holding my mother’s hand
In my arms
I wish she’d be
I reach out
Only a shadow I see
I am not void of rue
I ache to hold you
Steady and safe
Never out of sight
Time must turn back!
That I may cease to pine
For one who was mine
Her love eternal and pure.
As night faded away
So did she
In her frailty
She let go
In her arms,
I breathed my first
In my arms
She breathed her last.
It’s the dry season in this tropical part of the world. At this time, monsoon rains are raging somewhere. Schools (except some universities) are on holiday, too. What could be a more ideal time to hold a family reunion than now. Therefore, you’ll find that in the Cordillera Region of the Philippines, a lot of Igorot clans organise such an important event during the months of April and May.
It should be a massive gathering for this Kankanaey clan that I proudly belong to. I am grateful to those who have painstakingly put this family tree together, which I’m sure took some years of research. I am now aware of my definite place within six sub-clans.
The sixth family reunion was held just a few days ago where it all started: Balakbak, Kapangan, Benguet in the Philippines. I am emotional as I write this because I wasn’t there. The one and only clan reunion I have ever been to was the fifth. It was a year ago when I flew halfway ’round the globe and took a grueling 10-hour road trip just to be there. I may have been half-asleep but immensely glad and proud that I made it.
Surrounded by the Hometown Fortress, my family danced, ate, chatted and took photos together. Just like last year but with more memories to look back to.
I have no excuses for not being a regular attendee to my family reunions. But like many other traditions, it should not be allowed to die out. The sad fact though is that a lot of us either live far away or lead busy working lives in the city. So a big kudos to those who make it and try to keep the tradition afloat.
My family is important to me. Blood is the tie that that binds us. Reunions make the tie unbreakable.
Apo Whang-od continues to catch the attention of not only the locals but the international community as well. She may not even be aware that her extraordinary story has reached way beyond borders.
Many visitors found the long journey to see and experience her hand-tattooing skills totally worthwhile.
By the sea
I live and breathe
With the waves
I play and seek
Keypads, the tube and minecraft
I need not
The raft, an oar and nature
This corner of the world, I reign
I cruise, fearless and happy
In this home I own.
Judge me not, you see
My life is not less
but beautiful and free!
The building has seen better days but I now consider it a landmark.
This is the first and only Catholic Church that I have known in my hometown of Balakbak, Kapangan, Benguet, Philippines. It has spanned four generations (and counting) of my lifetime. It is a pleasant surprise that it’s able to withstand the test of time.
Here’s something else to behold: Hometown Fortress
I’ve been hesitant about sharing this one other wonder of nature. I guess I’ve seen enough of what happens when some individuals exploit the very thing they admire. I prefer that the world remains oblivious to its existence. Nevertheless, let me put my negativity aside and find the right words to justify such beauty and splendour.
There was a time when I have braved the cold, almost frosty mornings to trek to that opposite hill and capture a stunning scene of clouds which to me, seemed to have descended from the sky to kiss and tame Dakiwagan’s gargantuan frame. I have lingered long enough to watch the same clouds dissipate, while the sun maneuvered its way to envelope and waken a slumbering gigantic rock! A priceless panorama!
Dakiwagan is like an enormous mural on someone’s wall. It is the neighborhood’s awesome backdrop and at daytime, it appears to be keeping watch as the folks go about their daily routine wherever they may be; at home, the hills, the farm or the ricefields. I have wandered around this humble hometown of mine with the view of the mountain always visible at every turn.
As the day draws to a close, it gets engulfed in darkness and at first glance, becomes ominous. I have always accorded it a second look and my heart comfortably likened it to a fortress that shelters its people through the night.
I feel blessed that this magnificence is a part and parcel of my childhood. I took it for granted for a long time. But with more and more people exploring further than the common tourist spots, I now feel very protective of this hidden gem.
Photo credits: dehl/rizza