from roxas city with love....and lots of dried fish!

i've been in the philippines for almost a month now, and last week, i had a quick, 4-day vacation at my home province of capiz.

i had feared that our cebu pacific flight to roxas was going to be canceled due to reports that it was raining non-stop in that location, and indeed, text messages from relatives there confirmed that fact. the airport people declared our flight to be merely "on hold"...and our flight eventually happened albeit almost an hour later than scheduled.

when we arrived, the surroundings at roxas airport were visibly drenched in rainwater, and the sun was nowhere to be seen. i'd like to think of my arrival, though, as one which made the rain stop, for the entire duration of my stay.

i was able to see the aftermath of the week-long rains in the towns where rivers and ponds meet ricefields and sugarcane plantations. not only were the houses flooded, even the main roads traversed by public transport were underwater. it takes a few days before these waters subside.

the feeling of being back in one's home province is just heartwarming...no matter what the weather is. my senses unfolded and drank in the familiar sights, smells, and sounds. my soul felt welcomed, and i was eager to tread on the soil that brought forth the rice grains, sugarcane and bamboo shoots that fed and helped send my parents to school and delivered us to where we are today.

i visited the relatives i needed to see, especially the godchildren to whom i bestowed the obligatory "pasalubong" consisting of toys, chocolates and money. i took pictures and videos of everyone i encountered to take back with me in new jersey, for them to also see.

i vowed to myself that despite the cloudy, it-will-rain-cats-dogs-and-shellfish-any-moment-now weather, i will swim in the beach. i purposefully packed a swimsuit for this trip. my wish was granted when we did go swimming at roxas city the day before my flight back to manila. the waves seemed to challenge me to go surfing, which i definitely am not skilled to attempt, but i enjoyed the salty waters bathing my weary body.

another blessing was my being able to climb the belltower to "asia's biggest bell" in pan-ay church. to my pleasant surprise, there are people who actually guide tourists and take your picture and/video while at the bell on top. this was definitely to my advantage since my face is almost non-existent on my own travel photos. during this trip, i was able to pose inside the famed bell reportedly fashioned out of a sack of silver coins during the spanish period. i was elated.

of course, my trip just isn't complete without some danggit-shopping in the fish markets of banica in roxas and estancia, iloilo. not just danggit, really, but other varieties of dried fish i am unqualified to name and distinguish on demand. customs officers at detroit airport on my way back to newark will most certainly have a field day with my luggage reeking of dried fish odor. like my london-based cousin would repeatedly say to annoyed flatmates whenever he fries such fish, "the smell is awful, but the taste--divine!"

my generous uncle unfailingly fed me native crabs, shrimps and other seafood enough to elevate my blood pressure to code red, but such is the hospitality they extend whenever we come to visit them.

what a short-lived, yet memorable adventure. i will never tire of coming back to my home in the visayas.

pardon the infrequency of my posts....i am at the mercy of internet cafes in this corner of the universe called rizal, invariably being charged P15-20 per hour. that's about US50 cents.

please excuse me as i now log out from this terminal and walk to nearby goldilocks to buy my aunt a birthday cake....

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