Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Malasag Gardens, Cagayan de Oro. Photo by Dylan Gozum (April 2007)

Dear readers,

Summer holds a very special place in my heart. Summer almost always means travel and methinks I inherited the travel itch from my mother and when I was much younger, we’d always find time to do just that (travel, not itch).

Most memorable among the weird trips we took was the bus ride from Surigao to Pasay City in Luzon aboard a Philtranco bus. This was when PAL was the only airline flying and limited as flights were, most Filipinos would resort to taking the boat or as the case may be, the bus. The thing is, our bus never reached Cagayan de Oro because it was held up somewhere on its last leg in the Visayas so we had to take a bus to Surigao, east of Northern Mindanao, and take our chances there. Since we were not exactly creatures of comfort, we opted to sleep and wait it out on rented folding beds beneath the starry sky until it was announced at dawn that a bus has finally arrived to take us in. Two ferry boat transfers, a kilometric land trip, crash course on several local dialects, and 4 travel days later, we found ourselves sitting on the floor of the Pasay terminal in sheer exhaustion. Guess what? I would do it all over again if I had the chance to.

In high school and early part of college, I would spend summers in Del Monte’s Cawayanon compound in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. It is said that Frankie Miñoza, the Philippines’ legendary male golfer, used to be a caddie here. In fact, on a busy day, you can hear whacks from clubs and balls crashing into the garden outside your window. I loved this place for its solitude where, for the most part, you only hear birds, crickets and the mountain wind rushing through pine and mahogany trees. When not looking for lost balls among the shrubs, I would fish at the nearby lake every Wednesday afternoon. On other days, we’d be picking mangosteen, macopa or sineguelas. We also make trips to the organic garden behind the house (only an expanse of green grass separated us). There, you can pick vegetables straight from the plant and chat a windstorm with the staff.

Equally enjoyable was my habit of watering the plants in midday because you can always create instant rainbows during this time when the sun is at its peak (fine mist against sunlight produce rainbows. Bet you didn’t know that!). The saddest part in this exercise would be finding dead birds. As the wide hall of the house is protected by almost invisible screens, birds would sometimes fly straight into them leading to their eventual demise. There is nothing more poetic than finding dead birds. It’s almost something straight out of a Willem van Aelst painting – a heartbreaking solemn moment.

At any rate, I still cherish summers not just for the thrills but also for the memories that they bring back. I pray that your summers are just as special.



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