Uncategorized

Revenge Travel

 As the pandemic restrictions ease , more and more countries reopen to eager tourists, and a trendy new phrase has emerged on social media: revenge travel.

According to Erika Richter, vice president of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) “Revenge travel is a media buzzword that originated in 2021 when the world began to reopen, and people decided to make up for lost time”. The term has been used to describe trips as varied as family reunions, big splurge vacations and re-visits to favorite places

Family and friends are making up for lost time. A brother who is based in the US as well as former high school classmates also based in the US came for a visit. A former officemate now based in Australia is here. On the other hand, some friends went abroad to visit family members or just to travel and enjoy seeing other parts of the world

My friends and I had some sort of revenge travel. We usually just visit our town, see some friends, pay our respect to our departed loved ones and eat our favorite food. This visit, we also went to a nearby town – Guinyangan, Quezon. It’s funny that in all those years that I was residing in Quezon I never visited the place,

Our first stop was the Mangrove Board Walk. I really like how they preserved their mangrove area and made it into a tourist spot.

Mangrove Boardwalk From Facebook- Visit Quezon
Mangrove Boardwalk – photo from Elsinore jorvina-Ocampo
Mangrove Boardwalk

Then we went to the Arboretum of Maulawin Spring Protected Landscape. This is a project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It is a protected landscape area of forested hills and several rivers and streams in Quezon in Southern Luzon island in the Philippines. Wikipedia

We saw a few birds but the write-up in Wikipedia says:  It is home to a diverse bird species, such as the Philippine dwarf kingfisherrufous hornbillnorthern sooty woodpeckerblack-naped oriolePhilippine coucaljungle crowcoletoblack-winged kite and Philippine collared dove.[3] It also supports some large mammals, including the crab-eating macaquePhilippine deerPhilippine warty pigAsian palm civet, as well several bats and snakes.

We just reached the first fall because it had just rained and the way was slippery.

Then we had our late lunch at a coconut farm where three restaurants have specialized offerings – halu-halo in buko, dishes (paresan) and pansit chami. There were other food in their menu but they are known for their respective specialties .

What’s commendable about these sites in Guinyangan is that they all preserved nature.

Earthquake

From Manila Bulletin -Bantay Bell Tower in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. (Screenshot from Edison Aducul Facebook video)

From Tribune -A car is burried under debris from a ruined old house in Vigan city, Ilocos Sur.

A 7-magnitude earthquake hit different parts of Luzon and damaged various infrastructures on Wednesday morning, July 27. According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the epicenter of the rumbling was recorded two kilometers north of Lagangilang, Abra at 8:43 a.m.It has a shallow depth of 25 km. which explained why it was strongly felt in Metro Manila.

I did not feel it in our place but it made me remember my scary experience of an earthquake in 1990. Per Wikipedia the 1990 Luzon earthquake struck the island of Luzon in the Philippines at 4:26 p.m. on July 16 (PDT) with an estimated moment magnitude of 7.7 . The earthquake caused damage within an area of about 20,000 square kilometers, stretching from the mountains of the Cordillera Administrative Region and through the Central Luzon region. The earthquake was strongly felt in Metropolitan Manila, destroying many buildings and leading to panic and stampedes and ultimately three deaths in the National Capital Region

From Wikipedia -The collapsed Hyatt Terraces Baguio Hotel after the earthquake in Baguio City in 1990.

I was in the 7th floor of our office building , It was so strong it felt like King Kong was shaking the building. There was a whooshing sound from the movement. All of us stopped what we were doing. Our boss told us to remain calm. We either squatted or sat on the floor near tables or under them, or held on to door jambs. Some were crying. Many were praying aloud, many were praying silently , like me. At that moment, I realized that anything could happen, and I let go and let God.

When the shaking stopped ,we all rushed outside using the stairs from the 7th floor to the ground floor. We saw some cracks on the wall on our way down, small ones but we were still afraid because we didn’t know for sure how those cracks weakened the structure. In hindsight, we thanked God that there was no stampede as everyone rushed out. When we reached the ground, outside were more people in state of shock, we saw some parked cards with small dents because of a few pieces of debris that hit them. We stayed on the same spot afraid of aftershocks . It was only after some time that we heaved a collective sigh of relief. I thanked God.

Our Old Hometown

Our old hometown looked the same and different at the same time when my friends and I visited in early June. (In my post Town Fiesta I said that we planned to attend our fiesta last May 25 but because of some hitches decided to forgo our plans. We pushed though with our plans in early June).

On the same day that we arrived, my friends and I walked around town. We looked for the places we remember . Some of them have remained as we remembered them, some have stayed the same with slight changes and some were really new. We saw familiar faces, chatted with old friends as we walked the streets and spotted old landmarks. The streets that we walked from home to school and back were the same but appeared narrow now. Our church where we attended masses was still there though with changes. We recognized old houses and recalled the old houses which have been replaced by new, bigger ones. In the evening we went to a place in the town plaza which we call Stage , our town square with a stage where graduations and other public events are held. It’s the same and public events are still held there. But that night there was a small group of ladies doing the Zumba which we joined upon the invitation of one of them who is a friend. In fact, we know most of the ladies participating in the Zumba. We experienced again going to a coconut farm just to eat fresh young coconuts or what is called nagmumurà in our town, murà, is how we call buko. And we savored local food which we enjoyed in our youth like binanging saba, sinukmani, binayo, ginataang nangka with bibi (called tulya in Metro Manila).

There are more places to go to.

There’s a short boardwalk near the sea where a landmark C for Calauag was built. You can watch the sunset there or just pass the time. We met another friend there who is also a cousin of one of us. It’s also used as a port where the Balsa or floating cottage , another development, pick up passengers. The Balsa can accommodate up to 100 people who would be brought to a deeper part of the sea or to a destination barrio of their choice. Unfortunately, we were not able to try this. We promised ourselves we’ll try in our next visit.

Calauag FB page

There’s Mary’s Woods just outside of town, a hill developed as a shrine for the Virgin Mary. It’s still being completed but masses are already held there. We attended the mass on the first Saturday of June, Mary’s day, and once again met old friends. Some of them were also returnees to our towns, some were Balikbayans or returnees from foreign lands.

From the official page of Mary’s Woods Fatima, Calauag, Quezon

There are new events places where reunions, weddings and other celebrations can be held.

There are business changes too. Just outside the town proper is Jolibee. Near, almost beside it is Puregold Supermarket. In the town proper there are now banks based in Metro Manila whereas before there was only the Rural Bank or banks from the nearby towns. Now the old banks are gone. There are more High Schools in the barrios.

Indeed progress can be felt in our town.

I’m ambivalent about the changes in our town. I have mixed emotions about it’s progress. They did not happen all at once, it was just we visited our hometown infrequently. Somehow I miss the quaint hometown I grew up in where I hold precious memories. At the same time I’m happy that our town wasn’t left behind in progress. At least, our town still looks like a town. People still know most of the other residents of the town. And they usually identify them with their relatives or progeny. The business establishments are just mini versions of their city counterparts. My nephew based in Metro Manila when he first visited our town was fascinated by the small gas station. And I remembered the time when there was only one gas station with only one pump within the compound of the copra dealer in town, when there was very little need for gasoline because people just walked to their destinations most of the time.

Well, things change. As the cliché goes ,the only constant in life is change. I just hope that our hometown won’t change too much , too soon.

Town Fiesta

May 25 is the fiesta of my hometown. My high school friends and I were supposed to go there but a series of events messed our travel plans which made us decide to just try some other time.

What’s making us want to go home are fond memories of our childhood. Being a small town , the town fiesta was one of the events that we looked forward to during summer vacation. Also, many townmates who have migrated to foreign lands or established residences in other parts of the country go home too and the fiesta becomes a reunion for families and friends.

Even strangers could tell the town fiesta is approaching through the banderitas (streamers or banners) across the streets put up days before the fiesta. Their different colors make the streets very festive. Perya or temporary vendors or bazaars are set up on the streets. During the younger days of my older siblings (I’m the youngest) a circus used to come to town and our father would bring them to watch. The travelling circus was no longer practiced during my time. But I got to see the fair in the town plaza where there was a Ferris wheel and other simple rides. There were stalls for games where you could play and win prizes or bet.

From Manila Bulletin

Households prepared food for the celebration.

It was only during fiestas that balloons were sold in our town. When I was a young girl, the balloon makers ( well, balloon blowers/fillers probably is the correct term) rented the ground floor of our neighbor and we kids observed how they filled the balloons with air from a tank. I learned later that the air is called helium.

Early in the morning we would hear the band marching around town and we would go to the main streets where they passed to watch them. Then there’s a parade, a much simpler one when I was a kid compared to now.

From GMA

In the afternoon there’s a procession of the Patron Saint which is really the reason for the celebration.

In the evening there were programs held in the town plaza. There could be an amateur singing contest.

The last time I was home for our town fiesta in 2019 there was a contest for Barangays for the best Arko (Arch) I’ve heard that this year, there is a beauty contest.

From Calauag Baluarte Competition

The folk song Pandangguhan comes to my mind particularly these lines.

Kung may pista sa aming bayan (When there’s fiesta in our town)
Ang lahat ay nagdiriwang (Everybody celebrates)
May lechon bawat tahanan (There’s roast pig in every home)
May gayak pati simbahan
(Even the church is decorated)

Paglabas ni Santa Mariang mahal ( When beloved St Mary appears)
Kami ay taos na nagdarasal (
We pray sincerely)
Prusisyon dito ay nagdaraan (
The procession passes here)
Kung kaya’t ang iba’y nag-aabang
( So some people await)

May tumutugtog at may sumasayaw (Some are playing music and some are dancing)
Mayro’ng sa galak ay napapasigaw
(There are some who shout in glee)
Ang pista sa bayan namin ay gan’yan
(That’s how fiesta is like in our town)
Ang saya’y tila walang katapusan
(The merriment seems endless)

The food served may not be lechon but there’s food served. The patron saint of the town might not be St. Mary like it is St. Peter in our town . But the song really captures the atmosphere , the essence of town fiestas.

Yesterday When I was Young, We Celebrated Parents’ Week, Not Mother’s day

From Pinterest

Once upon my childhood , in a small town , we celebrated Parents’ Week.

Filipinos celebrate Mother’s Day with the rest of the world in May and on Father’s Day in June. But it wasn’t like that during my childhood. I remember in grade school we celebrated Parents’ Week in the first week of December. We wore a corsage during those days. It was made of a leaf as the backdrop and flowers in the middle. Red flowers would indicate that one’s parents were both alive, one red and one white meant that one of the parents had passed away, and all white showed that both parents were gone. The leaf was usually a fern or “pilik,” a plant with very fine leaves ( a variety of fern), which I no longer see around.

“Pilik” or Asparagus Fern/Plumosa Fern from Pinterest

The flowers were usually either kalachuchi or bougainvilleas, which were then the favorite flowers in our town.

Parents of the Year were chosen and honored during the celebration. I don’t remember when that practice was stopped, replaced by the western practice of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Initially, I hesitated following the western tradition but my love for my parents prevailed over my desire to preserve our Pinoy tradition.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Environment-Friendly Packaging/Packing of Long Ago

The Earth Month reminds us to be conscious of the earth, of the environment. Environmental consciousness has made us discover ways to decrease dependence on plastics if not do away with them. One such way is through packaging/packing materials. Scientists /businesses are finding ways to develop sustainable packaging /packing materials. But we can look to the ways packaging was done long time ago.

Biodegradable packing materials

Some of them withstood progress like the kaing which are still used in the Philippines for packing fruits and vegetables. It is made of local and endemic material rattan.

Kaing from Pinterest

Another packing/packaging material which is still used is the bilao. It is made of bamboo strips. It is used for winnowing palay or unmilled rice. It’s also used for cleaning bigas or milled rice before cooking. Another use is for food container/server, lined with banana leaf when used as such. Nowadays , these are also be lined with aluminum foil , plastic or waxed paper.

Bilao from Filfoods

Biodegradable Baskets/Bags

Baskets made of rattan or other endemic materials were used when going to the market. Some used bayong , a bag made of woven strips of palm leaves. There were no plastic bags then. Paper bags have made a come back but they easily tear so their usage is limited. Eco bags are popular which can be made of cloth or synthetic materials. Synthetic materials are not biodegradable or take years to degrade, but they are reused over and over.

Bayong from Wikipedia

Biodegradable Packaging

Items bought in markets were packed in banana leaf or paper. Some eateries particularly restaurants serving Filipino cuisine still serve rice wrapped in banana leaf because they give a different flavor to the rice. Sometimes it’s for food presentation.

Crabs were tied in uway (soft rattan).

Brown paper was made into small bags for pandesal and other kinds of bread. I remember those bags were made (DIY) by the bakeries.

From Instructable

Paper bags were used for retailed rice and for wholesale abaca sacks were used. Abaca sacks were also used for other produce like peanuts or corn kernels.

Abaca sacks from Shopee

Sugar and flour were packed in sacks made of katsa (unbleached muslin). They were sometimes upcycled/made into work dresses or aprons.

Returnable Bottles

These are usually soft drink bottles. We brought replacement empty bottles or leave a deposit (usually a small amount but enough for you to come back and return the bottle) when we buy, and refund the deposit when we return the bottle. For kids, keeping the refund was enough encouragement to return the bottles.

Own Containers for Retail (Tingi)

Filipinos are fund of tingi or retail in small quantities to enable low income earners to buy just what is needed for the day. This system has been adopted by big business that at present there are products in small packets like shampoo in sachet, three-in-one coffee (coffee, cream and sugar), toothpaste in sachets, etc. I suppose these are also meant for travelers.

Cooking oil was sold in retail in palengkes (wet markets) and sari-sari stores (neighborhood sundry stores , our convenience stores) and we brought our own bottles/containers. Same is true for kerosene. For salt and alamang ( a variety of very tiny shrimps) which is called balaw in our town, we brought either cups or bottles.

Wooden crates

Wooden crates were usually used for bottled products such as soft drinks and beer.

Pangilin

Pangilin/pangingilin is often translated as abstinence, fasting and sacrifice (as found in the internet). In our family and my hometown in Southern Tagalog, pangilin/pangingilin means keeping the holy days holy which may involve abstinence, fasting , sacrifice, praying or simply being quiet, reflecting on the passion of Christ , of faith. It is deference or respect borne of faith.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Pangingilin is practiced during Lent. The Catholic church prescribes, prayer, fasting and alms giving but pangingilin can be done in other ways.

  1. Prayer – We are supposed to pray every day but the church encourages us to be more prayerful or be more mindful of our prayers.
  2. Fasting – this is prescribed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
  3. Alms giving- we can give of ourselves in various ways, our own ways .
  4. Attending retreats and recollections – this can be done prior to Holy Week as a preparation or during Holy Week
  5. Attending masses and church services – there are masses everyday and special masses and services.
  6. Abstinence- abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday of Lent is part of Catholic teaching. Some abstain from activities like smoking, social media , vices, etc.
  7. Not working or doing business – this can be your job or postponing heavy chores. This is reflected in the government declaration of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday as holidays. Only those working in essential jobs are required to work. Metro Manila streets are empty during these days except those which are near churches. In smaller towns and localities, even sari-sari stores (corner stores) suspend business. In recent times, there are a few establishments which open specially the eateries.
  8. Reflection – this can be done in church or in your chosen quiet place.

In the old days pangingilin involved refraining from any form of merry-making like singing loud songs( the song that should be heard is the Pasion) and cracking jokes/laughing out loud. Kids were not allowed to play strenuous or physical games. There were even those who refrained from wearing loud colors, short of wearing black for mourning.

Fittingly, after a week of pangingilin, the observance turns to joy of the Resurrection, the celebration of Easter Sunday.