I arrived at Lavezares which looks like a small town just before I get to Barobaybay, to make sure I’m going to the right direction I decided to ask the locals about the place. Apparently it’s a bit farther than I expected, they also mentioned that I will know that I’m headed the right direction when I’m taking a road that’s close to the coast. As I went on, I begin to notice poor conditions of the roads. Most are un-paved and parts of it are connected by wooden bridges.
I finally got to Barobaybay, not really knowing anyone and sticking out like a sore thumb people started looking at me. I was riding really slow so kids were able to follow me, then I stopped to ask a lady who just came out of her house. I then asked if she knows a name, the name I mentioned was one of the old people that I can remember when we first came here. To my surprise she knows her and the kids that were following me suddenly became active telling me in their best Tagalog way that they will take me to where they live.
I followed the kids and I got to arrive to a house, an elderly woman came out and started to greet me. I have no idea who she is, I can’t remember her face. I just smiled and introduced myself telling her that I’m the son of so and so. She then said “Yes, I remember you. I remember when you were still a child you went here to participate in our sagala”.
We talked a little more and she invited me to come inside the house, theres now a commotion. Neighbors are now wondering who I am, all dressed up in black with a motorcycle full of stuff. Kids are coming out from nowhere, all checking out my motorcycle, camera’s and my riding gear.
I took off my armored jacket, gloves and water bladder and the kids started to wear them, saying that it looked like something out of an Iron Man movie. The lady who welcomed me to her house was apparently the wife of the brother of my deceased grandfather, I later found out when he mentioned his husband. While I was busy with the kids, she prepared what became my first decent meal for the day.
She told me that I should wait for the his husband as he will be back from the market soon. While waiting the kids started to ask me if I wanted to go the ocean. I said “Definitely”. Out of all the kids one girl stood out the most and she was my guide going to the ocean. Stupid me for not even getting her name, but she was by far the most beautiful looking child that I have seen during my whole PH tour.
We all went to the ocean, and they played around showing me sea creatures that live near the shore. I was taking videos of them while playing, and this little girl was telling them not to be too rowdy. That made me laugh as it’s a very mature thing to say. After they finished playing I told them I have to go back as they might be waiting for me already. The girl held my hand guiding as we went back to the house. Just when we are about to arrive she asked me in the best way she can in Tagalog “Kuya (Big brother), when are you coming back?” I looked at her not knowing what to say… I finally said “I’m not sure”. Then her relatives called her so she went to her house and I went into my relatives house alone.
You might be wondering what culture I was referring to on the title. One of the recurring themes of my travel posts would be the Filipino hospitality, it’s the common denominator to every single place that I have been to here in the Philippines. On the last post titled “Not much is needed in order to give”. I told you a story of a family who were struggling financially but still managed to offer me something to have for breakfast. Now I’m telling you a story of people who are of completely different dialect, struggling to communicate but still found a way to help me find what I was looking for. This is the Philipines and these are the Filipino’s.
Going back to the story, I came back and I was informed that the brother of my grandfather is on his way back, apparently news came to him that someone tall, in all black outfit on a big motorcycle is waiting for him in his house. Get this, he doesn’t have a cellphone the news just came to him by word of mouth. He hurried his way back as soon as he got the news and he was deeply wondering as to who that mystery visitor was.
I vaguely recognize him. He then told me that he remembers me, he then went into a room to get something. When he came out he was carrying a big red photo album. “A photo album!” I exclaimed, the last time I have seen something like this was when I was like 10 years old. I was amazed at what I was looking at, photos from where I was still a child, photos of my cousins, and some photos of my parents preserved in an old photo album.
I don’t think people in big cities keep these things anymore, with the advent of mobile phones with decent cameras it seems all photos now reside in the web. “When was the last time you visited a relative and the first thing that they do is make you look at old photos in a photo album?”. Pardon my enthusiasm, can’t explain how something so old could feel so new to me. After eating lunch and taking some photo’s of them, he then told me “You can visit your cousins mother before you leave Samar. It’s her birthday today.” After thanking them for their generosity and getting the directions I went on to visit her.
A boy in his teens answered the door after I knocked on it, he was a bit surprised to see me… with all this black gear who wouldn’t. Then I asked of my if my grandmother is there, as the door widened I saw her sitting on her bed watching TV. She then turned to me and smiled a great indication that she still remembers me. After introducing myself we began to talk about her life and mine and what I was doing there. She mentioned that I should be very careful when I travel to some of the places as people might not be as friendly, then she said “Well you look like a policeman or someone from the military, they will think twice before they do anything to you.” “I do hope so.” I replied.
She then told me that her son (my cousin from Davao) and her daughter are so fond of taking her to different countries where they are staying. “I’m not really not fond of going to different countries anymore, I feel very limited when I’m there. I like it here at home, I can still do a lot of things, I can help with the church, I can manage a small business and taking care of this children keeps me active. That’s one of things that I can advise to you! Always be active!”
When your grandmother who is 82 tells you that the way to live a long life is to be active, there are no if’s and but’s. You just have to follow it. She told me that she is not feeling all that well and that she has taken some hot soup earlier to make her feel better. I guess that’s my cue, I better leave so she can get some more rest. Being here means she would have to worry about me and she would have to find ways to keep me company. I guess that’s just how they are in the provinces, very accommodating.
She suggested that I should stay for the night and spend the Christmas eve with them, she even told the teen who opened the door for me the take me to the plaza as there’s going to be some sort of event there. I politely declined and told them that I still have to get to Tacloban which is still around 350kms away, so I have to leave early and make the most of the daylight.
I took a photo of her before I left and said “Thank you.” I don’t think I will ever forget her advise to just be active, and with that I went on my journey.