Philippines – April 25 – May 16, 2019

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Cess and I go home to the Philippines every so often to see family and friends and enjoy the different places we visit and savor the food we eat.

Our previous trips were “occasion” visits – reunions, family illness, break from work, break from school. This time, with us retired and the kids on their own, it was time to visit for the sake of visiting, to “chill”, to take and savor the days as they come; no maps, no schedules, no prior commitments. This time – enjoy the sites, enjoy the food.

On to Roxas City

Roxas City has always been an oasis for me, away from the suffocating air, traffic, and mass humanity of Manila and the other worldliness, culture, and discipline of Seattle. Roxas City has grown, albeit slowly, but one can still enjoy the simple pleasures of life – fresh food, especially seafood; relatively clean air (except perhaps for the smell of drying fish in Baybay); friendly people (yes, Capiznons are a little brash and guarded but, once you get to know them, they are very hospitable); quiet town (well, except for the mosquito-like tricycles); and very provincial (although a  mixed-use development, Pueblo de Panay, has arisen south of the city proper with a Robinsons Mall which has become the shopping center and “kapehan” of Capiznons of all walks of life (“air-conditioned” kasi) and an SM City is being built at Arnaldo Blvd., which means that Roxas City has now joined the major league cities).

After having arrived in Manila at around noontime, Cess and I decided to forego staying in Manila (until a later date) and remained at the airport to catch our flight to Roxas four hours later. Tired and sleep-deprived, we braved the NAIA Terminal 3 crowd and chaos (our departure gate was changed 3 times) and boarded the flight for Roxas.

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Roxas City and Baybay

After about an hour’s flight, we arrived at the Roxas airport, which hasn’t changed much in perhaps 30 years.

Finally, after collecting our luggage (our kargador was the next generation of kargardors; our trusted oldtimer kargador for the past 40 years had passed on) on to our beloved Baybay home.
I can’t describe the feeling of arriving at a place away from all the hustle and bustle of Seattle and Manila but these pictures can speak for themselves.

And the glorious Baybay beach.

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A bonus in living in the Philippines and particularly in the province is the fertile soil and abundant fruits and greenery. Look at these from our backyard.

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Growth has come slowly to Roxas City but it is starting to emerge from its fishpond, seafood, and agricultural roots to becoming an up-and-coming medium-sized city. For one thing, there are now about five or more traffic lights in the city proper, bringing some order to the tricycle-choked and provincial free-for-all traffic mess in the downtown core. And. as big-time developers have moved into promising markets like Roxas City, business and entertainment have slowly crept its way from the traditional downtown core (church, plaza, municipal or city hall) to  the mixed-used planned community of Pueblo de Panay, south of the city.

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Other Familiar Places

We visited other places, although briefly, where I spent my youth and early adult life and these places are faint memories but dear to my heart.

At Rizal, Pontevedra, Capiz with Tonette, our farm caretaker. This is the sugar land, which the family still maintains as an heirloom, and further east is the fishpond, which has passed on to new owners.

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At Agumang-ang, Ivisan Capiz. This is the road (call it a road) to Tulalo, a mountain in Agumang-ang still owned by the Altavas clan. A kilometer or so down the main road was Lola Julia’s home, the Soriano clan’s ancestral home, where my mom and my aunts and uncles grew up in. I and my cousins spent endless summers in lola’s place, going hunting and fishing.

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I did not take any photos of lola’s place since her old home is already gone. Neither did I take any photos of Ivisan “banwa” (town proper) since all of my aunts and uncles have passed away; the Soriano homes are still there but antiquely old. My cousins have moved out and moved on to Manila and the United States. I’ve always mused to myself that Lola Julia has contributed perhaps as much as two hundred immigrants to the US.

Ivisan – just wonderful memories.

Galen S. Altavas

Galen Altavas has worked in both the private and public sectors both in the Philippines and the United States, as a rural banker, fishpond operator, marketing manager, financial analyst, IT manager and IT project manager. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Ateneo de Manila University and an MBA in Finance from the Seattle University in Seattle, WA. He resides in Baybay, Roxas City, Philippines and Seattle, WA.

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