I'm on my second week of a three-week holiday in Las Islas Filipinas. While I have quite a bit of things to share on this blog, I'll first tell you about my short trip to Siargao Island (Tuesday to Thursday this week).
My mom's home barrio of Caridad is on Siargao Island, east of Surigao City. My cousins, sister, brother, and I used to spend our summer holidays there, getting sun burned all the time from playing too much on the beach, which faces the Pacific Ocean. We ran around in the rice fields and coconut groves and loved riding on water buffaloes.
Those summer trips in Siargao always meant so much fun although it was far from unbridled because my grandmother always compelled us to take afternoon naps or to go home as soon as the sun set. When I think of my fondest memories of my childhood I think of those summers in Caridad.
For this trip, I wanted to get a slice of the place once again, after all I haven't visited Caridad for maybe 14 years. My grandmother does not live there anymore though and my cousins could hardly fit a trip there.
It's quite amazing how little of my grandmother's house has changed. It has the same old cabinets, although they've been ravaged by termites. They are all beaten too by the harsh ocean breeze. But they have somehow managed to stay intact after few repairs.
I was fascinated to find that they have kept some old kerosene lamps, which have been rendered useless since electricity arrived on the island. I couldn't help my self from taking photos of these various old stuff.
On my first morning there I made it a point to wake up early to catch the sun rise on Caridad's beach. Oh the place of wonder when we were young!
We spent so much time taking a dip in its many pools that are revealed when the tide is low while huge waves crash in the distance. I could still easily find where they are and the rocks from which we dove. In fact, I first learned how to swim in one of the deep tidal pools when I was about 7 years old. I also remember catching tiny, flat, and transparent fish and those spindly and soft starfishes that used to scare the shit out of one of my cousins.
A few kilometres from Caridad is Magpupungko Beach, perhaps the area's main tourist landmark of a huge rock perching on top of what looks like a pedestal.
And then I stumbled into a few relatives who have stayed in the barrio. They told me of their memories of my cousins and me when we used to stage dance programs on boring, electricity-less nights and how we used torches as stand-in for spotlights. It's fascinating how many of them recognised me simply because of my supposed strong resemblance to my mom.
The trip certainly made me feel nostalgic of those carefree days, well, under the careful and loving watch of our grandmother.
While there are many familiar aspects of the island that remain unchanged, I've noticed several improvements. For one, now the barrio has a high school instead of the kids walking 6 kilometres to the nearest one. Also, the highway has been just recently paved with concrete. There are also more water pumps to serve the residents, which it appears is growing like mad!
Needless to say I had an amazing time in Caridad. It was great to reconnect with my childhood memories. And I'm also happy to see that it is moving forward in the right direction (if only they could stop making too many babies though).