Every year, my family leaves the stress and anxiety of the real world and flies to the laid-back and carefree life of Masbate. We would spend our 4 days either in the beach getting a little sun, sand and sea or lounging in the front yard of my grandparents home, which my lolo personally landscaped, while munching on some seafood delights the whole time!
To any of my relatives, the mere mention of “Masbate” would bring thoughts of massive steamed fat crabs, fresh juicy grilled oysters, fresh air, the cool sea and long naps in the afternoon. Then, it will immediately lead each to say yes to an invitation or opportunity to fly there.
Here’s a photosynth of our home, Villa Gloria, from last year’s trip. Click it for a larger view.
Villa Gloria 2011
To give you an idea of how inviting the idea of Masbate is to my family, here’s a peek into our typical day…
We wake up at 7:30 am, either to the noise of people already up and about or to the smell of fresh breakfast awaiting on the table. After I have breakfast, I like taking what’s left of my coffee and sitting on the porch where there is a breathtaking view of the sea and Buntod.
After breakfast, we’d all prep up and, around 9:30am, head for Buntod, the sandbar that’s literally just a boat ride from right across the street. When I was younger, my lolo had a boat made in my name, Antonette, which we rode to get to the island. It’s been more than 10 years since then and sadly, my little boat did not live that long. Now, we have a flatboat, this time in my sister’s name, Alexandra, and two small boats, named after my two little cousins, Victoria and Timothy. With the Alexandra, it takes us about 10 minutes to get to Buntod. We’d spend about 4 or 5 hours there just soaking in the water underneath the sun and eating, eating, eating.
Buntod Marine Sanctuary, Masbate
And, just when I thought time couldn’t get any slower, it seems to almost freeze when you’re in Buntod. I don’t wear a watch to Masbate (well, I don’t wear one ever, really) and the only way I tell time is by the sun and the tide. I know that it’s noon when the tide’s at the highest and Buntod’s practically underwater. But, when you’re there, what seemed like 15 minutes of swimming was actually just 5 minutes!
In the afternoon, we go back to the Villa Gloria, and, after freshening up, it’s nice just to sit in the yard and take a nap either on the airsofa my Aunt bought a few years back or on the hammocks.
Steady by Joze Ticsay
Joze took that photo when I fell asleep one afternoon, while I took this photo when he wasn’t looking:
relaks sa hapon
Or if I wasn’t feeling sleepy, I’d grab a drink to cool off. Last time, I found the cooler filled with crushed ice with the bottles buried underneath. The crushed ice looked so commercial that I just had to take a photo of the beers in it! Needless to say, the beers tasted almost like below zero beers, as expected from being buried under there for hours, I suppose! They were perfect in the hot weather!
We’d stay out in the yard until daylight ran out. By then, around 6:30pm, we’d have dinner, and so would the mosquitoes! I swear, anywhere I’d go, I’m a delicacy for the little vamps, Which is why I always carry some off lotion when I go out of town. This year, I even bought this anti-mosquito bracelet, but it wasn’t as effective as the lotion.
By 7:45pm, we’d be done eating. The oldies go to bed while the younger ones would stay up and drink or, recently, play mahjong until we get sleepy (which would rarely go past 12mn!). Trust me, you’ll be asleep before midnight when you’re in Masbate. Everything starts to mellow out after dinner and there’s not much to do anymore since it’s pitch black outside.
On other days, when we don’t go to the beach, we’d visit my Lolo’s brother in his farm, Uma Koinonia. 2 years ago, dad got me a horse, who I named, “Agos”. He stays here, in Uma Koinonia. While the oldies relax and chikka in the dining hall, my sister and I would go riding to the grasslands. At the beginning, we didn’t gallop the trail, so it took us about an hour to get there. But, since we’re better riders now, we’d run the most of it and get there in half the time.
It’s unbelievable, the vast grasslands. Anywhere you turn are waves and waves of green grass. I’ve been dying to shoot this place since I first saw it. But, I haven’t quite figured out how to bring my DSLR while I ride, so I haven’t shot this area with a proper camera. I just have iPhone shots mostly now.
When you’re on top of that hill, you’ll get a really nice 360 view of the place, and you can even see the town and sea from there! It doesn’t look steep from that photo but, I tell you, I had to zig-zag Agos just to get up there and down again!
My Lolo grew up in Masbate, in this house, which we call “Mabini”, not after the historical figure, Apolinario Mabini, but just plainly because it’s in Mabini street. Today, one of his brothers stays here with his children and grandchildren.
It’s a pretty small town and everyone knows everyone. My dad told me about how my greatgrandmother, who I called “Lola lola”, used to ride any tricycle and would simply instruct the driver to take her home. If the driver didn’t know who she was or where she lived, he’d be showered with curses!
This year, for the first time, I went around town without my dad, meaning, I wouldn’t have a car to get me around nor a navigator. I rarely spend much time in town, as Villa Gloria is just right in the outskirts, so, I don’t really know my way around. Google maps helped well enough, though. Dad told me to just tell the tricycle driver to take me to the Gozums’ house and I’d be taken to the Mabini house. I tried it, and hey, I got there!
And, that’s how I spend most of my Holy Weeks. I do have other photos to share, but I’ll save it for another post since this is pretty long already.
Just a few details on the photos.
VILLA GLORIA: shot and stitched with Photosynth and graded with Adobe Photoshop
BUNTOD: shot with d40x and graded with Adobe Photoshop
All others, were shot with an iPhone and processed with any or all of the following apps: Magichour, Photoforge02, BeFunky, FrameLens and Squaready.