Tuesday, December 28, 2010
For over thirty (29) years I have spent Christmas with my family enjoying all the stuff inside my stomach and the gift giving with my siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces and after all the fun things at home went out with friends to spend time before bidding our goodbyes as we parted ways either because of school or work. Just last December 2010, I decided to spend it alone away from my family in Bohol, away from the usual things I do for several years that means away from my home. This time I spent it with the place I have grown to fall in love with, place that awaken and kept calling me wherever I may be. Two days before setting off to that place, I bought gifts for friends and experienced Christmas rush in the mall just near our house in the City of Cagayan de Oro. Prepared myself for an 8-10 hours trip to Cantilan, Surigao del Sur, with one backpack filled with stuff for five days travel, one paper bag for Christmas gifts and a pillow to make my travel a comfortable one. Contacted the van driver bound for Cantilan to confirm my arrival in Butuan before 11 am and reserved a seat for me. I requested a friend to send me to the bus station as early as three (3) o’clock in the morning so I could have a comfortable ride bound for Butuan City, bid goodbye to my friend and embark to the bus that will leave Cagayan de Oro City for Butuan City at four o’clock (4) in the morning. And because I woke up early, I slept during the whole trip and woke up just in time for my bus stop a few kilometers away from the Regional Center of Caraga in the Philippines (Butuan City). From the bus stop, I took a Multicab and just payed a meager amount to take me to one of the fastfood chain in Butuan City, where I will meet friends before setting off to my final trip. I had coffee and pancake with friends while waiting for my van ride at eleven o’clock (11) in the morning. We had fun talking while sipping coffee for breakfast and time went by so fast and the van is there to pick me up. Bid goodbye to two of my good friends in Butuan City and off I go to my destination. I felt Christmassy already with the place and my mood sets off to feeling Christ’s love for us when He gave his son to us. As the van entered the 90 kilometers trip where you can see the red mountain, I was again saddened because the mountain looks like something else, it took away a dream where I can see greenish object and all you can see are red dust and smoke in the mountains of Surigao del Sur and Norte, where their mountains where mined by Multi National Corporations with or without prior consent from the communities directly affected with the operations. I sleep again and then the driver woke me up and there I saw the Immaculate Conception Parish, where I will stay for Christmas. No one knew from my friends in Cantilan that I will be there for Christmas except Father Pete who were one of the friends I gained in Cantilan because of my advocacy against mining operations. But for the first time ever I was there not because of work but because I so love the place with all the friendly and welcoming people of Cantilan. While I was putting stuff inside my favorite place in the Parish Convent, I was taken into another place inside my head and thought that “This place is very promising with all the magnanimous and educated people, this place is also rich in culture and rich in natural resource, with all the sea foods in the table either during breakfast, lunch or dinner. I called this place, a home away from home. I feel I belonged here, and would be very sad if the mining operation will ultimately win against the people in Cantilan. With all the resources in the coastal and agricultural areas that will be greatly affected and the people’s livelihood and some governmental projects too are at stake.” I was awaken with the knock on the door, and it was Nanay calling me to have some merienda with Father Pete and Father Apo, and I enjoyed hanging with them because we had a lot in common, the advocacy for the poor and the people of Cantilan, and we didn’t even noticed that it was dark already and it is time for them to celebrate mass in the barrio/baranggays. I had no itinerary, so I went with Father Pete, and served as her semi-assistant. And in the next day, I woke up to attended the last novena mass before Christmas Eve and sleep again, in the evening, I went again with Father Pete, and for the first time again attended five (5) straight Christmas mass in the barrios. And felt that it was isn’t easy but I did enjoy the whole Christmas with the people in Cantilan. The last mass ended at one o’clock (1) in the morning of December 25th, 2010 and had my Christmas Celebration in one of the niciest beach resort named Immaculte Conception Beach Resort owned by one of the Parishioners in Consuelo one of the Baranggays of Cantilan. Father Pete, drived fast and brought as back to the convent in time for good sleep. And off I go to bed and planned to attend the 4am mass but wasn’t able to hear the bell ringing, again for the first time and heard another bell so I woke up and thought it was the four (4) a.m mass but it was the six (6)a.m. mass and thankfully attended said mass. I greeted all of my friends in Cantilan and told them I will spent Christmas day with them and thought that I was just joking, but when I visited them they could not believe their eyes, and I enjoyed their amazement and their warm welcome I had lots of food today and more to come in the evening. The long wait for dinner is coming and Father Pete, Father Josaf and I went to the lair of Mommy Emma Hotchkiss, one of my home here in Cantilan, and had cocktail drinks with two of his brothers. This was the first time I had cocktail drinks with all the drinks poured on my wine glass before dinner, and for the first time I thought of how I spent Christmas at home. Usually we drink wine after dinner but here we had otherwise. A fantastic Christmas Fever ever in my Cantilan Home, however my story doesn’t end there. Early morning after, I had an early trip bound for Kitcharao where my friends’ home is waiting, full of children and yes, families. I slept for a while in my friends room for thirty (30) minutes and awoke with full of energy for the days itinerary. The first one it to meet Humphrey “Totot” my favorite child in the family and so is everyone. Our second trip is to the place named, Almont, Inland Lake in San Roque, Kitcharao one of the view decks where you can see a portion of the Lake Mainit with the fresh breeze of the air and spend relaxing time even alone and with company of friends and family. And then, stop by the place where you can still view the Lake Mainit as well as the bus rushing by. The third stop would be the place named Mainit where you can see the biggest part of the lake and fishers paddling their way on the lake. Why there are lots of view decks, because Lake Mainit is the fourth largest lake in the Philippines. Back to my friends home, and here comes our dinner where they served the “pidjanga” this is a fresh water fish that is native to the Lake Manit, I love eating it whether fried or not and after dinner was a blackout, and “Totot” did the rest of the night so enjoyable by performing his talent and I slept with a smile tuckered in my lips. I have another home in here, and sure wish will come back here anytime soon. Until next trip as I went back home to Bohol for my New Year 2011 Celebration.