The past month has been one of weekend trips for us. September 1st and 2nd saw Edson and I busing it up to the northern part of the island of Luzon on an architectural tour of Ilocos. It was quite a demanding trip, with a lot to see and do, and where the bus actually left at 11pm on Friday the 31st and returned the morning of Monday the 3rd. So two of our three nights away were spent on a bus. It was a nice, new bus. However, the roads we traveled were not nice, new roads with nice, new drivers. You can sense the sleep deprivation already, can’t you?
Bright and (well, it would’ve been bright if it weren’t for the grey cloud cover and the drizzling rain) early Saturday morning we took in the Pindangan Ruins, remnants of the first church of San Fernando, built of coral stones by Spanish friars in 1674. All that remains today are the ramparts, which nature is seeking to reclaim.
An hour away (from the rain as well) was Sabangan Cove to see (and buy the wares of) a loom-weaving industry there.
Ten to twenty minutes further on was a stop at Sta. Maria Church, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The structure sits majestically atop a hill overlooking the town plaza. Eighty, or what seems like one hundred eighty steps later, we were feeling pretty majestic as well; if, by majestic, one means worn out and ready to collapse from heat exhaustion. Behind the church, and down eighty to one hundred eighty steps again (plus a good hike) are the lushly overgrown remains of the church’s cemetery and its chapel, looking much like the ruins of Cambodia’s ancient city of Angkor when the French first laid their eyes upon it in the nineteenth century.
Back on the bus (and four-to-five pounds lighter from perspiration) and we were on our way to another UNESCO World Heritage site: the city of Vigan. Vigan is a charming city where a multitude of blocks of heritage buildings have been preserved, horse-drawn carriages tour the weary walker around town, and they serve up some of the finest fried ice cream I’ve ever had.
Later, in Batac (where we were to spend the night), part of our dinner was the bright orange Ilocos empanadas for which Batac is famous. One of the best shops in town came out to our place of lodging and prepared them on site for us by a transvestite. The Ilocos empanadas are filled with grated green papaya, mongo sprouts, garlic, longganiza and eggs. Delicious, deep-fried delicacies indeed!
We visited Paoay Church, the Marcos Mausoleum (which I skipped), and the Sarrat Church and convent ruins all before lunch Sunday. The convent ruins are worth noting if only because the portion not in complete ruin is still being used, and has a satellite dish! An hour or so later we were at the Cape Bojeador lighthouse, constructed over a century ago and manned by a man who grew up in the lighthouse, and is the fourth-generation in his family to operate it.
The mid-afternoon (and final) stop on our tour was the beach at Pagudpud, where we had the chance to sit back and relax, and just wait for the sun to set.
The entire day Monday was spent sleeping off our whirlwind weekend adventure in a very non-moving bed.
Trips like that inspire one to not travel again anytime in the immediate future, so we waited a couple of weeks before leaving Manila again, this time just for an overnight stay with our friends Kit and Marje at the Mt. Purro Nature Camp, owned by Kit’s family. Kit brought her baby daughter, (my niece) Martina, and Marje brought along her daughter, Meghan. Edson brought me.
Now I had done a weekend photo shoot at the camp back in May when MTV Philippines used the camp to shoot a segment of their VJ hunt. While there, one of the VJ wannabees, Eri Neeman (seen here with Martina)
mistook me for Martina’s father. While I made it clear that I was not responsible for bringing Martina or any other child into this world, the damage had been done.
Martina has two fathers.
Tito (uncle) Jay had become a father. This was of considerable amusement to Martina’s biological father, Inaki, who now found him sharing the title.
I hadn’t seen Martina in two months. Since that time she has four teeth, can crawl, and now cries, something she had not done previously, much to the delight of her parents. Of course, as she gets older it will become more difficult for her to comprehend that she has two daddies and one is also her “uncle”. Yeah, I know what many of you are thinking: “You might be a redneck if…”. Well, let’s just say it’ll be interesting therapy sessions dealing with the topic of her daddy and her uncle daddy!
We settled on “uncle daddy” as opposed to the more awkward to say “daddy uncle”. Both sound like hip-hop names. (Yo! Yo! Yo! This is Uncle Daddy comin’ to ya from mah crib…!) I suppose we could say it as “U.D. Jay”, but that sounds a bit like either a university somewhere or a medical condition. We’re going with “uncle daddy Jay” for now. Hopefully my sister’s kids won’t be disappointed that I only get to be their uncle Jay. They’re living in Florida now, and that’s awfully close to a lot of rednecks!