I missed the blessing of that house in South Pacific last summer. Family, relatives, friends, and friends of friends were there. All I got were stories, which include three of the most common themes - 1) that South Pacific is far (as in very far) from downtown Davao, 2) the house is big and would easily fit all extended families and then some in the usual holiday get-togethers, 3) the nearest neighbor is like hundreds of meters away.
Knowing the relatives' penchant for pulling the younger ones' legs, I thought that those impressions were just exaggerations to elicit curiousity from us in the family who have not seen the place yet. I imagined the place to be far, yes. But I did not really think of it as far *far*. Davao is a vast place and it is one of the largest cities in the world so I would say a local would have a fair idea of what "far" would be. If it is still in Davao City, then it could not be that far, right?
Wrong. At least for me. I realized, come to think of it, I have not really explored the places beyond my old high school campus (which is like at least 12 kilometers away from our place). Beyond school are names of places which I have heard before but could not remember.
So it was like a perfect opportunity to finally see the house along with my sisters, cousins, and aunts. Tita Nora has been inviting us since Christmas to visit and stay over for a Karaoke session. My sister, Diane, who has been there quite a few times already was very eager to go. She packed the Magic Sing and a few other stuff and organized that the other cousins from the province would join us as well.
So it happened that Diane and I met sister number 2 (Angging), Ate (Tita actually) Elma, and the other cousins met in SM so we could all go together to Tito Bobot and Tita Nora's place. The trip took longer than I anticipated. I kept telling the others na "Wow! Ang layo nga." And I was amazed by the scenic route I was seeing. I could not believe just how much I am missing holed up in the middle of all that concrete jungle in Manila.
It was twilight by the time we entered the village gates and proceeded to find the house. By this time I was convinced that it is indeed far and that the vast place need more houses for it to resemble a village. And I was also thinking, I totally understand why they would choose to live in such a place.
The house sits alone at the center of a vast empty space that in the future would undoubtedly be sprouting more houses. In the twilight, the impressive Mt. Apo serves as a backdrop to a picturesque image. The wind is crisp and there is a peaceful silence broken by sounds of insects and birds.
By the time I got inside the house, I was fully convinced that the stories were not exaggerated. The house is a place of solitude and yet it does not shun the noise. It is a place where all of us can really enjoy the noisy get-togethers without worrying that we might be disturbing the neighbors.
At the patio, Tita Nora told us that she has not seen so many species of birds in one place. She says that owls, mayas, lovebirds, herons, crows, hawks, and more freely fly around and are often seen flocking in the streets and even on their fence. She said that mornings are amazing as well where fogs lift to provide a clear view of the gulf.
It was truly a nice place to be in. I hope the next time I visit, I would get to see the birds.
The day after
While Diane and the cousins were still having brunch at Tita Nora's place; Ate Elma, Angging, and I were enjoying fresh durian in Magsaysay Park. I was the only newbie in this experience and both of them were telling me that eating the fruit is much much better than those candies I keep buying for pasalubong. I did not even know that there were so many variety and that what we were eating, the Arancillo, is the type which has a lot of meat and has a distinct milky taste. I kept telling them that it was like eating candy, only much better.
After promising the vendor that I would remember his stall if I want to bring some back to Manila, my sister and I went to SM to meet Diane and all the other cousins. It has become a tradition of sorts that we always watch the latest Shake, Rattle, and Roll and scare (if we are lucky) ourselves.