Tag Archives: Calauag

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 We recognized old houses and recalled the old houses which have been replaced by new, bigger ones.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.

Positive Realizations in the Days of COVID-19

In the latter part of 2019 a new strain of Corona Virus was found in Wuhan China. It spread around the world in  early 2020. It was initially called NCov (New Corona Virus) and was changed later to COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease -2019). There was no known cure and to this day, countries are all still researching and developing vaccine and cure. In the meantime governments prevented the spread through the imposition of lockdowns or quarantines to enforce social distancing and wearing of face masks and encouraged everyone to practice good hygiene.

COVID-19 turned the world upside down as businesses, schools, malls and other establishments were closed and we stayed in our homes to stay safe. We couldn’t do the things we used to take for granted.  As the days passed many of us realized that the restrictions brought about some positive things.

  • Peace and Quiet

I’ve come to realize this when one afternoon I heard the pealing of church bells from our parish church. It was six o’clock in the afternoon and the pealing signaled the Angelus. Prior to the quarantines, I could only hear the pealing at nine in the evening when the day’s activities have diminished.

It reminded me of my childhood in Calauag, a town in Quezon when life was simpler. People stopped from walking, paused from whatever they were doing to say a little prayer. We children knew that it was time to stop playing and go home.

There’s a melancholic beauty in empty or near-empty streets and public places. We’ve seen a lot of these in some pictures of empty tourist spots taken and posted by professional photographers.  My personal experience was when I took an early morning walk during the early days of Community Quarantine. There were few people walking and that enhanced my appreciation of things I passed and used to take for granted like pretty wild flowers on an empty lot and the calming beauty of some well-maintained front gardens of homes.

  • Clearer Sky

Early quarantine was during summer . During daytime , I could see a span of cloudless blue sky.

At dusk the setting sun caused a beautiful play of colors in the sky. Even the occasional summer rain gave the clouds different shades.

At night we could see the moon and stars. We even saw the rare pink moon.

  • Living Simply

We were confined to our homes and were forced to manage with what we could do with the confinement.

We managed not to go to supermarkets and if we did we went only when it was necessary and bought essential items only. We didn’t spend time malling.

We couldn’t meet with friends so that also meant no gasoline expenses, dining out or buying new dresses/outfits. We had a taste of minimalism.

I celebrated my birthday last June 6 at home with my family. Still, I felt the love of distant family and friends through online or phoned greetings and some gifts delivered. I took an early morning walk to our church and absorbed once again its serenity and beauty.

  • Free Time

It’s nice to wake up naturally according to our own body rhythm.

I was able to appreciate the beauty of nature in our garden at the time I like best, early in the morning when it’s cool and I can hear the birds chirping, playing in the branches of our balimbing and guava trees. I also like it in the afternoon when the sun is down but it is not dark yet.

  • Spirit of Cooperation

The spirit of cooperation is very much felt. People demonstrated willingness to help in their own small way. We’ve read and seen on TV stories of big businesses, charitable organizations  and individuals helping the less fortunate. I know of unpublished stories of friends cooking food and giving lunch boxes to the volunteers in their barangays. Others donated through their churches.  And a lot more gave a little money directly to the needy.