My six-day visit to my hometown of Tabuk was a much-needed breather from the hurly-burly of city life (Tabuk is supposed to be a city, but to me it still hasn't lost its rural charm). To my delight and chagrin, some things haven't changed at all...
I had long missed the ricefield breeze, the shade of aged trees in the yard, and the free, pure drink from the coconut trees behind the house.
[caption id="attachment_2085" align="aligncenter" width="298" caption="The two remaining prolific coconut trees in the yard are low enough that a few meters of bamboo stick would be enough to get a bunch of buko crashing down. (sms photo)"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2086" align="aligncenter" width="310" caption="I used to climb up to the top of this caimito (star apple) tree, but now I could only reach half of its length without my knees trembling. The mango trees, just like the caimito, are as old (young) as I am, but they surely have outgrown me... :) -sms photo"][/caption]
Market Day. There are at least three "market days" each week in Tabuk during which loads of fruits, vegetables, meat and what-nots flood the market area. Here, you'd get to enjoy cheap fruits (four large papaya or pawpaws which cost more than a hundred pesos in Baguio City, for example, fetch only forty pesos in Tabuk), and bundles of edible ferns, and other foods some would consider "exotic."
[caption id="attachment_2082" align="aligncenter" width="253" caption="Blanched and sprinkled with a little vinegar and diced onions and garlic, this edible fern makes a fine lunchtime viand. (sms photo)"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2084" align="aligncenter" width="293" caption="Lined up for noche buena or media noche (sms photo)"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2088" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="These furniture come cheap, but I can't vouch for their quality hehe. This road crossing is particularly memorable to me because this is where we "newsboys" years ago would start off to all directions trying to outdo each other as to who would first get to sell all the stacks of papers apportioned to each of us. We'd walk or ride our bikes all over barangay Bulanao even at midday, shouting "Bannawag-Liwayway-Koooomiks!" or "Manila Bulletin - Inquirer!" all the way. We had to be good runners too, for at times dogs would mistake us for postmen heheh. (sms photo)"][/caption]
Politics & Culture. I had the opportunity to talk with and drink from the wisdom of some older friends, like print journalist Estanislao Albano -- arguably the man who now deserves the title "Dean of Kalinga journalists" which my father wore till his death -- and radio host Fred Pangsiw, an Anglican priest and cultural master, an authority on authentic Kalinga indigenous music. From them have I confirmed something about the socio-political condition of the province: Nothing much has changed. Ah, yes, the more things change, the more they stay the same... :)
The Old Capitol Carabao Pond. I also had a chance to meet again my childhood friend Ali Gacuya, after so many years. I was reminded of the murky carabao (water buffalo) pool fronting the old capitol where we used to swim and catch large, black leeches with our backs and behinds. We were quite an attraction to several passers-by, and we'd always get a whipping or a telling off from our parents each time. But we never got to drop the habit for some time.
[caption id="attachment_2089" align="aligncenter" width="295" caption="Ca. 1981. We three were called "The Capitol Boys" because our play area extended to the grounds and offices of the old capitol site. As you probably could read from our photos, we were some of the naughtiest boys you could find at that time. :) L-R Ali Gacuya, Renen Ballesteros, and me (Popoy). - AUS photo"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2090" align="aligncenter" width="348" caption="The old concrete wall that guarded the old capitol had been replaced, but I still remember that the old wall had a special significance to us boys, for during our petty wars with our schoolmates, we would take cover behind it while the other boys -- the "enemies" -- lined up the road pelted us with stones and mud. (sms photo)"][/caption]
The New Capitol. The new capitol is now old, as evidenced partly by the the peeling paint on its facade, and the unwieldy grasses that have grown around and in the unfinished "gymnasium" beside it.
[caption id="attachment_2093" align="aligncenter" width="438" caption="sms photo"][/caption]