A Year Ago in La Union
We’re almost at the third quarter of 2014 and this is only my sixth entry for the year. I guess I threw my dream of becoming a blogger out the window for the nth time. Hehe. This year has been super busy so far, with work, shoots (and with that, editing/social media updating/e-mailing), church/dgroup and family duties. My hands are full almost every day of the week. Now and then, I get to schedule an out-of-town trip, using up almost all my allowable leaves.
There are tons of photos and stories that I want to post, but as I was cleaning my laptop files, I came across a folder of photos from June to July, 2013. Around this time last year, my brother and sister from the US came home with their families to spend their summer vacation in the Philippines. It was our second major family reunion since my siblings migrated to the U.S. The first one was in 2012 which I blogged about sometime ago. I haven’t posted the photos yet from last year even if most of them were taken using my camera because I didn’t have time to sort out and edit each one. Besides, my sister had been posting hourly photo and status updates on FB so I didn’t feel the need to post anymore. Hehe.
There were several trips lined up last year and I was able to join my family in La Union and Puerto Princesa, Palawan. My sister got a good discount at Thunderbird Resort in Poro Point so we stayed for two nights there. La Union is actually my mom’s hometown and I’ve spent most of my childhood summers in my grandparents’ house in San Fernando, La Union, specifically, in Barangay Biday. My grandparents’ vacation house is a simple bungalow-type structure with a wide backyard and a small hill behind it that was rumored to contain buried treasure (which remains a rumor). The house was surrounded with quite a number of mango trees and whenever we would spend our vacations there, the caretakers would pick some for us, which we would fondly eat with salt or bagoong. My cousin and I would ride our Manila-imported bikes around the front yard. I remember the small well behind the house that was so deep that I was often scared to go near it for fear of falling. I remembered how during my teenage years, I hated going there since there was no cable TV, no malls, and no form of communication. I gained back my appreciation for the provincial peace and quiet when I reached college. The house was a ten-minute drive away from the beach and when I was a lot younger, we would go to this resort named “Californian beach”. We would swim and sometimes take boat rides to other islands. In the early 2000s, we discovered the San Juan surfing haven. There were only a few resorts there before, unlike now where the number of resorts in the area and their proximity to each other gives the beach strip an almost Boracay vibe.
It has been more than ten years since I last visited the house so I was shocked to see how different it looked when we visited last year. With no one to look after the house anymore, my mom and her sister (who passed away early last year) decided to sell it, and so they had the hill at the back bulldozed. Almost all the mango trees were gone. There used to be a narrow, unpaved path leading to the house, with the entrance covered in trees, making it inconspicuous to passersby. Now there’s a small building and a “beerhouse” sandwiching the small road. I wouldn’t have guessed that the same pathway led to the house we frequented years before. It was completely unrecognizable.
My heart sank when we entered the house. It didn’t look so good either. Some parts of the wooden floors were damaged by termites. The furniture and mismatched decor were collecting dust. No one has stayed in the house for a long time and no one was up for its maintenance. My mom’s graduation photo, which hung on the wall together with my aunts’ and uncle’s photos, was damaged by insects as well. We had to take some of the photos down so we can bring them to Manila for restoration. With the heavy dust and archaic feel, I honestly wanted to get out of there as soon as I got in – but the wave of nostalgia prevented me from doing so.
Naturally, we had to redo the old photos. Hehe. In the first family photo (see immediately preceding photo) I wasn’t even born yet. Unless I spent my childhood as a stuffed lamb (right beside my sister. Hehe)
I wish I could post photos of the house during its glory days, but I don’t know where to start looking.
We went there twice during our short stay in La Union. Once with my mom and the other one with all my siblings, nephews and nieces. I could sense my siblings feeling disheartened to see the place then, especially my brother and sister from the US (who are both admittedly more senti than I am. Hehe).
It has always been a tradition for us to take a family photo by the stairs before leaving the house. We did that again for the last time. With my mom expediting the sale of the house, it might be the last time we’ll see it as it was – closest to how we remembered it when we still went there for vacation. I’m glad that my nephews and nieces (especially the ones living in the US) were able to see it and have their photos taken in it – those to add to the collection of similar group photos that have been taken since the 70s.
Then, we went to the beach near my uncle’s place:
On our way there:
It was also Toby’s birthday 😀
Finally, a random goat. Hehe: