Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas at home

I got home on a 7:30 am Cebu Pacific flight to General Santos last Thursday, but the plane only got off the runway an hour after we boarded the aircraft because of what could only be described in layman's terms as heavy traffic--there were so many people going home to the provinces.

My younger brother, Sean, who studies Dentistry in Davao, was already home when we arrived. I was surprised to see that he, too, has grown fatter.


I'm writing this from my grandmother's old house in Polomolok, about 45 minutes away from Koronadal City. We used to spend our summers here when we were younger. Lola is about 80 years old now, but her memory is still intact, her humor still piercing, although she does have difficulty walking because of osteoarthritis.

lantana subdivision, dole window

We arrived here in the morning, my parents and my brothers, and since then we've had difficulty refusing our relatives who, out of courtesy and habit, have been forcing us to get two . . . three . . . and eventually four servings of Christmas food that could potentially elevate our lipid profiles in the morning. By Christmas food, I mean lechon (roasted pig), caldereta, fruit salad (my mother's contribution, one of the few recipes she can manage to prepare), among others.

house pines

Outside, my cousins are hurrying after their children--a noisy bunch they make--all of whom have started calling me Tito.

While we were walking around the subdivision, Jared, 5, asked me if I could carry him on my back, to which I replied, "You're asking the wrong person. Go find Tito Matt." Katrese, 2, looks angry most of the time, but she seems to like me--a rare instance for children who usually get hysterical when they see me. Zach, 7, who was raised in the Manila, seems to understand his cousins when they talk to him in Bisaya. They've had an awful lot of fun playing with fake guns this afternoon.

nephews and cousins

Let me tour you around Lantana where I spent the happiest childhood anyone could ever dream of.

In Lola's backyard, the old durian tree is bearing fruit. These days we keep close watch of this area lest the spiky fruit fall on the children's heads when they run around.

durian durian

Right across the highway is the Howard Hubbard Memorial Hospital where Tatay first met Nanay, who used to work here as Dole's company dentist. My father was enamored at the petite lady, of course, and my mother, who at the time was rushing to settle down, was gradually lowering her standards: my father had clean nails, she might as well marry him.

howard hubbard memorial hospital howard hubbard memorial hospital

Years ago, this area used to be populated by noisy children like us.

on the street where lola lives

Since then it has disintegrated to become a quiet, almost depressing residential subdivision, with some of the houses already abandoned because their owners are either dead or are working in bigger cities.

sign grass

These are the flowers I saw in the neighbor's long-forgotten backyards.

red red brick flowers yellow

From my grandmother's house, one can see the towering Mount Matutum, nothing as beautiful as Mount Mayon, of course, but this volcano, whose eruption was believed to have happened ages go, has been responsible for Polomolok's bountiful pineapple harvest.

mt matutum pines

I love the greenery, the nature-y feel of Polomolok. The place is how many meters above sea level again? I really don't know, except that we have little use for electric fans when we stay here.

leaves myself
bark stump

We visited the Pyramid, the local plaza, where there's a rather wide expanse of land, a decent tennis court, a basketball court, and recently, a sari-sari store. My late grandfather, Lolo Polding, used to take us here for early morning walks. I miss him.

tennis court swing

My favorite spot is this area in the corner of the pillars supporting the Pyramid. My cousins and I made this our make-shift slide before Lola had one constructed in the yard.

slide makeshift steps

Before I go out to resume the celebration, I can't help but be thankful for the grace of God to our family.

Christmas is a reminder that God, in His love, sent His own Son to this world. He did so because He wanted to redeem sinners like us. Yes, sinners, because each of us has violated His perfect standards of holiness. But instead of punishing us for our sins (the wages of sin is death, after all), He sent His only begotten Son to die the death we deserve.

Really, the reason why we celebrate Christmas is Jesus Christ "who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:5-11)

Isn't that amazing? Have a blessed Christmas everyone!




Blogger Unknown said...

I didn't know that your Lola lived in Lantana. :) To think that I was there yesterday to drop off some gifts. I hope you and your family had a lovely Christmas, Lance.

Mon Dec 26, 08:26:00 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my mother, who at the time was rushing to settle down, was gradually lowering her standards: my father had clean nails, she might as well marry him

What did your father say about this? :)

Wed Dec 28, 08:02:00 AM GMT+8  
Blogger Lance said...

Kat, it's such a small world indeed! Maybe next time we'll bump into each other. Enjoy this break with the family.

AAce, he grins.

Wed Dec 28, 08:25:00 PM GMT+8  

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