From Here to There and Back

Visiting my hometown and my province made me more grateful about a lot of things in life. Especially things that I sometimes take for granted or some things that I forget after living in a world of convenience. I even get to appreciate walking, since walking is a part of everyday life in my hometown. They go to work, they walk, go to the stores, they walk, we walked everywhere, well, almost everywhere, if not walking distance we would ride the jeepneys and tricycles. It was so fun to be able to roam around the familiar places, seeing and meeting familiar faces. Well, a lot of changes of course with the places and people and so I didn't recognize some people. I saw new faces, new growing kids. The kids that I use to know have already grown up and even have their own kids now. Time has gone so fast. Changes are truly inevitable. Prices have soared up high since the last time I was there. Fares for public transportation have quadrupled.

Well, being there had a certain familiar feeling to it, but at the same time I felt like a stranger to my own hometown. Years of being away really makes a lot of difference. The people I used to know, have traveled milestones. They have their own lives now. It was almost like getting to know again my very own hometown. New buildings and new houses have been built already. New faces, new neighbors have moved in. The young kids I used to know are the grown ups already and are teaching to the high school where I studied. Others are working in the municipal hall. Others are politicians. Looking back to our younger years, you couldn't tell who's gonna be successful in the future. Meeting my former highschool classmates makes me realize how far we have gone in life. Some of them are now married with kids and are working as cops, as accountants, as professionals. Others, just graduated from law school, others pursuing nursing studies which seems to be the trend. Still, some others still have same lives since the last time I saw them. Meeting these people made me feel like a stranger. They are familiar yet, strangers to me after all these years. It's a different feeling.

I have observed during my short stay in Baguio that they don't follow written signs by the roads especially the sign that says " No loading, No Unloading Zone". Jeepneys stop and unload and load passengers right where the sign is, which I found ridiculous the first time I saw it.They don't take the written signs seriously, not only in baguio but everywhere else. In the province, it's very important to know how much the fare to your destination. They could trick you into paying more than what you should pay. I have noticed that a lot of these tricycles and buses and jeepneys seem to compete for passengers. It's not good to look like a tourist when roaming around since people try to trick you.

It was brutally hot when I was there that handkerchiefs or small towels and umbrellas come in handy. I was there at the peak of the summer heat. In May, it starts raining mostly at later part of the day like in the afternoons. June, the rainy season starts which could last till November. Going to the lowlands, like Isabela and the valleys where it's flat proved to be hotter compared to the elevated parts of the country like Baguio and Ifugao which are about ten degrees cooler.

My trip to Quezon province was such an experience.Too bad I didn't have a lot time and so, I had to rush. The trip back and forth to Manila was like seven to eight hours total. It was an interesting trip, the pahiyas was well toured by a lot of people so much so that we had a hard time getting from one place to another without having to squeeze in between herds of people and vehicles. It's a very colorful and famous festivity. I didn't get to see the whole event since we had to go back to Manila after a gruelling two hours of walking under the sizzling sun just so we could see the parades of ornamented houses. The ornaments were composed of edible foods and crops like rice grains, pineapples, string beans, coconut's, tomatoes and all farm goods since it's a harvest festival. Farmers give thanks to the patron saint San Isidro Labrador for great harvests. I have noticed that on our way to the pahiyas we passed by a vast plantation of coconuts. So, the along the bus routes and in the public transportations, you'll see a lot of people selling buko pies and other coconut products like macapuno. Something I am already familiar with since they sell them along the roads of Nueva Vizcaya, town one has to pass by when traveling to Manila from Isabela or Ifugao, it's also same route going to Baguio.
While roaming around Lucban, I have noticed that a lot of things are made of coconut leaves like the straw hats, slippers, bags,coin purses, a lot of things.I was able to glimpse at the famous Banahaw mountain. It was such a cool experience although the weather wasn't so cool. My friends sent me home longanisa and suman as take home pasalubong.

I would definitely like to explore other places the next time I go on vacation in the Philippines. One of the places that was on my list was Batad. It is located in my very own province, I just didn't have time to go since one should spend a few days there. It's supposed to be very rural without electricity and of course mountain climbing involved. There are a lot of places that I wanted to see next time but if hubby comes along, my list might have to be shortened since he can't take long hours and days of traveling especially if the weather is not pleasant. We'll see next time. Next time might be a few years, that will give me time to save and plan for the next trip.

Actually my first stop over was Hongkong. I spent three days there roaming around places that I am familiar with. I remember that I felt no longer petite the first time I went out the crowded streets of Hongkong. I honestly felt regular size wise when I looked around, people were smaller, the Asian size like myself. I didn't feel small at all. My only problem was not being able to read Chinese, so I had to go look for places to eat where the menus were written in English. The first place I saw was KFC. Even if I didn't want to eat chicken I had to eat there because the small restaurants menus were all in Chinese. I walked around and went to places, but as I said, a lot of the signs and labels are written in Chinese except some that has the English translations. I went to meet my aunt at Lok Fu where the wet and dry markets are. I had been to this place a lot of times before so I was familiar with the routes. The very common transportation to get around Hongkong is the underground train MTR and buses. All you have to do is to familiarize yourself with the routes, it's best to equip yourself with the maps and got to know the number of the buses and their bus stops. Taxi cabs are also everywhere, you got to know their color codes. Red taxis go to the Kowloon area, other colors have a designated destinations if you are coming from the airport. Most of the time, we went around walking, shopping. It wasn't a very hard for me to walk around by myself since I had been there before. Of course there are changes, but I could get around.

My next stop was my hometown, Kiangan in the Ifugao province. I was able to appreciate the beauty of the town where I spent most of my childhood. Surrounded by mountains and breath taking sceneries that I took for granted before. Like what most people do over there since they see it everyday. Too bad all the photos I took from my town were gone. So, I am left without photogenic,I mean photographic evidences.Except this which I took few years ago, the last time we were there. I have to make sure I will have a lot of pix the next time I go there.

I was able to see a very close friend of mine in her own small town. It was such a very emotional meet up, because she had been a very close friend since our school days. So much things have happened to her life too. She's already married and is on her way while taking care of her sister's son. Her sister is in Dubai working. It was shocking for me to meet her husband. I didn't expect that she would end up marrying this guy. Well, I know him,not personally but in a small town where everybody knows each other, he's not a stranger to me. It's terrible for me to say but I was a bit disappointed to meet the guy she married. I know I'm bad, it's just that I was expecting someone better. Oh well, it's none of my beeswax.

After spending a few days in Baguio, I went to Isabela. But before that, Baguio seemed a lot crowded way back when I was a student. The once empty lot, stands a tall plaza. Even vehicles and taxis have increased in numbers. More people crowded Session Road. And the Baguio mall is attracting a lot of people from neighboring towns like Pangasinan, Benguet, La Union, San Fernando and of course even manila and from the provinces. It was crowded when I went to meet up with friends at Goldilocks. It was a long walk from Harrison Road all the way up Governor Pack Road. So much so that when we got there, I was drenched with sweat. Luckily it was like ten degrees lower compared to the heat in Manila. As usual I went roaming around Burnham park and to the Wagwagan stalls and to the dry market at Hill Top. I didn't stay there longer, I wish I could have since the person I was suppose to meet had other things to do. I didn't go to Q.M. and Quarry, I wanted to go up Lourdes grotto too.Oh, well.

Isabela, I stayed in Alicia and helped my sister and brother with their small garden stall. I didn't know that plants and flowers were so famous. Mostly I suffered the heat as I insisted on walking around. I get bored just hanging out and watching people walking by. I enjoyed buko juice so much when I was there. Lots of mangoes too, green as well as ripe mangoes. After a few days of stay there I had to go back to Kiangan and pack my things for my trip to Manila. The bus took off at evening time, so it was a night trip. I tried to sleep in the bus since it wasn't too crowded, but had a hard time getting comfortable. I probably slept for a few hours but that's about it. It was already four in the morning when I got to Manila.

The rest of my travel was spent on planes and airports. The next thing I know I was back here with hubby collecting my lugages and welcoming me back home. And my first complain was that I miss Filipino food. Of course I brought me with me some souveniers from my trip.


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