A Certain Beach of Grey Sand, and Memories

Dear Reader,

There’s this familiar beachfront of coconut trees, grey sand, and memories at Oroquieta City. There was old lady who would wake up every morning, and would sweep the beach clean. By midmorning she would sit on a bench by the entry, and watched people go by. A gentleman for her husband would come out of the house, and to check on the extract collected from the coconut trees that makes coconut wine, and eventually some “suka“. They were simple folks — grew fruits, and vegetables, tended farm animals in their little property, and had far too many cats, and dogs around their house.

Today, what used to be a beach resort is striped off of cottages, and tables for rent, a bold signage of a closed resort, and an open entryway for people to view the beach stands unwavering for years now. The coconut trees sways with the sea breeze still, some outrigger boats by the shore, and the sand is of the same grey like the last time I came for a visit. The old lady has passed away, and her husband also did — on the same day she took her last breathe two years later. The beach really is not that much, but the memories I had there, and the people are who my heart is fond of are. Sometimes we attached places with memories of the  people we love. Last weekend, I went to Oroquieta again, and I told the pedicab driver of the house I’m visiting. I was shocked he said the name of this already close down beach resort to affirm where I wanted to be taken. Yes, I miss the old lady, and the gentleman.

DAPITAN CITY | The Guy in Black Suit. No he’s not James Bond!

So I told my travel buddies of the side trip for Dapitan City that I was taking. None of them woke up early the next day to join me despite my probing the night before. Somehow, I found myself being the only early bird of the ZaNorte travel bunch. I was okay with that. I figured it would be one of those one-arm bandit move with a video slot machines. The ones that you just hope that the icons matches up for a win. For this though, it was holding a camera with one hand like a player would the pokies handle, and banking on the energy, and creativity out of me like it would the money in one’s pocket, and hope. Because even in games like these in life you hope for some jackpot — I was hoping to get a nice experience at this. So I told myself, this was a game of chance. Either I’ll enjoy the trip by myself, or regret having gone solo. 
My first stop was to visit Rizal’s Shrine. It was early at 6AM, too early that I was the first one in the compound. The caretakers had been very accommodating, and answered to my queries about anything that popped into my head. Seeing his clinics, house structures of which he used when he was residing there during his exile were a bit stage to comprehend. You know, that a national hero would have used them, and there you were going around, and about it.
I found the Mi Retiro Rock casting dark shadows on the pool it was at the center of. The light of day has  yet to come out, and there I was the first person who climb, and sat on it’s jagged surface for that day. It is also known as the Lovers Rock, the one that Jose Rizal sat on when he wrote the Mi Retiro poem.
Before I tracked down a recommended eat by the habal-habal driver I talked with, I stopped to check the historical landmark where Jose Rizal disembarked from the steamer “Cebu“. The Jose Rizal’s Disembarkation Site at Sta. Cruz beach was massive, and it stood fitting at on a blue skies backdrop.
I sat on the railings at the balcony facing the beach at this site. Which got me in into deep thoughts, as to why we ever go traveling solo. I do that sometimes, allow myself to get lost in thoughts when I’m on my own. I would try to challenge myself when I gamble my time on travels like these. The kind where I put the stakes up. I had my money on enjoying the exploration alone, and so far I was. If it had been this coming weekend, and not a few months ago, I would have gone out to watch Skyfall at the movie house with friends instead, and ogle  how slick James Bond would be. But it was not. And I was at Dapitan City looking pathetic alone in the large grounds that kept the memory of the country’s national hero alive. No pun intended. I should went there with someone that either had me laughing with humor sky-high, engaged in intellectual conversation, or bored me to death. Instead I was left to my thoughts that could sometimes be as dangerous as movie villains. So I sat there loosely wondered, and thought that Jose Rizal in his black trench coat must “enjoying death” as what James Bond in his  cool, calm, and collected self in black suit said in the movie! =)

You might like to read more of the Dapitan City series post coming up!
The Guy in Black Suit. No he’s not James Bond!

Q: I can do more damage on my laptop in my pyjamas than you can do in a year in the field.
James Bond: Then what do you need me for?
Q: Every now and then a trigger has to be pulled.
James Bond: Or not pulled. It’s hard to know which in your pyjamas. Skyfall (2012)

{ Sole Diaries } Romanticizing the Old with the New

Cagayan De Oro City

October 2012

I do not know why I love visiting churches. This was at Saint Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral, and my first time to go around, stop by, and appreciate Cagayan de Oro on foot. More than religion, and faith is the history that is etched on it’s walls, and it’s age that is shown on the patterns on it’s tiles. So I romanticize the old, with the present, but only because these old structures are but the only witnesses of those years that is left standing today. Maybe it is that, that, somehow they are but windows of the lives of the people that had gone before us, and the sacrifices that they may have done for those living today.

How Filipinos Celebrate Halloween

I was commuting on the way home when I overheard a young family talked about the wife’s mother arriving early from a trip. When they called her, they learned that the reason for her early arrival was that she had a dream of her late husband — and that she just have to visit his grave, say her prayers, and light a candle there come Halloween.
I am bad at delivering scary stories,  so I do not have ghost stories, or dark tourism to share. I can only paint you a picture of how Filipino families celebrate Halloween. It is an interesting sight that you only get to see during this holiday. We call it Undas in Filipino, and from a region with Bisayan dialect, it’s Kalag-Kalag.
Aside from scary costumes on Halloween parties on events, and offices. It is before the year ends when you see vendors lining up on the streets near the cemetery to sell candles and flowers to light and adorn the graves of loved ones who passed away. Families will make their way to the cemetery bringing food, and large umbrellas and setting up sitting areas near the graves, or at the family mausoleums and stay there for a couple of hours, or until the next day. It is chaos — of good kind.
This year, granny asked us to visit her parents. It has been a while since we visited their mausoleum. Being the constant companion of granny when we were young, I was made to lead the way. This time we do not have papa to guide us, and with granny and the trusted house help staying at home — it’s high time to let the great grandchildren of these couple find their way to them in the old public cemetery that was like labyrinth in memory. We visited it yesterday to check if it’s clean, and well-kept, but more so to avoid throngs of people. 
It is also nearly 6 years since papa’s passing. I would visit his grave, and take photos of it to share with my siblings away from home. It has been like that, and my siblings would wait for photos to be uploaded, and look forward for updates, and news from home. I’m always home around these times. This year was no different. We visited his grave early this morning before the sun was high up, and before tents from other families were set up. They will be staying at the grounds of this cemetery for 2 days the most. And the gardens will be filled with laughter from families of jokes told, and recounts of events passed, children running around,  of colorful flowers on the tomb stones, and the flickers of candles on these graves. It is the marry of the dead, and the living.
You get a few days in a year to celebrate loved ones who passed away, the lives they lived, and the ones they left behind. Even at an early preschooler age then, granny would get me to accompany her to visit her  parents, and every relative who passed away. Filipinos, being family oriented, shows how important family is, even as we commemorate our dead during Halloween.

Of offering prayers, remembering them with stories of the past, and leaving lighted candles, and flowers on their final resting places — this year, we found just ourselves. Traditions, and practices handed down, and are now expected to carry them on. I am saddened at the thought of that — it means time, and more is, and will be passing.