Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Siargao in My Mind

My anorexic sister recently went home to Surigao for the holidays, her first time to spend Christmas with the family in years. She also made a side trip to Siargao Island where my mom originally comes from. In fact my sister was also born in Siargao many, many, many years ago (yeah, she is that old... buwahahaha).

Ok, some introduction to Siargao Island first... like where the hell is it in the map? See below.

Photos from Google Maps

Well as you can tell, it pretty much sits on the eastern edge of Las Islas Filipinas, peering on the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. Strong typhoons and monsoon rains continuously batter that side of the Philippines almost year-round.

Because of the strong winds Siargao Island rose to fame as the surfing capital of the country. Its pristine beaches, outlying islets, mountains, and mangrove forests are also some of its attractions.

Despite the beauty of the island, tourism hasn't caught up fast enough (as far as I know) - and I don't know if it's a good thing or not. Infrastructure is still in poor state, making access to the island quite tedious and time-consuming.

Much of the income of the people still comes from fishing and coconut and rice farming, which are not big industries either.

Recently my sister posted on the net some of her photos of her trip to Siargao and the images brought to mind my summers in the island. Our parents used to ship us to my grandma's house in Caridad (one of the small villages in Siargao) every time school's out and we stay with our Nanay for a couple of months or so.

Most of my time in Siargao was spent playing with my cousins and there was no better place to cool ourselves from the heat of the summer sun than the beach. We spent hours and hours in the tidal pools that come out during low tide. I learned how to swim in those tidal pools when I was about six years old. Humongous waves roared in the distance where the tidal flat drops abruptly into the depths of the Pacific.

My cousins, my siblings, and I did not emerge from water until our Nanay came hurrying down the beach with a stick in one hand, threatening to beat us if we did not go home. But she never did of course. We used to get horribly painful sun burns from staying under the sun for hours on end though.

If we were not in the beach, we roamed around the small village, making friends. We would sit by the road waiting for a carabao to pass by. When one came around, we usually requested the owner of the carabao for a short ride to nowhere in particular.

With coconuts bountiful in my Nanay's farm, we also had afternoons gorging on young coconut meat and refreshing ourselves with fresh coconut water. Otherwise my Nanay cooked us bananas for afternoon snack.

Oh, afternoons were always dreadful for us coz my Nanay insisted that we took a nap when all we wanted to do was swim in the sea or run around the rice fields. But somehow she would always get her way.

When electricity did not reach the island yet, we lit kerosene lamps in the evening, while having fish for dinner. Sometimes we had huge crabs and lobsters as treats. After dinner we would sit outside the house under a blanket of stars while enjoying the humid Pacific breeze.

Sleeping time was usually eight in the evening. I remember sleeping on a mat under a mosquito net. It was always eerily silent in the evening as most people go to bed early as well.

My Nanay liked getting a massage from me almost every night. I only did this if I get a story in return. My favorite stories were about my mother and her siblings. We would always have fun interrogating her on who's the most hard-headed among her kids. It turned out that my mom was pretty well-behaved coz she was the oldest among the four children.

The small church in Caridad where my parents got married 31 years ago. I swear it has not changed much since I last saw it.

My Nanay's house, totally unchanged as well.

My Nanay. Did I hear someone say botox?

I've always considered my summers in Caridad as my best childhood memories. Of course the nurturing care of our Nanay was the best part of it all. Also, we had the freedom to play and just be children.

The last time I was in Caridad was 2005.

So when I went through the pics that my sister took, memories of our happy days as children in Caridad just seemed clearer again. If anything, it made me smile and a bit wistful.

Now my cousins and I have taken various paths and are hardly in contact anymore. My Nanay, who must be in her mid 70s now, seems to go frail as the years go by (I only see her on webcam these days).

Courtesy of my skinny sister (and I'm proud of her!), I also want to share some of her holiday pictures of the family during the holidays.

My sister with Don, her boyfriend of eight years (sakto ba ako yot?).

La Familia. Those red curtains need to be burned ASAP!
Standing: my cousin Dave, his mom Caridad (yeah, also the name of the village where they grew up!), and my sister.
Sitting: my obese brother Dwight, his girlfriend of seven years, my obese mom, my cousin Iris, and my dad.

All photos are by my sister.


fuchsiaboy said...

ay nostalgia! midlife crisis, isdatchu?

now i wanna know the rest of the stories about this:

"If we were not in the beach, we roamed around the small village, making friends."

what exactly are involved when you were 'making friends', huh?

Lyka Bergen said...

Its Christmas all year round with the red and green curtains in ur house. Pero may character ang house ng Nanay mo sa pic ha! Love ur sis. Pwede syang damitan!

Jase/"Gayzha" said...

You are blessed to have grown in a tropical paradise island with very close,loving and beautiful family!

No wonder they have produced an exotic one of a kind model daughter :)

Thanks for sharing ... Sometimes these beautiful childhood memories overcomes our being, and makes us truly happy!

me said...

awwww. you miss them and you want to go see them and you're too proud to say it.

and yes.. please do remind Nanay to burn those freaky curtains :)

the spool artist said...

the curtains are actually very oscar de la renta... in fashion din pala si ermat mo...

it have always wanderlusted about siargao and it was a pleasant surprise to know you're from there! Maybe i have to drag don for a holiday there this year!

kiel said...

i agree kay lyka na BY ang sis. pero parang bagay kami ng obese brother mo...hahaha

Quentin X said...

I have lived in Siargao for some time just after the big fire in Dapa around 1980. I was there back in the day when there was limited public transport and people would fill a jeep like mushrooms all around it. I remember the bedroom ceiling decorated with patches of dark soot from the kerosene lamp. This is way too nostalgic, 'yot. I must admit, I remember being in Pilar once but I have not been to Magpupungko. We always go to nearby GL. I have not been to Suhoton cave either. Last I was there was in 2007. Good Old San Nicolas School is no longer there. I was only there for a year before I moved to Cebu. The kids at Dapa Central don't have to bring bolos (machete) to school anymore. :-) I am so used to gardening with one that I had to ask mum to bring me one down here in Australia.

kawadjan said...

donita: hahaha. ano ba?! di pa ako namulat sa mundo ng kalibugan noong araw.

lyka: damitan mo sya when you go to manille.

jase: thanks to siargao naging certified EXOTIC mermaid ako no. hahaha.

sarah: di ako homesick no. not at all, especially if ang uuwian kong bahay eh chaka ang curtains.

loven: ay naku, go na. manganda ang lugar! perfect for photoshoot, i swear. wala nga lang magagarang hotel doon.

kiel: weird no, i have an anorexic sister and an obese brother. at least ako healthy ang self image ko. yun na!

quentin: ayna mag-SONA man lagi sa comments section. love it!

Cling said...

Yot, this reminds me of my "What I did last summer" essays way back in Surigao City Pilot School. Happy!


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