In this guest post, my dad Oscar Dypiangco takes a crack at naming his all time favorite places in the Philippines. Since his last blog entry, my dad has made incredible strides in his writing. I’m really looking forward to seeing him grow as a writer and learning more interesting stuff about his life.
It’s difficult for me to name only five favorite places in the Philippines. There are so many that have become close to my heart over the course of my life — from my childhood to my adulthood, through marriage and immigration to the United States. When I reminisce the happy times these places have given me, I realize why they have become my favorites.
Liliw, Laguna – Liliw has to be the first on my list. It is my mother’s hometown. My fond childhood memories include summertime visits with Nanay Rita, my maternal grandmother. Nanay Rita would cook a sizable batch of pork adobo and keep it in a big clay pot. For breakfast, she would pick several pieces, fry and serve them with fried rice and hand-beaten chocolate drink. Because Liliw is situated on the foothills of Mt. Banahaw, it has been blessed with a mild climate. It is this climate which, in turn, gives Liliw its bountiful harvest of lanzones. Nanay Rita’s house has about a dozen lanzones trees scattered around the property. I recall that I could easily pick these juicy fruits when they were in season because one of the big trees leaned towards the wide concrete staircase. There were also many coconut trees from which to produce “lambanog,” a local gin. It was in Liliw that I had my first taste of this highly potent alcoholic drink. It could really knock you off your senses! I’ll never forget the Christmas Day I was in Liliw. A couple of my cousins and I went knocking on the doors of relatives, neighbors, and even complete strangers, to ask for money. It was similar to trick-or-treat, except that instead of treats, we were given coins. And we did not do any tricks. Liliw will always be a part of me.
71 K- 4th, Kamuning, Quezon City – We were lucky to have lived in this house, owned by my wife’s parents. It was home to us from the time we got back from our honeymoon until we immigrated to the US. When we moved in, our only furniture was a bed and a small table over which we placed a piece of plywood and covered with a table cloth. Upon seeing this improvised dining table, Lucila’s aunt gave us a real dining set — a table for six with matching chairs. She also gave us a refrigerator, to boot! We soon bought the rest of the furniture. The house had iron grill outside each window. The living and dining rooms had floor-to-ceiling windows. I devised an elaborate security system which proved quite useful . I collected a big box of empty cans, which I would stack next to the windows every night. Should a burglar attempt to break into the house, all the cans would come tumbling down and alert us. Sometimes I had “false alarms.” Sometimes in the middle of the night we would suddenly be awakened by the crash of the empty cans falling all over the tiled floor. I would get up only to find out that our neighbor’s cat got through the window grill. I guess my system worked anyway because we never had any burglary. Kamuning provided us with many good friends through the Christian Family Movement which we had joined. Our family then consisted of our sons, Joe, Gerard and Mark. Stephen was not yet in the scene. Unknown to us all, he was already in the mind of God.
Tagaytay – So near and yet so far. That saying comes to mind when I think of Tagaytay, an easy drive from Manila and yet a totally different place from the busy metropolis. Tagaytay offers a refreshing, cool climate and fantastic views. Fruit stands and flower vendors line the highway to this town. I once saw so many beautiful and colorful flowers that made me buy a big bunch, to the delight of my wife. Tagaytay is also a good starting point to explore the neighboring towns of Batangas and Cavite. A trip to Tagaytay would not be complete without a lunch at one of its gourmet restaurants. Take me to Tagaytay any time, anyone!
Santo Nino Chapel, Greenbelt, Makati – I like to go to Mass at this chapel. Because it is almost always packed with faithful worshippers, it is sometimes hard to find a seat. I am in awe when I see the chapel filled with people from all walks of life — some men come in their fancy barongs and flashy neckties; others, in faded jeans and worn-out t-shirts. Well-heeled matrons come in expensive clothes carrying designer purses; others, in flip-flops and holding plastic bags. People of all ages come. There is something for everyone. The homilies are invariably inspiring, oftentimes humorous but always touching. I get a big spiritual boost every time I hear Mass at this chapel.
Ascott Premiere Residences – This is our home away from home. We have stayed here six times in the past few years. The first time was when Ascott was still known as Oakwood, and just after the Magdalo mutiny. Even from the very beginning we were hooked! The warm welcome by the staff, from check-in to check-out, is what keeps us coming back. It’s a great feeling to see familiar faces who remember us so well. Ascott’s five-star service makes us feel really pampered. The housekeeping department makes sure our every need or request is met promptly and efficiently. The buffet breakfast boasts of a large and varied spread. I am always several pounds heavier when we return home to Los Angeles each year. An added bonus that we have enjoyed is getting a corner suite on a top floor with a stunning view of the Makati skyline. We feel safe at Ascott because of its tight security. The guards are ever-watchful, not only over our safety, but our comfort and convenience. They even assist us as we get in and out of vehicles that come for us and help carry our bags. These little things make each of our stays memorable and enjoyable. Father James B. Reuter, SJ, the priest who married us 47 years ago, never fails to come and visit us at Ascott each January. Even as he neared 94, he came to see us at what he calls our “home away from home.”