Have been entertaining thoughts of moving back to my home province to establish a small food business in the city while exploring possibilities for organic farming in our small property three hours away.

Such fanciful thinking may have been brought about by my general weariness over Manila life or just plain anxiousness for some change (especially that am nearing my birthday :P).

Usually, when I am hit by this mood, my dreams swim across seas back to places where my earlier fantasies were first imagined — home sweet home.

Or rather, homes sweet homes.

During my adolescent years my family did not own a house. Memories of grade school include daily commutes from at least five different neighborhoods as we seemed to be moving from one house to another almost on a yearly basis. I remember I was already in high school when we finally settled in a rented three-bedroom bungalow in a small subdivision near the Iloilo airport, a neighborhood I’ve formed a familiar bond with (though never really felt like its permanent resident).

Perhaps, this explains why when I think of home in Iloilo, I don’t usually refer to a specific house. Instead, I remember all of my shelters — the many rented apartments/houses in various villages; the Assumption schoolgrounds; the UPV campus not only in the city but also in Miag-ao; Tia Mels’ Sari-sari store, where many UP High kids first had their taste of liquor and smokes; the aksyon (read: gimik) places along Diversion Road; the malls where teenagers in uniforms tambay and paduding; homes of friends that have hosted fiestas, get-together parties and mahjong sessions; the narrow city streets that allow for smooth rides and probably put drivers in a humorous mood they indulge my barkada’s crazy penchant for hitchhiking; and the grand churches where priests pontificate and our sneakily picked flores de mayo end up.

It appears home is the entire City of Iloilo. And…

..that idyllic town to the north, Estancia. Where fishes come from. And lovely Trining, the first Miss Iloilo. (Hehehehe, How’s that for some trivia? :P)

Mother says that around the time of the Philippine-Spanish war, Lola’s father migrated from Calinog to Estancia in search of greener pastures. Lady Luck must have been smiling on him while he was hard at work that he eventually acquired lands at very affordable prices. These were then divided among his many sons and daughters, many of who later sold their shares. But not Trining. Well, at least, she did not sell hers to strangers. Only to her daughter!

Mother may have bought the land under certain compelling circumstances, but she did and does truly love the place. For several years now, there is a charming bamboo three-bedroom house (with a relatively big bathroom and somewhat misplaced bathtub) that sits atop Daan-Banwa’s sloping hill overlooking the wide open sea where I used to swim and soak for hours on end.

Father says he taught me swimming by throwing my 3-year-old body into the waters from the guba-guba, a natural formation of bonded stones (or what appears to be a heap of stones glued together) stretching from the shoreline to the neck-deep portion of the beach.

So home is also Estancia. It is where I spent most of my pre-school years, and nearly every summer vacation after that. It is where I am fondly called “Udak” and loved by folks who name their dogs “Rhoda”. I remember that one such particular dog had sent me frantically running across the rice fields as she furiously chased after me, seemingly intent on tasting the flesh of the child that inspired her name.

There are a million other memories of homes and Iloilo. Are these mere fleeting fancies by one who seeks solace? Or are these recurring desires that one must finally act on?

What say you? 😛

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