Monday, September 28, 2015

Davao Immersion: Lunar Eclipse and Gilded Mornings

It was the night when we patiently watched the lethargic, shapeless bakunawa (dragon) gorging on the hapless April moon, says a myth behind eclipses, that rose calmly over unmuffled waters around the island garden city of Samal. It was also the night when our big family gathered at the lone, doorless, beachfront cottage made of bamboo walls and seats, and aluminum roof. It housed the 'life of the party' -- the ever-present karaoke machine. We had required of its mic to be passed on to every single person seated in front of the cottage, leaving no dead air to fill in the night.

Beside the shelter, there we grilled pork and saba bananas -- all skewered in bamboo sticks. The gastronomical nature of the growing smoke that occupied the air, was only rivaled by the rising bonfire that fed on twigs and dead leaves. We conjured the boy and girl scouts in us. The night turned wonderfully warm and lit, even though the moon was waning gradually by the aging minute and the cool sea breeze was blowing off its mighty freezing faculties. We, too, had pancit (noodles) and grilled tulingan (tuna) -- our leftovers during lunch -- for dinner, and puto balanghoy (steamed cassava cake) and budbud balanghoy (cassava cake wrapped in banana leaves) freshly made from yesterday's harvest in the garden.

Full and reeking of San Miguel beer, a few of us rolled out the banig (mat) over short blades of bermuda grasses, lay spread-eagle on it, and gazed at the myriad emerging stars aided by the revived luna and clear skies. The others rested on two hammocks tied to the branches of an ancient sambag (tamarind) tree, taking turns.

It was already past midnight. Oh, night, I felt so home and free, and was just grateful for everything. I may be so far away from home, yet I was easily home. My own family had just grown bigger and happier.

The deepening night continued on with the family's minstrels singing nonstop, the ones having too high an alcohol tolerance still playing around a single glass, long catch-up sessions packed with amusing, though hummed chatter, and the ‘sleeping logs’ set at their dreamy comforts, probably thinking of an early dip basked in the gilded morn, again.


Before I flew to Davao City last summer, I had never been to Mindanao. If spending a number of days with relatives never had I met all my life, let alone on Facebook, should matter more, and not accounting the handful two days and one night I had stayed in the city to attend my dear cousin's wedding the year before, then I had never been to the country's second largest island. Without that trip, Mindanao would have been really a stark mystery to me. The journey was both a pleasing affirmation of Mindanao's hidden beauty and a discovery in itself, raring to be shared to the rest of the country and of the world.

Thanks to my auntie for inviting me to her hometown of Samal, an island in Davao del Norte. Prior to spending most of the days in Samal, I stayed in Davao City, her present abode, and she then brought me to Pearl Farm, a secluded beach resort (loved their buffet there), and the distant town of Asuncion whose banana plantations run opposite rice fields, just across the gravel road. I savored the countless hellos exchanged all throughout the experience and the lots of chitchats over beer that followed.

Catagman, Samal Island, Davao del Norte
Hagimit Falls, Samal Island, Davao del Norte
Kaputian, Samal Island, Davao del Norte
Waterfront Insular Hotel, Lanang, Davao City
Pearl Farm Beach Resort, Samal Island, Davao del Norte
Asuncion, Davao del Norte


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