Wednesday, January 03, 2007

To Ilocos
1st of December, 2006

Written in: Poblacion, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, PHILIPPINES
Composition: Impromptu - recalling something from a month ago.
Previous Post: Lola Ninay

Morning came after a night of highly interrupted sleep. Prior to that, I was awake for 14 straight hours during a time when my body clock was telling me to sleep. Prior to that, I was on a 14 hour Trans Pacific flight crossing the International date line - also with very little sleep.

Yet I felt neither tired nor fatigued. Somehow, it vaguely reminded me of my army days, or during the times when I had to chase a deadline whilst studying broadcasting. It was the kind of sensation where equal parts of uncertainty, vague excitement, and adrenaline induced by an emergency, mixed to prop up a fatigued mind and body for a few more days.

Trouble was, I was heading to my Lola's wake - how long was I going to be able to sustain this before it finally catches up to me? Local custom dictates that at least one person must keep vigil over the casket at any time of a 24 hour day. I was hoping I'd be exempted from this duty.

At around 9am, I finally got a call saying that I had a ride to Ilocos. It was from my Mom's youngest brother, Tito Dodo (Domingo). Initially, his vehicle was full. But a change in plans dictated that he was going to make the trip with only his wife and their youngest daughter, Mikee -Paolo, the eldest; and Ali, the second couldn't make time in their busy exam schedules - leaving a seat open for me in his early 90's Honda Civic.

Uncle Tito saying his condolences to Tito Dodo

Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union, and finally Ilocos Sur -the kilometres, the time, the scenery, the towns and the people went by with relative speed.

I was still excited and exhilirated by the fact that I was travelling towards my mom's hometown. Yet, unlike the Airport to Bulacan trip, and my trip around my hometown, I did not experience the same level of surprise at the scenery that I passed.

I attribute this to four things:

The first reason is that this is the first time in ten years that I am with my Tito Dodo and Tita Nancy - and also the first time I am seeing their youngest child. The first half of the trip was nothing but us chatting and catching up. Wasn't really paying attention to the scenery.

The second reason is external; there were less things to surprise me. Beyond North Luzon Expressway and beyond the places devastated by Lahar during the decade after Mt. Pinatubo's eruption, relatively little has visibly changed in the Ilocos Region. (This is in comparison to Bulacan, my home province)

The third reason is that I used to only make this Northbound trip once every year. Even if more things have changed, it would have felt the same as all my other visits in the past. I drive by Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union and the southern half of Ilocos Sur for one visit - and then I don't see it again for some time. I was so used to having my mental archive updated every trip I take to the Ilocos Region that, even though a decade had passed since my last visit, it felt like the other trips I did as a child tens of times before.

...except for one difference, and also the fourth reason - I was not making the trip to have a vacation.

Related FlickR Photos

Next Post: The Town of Santa


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