I would've really loved to write a series of posts about my trip to Las Islas Filipinas, but I reckon that would be way too indulgent, especially coz I'd just whine like there's no tomorrow, as expected from me.
So I thought I might as well dump everything in... observations, whining, bitching, and every random, top of the head inanity I can muster. Let's start, shall we?
First things first... Of course there's no homecoming trip without me wishing so bad to splash vats and vats of acid at the management and staff of the airports in Las Islas Filipinas, in particular NAIA Terminal 3, which I used this time around. I don't want to describe in full the inconvenience that passengers like me go through every time I use our airports. I just wish hell is big enough for the people managing and running them.
My stay in Las Islas was filled with prayers for the dead. We prayed for nine days during my dad's wake and then more prayers EVERYDAY at the cemetery for about three weeks and then more prayers for nine days leading to the 40th day after his death.
There was this woman Vita who leads the prayers in Cebuano AND Latin, the latter in crisp Cebuano accent. I always wondered how much of the Latin prayers she understood but she could without skipping a beat recite by memory the whole prayer.
There's also a string of litanies that recall the gory death of Christ, such as: Hesus ko tungod sa imong kilid nga nabukas sa tungod sa pagbuno sa imong kilid nga gilugwaan sa dugo ug tubig. And then there's also a set of prayers about the morning star (bituon sa kabuntagon), the gate of heaven (pultahan sa langit), the golden house (balay nga bulawan), the mystical rose (rosa mystica), virgin of virgins (birhen sa tanang birhenes), and so on.
All these are very fascinating to me, and once I got into the rhythm of the repetition they do have a calming effect even if I couldn't make sense of the whole ritual.
Speaking of rituals, we did manage to visit the grave of my dad everyday, with flowers and candles in tow (or at least as long as the weather permits us to do so). Obviously, I'm not a spiritual person. I believe we're all matter and we all vanish once we die.
But of course for my family and relatives, visiting my dad at the cemetery is a must, especially coz the prayers were held there. My aunts and mom even talk to my dad's grave. I see this as part of the mourning process for them especially coz it's a ritual that we do together at the same time and must have bearing on sharing the grief with your loved ones.
I spent about five weeks in Surigao coz I decided to stay over for Christmas and New Year. I was afraid that the holidays would be hard for my mom and some emotional support might be of value to her. Besides, December 29 was also their wedding anniversary.
Despite the death of my dad, we still managed to celebrate Christmas, New Year, and their wedding anniversary and my sister's birthday (both of which fall on the same day). My mom got through these occasions quite well, I'm happy to report.
Like in most cases, I assume, the funeral of my dad became a chance for the relatives to gather. His sisters from Europe came home as well as a dozen other relatives from everywhere. While we were deep in grief, it was nonetheless pleasant to meet again many of my cousins, aunts, and uncles from both sides of the family, many of whom I haven't seen in ages.
I also realized I have quite a number of nieces and nephews already (from my cousins). It's strange to be called tito (uncle) by these little creatures who looked like my cousins when we were much younger. Ewww...
I also met a few classmates from high school and university who went home to Surigao for the holidays. It's strange that many of them are married already. Two of my classmates from high school even married each other. And while I was in Surigao one of my high school classmates also got married.
Surigao was bloody rainy. I used to terribly miss the weather back home but experiencing how wet it actually is I had to reconsider if it's what I want exactly.
Gosh, did I tell you Surigao is rainy?
On my first week in Surigao I bought my self a mountain bike, which I used to go around the city. For a couple of days the sun came out so I biked to the beach where I got a good sun burn on my back. I love it!
But aside from those two days of sun we mostly had rain and more rain. I did not have any choice but to stay at home and grow a tummy (BTW, did I tell you how much I ate while at home? I swear I'm already obese as I type this).
It rained like crazy on New Year's eve . There were no fireworks. Some parts of the city were flooded. It was two days before I left for Bangkok and I was terribly worried that my flight would be canceled.
I had some serious issues when I was in Surigao. I was overwhelmed by the lack of privacy and time for my self. The house is always brimming with people (some relatives, house helpers, relatives of the house helpers, etc.). And then the relatives who came to visit had to be attended to as well, although that was quite minimal. But with the stress of the funeral all these pressure mounted.
I wanted to escape from people once in a while, but I did not have that luxury. So I was mostly annoyed at the constant presence of people around me. I don't understand why they have to be so noisy (everyone's talking at the top of their voice) and nosy (many asked when I'm getting married... WHAT DRUGS ARE THEY ON or they're just simply BLIND???).
Also, I still don't understand why every time I'm in Las Islas Filipinas I always feel like the whole place is bloody crowded and noisy.
In this trip for instance, there's a constant din of random, deafening noise, e.g. tricycles, karaoke machines, Angelus broadcast all over the subdivision, kids singing Christmas carols, crying babies, etc. And because it's Christmas the city was crowded with people doing some serious shopping and beggars roaming around the city plaza, which was decked with gaudy Christmas lights and decors (hello, a snowman made of styrofoam in the middle of rainy Surigao!???).
However, my most serious issue is still the lack of some decent private time and space at home. I would not mind such a set up if I'm just visiting for a week but not for five bloody weeks, chai mai?
On my first week in Surigao I was seriously wishing I could go back to Bangkok already. But obviously I have obligations to my mom. Still it does not stop me from looking at the calendar first thing every morning, counting the days before my flight to Bangkok.