Monday, August 14, 2006

DAVAO'S CALYPSO DANCER


At around 1956, Lolo Porong who just came back from working in Guam was convinced by his cousin Porfirio "Lolo Piryong" Ciencia to move to Davao City. Lolo Porong sold their property in Sta. Ana and settled in Davao along Claro M. Recto Street. Only father --- the only unmarried child --- went with them. I went looking for the street during my last trip to Davao and it turned out to be one of the city’s busiest commercial streets. It is on one side of the Aldevinco shopping center and within sight of the Marco Polo Hotel and Ateneo de Davao. Lolo Porong’s Davao of old is gone.


The only memory of my father’s sojourn in Davao is a photo of him dancing the calypso with his cousin Leah (Lolo Piryong’s daughter). His capidua Alejandro "Uncle Andring" Ciencia will join him there also upon the invitation of Lolo Piryong who made a bid to be a congressman in Davao but lost to the Almendras political clan. I will meet Lolo Piryong in Santiago where he later moved and continued his law practice.

Later at around 1960, Lolo Porong again moved to Bambang from Davao upon the invitation of Auntie Angeling. They will live with her and Uncle Doming in a two-story wooden house. The house is later torn down and replaced with an imposing two-story concrete building --- the upper floor as the residential part and the ground floor as the commercial area. It would be known as the Tinikling house after Uncle Doming’s beer house below. Auntie Angeling later sold the big house in Bambang and move to Sonsona in Almaguer after Uncle Doming died. That house was again sold after Lolo Porong died.

Enchanted in Camiguin

My last trip to Davao started in the island province of Camiguin. I was supposed to fly to Manila from Cagayan de Oro City but Pare Joey (one of my youngest son Balong’s ninongs) convinced me to rebook my ticket and take the plane in Davao instead. There’s not much to see in Cagayan de Oro and I wanted to see Lolo Porong’s place in Davao so I endured the 10-hour travel by ferry and car. I was wide awake when we passed through Bukidnon and imagined seeing Oyet’s Jongkoy and Melanie (characters from Isang Libong Alitaptap, Oyet’s first novel) in every person I see, and every tree and gorge that went by. By late afternoon, we entered a desolate stretch of the highway where houses made of woven coconut leaves cling precariously against the wind, and bare children tried to race with our car. The rolling hills stretch with endless fields of corn and there seemed to be a military checkpoint at every turn. The driver hit the accelerator. Pareng Joey told me we should be out of the area by nightfall. We were in MILF territory.

I was in Camiguin for the second time as a resource person of Social Watch Philipines’ Minadanao conference. It is a very enchanting island as the travel brochures claim. Frankly though, I won’t be staying for more that a week because it will be too boring by then. I went around the island in less than 3 hours and visited all the major tourist areas in half a day. I recommend the following itinerary: an early morning dip at the crystal-clear waters of White Island then a walk along the “panata” stretch; in the afternoon, a dip at the cool waters of the Katibawasan falls is a perfect prelude for an evening-long soak at the Ardent Hot Spring. I killed the rest of my 4-day stay by going around the churches. Three are worth visiting: the church of San Nicolas de Tolentino in Mambajao that was first built by Fr. Dionision Pueyo (OAR) in 1892 then enlarged and reconstructed in 1935 by Fr. John Pollock (SJ); the newly renovated church of San Roque in Catarman that was established as a mission in 1623; and the church of Nuestra Senora del Rosario in Sagay, established as a mission in 1749, that still maintained its original design.



In my first visit to the island, I took Ka Tolits for a walk along what I called the “panata” stretch --- a favorite haunt of devotees during the Lent season. Our first pilgrimage was in the ruins of the Gui-ob Church, destroyed by Mt. Vulcan’s eruption in 13 May 1871 at 6:20 pm, burying those who took refuge in its walls. Our next stop was the Sunken Cemetery that was swallowed by the sea during the eruption, then finally at the peak of Mt. Vulcan’s dead crater that can be climbed by following the trail of the 14 station of the cross.



1 comment:

Manu World said...

Nice pics in ur blog too!
:)
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