Homeward Bound

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We’re leaving in four hours for our annual 12-hour drive to our hometown for Lent. I’ve been busy preparing for the trip because unlike in the past, this is going to be such a major production — the dogs are coming with us.

It’s both ‘Yey, we’re bringing them to the beach!’ and ‘There’s going to be chaos inside the car! For 12 hours!’. Because I can’t share in the driving duties, I’m in charge of the little savages and I probably won’t have time for much else, including snapping photos along the way.

These are pictures I took this time last year of the usual roadside scenery just before we reach Sorsogon. It’s harvest time so the rice fields are green and gold and calming and, though not as majestic as other landscapes, really beautiful. 🙂

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I hope you all have a calm and peaceful week ahead. 🙂

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Hot Air

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Last weekend, we drove to Clark Field in Pampanga (a province north of Manila) for the 18th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. We arrived early enough but there was already a huge crowd milling about. As I fiddled with the camera, I enviously eyed the ones who were able to secure a good spot for the expected photo ops and complained to the husband that everyone around me seemed too tall! 😀

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To signal the start of the festival, skydivers jumped from a light plane, one of them with the Philippine flag. We then spent the rest of the morning  with our eyes glued to the sky, enjoying the sight of colorful balloons and paragliders and getting mightily impressed with the daring of aeronautical acrobats. Like everyone else who had a gadget (or two) in hand, I just clicked and clicked away.

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I’ll post pictures of the cute balloons next time. 🙂

Fruits from a Southeast Asian Garden

My memories of childhood summers always include the tambis. One of the bigger trees  in our garden, the tambis or macopa (water/rose apple) was also the only one in our street and bore so much fruit that it gave us our version of a lemonade stand. Every summer afternoon, my sisters and I would set up a small table in front of our gate, arrange the tambis in pyramids and sell them to neighborhood kids for about ten centavos per three pieces.

We also had aratiles and guava trees and our playmates were free to pick a few from those. (I remember that guava tree. I kept peeling off the top layer of its trunk because it was always smoother underneath — a victim of my misdirected quest for neatness even in nature.)

The fruit trees in my mother’s garden are especially prolific now that it’s summer. Around this time, neighborhood kids regularly come around and ask if they can pick aratiles or hagis or tambis. Ma always says yes but also always with a warning for them to leave some on the trees or else, heh. Some things never change. 🙂

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My Mini-Guide to Summer Fun in the Philippines

Since it is already summer over here and everyone is raring to go on weekend vacations, I’ve compiled my posts on a few domestic destinations and activities I tried during the past year. I hope it’ll help you plan your summer activities, whether you’re a fellow Pinoy or someone planning to visit my country.

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Misa de Gallo (Pre-Dawn Mass)

Merry Christmas! This day, December 16, is considered the official start of the Christmas season in the Philippines. During the very early hours of the morning (literally before the gallo or rooster crows), millions troop to  churches all over the country to hear the first of the pre-dawn masses celebrated daily until the 23rd. Traditional belief is that if one manages to attend all eight pre-dawn masses plus the midnight mass on Christmas eve, one will have a wish granted on Christmas Day.

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Christmas Shopping at the ‘Tiangge’

Weeks before Christmas, bazaars (locally known as tiangge — pronounced “chang-ge”) become one of the more ubiquitous sights in the urban and town centers in the Philippines. A tiangge  is a group of stalls that are set up temporarily in open spaces or  sometimes permanently (and more conveniently) inside large, air-conditioned buildings. They are especially popular at this time of the year and during fiestas and festivals.

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Pasasalamat

There is no such thing as a thanksgiving day in the Philippines. What we have are separate fiestas that celebrate the bountiful harvest and produce of various towns. There’s also Eidul Fitr, a day of thanksgiving for our Muslim countrymen. But no national thanksgiving day.

And that’s too bad because we’d do well to have one. Most of us for most of the year are unforgiving of ourselves and of others, cynical about systems and what-have-yous, and suspicious of our government and that traffic light that turns red every time we’re almost at the intersection. Some even make a daily living out of being snarky (morning AM radio, anyone?).  A day to break away from all that will be a blessed relief.

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