So much to tell, yet little time to just sit and write. This has been the case since my arrival in the Philippines on January 28th for a 5-week vacation. Every day has been packed with spontaneous and scheduled activities. My children John and Joy and other family members wonder how I deal with a hectic itinerary. The key, I believe, is anticipation. Each morning, I face the day with eagerly looking forward to what lies ahead, and after all that transpires, my mind blurs the tiredness that gives in to a good night’s sleep.
Anticipation – it hasn’t failed, it hasn’t disappointed.
My vacation in the Philippines has taken me to UP Diliman in Quezon City, Naga and Legazpi in the Bicol region, Rosario in La Union, Baguio, Calamba and Los Baños in Laguna, and other metropolitan areas of Manila. I have stayed in homes of family members and relatives and various hotels. Like a traveling sales person or a business person on the go, I have experienced “living in the suitcase”. There’s always something different and something new almost every day. Nothing boring, nothing uninteresting, nothing stale. The price of “hectic” is far from weary. The bonus is exciting, fun, heartwarming and more. Most endearing is the bonding created from frequent meet-ups with family and kinsfolks, as well as friends. With the chats and stories, no matter how many times repeated, nothing gets old.
My first stopover during my arrival in late January was Las Piñas, Manila, home of my niece Hazel and her husband Larry. A comfortable 2-storey building at the end of a cul de sac, Hazel’s front yard features an old jeepney turned into an artistic showcase of agricultural and ornamental plants arranged in a pilot model designed for agro-economic and environmental ventures powered by re-cycled combustion engine. Larry’s project has attracted considerable attention from the communities, scholarly pundits, government and media. His vision is not short of art. What initially was an “eye sore” (old, unused jeepney) is transformed into an attractive and well laid out contraption that highlights natural growth and beauty flourishing in abundance in a controlled eco-system.
Of course, the nightly chats and catching up at Hazel’s home were most interesting, so vibrant that we found ourselves trekking to bed at 3 or 4 in the mornings.
I had to get used to the breakfasts – delectable arrays of a variety of offerings that included sinangag (garlic fried rice), fried daing (dried fish), crispy bacon, sunny-side up eggs, tomatoes, etc. At home in Palo Alto, CA, breakfasts were simple and straightforward: milky coffee and sweet bread. But whatever was in front of me in Hazel’s house, I ate.
The dinner at my niece Melodee Karen’s place at BF Homes was a culinary delight. Having arrived late after a much-needed 2-hour nap, my eyes were drawn to a rich and fluffy brown cake so inviting, that I yielded to eating more than my initial intent for a slight taste. With a weak resolve, that cake could have been my dinner. But I ate other dishes. I was hungry, having just awakened from a 2-hour sleep.
My stay in Las Piñas, or wherever I went, was made more comfortable by my travel companions, my brother Tzetzu and his wife Rorie. I shall be ever grateful to them.