Thursday, January 18

Home is where the Heart is

If i had to do it all over again, would i? Probably the better question is, could i? 23 consecutive days of hard drinking is not only 'Not Healthy' it is also psychologically draining and emotionally exhausting (perhaps too much reminiscing). I would wake up in the morning and would almost gnash my teeth at the site of another Beer when my friends showed up only to end up drinking more and liking it. I was drinking so much beer that water started to taste like it during idle time... On my despedida (going away party) i ordered what can only be described as 'beyond the normal bounds', of beer. A few hours into it however with 4 separate tables setup (more than KPT ever had) we had to order even more beer because consumption was at an abnormally rapid rate. Come midnight we were devoid of Beer so we drove to a Bar nearby to continue on. By closing time we felt that we hadn't had enough fun so we pleaded with the Bar Owner (who incidentally used to play Basketball with me) to remain open. Considering the enormous amount of Beer being consumed he was only too happy to indulge us. We left two hours after closing time.

What i am not going to do again is wait a dozen years before visiting home again. The changes are too drastic... So drastic that it's almost hard to comprehend the changes that have occurred. All but one of my old friends are married with Children. Some with very angry wives (not too happy about their husbands being out late). Quite a few have gained considerable weight and losing hair. Somehow i am the Godfather of many of their offsprings. They claimed i had a proxy at the christening. I didn't even know that was allowed. There should be some kind of an "out of the country exclusion" clause or something, right? Not that i disagree with the Proxy haha... When i arrived they were all too happy to introduce me to my God Children so i could pay my debts as their absent God Father over the years lol... Changes are most evident obviously with the young kids around the house. My cousins who were little toddlers and small children when i left in '94 have grown into flourishing young men and women. Carl is now attending College and as tall as i with hair like David Beckham, only i outweigh him by at least 35 lbs hehe (better start lifting weights kid...). His younger brother Kenneth is a Tennis Stud in his High School and is racking up tournament wins at a very rapid pace. Their father uncle Boying on the other hand has not aged a tad bit, just like my father he still plays tennis every chance he gets (even during work hours lol). The youngest boy in our clan Kriste is a ball of energy, he plays Xbox like he is an extension of the controller-- like when he hits the 'jump' button when playing 'Halo' he also jumps. The very youngest in the clan is Kim (i call her Kimpossible), i'm not exactly sure her age but i think she is three and quite the chatter box. She looks like her mother auntie Nora, almost an exact replica in fact. Kim is very fond of Ammang our 90 year old Grandma who has all but lost her memory. She thinks i am her nephew and would often ask me where I'm from in Tagalog, not our native language... Seeing Kim and Ammang sit together gave me the goosebumps. See, Kim and Ammang are an incredible 87 years apart, can you believe that? They represent our family's future and roots... Sarah Jane or Tweet, Auntie Alice's only child had just passed her Nursing Bar exams on her very first try. The last time i saw her she was a tiny ten year old. Now she is a lady, thin as a model and smart as a whip... How things have changed, huh?

Except for my sister and cousin Adrian, everyone in my generation including myself were in our teens and bore no children when we left for the States. There are only two in my generation right now with Children and we sure did start very late in life. My sis and i, the elder statesmen of our generation aren't even near a relationship let alone bearing Children in the near foreseeable future-- except of course for Adrian... All of our parents had children early in their 20's. My parents for instance were 24 and 25 (good age). Adrian myself and my sis are 30+ Yikes!!! My cousin Yeka the first to bear a child now sings in a Band. That is how she makes her living along with her husband Noel (who also has a regular job). Their son is a chip off the old block. He is a natural musician, plays the drums like a pro at age 5 (self taught at that...). Faye, second to bear a child was still in Korea when i was in the Philippines unfortunately but i did speak to her on the phone on two occasions. Like i was telling Adrian earlier today, her daughter is going to be a heart breaker, she is some kind of beautiful. She resembles her mother a lot especially her face and physique.

Surprisingly, despite being away for so long some of our cousins look exactly the same. Marvin, one of my favorite cousins still has that baby face which is accentuated by the braces on his teeth. His older brother Ian also looks shockingly the same. I don't know, i guess i expected everyone to look somewhat different from before... The town of Sta Ignacia on the other hand got itself one heck of a face lift, better yet a complete makeover. Almost nothing about the entire town is recognizable to me. In fact if you had blind folded me and dropped me off in front of the house that i lived in for over 19 years, i wouldn't know it. There are apartments and office buildings all over the place where carrinderias (canteens) or bahay kubos (house made of huts) quietly stood like gargoyles 12 years ago. Gone is Bunn's Hut, the Karaoke Bar my father and his brothers built a couple of decades ago, a bar that became an important staple of Sta Ignacia. It was the first of its kind there... It has spawned 3 or 4 other Karaoke Bars around the area that still exist today. I'm sad to say that Sta Ignacia has lost some of its small town charm. I feels like it wants to be a bustling city like Tarlac or Manila. The population i estimate has quadrupled primarily by emigrants from Tarlac and the Mt. Pinatubo disaster areas. I do salute the town for keeping Sta Ignacia fairly clean, considering the dramatic population change...

I went to the Palengke (Market) with my sister to buy tomatoes one morning. When i lived in Sta Ignacia every face in the palengke was a familiar face, i couldn't recognize a single one that morning. When my sister asked for Tomatoes in our ethnic language of Ilocano, to our surprise the vendor responded in Tagalog. According to a lot of the locals, no one speaks Ilocano anymore in the market because most of the vendors aren't locals anymore. The town market has been dominated by immigrants. I don't necessarily have anything against this, i think i just miss the old Sta. Ignacia...

Sta. Ignacia, modern and diverse as it may be now, will always remain my Beloved Hometown. Going home was almost indescribable...


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