In this guest post, my mom, Lucila Dypiangco, recalls her favorite places in her homeland, the Philippines.
My memories of places in the Philippines have been filtered by distance, both of time and space. We all know how distance lends enchantment to days and deeds, people and places. Today, almost halfway around the globe from my native Philippines, and almost half a century since my happy youth in my homeland, I can only go on a sentimental journey down Memory Lane as I pick and choose my favorite places in the Philippines. This, then is my list:
1. Sunset over Manila Bay – What can surpass the beauty of the serene bay as the golden sun slowly sinks in the crimson sky? The radiant ball somehow seems to explode in one last burst of glory just before it vanishes in the horizon. Anyone who is lucky enough to witness such a breathtaking spectacle cannot help but gasp in awe at such a display of God’s beauty and might! I have been among the crowds gushing over the sunrise at Haleakala on Maui and at the Angkor Wat in Seam Reap, Cambodia. Although I admit that these two sights had made me want to sing, “How Great Thou Art,” I still believe that the sunset over Manila Bay is a more moving experience. It has a poignancy that pierces to the core of one’s being. There is a sadness that comes with departing and ending.
2. The Hundred Islands – I had always known and taught my students in Los Angeles that the Philippines was made up of over 7,000 islands. It was not until I actually saw these hundred emerald isles dotting the blue sea off the coast of Alaminos, Pangasinan, could I even imagine how beautifully blessed our country is with so many islands. Taking a boat ride around these isles is an unforgettable experience. Although some of them may resemble one another, there are a few that stand out with special identifiable features. My particular favorite is the Cathedral Island that can boast of the Gothic lines of a vaulted ceiling right in the middle, over which an inlet flows into the sea.
3. White Sand Beaches of Boracay – I don’t have to describe this place. Anybody who has ever been there would surely agree that one of life’s pleasures would be a leisurely stroll on the cool sand that remains cool and soft to bare feet at any time of night or day.
4. Baguio city in the 50’s – A visit to the Summer Capital was not only an annual treat; it was also a must for any student who wanted to write a composition worth reading on “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” Roller skating, bike or boat riding at Burnham Park, strolling along Session Road to see and be seen by friends, attending Mass at the Cathedral, souvenir shopping at the city market. Baguio promised all these delights and more! If I could have frozen any place in time, it would have been this City of Pines. How I wish Baguio had remained the way it was, as it will always be in my memory.
5. Santa Rita, Pampanga in the 50’s – This is the the hometown of both my parents. Although I was born in Manila, I spent my early childhood with my grandmother, aunts and uncles in this small peaceful town until it was time for me to go to school. I was sent to school in Manila, but I went back to Santa Rita every Christmas and summer vacation. There I played sungka and sipa, piko and patintero, even tex and tumbang preso. There I also participated in Flores de Mayo and Santacrusan. There I had my fill of suman and kalamay, puto bumbong and bibingka, duman (pinipig) and turrones de casoy. What I would give for a time machine!