Leave 2016: Southern Philippines
PART OF ENJOYING one’s travels is retrospection, when one recounts the things that have happened, the places visited—a process made easier by the advent of camera phones and social media.
On this long weekend (yesterday was Araw ng Maynila—ah, Forward Ever, Backward Never!), I shall indulge myself in this exercise because I haven’t written much about the second half of my break, which I spent with family and friends in Koronadal, the place I still consider home.
I haven’t been “home” for almost two years, not since I have started residency training anyway. My father gave me updates on various changes that have occurred during my absence, facts I have later confirmed.
—That St. Paul Street is now paved.
—That our neighbor, Uncle Boy, who gave us pasalubong from his various trips overseas when we were little, is struggling for dear life, having been diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, and that I should pay him a visit as soon as we’d arrive.
— That the Orocio home—notorious for the ghost of a pregnant woman who was allegedly stabbed to death—has been broken down to pieces and is being sold.
—That new buildings have sprouted as well, which includes a physical therapy clinic a few blocks away from our house, in the intersection between Judge Alba Street and the road to Agan Homes. The city government is also building a terminal complex in what used to be a remote farm land. Businesses are sprouting in the area. These, and the opening of a new Chowking restaurant along General Santos Drive in front of my mother’s dental clinic show that business looks good.
I didn’t get to see old friends, but had accidentally met Teshila at a restaurant in Tupi town. She used to be a seatmate in elementary school. She now has three beautiful daughters but looks like she hasn’t gotten pregnant at all.
My father drove me to various places, mostly to General Santos, some 45 minutes away. We went to the beach with the Jamisons, had dinner at Sarangani Highlands, which offered us a beautiful view of the bay.
We also visited my aunts and uncles from Banga. Their blood pressures were reassuring but their blood sugars showed yet another proof that diabetes is hereditary—it seems inescapable, with most of my relatives from both sides taking metformin at some point in their lives.
Lola Gloria, who suffers from dementia, celebrated her birthday. She hardly remembered me anymore, but I was thankful to see her. I realized that the best way to calm her down was to sing church hymns with her—“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” being her favorite.
It was a joy to catch up with our home church, who have kept praying for us after all these years.
We feasted on fruits, tuna, and vegetables.
I got to taste excellent coffee from Sultan Kudarat, now the number one producer of coffee in the country (sorry, Batangas). I also bonded with Sean, who was busy doing oral surgeries and dental procedures. Praise be to God for the gift of rest!
 Perhaps the age of writing on notebooks has left us quietly, except for writers and journalists who still think using ink on paper is more intimate. I now resort to EverNoteor my phone’s built in application for note-taking as they are easier to bring.
 But backward seems to best describe the capital’s progress.
 I visited him and was surprised (and relieved!) to see that he tolerated room air, had good appetite, and could walk outside the house to get some morning sunshine.