The trip with my family to my hometown in Bacolod last week can be best described in three words--short but sweet. Very short in fact, that we only had two whole days to frantically go around and somehow trace back the remnants of my Ilonggo roots, something which I had longed for my husband to savor and experience. Until this trip, he only heard about it in my oft-repeated stories, and it was vague to him at best. Never mind my kids as they are too young to understand all this, and Sophia thought we were actually going to another swimming foray. Well, swimming there was none. I'm sure she and Gab felt a little disappointed as suddenly it got impossibly hot in Manila and the prospect of flying over to a much cooler place and soaking in a glorious body of water would have been really nice. But Bacolod was all about seeing Angustia again, and my home folks, and understandably being sober for the occasion, so I felt that except for the kids, we had kept our expectations to a minimum.
For someone like me who has seen things in a bigger scale, Bacolod to my eyes now has become rather feeble and sleepier than it seemed back then. Maybe owing to the fact that we came here at the deadest season of the entire year, Oliver remarked that the streets were practically deserted of people. The roads from Silay to Bacolod impressed upon him because of the lush and verdant trees, and I found myself pleasantly surprised as well. However, when we reached downtown where our hotel was, there was the undeniable stench. It crossed my mind that this part of the city is on the verge of decay---that people who have had centrifugal tendencies to stray away and live in other parts of the country, or the world, would someday go back and realize how small and poor and half-forgotten this place had been, that this very truth could be seen in everything---the toothless old people, the homeless who sleep on the plaza benches, the dirty kids who mill around with blank stares on their faces, the dilapidated shops that are now swarmed with flies and not with people, the San Sebastian Church which used to be very huge and was considered the bastion of all the grandiose that symbolized the sugar plantation capital of the country. But the thud on the road shook me up and made me realize we were now cruising along the Bredco port and probably the stench that threw me off-kilter came from all the talaba (oyster) and sisi. And then as we drove nearer to the heart of the city, I could see not far beyond that SM and more modern shops had risen from where the Reclamation Area used to be. Bacolod life, in my absence, has indeed happened, however snail-paced it did. It has become a mixture of the old and the new, and I was rather torn.
But the moment I went to Sum-ag it was totally another story. I was transported to the days of yore when I was just a little kid climbing up the sarisa tree to spend an idle afternoon with my cousins, while the folks would take their places on the mahjong table, and asked to be served their cafe, or send us out for some loose change. There was warmth in all the smiles and hugs and the lilted accent accompanied with such animated hand movements, that the hot sun, for all its worth, did not seem to bother me for a moment. Oh Sum-ag, I love you the most for my childhood days, for the bad times and good times, for the titas and titos, for the cousins and grandparents, for abundance and hunger, for the tears and the laughter, for making me touch the ground again and say---I was here.
As for the photos, I have really often struggled with landscapes, and going to Don Salvador Benedicto on the third day of the trip would have been a wonderful chance, but more often than not, you get carried away in the moment, of touching base with everyone again. A simple bisou-bisou would not do, it's the only time to catch up with people who have forever been close to your heart but don't get to hear from, in more than a decade--that photographing has to take a backseat for a bit. However, I had to look for that small window of opportunity, and I'm glad I was able to take a few shots of my nieces, cousins, aunts, and of course, Sophia, my wanderlust muse.
|San Sebastian Cathedral|
|for a taste of authentic ilonggo--manokan country and batchoy|
|preparing the Angus at a workshed|
|nieces from Davao|
|cousins of varying degrees|
Procession of Saints--Sum-ag Parish Church
|Sum-ag Parish Church where I attended Sunday mass as a kid. Across the street is my old elementary school.|
|titas and cousins again|
|taking part in the two-hour procession|
|paying a quick visit to my second cuz and bestfriend Lorena|
|Don Salvador Benedicto- hidden paradise|
Photos taken at Don Salvador Benedicto, a municipality in the more remote parts of Negros. The first ever appointed mayor is Tito Nene, mother's cousin. He owns a very beautiful home here and oversees the place as a Board Member, while his son serves as the incumbent Mayor. Had we the privelege of another night's stay, we could have trekked the mountains and enjoyed the waterfalls, but as it was, we only took mementos of that charming and seemingly unbridled agricultural life back there through several photos.
|with Tito Nene (in blue shirt)|
|flying back to Manila|
|Sophia going back home|