Monday, August 29, 2005

Going Home

In the car again on a Monday morning. It was declared a public holiday last night so the kids were not absent today. Lolo David and Lola Pening had gone to Cebu to see their eye doctor and had decided to ride home with us. We were picking them up in Talisay. On the way there, the kids stretched out "one last time before we get squished."

The trip back was much faster than last Saturday's; we got to Boljoon in time for lunch at Club FortMed. Don't worry we didn't make them cook. We brought our own food (Why do leftovers from parties taste better in the morning?).

The kids got a treat for behaving in the car but they had to do some work to claim that treat :-) If it makes us sound like mean parents then let me assure you they enjoyed catching those leaves in that net before jumping in the pool.

Getting the car and the passengers on to the barge. It's always a different feeling when you're coming back home. Hmmm,... it's like the feeling you get when you're about to be hugged by someone you love. Well, isn't it?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

At Lolo Javie's Dinner Party

Tisa thought the best thing to do to ensure the adults had time to talk and eat in peace was to get the kids their own food downstairs. The adult menu at the party was delicious but it did not have spaghetti, fried chicken or hot dog so it would have brought embarrassing exclamations of "Mama! There's nothing to eat here!" I can't wait for the time when they'll eat anything... I wonder if that'll ever happen.

There really wasn't much for them to do but watch tv since the pool was off limits to them and they were all too young for billiards, the gym, tennis or basketball at night. Jordi solved it by reading a book while watching tv, while Louie's solution was to run up the stairs "to check on Lolo" and then run back down again, every few minutes. Chammy was glad to have her cousins visit she just followed them around the entire time. She couldn't do much; after all, Jordi and Louie can exhaust you just by looking at them. Patrick was right, his brothers, especially Louie, are very efficient users of energy.

Lolo Javie's Birthday

Today was Lolo Javie's birthday and we came all the way from across Tanon Strait to Paradise Village to celebrate it with him. After lunch, Nina took out a chocolate mousse the kids had requested after Sunday Mass but we had some problems finding a candle to go with it. :-) One of the maids very helpfully offered to fetch a candle from a room and came back with a 1 1/2 by 1 1/2 by 3-inch, orange-scented candle. Well, we did ask for a candle! Anyway, more searching in more drawers yielded a "slightly used" blue-and-white striped birthday candle and the kids were ready to sing.

I know it's baliktad, but after everyone had had ice cream and cake, the kids got down to making birthday cards for Lolo.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Carcar, Talisay and Banilad

We had to stop at this place; Louie wanted to check where the door was! I'm not sure if this shoe is really in the Guinness Book of World Records, I doubt it, but it's seriously big. My question is, why couldn't it have been a woman's shoe? We're the ones who make the world go round for shoemakers everywhere! Why is it, that when attempting to make or break the world record for biggest shoe, they always make macho shoes?

Stopped for lunch at Talisay, got there just before noon. Rey and Denden were out for Honors' Day at Shari's and Colin's school, the St. Thomas Aquinas Montessori School. Heard Shari got second this grading period; a new kid in school got higher grades. It hasn't affected her much, judging from that face. :-)

Finally got to Banilad at about 3 o'clock, and the kids promptly went out to play on the scooters of Chammy's friend Isabel. That's her wagon, too. She'd been pulling it with Louie inside ( to Tisa's and Mama Carmen's protests. I had a feeling she must be a princess or something) but as soon as they saw me with my camera, everybody went rigid. Jordi and Louie, finishing each other's sentences while Chammy piped in with Yeahs, informed Isabel, "That's our mom. She's always taking pictures. For her blog. It's her hobby."

Old Places

Finally had the chance to stop at these really ancient looking "towers" that I'd spied only once before while on a bus on my way back home several months ago. These two are right next to the highway and partially covered with trees and vegetation so you had to be practically upon them to be able to see them. They were at a place appropriately named "Daan Lungsod" in Oslob, a few hundred meters north of the elementary school there. It has a modern chapel in the enclosure, but the people there assure us the wall extends far to the back and that there are more towers there, too. Maybe I should've included a photo of how big the enclosure looks from the entrance which has - no surprise there - no gates.

As I stood in front of the chapel looking through the entrance, over the highway, in between some houses, past the beach and out to sea , I imagined I could see vintas there and believe it or not, a shiver literally went down my spine. Those slaving raids must have been truly scary for the people to have put in so much effort into building these walls and towers hundreds of years ago when even now, you can see most of the houses around it are made of light materials.

This is the Bonpua House, a museum in the town of Oslob, and one of those interesting places the bus doesn't go past. We wouldn't even have found it if Jong hadn't made a wrong turn! Very colorful and covered with so many signs warning trespassers they'd be shot, and warning against picture-taking, the most discouraging thing about it is that they don't let in kids younger than high school-age (their definition). I'm glad there was no need for us to toss a coin or something to see who'd go in because it was 8 o'clock, we were all hungry, and the museum didn't open till 9.

Another beautiful old place hidden away from the eyes of bus-riding passengers, the Argao church dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel ( you know, I'm making this up. I'm not sure about this but I remember there was a statue of what looked like a man in a short, paneled skirt wielding a sword and with something that vaguely resembled wings behind him, and I'm guessing it's a fierce angel and ... that's on a beer bottle, right?) is on one side of a fenced plaza which, ironically, you can drive thru! Right across it are new buildings made to look old - think bahay na bato - in keeping with the church's look. Sigh, it might have been temporary but the space in between looked cluttered with metal structures today.

In Tanon Strait, On a Barge

Travelling to Cebu City is so easy now, practically the equivalent of door-to-door courier service, that I can no longer imagine how bad it was when I first moved to Dumaguete and Negros Oriental. We took the car this time to be able to stop at places we'd only seen for barely a second through airconditioned buses' windows. The kids, on the other hand, enjoyed the relative freedom they had in the back, but were not more patient than usual. In short, plaintive questions of "Are we there yet?" were still heard from the back seat.
That's the car in the middle, Jordi's asking "Now? Are you done?", and that's Louie's hand. He's singing "...near, far, whereEEEver you are..." :-)

The breeze was COLD but he had his jacket on and it' s interesting to watch cars, buses, trucks riding across the waves on a few inches of metal. Oh, and he was keeping his eyes peeled for dolphins.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Angelic Faces for Kuya

Patrick texted yesterday that he needed family photos for a school project so I immediately sent him lots (thanks to Picasa and Gmail). This morning, as we were hurrying to church he texted again that he mostly needed portraits of the immediate family, so took these photos of my not-so-little angels.

Jordi finally got through Harry Potter 6, after several "detours". He read "Charlotte's Web" and "Robin Hood" again, "The War of The Worlds", and one other book, plus constructed the biggest ship I've seen made out of Lego blocks. He says it's an aircraft carrier based on the ones in a book on military vehicles Louie had borrowed from the library.

Ok, this doesn't quite qualify as "angelic", so would "impish" do? Louie always gets in trouble with Jordi after Sunday Mass because in the car on the way home, he's still singing the songs from Children's Liturgy of the Word. Louie: "The Lord is my light and salvaaaation; I am not afraid." Jordi:"Stop it! Stop it! It's killing me."

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Cathedral at Jaro, Iloilo

These are photos I took when I visited Patrick on July 2-3, during his school's Founders' Day. I remember I'd planned on taking the later bus but woke up at 3:30 so decided to go on the 5:25 airconditioned bus. On the way, somewhere in the mountains between Mabinay and Kabankalan and around a bend, we came upon this tabo. Fortunately, Bus No. 544's driver has been over this route every single day for quite some time that he has memorized all the market days and all the fiestas of all the barangays and had slowed down considerably even before the bend. For a tabo, it didn't look like much buying-and-selling was going on. Saw people just standing around, looking dazed. I imagined they were surprised at how expensive things had suddenly become.

In Kabankalan, we had to take a detour to the bus terminal because a parade was in progress and though we couldn't see it, we could hear several bands playing different tunes at the same time. Then when we left 15, 20 minutes later, I saw this truck headed north packed with an entire marching band including their majorettes

So, I eventually got to Iloilo and dragged Patrick to the Jaro Cathedral. Beautiful. I've always liked churches, always thought they should be big, grand, breathtaking even. And there is much to be said for natural lighting from skylights and windows. I'm wondering now if this is one of the innumerable inspirations for the renovation of our Cathedral here. If so, they should have hewn closer to the inspiration and kept away from the slightly-luminous-green-tinted skylights/roofing. The natural light streaming in, bathing in golden light the reredos and at certain times maybe even the altar, is so much more appealing to the eyes.

When I took this photo of S. Judas Tadeo I wondered if all these statues of male saints had ever scared the wits out of children. I remember one of my kids used to be scared of mascots; I wonder if he'd have been scared by these saints. They seem so remote up there on their ledges halfway up the columns, so far above the heads of the people that I needed to zoom in to get some detail in the face. Naah, the sight of these saints probably comforted little kids; they're beautiful, they're not moving, and mama says saints are good people.

It was really too dark already to take a proper photo of the belfry across the street and the facade of the Cathedral, but I was leaving the next morning and then I'd have to wait months 'til I could come back for another visit, so... This belfry is far but the one in Laoag was even further, and it was sinking, too! Anyway, I'm sure there's more interesting stuff about this church and it's belfry, so it's time to hit the books.

The Jaro Cathedral. Above the door, in a glass case, is a statue of its patron saint, the Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria. A book says that people believe it's growing, whatever that means.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Doing Something About Those Ugly Billboards

Have you ever looked up while driving through the city streets or out to the countryside and really paid attention to what you were seeing? Have you noticed these huge billboards that purportedly give you directions or show you the way to some local landmark? Or, are you now so inured to their ugly presence that your eyes simply pass over them?

Well, yesterday, some friends and I - members of Friends of the Banica River and the Environment - went over to the Provincial Board and presented our appeal that something be done about these ugly, ugly things that are sending all the wrong messages to our youth.

For example, what do you make of this "Accident Prone Area" billboard?

Drinking AND Driving are "Kool"? On what planet?

And what about this?

Do they serve that at the school, too? Are we trying to condition our children to see liquor as common place and a necessary part of their lives? I thought this was supposed to be a "Child-Friendly Nation/Region/Province/City/Municipality/Barangay"? What are we teaching the children?

Other than the misleading and dangerous messages, we believe that billboards by themselves mar the view and contribute a great deal to visual pollution. When we travel down that road, we want to see the trees, the hills, the view. We don't want to be assaulted with advertisements for alcohol, cigarettes, lending institutions, animal feeds, some restaurant, hair/car/motorcycle products, etc.

True, it seems trivial compared to the economy, the political situation, the cost of gasoline, dengue and malaria. On second look, however, it is definitely important to reclaim our streets and highways from crass commercialism, to preserve what we can of the beauty of the countryside, and to make sure we do not send the wrong messages to our children.

And so, like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde 2 and the bad haircut she got at an uppity salon because she didn't get involved, didn't speak up, we're speaking up against these billboards. If we don't, we will have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Sta. Catalina

No, those aren't the kids, we didn't take them along for this trip or it would have been an endless round of "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" and when we'd get to where we were going it would've been "We suffered that long ride for this?". I thought this was a nice view on the West side of Negros Island. That's the Sulu Sea and over the horizon are The Tubbataha Reefs and beyond that, Palawan.

Every summer now for the past 2 years, at the end of April or beginning of May, Sta. Catalina has been offering 5-day trips to Tubbataha. They've used the huge fishing boats based in the town but they have plans of building a live-aboard vessel with cabins and showers (! none of those on the fishing boats) and facilities for divers.

A friend of mine, Michael, was able to go both times and he took the most incredible photos of the places they visited. He invited us both times, too, but you know how it is...

Dominique keeps reminding me to keep photos to a minimum of 1, a maximum of 2, when blogging and I'm trying really hard to do that. This one's on a stretch of road somewhere between Sta. Catalina and Siaton. I just thought you might want to see this. Wouldn't you like to travel down a road like this, too? No wonder those guys in the bicycle clubs like doing this circuit so much. And it's not like this all the way, too. You pass by rice fields and sugar cane fields, with mountains fading into the background and you never lose sight of the sea for more than a few minutes at a time.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Car Trip to Sta. Catalina

Coming back from a wedding at a beach resort in Sta. Catalina one Saturday, we passed by this group of men planting rice in Giligaon, Siaton. Made Jong stop the car and took this photo from the passenger seat out thru the window on the driver's side. I know, I know, I could use a higher-powered camera, but the kids understood this photo, nevertheless.

Couldn't even do justice to this beautiful little tree-sheltered stream that's right beside the road. Part of the reason was the weather was drizzly and grey and yet it was hot. As a result, everything looked like you were seeing them through a haze, like a clouded up bathroom mirror or when the neighbors decide to build smoky bonfires "to drive the dengue mosquitoes away".

The deserted Siaton town center on a drizzly Saturday afternoon, through the wind shield. And that's the ubiquitous Ceres bus again. There's no getting away from these yellow "submarines"; they're everywhere. A blessing, really, since one comes by maybe every 15 minutes in either direction.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

One Candle Schoolhouse

Went down to Tambobo Bay on Sunday to visit with Bill and Diane Pool and their One Candle Schoolhouse. They're yachtees who've been here maybe 5 years, have gotten to know the people there and have started an informal Saturday class for the kids in that area.

Diane's "class" ranges in age from about 4 to around 20 years old and she tries to keep them at a manageable 20 kids. So many kids come pleading to join, however, that it ballooned to 26 last Saturday. She has many activities for them but the main objectives are for the kids to learn English and to be able to see a world of possibilities for themselves.

Other yachtees passing through have contributed their talents and skills and taught these to the kids. The latest of these is Robin, an American architect, who's currently teaching them art.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Sunday at Tambobo Bay

Dean keeping Diane company while she's whipping up a salad for the "horde" that suddenly dropped in at her school. Notice the artwork on the walls.

The kids' artworks cover the walls and this is one of them. I just found this a lovely idea: flowers and vines on a fish.

Graham, a guitar instructor based in HongKong but here for a holiday (yachtees use that word to mean working on their boats), gave us a demonstration of Form 1 lessons on this backpacker's guitar. Though the sound was tinny and tiny, you could still appreciate his skill with the instrument. Dean's invited him to hold a concert at Foundation. :-)