Sunday, July 25, 2010

Life in Saimsim

Sunday morning... we attended Mass at 7am and had our breakfast, this time at Jona's, a slight change from our usual Jollibee or Chowking breakfast after Church. Now a little time to write before I attend to other matters.

I think about my last blog and how it is mainly pictures of the pictureque lake and mountain. When I first arrived in 2002 and got a chance to stay the night at my aunt's house in Saimsim, Batangas, I was awakened by that beautiful sight. To me it was so new, so refreshing. But to those who lived there, it was an old sight, one they've seen too many times. We only go back to my dad's hometown around 2-3 times a year, too few I know and too soon as we only stay a short while.

There are beautiful houses on the lake front. "Katas ng Italy" (literally, "sap from Italy" but figuratively, the product of all the relatives who have worked hard in Italy and other countries abroad). Many of the houses though are empty. Some cousins have built houses for themselves and their families, but only live in it when they vacation. Most of the time it's just cleaned by a caretaker. Hardly any of my cousins are left. I think it's sad but for many it was a necessity. What other income could they generate in this small town? Those left behind are mostly the elderly. One aunt's children and some grandchildren are all working and living abroad - Italy, Spain and Canada. Another aunt has one child who will soon be leaving too. She cries and says no one will be left to take care of her. Someone else is hired to care for their mother, too old and too sickly to travel. So they stay in the barrio where they grew up with their family, the barrio that comes to life only when visitors or balikbayans arrive.

We feast on fresh tilapia and tawilis (if it is available, but is becoming rare nowadays) that is cooked over the fire. Soy sauce with onion, tomato and kalamansi goes well with the fish. It's best to eat with your hands! We usually bring with us pork and chicken adobo, good on long travels as it doesn't go bad mainly because of the vinegar. The "locals" like our adobo, while we prefer their servings of fresh fish. We brought home tilapia to be cooked on our stoves here at home. I meant to take a picture of the food, but forgot - my hunger pangs got the better of me. Here's one picture with Jojo helping to set the fire for the fish.

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