Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ancient History 2, Ancient Historier

Dipolog is a town that sort of has nothing remarkable so I won't spend too much time talking about it, except that it has some 3003 steps to a special viewpoint where you can see the city and surrounding cities. Unfortunately, since Pastor Mariano, the old man that we're traveling with seems more talk than walk, we only got to the 7th station (out of 13, probably about half of the steps).

By the way dad, Mariano says Hi.

We left Dipolog and headed to Dumagete on a ferry boat. It's one of the speedy kinds which will reach Dumagete in 2 hours instead of 5, which is great for me because I don't exactly have the strongest aptitude for ocean voyages. I think the last time I remember being on a boat was with Tan, Ryan V, Cianar and Brenda. We were out in the Long Beach waters, doing some deep sea night fishing. I remember Tan and I, in the midst of being awesome fishermen and catching everything under the sea (I even caught the same fish that Cianar tossed back into the ocean), spent most of our time on our knees, breathing hard and doing everything humanly possible to avoid vomiting on our toes.

Back on the ferry boat, even before it left the harbor, I was already feeling a bit woozy. The winds today are quite... strong, meaning there's bound to be some big ocean waves. It's not exactly a huge ferry, it probably carries 400 people at max, so those waves can be really felt. I have but one trick up my sleeve for this kind of thing: iPod in pocket, Fontopia in-ear phones closing off the outside world, volume up, head down, relaxed body. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but I think it cushions the movements of the parts that control balance in my head, lessening the feelings of nausea enough so I can pass out and avoid the ocean waves' deadly effects.

Arriving at Dumagete, we're picked up by my Auntie Sandra. Of course, being me, I could not remember where or when I had met her. She reminded me that she came by one time in like 2002 while I was still in college, and I came home late and was mad that she took my room to sleep in, meaning I was stuck with my dad who can sleep through a hurricane and snore like a typhoon.

Haha oh man, embarrassing recognition nod. Yes, I do remember meeting her then. Heeee....

We're taken to their bake shop, the Mandarin Caterers and Bake Shop. In Dumagete, there are tons of bake shops everywhere. It's sort of their thing, since apparently it's quite profitable and there's always room for more. On the first floor, the bake shop is comprised of the store area, the garage, and the awesome kitchen area, which still holds a very very old brick oven, an ancient type of oven that uses wood, fire and special bricks to heat and bake bread. Very old method of cooking, very hard to control. They also make sio pao (cha siu bao), which to their credit, are possibly the best tasting. Evar. The fluffiest bread, the tenderest chicken and pork meat, and hard boiled eggs chopped up into a delicious bun. Eggs make just about anything better.

The rest of the floors above the bottom floor is the house. This is the house where my mother grew up and studied while in Dumagete, and also where my Ama lived, the grandmother that took care of me when I was a baby, I think from age 1 to 2. She passed away in 2002 at the age of 91. I met my Uncle Charles and his wife, and Uncle Jerry, the younger brother here. I also met my Akim, the wife of my mom's older brother (aunt in-law). She very recently suffered through a mild stroke and lost the ability to control the left side of her body (arm and leg are numb) and she left for the hospital the day after I met her. To think she just stayed at the house a day or two without going to the hospital immediately... guess they do things differently out here.

We ate dinner at the house, meeting even more friends of my mom's (Rose says Hi mom), all of which agree with me that my mom is quite the motormouth. My auntie Maryanne is called twa bac (big eyes) because she has relatively big bright eyes, so when I was younger, I named my mom twa chui (big mouth). My relatives all got a kick out of that! While I was there, I even met like, 8 or so nieces and nephews. Which meant I gave them each ang pao, and really begin to appreciate my aunts and uncles who did the same for me when I was a kid.

Man, I'm such a cheap bastard.

*pause for a moment* Thank you to all my aunts and uncles and others who gave me ang pao over all those years. You guys are truly, truly awesome =*)

The day after, my Uncle Charles took us to the cemetery where my Ama and the grandfather on my mom's side were buried. Like my grandparents and family from my father's side, they too fled China to settle in the Philippines, except they settled in Dumagete rather than Zamboanga. My Ama outlived my Angkong (grandfather) by decades, he passed away very young. We spent some time there at their graves, the both of them reminiscing about the family. It is then that my Uncle Charles and Hilton began to reveal certain aspects of the family bloodline, details which differ from what I originally believed, creating changes in my mental family tree. It's a lot more complicated than what I had originally thought. Mostly because I have like 200 aunts and uncles and apparently 8 million cousins, nephews and nieces. I exaggerate, of course, but it feels that way sometimes.

Tomorrow, we plan to head out to Apo Island.

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