San Juan / Rosario / Pedro Garcia, Batangas, the Philippines
January 23, 2012
“Every road that leads me leads me back to you.” A song of grief got me with that line. There were trips I took with my mother, one of which was through Batangas in 2012. While travelers left their heart where their feet had taken them, I left mine with people in this road of life. I posted this Facebook throwback for my sister and late mother:
This photo was taken in 2012 during one of our road trips through Southern Tagalog. We stopped by the town of San Juan, Batangas mainly to see the church where Juday and Ryan wed. In Mom’s pace, we also explored blocks of grand old houses (some seemingly abandoned), kicked off our shoes at a quiet beach of powdery sand, and took in local culture at heritage restaurants adorned with all things old world: Cafeno (in photo) and Naranja Grill. I’ve never been back to San Juan (except at Cafeno), but I hope it remains as how Mom saw it 8 years ago.
When we could not take a vacation at an exclusive resort, we borrowed it. Without a condo unit at swanky Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club to our name, Ki asked an old friend for an overnight stay in her furnished studio. It trumped paying at the resort hotel or Airbnb rental. No sooner had she given the green light than we drove a few hours south of Manila to posh Hamilo Coast in Nasugbu.
Archie starts to knead my bare back. I partly bury my face into the cushion to shield my eyes from the refracted glare of sunlight against a swath of white sand before me. As Archie untangles every knot of stress below my nape, so I throw each care to the sea breeze gently ruffling my hair. Such is la dolce vita. Stretched out luxuriously in a wooden cabana, I close my eyes to savor the moment before it becomes a memory all too quickly.
This is closer to the water than beachfront. Obviously Maldives-inspired, Stilts Calatagan Beach Resort boasts of eight cottages perched on stilts out in the sea. Why bother with a beach when you can just jump off your bed to the crystal waters of West Philippine Sea?
What better way to make history come alive than to wear it? I couldn’t pass up putting on the past when I got the chance.
The heritage town of Taal lent itself to a little historical cosplay. A few hours south of Manila, the town could well be a century away after a quick costume change. Generally regarded as the center of Tagalog culture, Taal had preserved its tangible and intangible heritage, such as ancestral houses, traditional local cuisine, cottage industries, and one Baroque church, the largest in Asia.
And he had learned to love, I know not why, for this in such as him seemed strange of mood. But thus it was and though in solitude’s small part the nipped affections have to grow, in him this glowed when all beside had ceased to glow.