The Blissful Province Life

I was browsing my iphoto library and I thought it could be interesting to write about the life in the provinces of the Philippines.

I grew up in the province of Aurora which is located in the Eastern part of Central Luzon Region facing the Philippine Sea. Aurora province is filled with gorgeous beaches. It is subdivided into 8 municipalities and my family and I lived in one of the small towns. Neil and I spent most of our holidays last February in the province. He met some of my relatives and he had experienced the blissful province life.

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People in the small towns get so excited when there’s a visitor from other places specially from other country. When Neil and I arrived in the farm house the kids in the neighborhood are all so ecstatic, they would stand outside our fences to catch a glimpse of us. Neil and I were so excited as well to meet the neighborhood. Those little kids four years ago before I left the country were all grown up. I can hardly recognize them. I have to ask who their parents are as these kids would come to me, call my name and I don’t even know them. Neil had a picture with the kids. They like posing with the visitor. When the sun sets, these kids would never leave unless their mom and dads would come and pick them up for supper. The usual time for supper is 6 o’clock. After supper, the family would relax for a bit and give the tummy the time to digest the lovely dinner.

My mom rented a Karaoke machine. The family loves karaoke, it’s one of the necessities when there’s something to celebrate. Neil and I sang a few songs. The sound system was pretty loud but the neighbors don’t mind. Sometimes they like listening to good music, unfortunately the singers are out of tune. I hope they were not swearing at us while we were singing. It’s 7 o’clock and the kids outside our fences would watch us sing. We asked them to dance and they would dance. The relatives would come over and sing with us. Everybody sings and dance. The night was filled with joy and laughter.

We wake up early in the morning. We hear the rooster singing Rock-a-doodle, dogs barking, neighbors gossiping, poot-poot boy passing by with the big basket of freshly baked sweet buns honking his customer magnet, pigs squealing, people shouting and a whole lot more. It’s so nice to wake up and feel the early morning breeze. Coffee and buns are all served. The helpers cooking our breakfast. Breakfast served at 8 o’clock. What a life.

tender juicy hotdog tilapia salted egg with tomatoes

Red hotdogs, fried tilapia, salted egg with tomatoes and fried rice. A very lovely breakfast. Some families would have noodles, fried sundried fish or any vegetable they can grab from their back garden. People in the provinces likes planting vegetables in the back garden, raising hogs and poultry. If they have no cash, they can just grab it from their garden or from the pig pen. People there are very resourceful even the families living in poverty can make up something just so the family can have three meals in a day.

goose

The above photo is an example of what is in the back garden. Goose, ducks, pig pen, poultry place and a vegetable garden. During our stay, my cousins slaughtered one of my moms piggy. I felt bad for the poor thing but I’m willing to eat after anyway. They planned to slaughter two of them, one for main recipes and one whole thing for “Lechon” or roasted pig but they ended up doing just one. They realized two is too much. We heard the squealing piggy begging for his life. My cousins finished the slaughtering in 30 minutes. They’re kinda good at it. Master slaughters. They started cooking the pork meat and made lots of dishes. My favourite is the “Lauya” which means pork soup. I like soup a lot that’s why I specifically requested for that one. They cooked “Dinuguan” or blood pudding stew, Ceviche, MenudoKaldereta and some other dishes that I can’t even remember. Those dishes are all tasty and savoury. Those are specialty dishes in the Philippines. It’s very common to have those yummy pork goodies during celebrations like birthdays, weddings, christmas, new years, house blessings and even welcoming visitors. Since my mom and dad missed me so much, they threw a huge celebration for our arrival or maybe it’s only for house blessing. I would like to think it’s for both.

If there’s a celebration in the neighborhood, the most common attitude is the “Come-One, Come-All” thing. Everybody is invited. Even the dogs of the farthest neighbor can come. The Barangay is so small that you’ll know every single individual that lives in one particular house. People sometimes get offended if you missed to invite them. Some people are just too shy to attend gatherings. My mom’s co-teachers are in complete attendance of course, my relatives and a lot of different faces. Everyone enjoyed the food. Pictures taken. Everybody’s talking, gabbing. Everybody was happy. After eating, some would stay for a bit and have a chit chat with the family. Some would go home early with doggy bags. It’s a common tradition to give the family of the attendee something before they go home. It’s common courtesy in our country.

sun beneath the leavesfarmlands

The most common view in our province are the rice fields. Feels like we’re in Vietnam war. Apocalypse Now. A very interesting panorama. People work on rice fields, and get payed by the land owner. That is the most common way of living in there. The rich owns the lands and the low income families works for them.

In our province, people would plant and harvest the rice manually. If the land owner owns hectares of land they hire a lot of head to work for him. They use water buffalos to plow the rice fields. Some would use machines. They harvest rice three times or four times a year.

tractor

During harvest season, they use machineries to separate rice grains from the stalk. One example of the machine is the above photo wherein Neil is posing with the people.

rice

They would have the sacks of rice grains sundried either on a concrete road or on a private drying area. One common thing you’ll notice in our province are the sacks of rice grains all lined up on concrete road. After everything has been sundried properly, they will then sell them to buyers usually from other provinces. The price of one sack would depend on the weight. The price fluctuates all the time. It peaks during the summer season. Harvest times are happy times. The rich gets richer, the low income families earns money, three meals a day. Everybody’s untroubled. Sometimes the wealthy would give a sack of rice to the low-income relatives.

We went to Baler during our stay in Aurora. We dropped by our house in the downtown area and witnessed the evidence how proud my mom and dad was. Two tarpaulins showing our achievements hanging on 2 sides of our ancient house. One for me and one for my eldest sister. It’s been hanging there for 2 years now. Neil had a picture showing the tarpaulins but I’m too embarrassed to post them. After the stop over, we drove heading to Sabang Beach in Baler.

surf in baler

Baler Bay is an extension of the Philippine Sea. It’s a 30 minute drive from our farm house to the beach. Very accessible pristine beach. It is known for the great huge waves, great place for surfing. A lot of surfers would go to Baler Bay and enjoy what it has to offer. There are lots of hotels and resorts close to the beach as well. It’s one of the most reachable beaches from out town. There are lots of gorgeous beaches down there but it’s 6 hours away from the farm. Sabang Beach is the most popular beach in the province for chilling out. Families would go there on Good Fridays, Black Saturdays and Easter Sundays. Some would just go there to feel the pacific breeze, have a fun time with friends. Some would go for contemplation, meditation etc. Some would go just to spend money.

coconut husk

People in the provinces are very easy going. They’re living a happy life. No stress. The unspoiled nature has to do with it I think. The greens, the ocean, the fresh air, the sea breeze, the virgin forest and the people. Everything you see rejuvenates the soul. It relaxes the mind. It wiped off all the stress we had. Neil and I felt like new people. More relaxed. No worries. No anxiety. The surroundings and the mood of the people are very contagious. Everyone just seemed so happy. They laugh freely, they smile here and there, they greet us nicely. We felt their warm hearts. Everything and everyone was just amusing and gratifying.

grocery in the philippines

The above photo is a grocery shop in our province. That’s me and my cousin in the picture. The market there is a one huge open space wherein each stall is privately owned by individuals. Meat, fish, poultry and vegetables are all fresh, harvested in our very own province land. They are very cheap as well. A kilo of pork will only cost Php100 which is $2.50. Vegetables are even cheaper. Though people there loves meat a lot. Well, who doesn’t. Pork is always on top of a grocery shopping list. The trend is “A family who has pork dish on the table for dinner has earned good money.” Every after harvest season, there’s always pork meat for supper to celebrate.

farmlands

I missed the province life. Neil and I would definitely go back soon. I miss the family, the surroundings, the people, everything. The warm welcome, warm hearts, beautiful smiles, nature talking, the ocean breeze, the great waves, happy meals. People are genuinely happy, no stress, no drama.

Life brings simple pleasures. Simple pleasures are the most satisfying that life has to offer. The morning coffee, being outside under a blue warm sky, hanging out with love ones after dinner, a beautiful view, having a good laugh, sleeping in on a rainy day. There are lots of things to be satisfied about. The province life is living a simple but carefree life.

Why don’t we start making wonderful memories with the simple pleasures life gives us every morning, everyday?

Blessed Day to Everyone!

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Discovering Baler, Aurora

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Baler is the provincial capital of Aurora, Philippines. It is half an hour away from my hometown. It is a town full of history. Franciscan Missionaries founded the town in 1609 and in 1898, after the proclamation of the Philippine Independence, 54 spanish soldiers made the town church their barracks. A movie was made about the legendary story of the 54 spanish soldiers starring Jericho Rosales a fine actor and Anne Curtis an award winning actress both from the Philippines. Baler (movie title), is a story about the Siege of Baler during the time of the Spaniards. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Baler 

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An old photo of the famed church at Baler, where the 54 Spanish soldiers headed by Captain    Enrique de Las Morenas y Fossi was besieged by Filipino rebels on July 1, 1898.

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Baler Church in the modern times

Baler is not only a town full of history but it also have a lot of hidden gems. Aurora is located in the eastern part of the Central Luzon Region and the province is facing the Philippine Sea. There are a lot of gorgeous, untouched and undiscovered beaches. There is the Sabang Beach, Ampere Bay, Dicasalarin Cove, Dinadiawan Beach and a whole lot more.

If you are from Manila, it will take around 6 to 7 hours by car or Genesis Bus Line to Baler, Aurora. The roads have been reconstructed and definitely a smooth drive now. There has been a lot of changes ever since I left home.

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I captured this photo captured from Bay’s Inn.

Sabang Beach has a great, laid-back surfer vibe. There are new developments going on when we arrived. They were building new hotels an a lot of things have changed. The family went straight to Bay’s Inn which is one of the most popular hotel and restaurant of Sabang Beach. We had Mojos! I must say that their Mojos is a definitely must try!

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I’m gonna have this again for sure!

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Even our Baby Flynn loves it.

Bay’s Inn is an average hotel. It is not fancy but if you want to go to Baler and do some surfing, it could be one of the best choice as it is just near the shore and the restaurant is overlooking the beach which is nice and relaxing. Its terrace overlooks the beach, and it’s lulling to sit there and watch the waves. Order an ice-cold-beer and inhale the freshest air you can get in the country! They say Bay’s Inn is also where the surfers hang-out.

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Just sharing an interesting and funny masterpiece that I took, The Five Little Naked Buddies

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This is what’s new! An ongoing construction.

I am not actually sure what the concrete walkway is for but just anticipating what would it look like when it’s all done, I think it will add beauty to the place (just my thought). It was just a narrow and steep walkway before if I am not mistaken. It is really good to see that there’s an improvement.

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Neil testing the warm and sparkling pacific waters.

Below is a photo taken from Ermita Hill. It’s a hill overlooking the serene Baler Bay. This is a great place to contemplate I must say. The hill has it’s own story like the town church. There has been a tsunami that hit and destroyed the town of Baler and only six families survived the catastrophy. They swam to Point Baja which is now known as Ermita Hill.

Ermita Hill nowadays is a beautiful park where you can witness the beauty of nature. There is a grotto near the front edge of the hill where you can say your prayers and make a wish. At the same place, you can see the vast Pacific Ocean, the mountains that surrounds the town, palm trees, fishing boats of the locals and on the other side is the  fish port and Dimanglat Island.

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I captured this photo from Ermita Hill, Baler showing the connection of Sabang Beach and the Reserva River. As you can see, the view is   fascinating.

It’s always nice to go back to my home province in the Philippines.

He who loves not his country  can love nothing.-Lord Byron