Thursday, December 9, 2010

Where is Neverwhere, Batangas?

My mother hails from Neverwhere, Batangas.

Just kidding.

There’s no such location. But my mother’s hometown is so far-flung I am not sure if I can see it in Google Earth. She grew up in a barrio in Talisay, Batangas. It’s a small village where almost everyone is a relative. I can still remember when our parents used to take us there, our mother will introduce us from house to house to greet our cousins, tiyos, tiyas, kakas*, mamays* and nanays. Our mother told us all of them are our relatives and we are free to step inside their house and eat with them anytime we want.

I still like the idea of absolutely feeling at home and eating together with people I barely know in my mother’s hometown, even until now that I grew older and spent most of my days in Manila where you can’t exercise such a great freedom like that.

It’s the best of all the Filipino family customs and traditions.

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Let me take you to my road trip.




It started inside one of the most comfortable buses I stepped into. As usual, I took the back end where I can see everyone coming in and where I can people-watch anytime. The view outside is also serene. Lucky I got the back end that time solo, I can see the full view of everything.

The bus was wide and cool. It was so comfortable inside, good thing I didn’t fell asleep. The next thing I knew I’m already in Batangas, after an almost fleeting instance of riding the bus in its terminal in Makati.

Coming from north, you’ll know you’re in Batangas when you see this.


 The glorious Mt. Makiling under the clear blue sky of Batangas.

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"Utoy, lampas ka na. Ikaw ga’y sa Tan-auan bababa? Ala’y Malvar na eh.”

Comfortable seat plus beautiful scenes. I know I’ll miss my stop. And I just did.

I was supposed to go down in Tanuan and then ride a jeep that will take me to Talisay. I only had a sudden feeling that I might have been losing my way after the conductor asked for my ticket and revealed that I my ticket only paid me ‘til Tanuan and that Malvar, where I already was, was already the next town.

Cool.

I was then instructed to take a jeep to Tanuan. It was 4:00pm already. I’ll be mad at myself if I won’t get to the Tanuan Public Market before sundown.

I have a very important task to do.



The heavens answered my prayer. I came just in time. Above is a picture of some of the vendors who sat on their make-shift stalls outside the market.

Let’s see inside?


Gulaman.

These gummy eye-candies are being sold all round the market and they surely add color to the whole place. If you love samalamig, you must be a lover of gulaman too.

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Brace yourself for this one.

 
Sapin-sapin!

It is unbelievable how this favorite Filipino delicacy can make me the happiest man on Earth in an instant.

More Filipino delicacies abound in the Tanauan Public Market every day. There are puto, kutsinta and the local bestseller called Sumang Yakap, made of boiled sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves and dipped in sweet sauce made of coconut milk and Muscovado sugar. The sauce is called kalamay-hati.

It’s a tradition to cook Sumang Yakap for snack during All Soul’s Day or Undas. Another good reason to visit the province during the holidays, right?


Another clue that you are really in Batangas can be found in the air.


 Kapeng Barako!

Yes. The most aromatic object in the face of the planet! Who doesn’t love coffee? With the popularity of foreign cafes in the Philippines, who would have thought we also have something to be proud of as Filipinos.  

Kapeng Barako, yes.

Where else? But here in Batangas!

Each pack is sold at only PhP10.00. It can serve more than ten cups in every boil.

Add sugar and creamer and then stir!

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After my short escapade inside the market and accomplishing the task I set for myself, I know it’s time to go. I rode a fast jeep to Talisay and savored the fresh air which blew on my face!

 
 Woooohoooo!

After about 20 minutes, I found my stop at Barrio Aya and rode a tricycle at the foot of the mountain going to Barrio Labak, my mother’s barrio.

And then, home sweet home. Just in time for my godson’s, Baby Cyruz, birthday.



Finally, I’ve found my way to my mother’s house alone. Now I can go visit my relatives anytime I want or whenever I found myself longing for the sapin-sapin, Sumang Yakap, fresh air or simply the big smiles and warm hugs of my family.

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No matter how crazy is the world we are in, we knew there will always be somewhere we will want to return to, from time to time. Somewhere we know we can slow down, touch base with ourselves and marvel even at the smallest things we may almost have forgotten about.

At least somewhere, we are always welcome and free. Just like home. And no matter how far and crooked the roads are to traverse upon, it will still be worth it.

This is my Neverwhere.

Where is yours?

*Kaka – the eldest child in the family. This is usually being used by the nieces and nephews in addressing their elder uncle or aunt.

*Mamay - grandfather

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