Sunday, April 9, 2023

Holy Week: sea, food, and song


Manong booked us all tickets to a quiet resort in Glan. My travel plans got cancelled, and I had nothing else to do. With us were Sean and wife, Hannah: their first time to visit the resort after their wedding there a few months ago. The other Hannah, the nurse-cousin who grew up with us and who'd leave us soon for the States, decided to go with us at the very last minute, despite some urgent online work she had to do. "On Holy Week? You're seriously working on Holy Week?" we said. We assured her there was internet connection along the shore. Her eyes sparkled at the thought of the calming white noise of the waves by the beach.

And so it happened that on Wednesday, I waited for the family in my clinic in General Santos. Because I wouldn't have in-person consultations until next week, I still saw a couple of patients in the morning. The overhead lights were turned off in my clinic, and if you barged in my office in between 12 noon to one o'clock, you'd have seen me sleeping on my desk, my ears plugged with my wireless Jabra, whispering to me some calming music.

The gang left Marbel after lunch and picked me up in the clinic's parking lot—a stifling, humid day with some ephemeral, overhanging clouds that left us wondering if it would, in fact, rain. Our plan was to have an overnight stay on Wednesday, then drive back to Marbel on Maundy Thursday, so we'd be home on Good Friday, in time for the church's scheduled day of prayer and fasting.

I slept through the ride. My brother Sean, the most careful, skillful driver I know, navigated through the coastal towns with the giddiness and speed felt by people who lived far from the sea. When we were children, the promise of a beach vacation would render us sleepless. The sea was the subject of many of our dreams, and there was a time when my brothers and I wondered if we could dig a deep-enough crater to usher the salt water from Sarangani Bay to our backyard.

There's something healing about the sea that uplifts the spirit and expands the mind. The waters were calm, and the resort was quiet when we arrived. Some cottages were occupied by visitors who weren't planning on staying the night. Some rooms, though, were occupied. There was a young couple who liked taking selfies: the man had abs and tattoos, the woman had curves and sunglasses. Their four-year old son was busy watching cartoons in an iPad. People from the city were also around: familiar faces from elementary school with sonorous accents that reminded us of home. A gray-haired woman waded in the waters, while her grandchildren played with salba bida. A young father, who sported the beginnings of a promising muffin top, ushered his daughter to the shore. "Hello, little girl!" we said, and the young lady waved at us, ecstatic. We also met the nine-year old Timmy, a Danish-Filipino boy, and his Ilongga mother, who wanted to make great memories of the Philippines for her son. Timmy enjoyed the sea but also wanted to swim in the pool, which we had access to. We told him he could use it.

After dinner, Manong gathered us for prayer. Our bodies sore from all the swimming, Manong and I requested for a massage. The therapists, who came from the town center, arrived after 30 minutes and were dressed in green scrub suits. Kristine was in the middle of crushing the lamig on my back—one of the most wonderful massages I've had—when I heard peals of thunder. It was nine o'clock. "How are you going home?" I asked. Kristine said there was a sidecar waiting for them. (If you're ever at Anvy Resort, get a massage and request for Kristine!)


In the morning, Sean treated us to a boat ride that brought us in the middle of the sea. There were sandbars we walked on, and there were areas where we could no longer see ground beneath our feet. Never mind the sun. The view was God's painting and landscape—the trees that grew from cliffs, the random growth of sea grass, and nooks and crannies by shores. It seemed like human intervention would only ruin the landscape, as it often does.

Then it was time to go home. The guests were slowly checking in. We were told that the resort was fully booked from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. We packed our bags and made our way back. Hunger pangs, for it was already lunch time, forced us to look for a place to eat in Glan. We saw a carinderia filled with locals and decided to eat there. Who was it who told me that they key to finding where the good, clean food places are, you must look for long queues and, preferably, tricycle drivers—the most discriminating food critics there are? It's sound advice.


The food at Triple J was unbelievable. Get the pork humba, africana, paksiw, adobong pusit, bopis, and Bikol express!

Pork humba AfritadaPinaksiwFood in Glan! 

What a blessing to be with family on Holy Week! Today is Easter Sunday. Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed!

I know that my Redeemer lives 
What hope this sweet assurance gives 
That he who gave his life for me 
Arose with healing in his wings 
He lives, the tomb is empty still 
Redemption’s promise he fulfilled 
No condemnation now remains 
The stone of death is rolled away

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