Maripipi: A Very Brief Reunion

After almost a decade of being away, I went home on the 27th, not exactly for a vacation but to attend a friend’s wedding, which was on the 28th. It was a really short stay at the island I miss the most but nonetheless, fun and refreshing.

On the 27th, at 9 a.m., I was aboard Seair on the way to Tacloban. Estimated length of travel is an hour and fifteen but we landed at Daniel Romualdez Airport approximately 45 hours after take-off. My friend Jomari met me at the airport and took me to Kuya Kent’s house for lunch.

After a home-cooked meal and a brief siesta, we went to the terminal of Van-Van’s to board a shuttle to Naval, which is the capital of Biliran, my province. It was a 2-hour ride.

Image source: biliran.boards.net

Image source: biliran.boards.net

The sun has set when we reached Naval, hence, there were no more motorboats bound for Maripipi, my hometown. We then took a tricycle to Kawayan, a town directly facing Maripipi. It was a short ride, about half an hour. It was already dark when we reached the port of Kawayan, but the sky was full of stars and the moon was bright, buttery yellow. It was a lovely sight.

Image source: biliranisland.com

Image source: biliranisland.com

Then it sunk on me, I was almost home. The sea wasn’t so rough when we crossed to Maripipi, just a mild swelling of the waves. It was a beautiful summer night. Van Gogh would have fallen in love with it.

If you want to know more about Maripipi, the size, population, livelihood, history and what have you, you can easily use Google and/or Wikipedia. I’m not going to detail those information for you. What you need to know is I grew up in this island and will always consider it home. The town has a close-knit community, and many of the people I love are from and/or here.

Image source: www.flickr.com

Image source: http://www.flickr.com

Recently, the island has become popular to  tourists. They fell in love with the blue waters, especially that of Sambawan.

Image source: greenxplanet.blogspot.com

Image source: greenxplanet.blogspot.com

Since I started my trip back home at early morning, I was pretty beat when I got to the Zafico’s house. That’s where I stayed for the weekend. Polay and Jayby Zafico are my childhood friends, and their parents Nay Delia and Tay Pedring are one of the nicest people in the island, also close friends of my parents. After a dinner filled with catching-up, we headed straight to bed. The sea breeze, crickets and the sound of the waves lulled me to a deep sleep.

I woke up refreshed at around 6, without an alarm, which is kind of a rare thing for me back in the city. The house was already abuzz with the two kids, Dwayne and Jedric, playing at the yard; Nay Delia fixing breakfast; and Polay packing clothes for the beach wedding.

This was the scene directly from where I was sleeping.

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I eagerly took my tablet and went outside, circling the house and took shots. I was like a giddy tourist. This is the mainland of Biliran, a view from the back of the Zafico’s house.

Mainland Biliran

Mainland Biliran

The house stands on a cliff and surrounded with trees. Down below is the sea.

view from the bedroom

Bananas don’t come from the fruit aisle of the grocery. They come from a faraway place.

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Tay Pedring had just finished painting this table. Ain’t she pretty?

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Nay Delia still prefers using a traditional stove for cooking meals in their dirty kitchen rather than the gas-operated one they have inside.

Old school

Old school

After breakfast, we were off to town to board Ma. Lourdes (motorboat), which would take us to Sambawan where the wedding will be held.
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Sambawan is a group of islets, which has white sand and pristine blue waters, home to a diverse marine life. This was recently developed and has been made more accessible to tourists.

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Although, personally, I was disappointed with how they’ve run the development and of their new policies, I’m still grateful to have visited Sambawan again. The last time I was there, I was still in my early teens.

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After the reception and fully enjoying the waters despite the unforgiving heat of the sun, we headed and boarded a motor banca. I was shocked when they initially asked for a 700-peso fee. That was just outrageous. 300 is the usual amount. This is what tourism brings to some people, capitalism and greed. Polay haggled with the banca operator and they agreed on Php 400.

After a quick shower to wash off the salt, Polay and I went back to town. I wanted to visit the church and light candles. It is tradition to do so plus I wanted to offer prayers of thanksgiving that I was able to visit the island again.

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This is the St. Michael Archangel parish church. It stands on a hill directly facing the sea.

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The islanders believe that St. Michael watches over and protects the whole town from natural disasters, pirates and all sorts of bad things.

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I grew up in this church and I love the stained glass windows. I wish I could get married in this church, if only because when you go out of the front door, you’d be facing the sea.

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Early Monday morning, I was aboard Ma. Lourdes again to take me to the mainland. After a short reunion with my island town, I was again on the road back to the city.  While I was on the boat, the sun had exploded into a beautiful array of colors, and so then I started slowly counting the days when I’ll be back.

early morning

Reflections You Need Not Concern Yourself With (But I’m Sharing With You Anyway)

I hope that halaya doesn’t take offense that I’m more of a flan person.It’s nothing personal really. Unless you consider preferences personal. Oh wait, they are.

You know those times when you feel like everything is unreal and that you are being taped, and you can almost hear the canned audience laughter? No? I’m pretty sure my life is a hilarious sitcom. Too bad I don’t star in it. If my life is a series then I’m Ted Mosby’s red telephone booth.

There are weekends when you’re too broke to go out or too tired to dress up or just generally not in the mood to be with people. That’s when you’re confronted by the lifelong question, why are you alone? So then you try to fix your closet and rearrange your room in the hopes to lose the ill thoughts. Then as you lie in your bed tired from the unexpected clean-up, there it creeps again: you are alone while everybody else, couples that is, are dry humping on the dance floor, cuddling or snuggling in bed. But do not give in to despair for in today’s world there are ways to make you feel less alone. All you have to do is go online, order a cheeseburger meal from McDonald’s and a caramel sundae. Because at this day and age, no one is ever truly alone as long as there’s McDonald’s delivery. Don’t forget to tip the delivery guy. He knows where you live.

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If you know me in real life or you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you pretty much have an idea now that my middle name is Awkward. Seriously. It’s like if awkwardness is an Olympic sport, I’d be decorated with medals now. And one of the best places to be awkward is on elevators, especially when there’s another person trapped with you for a couple of seconds. Sometimes I know that I’m just oozing with awkwardness that it either flatters or freaks the other person. I tolerate and forgive those who freak out. Very understandable given my unsure way of standing and/or leaning on the wall and my nervous finger hovering at the emergency button while furtively stealing glances at the other passenger. But to those who are feeling flattered, perhaps thinking I am about to ask for their number, well, don’t flatter yourself too much. I am naturally awkward irrespective of places and people. Nope, nothing special about you. By the way, can anyone tell me what happened to elevator music?

Easter Sunday And All Things Celebratory

Photo source: coolwindsresidences.com

Photo source: coolwindsresidences.com

My Mom was a devout catholic and raised us to observe the lenten tradition. Easter Sunday is widely celebrated in the whole christendom and I remember my Mom waking us up at dawn and dragging us to church for the “sugat” (in Waray) or “salubong” in Tagalog. The event includes Virgin Mary meeting/reuniting with the resurrected Christ with young girls in white singing hymns and throwing flowers to the parishioners. When I was in fifth and sixth grade, I became one of those girls. I remember being so excited to wear a white dress and carry my little basket of flowers like a three-year old flower girl in a wedding.

Just like many catholics (or Christians, for that matter). the whole meaning of Easter was lost on me. To me, Easter marks the end of lent, meaning we can eat meat again and that it was the culmination of the weeklong prayer vigils, stations of the cross, novenas and processions.Surely, those are more than enough reasons for a celebration. The resurrection of Christ is still a mystery to me as is his death and its significance. They keep saying we are celebrating the living God, the ever loving God, the one who loves us unconditionally and has given up His life so that we may be saved.

I want to celebrate Easter the way I did when I was 10 and was wearing a white dress and carrying a basket of flowers. But I can’t. I’m way past innocence and has mourned the church I grew up in. Why is the church who preaches about love condemns the gays? Why wouldn’t it allow women to have choices regarding their own health and well being? Why is it covering up its own transgressions? How can they continue protecting the priests and other church officials who have molested children? How can the church be so wealthy when they preach about being humble and meek and renouncing worldly possessions?

Photo source: gstatic.com

Photo source: gstatic.com

Easter is a new beginning. New beginnings give us hope. Hope is the light that guides us in the darkness that we live in. When everything else is gray and cold, we can hold on to that hope. We can hope that one day things will change for the better. We can hope that one day we would be closer to equality. But until then, we have to do our share and stop bigotry, condemn abuses and respect women and their choices. And when that day comes, I’d probably wear a white dress and carry a basket of flowers.

Happy Easter, everyone!