Bless Isabela gracious Lord, and keep her in Your fold

In my first law subject (which I almost flunked btw), I learned about the difference between domicile and residence. The latter simply requires bodily presence and is only an element of the former. Meanwhile, domicile is, as stated in my favorite description of the word, “where a person, whenever he is absent, has the intention of returning“. My domicile is Isabela, if it still is not obvious on my title which is a line from Isabela Hymn. I listened to the song on YouTube after years and it brought back memories of a simpler, more innocent time.

But I’m not here to dwell on the past haha! Instead, thanks to homesickness and the fact that I have not been updating this blog as much as I did during my bum, undecided months (38 posts in Septemeber 2012 vs 2 last month lels), I’ll take a break from pseudo-studying to post about my summer vacation even if it’s 3 months late.

This year’s school break was somewhat pale compared with last year when I blew money on travel and was in a different destination almost every week. This time around, for close to three months, I just stayed in the province and helped in our canteen. I made halo-halo, washed the dishes, smiled at customers, and cleaned tables. If there’s one thing I realized in those months though, it’s the hardship my parents went go through every single day just to provide for us and for that, I am very thankful.

Every  now and then something breaks the monotony like that time I had my wisdom tooth pulled out because it hurt too much. I still miss Dra. Olalia, my dentist.
20150416_101857Or that time I forced Pangs to explore Isabela with me because it’s a shame that I’ve been to a lot of places in the Philippines but I’ve never set foot in any other towns in my province for the purpose of discovering tourist spots. My parents are not really into road trips plus we don’t own a car so I only go outside my hometown if 1) I need something and the provincial/regional office is situated elsewhere and 2) there are school competitions.

Anyway, we started with the Giant Butaka in Ilagan. I think it was awarded a Guiness Record. I remember feeling amazed when it was featured in Ernie Baron’s Knowledge Power because it’s the first time I heard our place mentioned on National TV HAHA #probinsyanaprobs. I’ve passed by this structure countless times but I’ve never really stopped to look at or even take a picture of it. “Butakas” are rocking chairs with long arm rest. When I was a kid, I used to have one and it was my favorite chair until I watched the movie Patayin sa Sindak si Barbara.

20150427_095602Next stop was Our Lady of the Visitation Shrine at Guibang, Gamu, Isabela. My memories from this place consist of the church being so crowded I’m hugging my claustrophobic self for comfort and impossibly long lines to be able to touch the glass housing the image of Mary with your white cloth.20150410_103543It’s a bit hard to commute in the province because forms of transportation aren’t efficient and are based on punuan system instead of following schedules so make sure to make your itinerary flexible. Also, a typical passenger van looks like this plus the blazing sun and no air conditioning. SONY DSCAfter Gamu we went to Cauayan City. I have a couple of spots in mind but we were only able to visit two: Our Lady of Pilar Shrine and Mushroom Center. The former is pictured below while the latter was such a fail my father kept on teasing me again about my choice of places to visit. When I read about the center on the internet, I was told that I can buy and learn about different kinds of shrooms and eat dishes made of the fungi instead of traditional ingredients. I was excited by these. When we arrived however, it was void of any activity and the place looked really sad, like it was left to fend off for itself. We immediately left to prevent further embarrassment. That’s the problem with most politicians, they make projects but don’t follow up on them till the end.

SONY DSCSONY DSCFrom Cauayan we again rode a van to Tumauini, Isabela for San Matias Parish Church which is known for its brick Baroque-style architecture and was declared a National Historical Landmark in February 1989. It was first built in 1707 (woah!) and a unique cylindrical bell tower, the only one of its kind in the Philippines, followed construction in 1783 and was finished in 1805. I know the bell tower is what makes this church famous but I’m not pretty fond of it. Don’t hate me for saying this but it reminded me of wedding cakes. A contrast to the brick building beside it.

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SONY DSCAs I grow older, I begin to realize the importance and pride in speaking vernacular languages.SONY DSCThe church from the inside.SONY DSCSONY DSCEvery province in the Philippines has its own unique product. When I went to Negros last year, I saw a lot of trucks carrying sugar canes. In Isabela, you wouldn’t go 5 minutes without seeing corn being dried beside highways. It’s a very lucrative business, I tell you.SONY DSCNext stop was the one I was looking forward to the most because of the food haha! It’s Cabagan for the famous Pancit Cabagan. We ate from one of more than a dozen eateries along the highway and though it was decent and satisfying for me, my father was disappointed saying it wasn’t the Pancit Cabagan he knew. K Pangs.SONY DSCJust a couple of minutes by tricycle from Cabagan is San Pablo where one of the oldest churches in Cagayan Valley is situated albeit only the ruins remain because it was heavily damaged during World War II. There are a lot of goats and cows in the area and I don’t know why haha! It reminded me of the Ruins de Sao Paolo in Macau but that one’s better preserved.SONY DSCSONY DSCThe people of San Pablo built a place of worship in a portion of the ruins.SONY DSCNature really has a way of taking over things as evidenced by the plants on church walls. The plaza was unkempt.SONY DSCSONY DSCSince my father was not satisfied with the first Pancit Cabagan we tried, we gave it a second chance at the more famous joint, Josie’s Panciteria. I guess the default marketing strategy of owners in the province to encourage customers is to put pictures of celebrities dining in their establishments. I saw a photo of Angelica Panganiban among others proudly displayed as badges of honor.SONY DSCI can’t say that it tasted exactly the same as the one we previously had because this was definitely better but the way that it was cooked (which was the basis of my father’s complaint) was the same, saucy and al dente! Bahala ka Pangs basta solb na ako!SONY DSCAnd some mikki for take out! Pancit is one of my favorite foods thanks to growing up eating one almost everyday and I won’t stop doing so even if I get obese from all the carbohydrates. If what the Chinese says that it contributes to long life is true, I believe I’ll live up to a hundred haha.SONY DSCThere are a lot of other places in Isabela that I wanted to visit like Magat Dam, Ilagan Sanctuary, and especially the coastal towns but they’re saved up for another time because my parents refuse to accompany me nor allow me to go off alone. Haist. Also, I still don’t have enough money for airfare but I’m so looking forward to riding a Cessna plane to visit the coastal towns. Please wait for me, Dinapigue, Macunacon and Palanan!

Before my summer vacation ended, my mother enrolled me in a driving class under TESDA for 3 weeks. According to most, you can actually learn how to drive manual gears in 2 to 3 days, a week tops. But if 20 of you are sharing in one car, it’s no wonder you take up the whole 15 days haha! But I’m not one to complain because it’s relatively cheap at 1,500 pesos plus a National Certificate in Driving recognized here and abroad if you pass the assessment.

During our “road test” we stopped by our instructor’s house in the barrio to drink buko juice fresh from the tree. Since none of us were able to climb, we the guys used bamboos instead. They weigh like a ton to me and it’s a bit scary because you don’t know where the coconuts would land.

20150623_134024 20150623_134306Tree to pitcher doesn’t get any better than this! Add milk and it’s perfect for the scorching heat!
2I miss the laid back life in the province but I can’t deny that I also love some things that cities offer — convenience and diversity being two of them. There are just days when I want to leave Manila and all its smoke-belching cars, rude people, and materialistic tendencies.

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2 thoughts on “Bless Isabela gracious Lord, and keep her in Your fold

  1. You said: “…my father was disappointed saying it wasn’t the Pancit Cabagan he knew.” How RIGHT your father is!! I was last in Cabagan Dec. 2016 and had Pancit Cabagn (PC). The Pancit Cabagan I knew in the 1960s was tastier than today’s PC even if they peppered it with lots of quail eggs. There were NO quail eggs in the original Pancit Cabagan and yet it was far better.

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