"From the weather forecasts on TV during the past week, it is clear
that summer is here! Temperatures in the mid-30s are forecast
for the Philippines and much of this side of Asia. Of course,
with the usual high humidity, too. The 3-showers/day season is
It used to be a summer tradition in
the family for the children to spend the
summer months with Jun’s mother,
Mama Nanie, in Palinpinon, Valencia.
Our children and their cousins really
looked forward to this respite from school
and the busy life. In those days, the
Catan home was still in its original state
– no electricity, no running water. But
the kids just loved it.
They learned how to fetch water
with the carabao and cart; they told
stories in the evenings by petromax;
they took their baths either in Okoy
or Banica River. They climbed trees,
chased the chickens, learned to like
malunggay and fish, and helped with
the household chores.
Some mornings, they would all
hail a jeepney and take their breakfast of
juicy sweet mangoes, puto maya and
chocolate in the Dumaguete market.
Then with Mama Nanie and baon from
the market, they would all proceed to
one of the nearby beaches for a day of
fun, sun and sea. Several years later
when we acquired our small beach
house in San Jose, they would spend
their time there, alternating between
eating, swimming, eating, playing with
the barrio kids, eating, and sleeping.
Many years have passed since
those idyllic summers. Many
things have changed. There are
now available electricity and
running water in most homes.
Roads are generally better,
although noisier with more
vehicles. The rivers and shores
are more polluted near the cities.
Recent years’ typhoons have
changed some of the river and
shore landscape. But the
Dumaguete market still serves
mangoes, puto maya and
chocolate. And the beaches, the
hot summer sun, the sand and the
sea are still available in abundance!
For several years now, it is our daughter with her children and their
cousins who spend several weeks of
their summer vacation in Dumaguete,
tracing their Lola Nanie’s footsteps, while
at the same time enjoying the more
modern version of the family’s summer
traditions. Of course, fun, sun and sea,
plus puto maya and chocolate at the
public market remain the same! This
year, they spent a day in Malatapay,
lazed on several beaches, and tried out
Life on the beach always seems
simpler with less noise and less
busyness. At first, the tired body
stretches out in the shade of a
coconut tree, relaxes and watches
the lazy clouds drift by. Gradually
as time passes, life takes on the
seductive rhythm of the waves and
sways to the tune of the playful
breezes. Time tables, schedules,
long lists of things to do fade into
memory as the beach beckons with
its promise of myriad delights--
pearly dawnings over a quiet sea,
colorful sunsets and twinkling stars
you can really see and count!
Aaahhhh… Summer is truly here!
Summertime whispers to us to step
off the merry-go-round of our daily lives
to stop for a minute and savor the beauty
and wonder of nature... to smell the
tangy scent of the sea… to take a deep
leisurely breath of the sultry summer
air… to feel the warm sand between our
toes… and to revel in being alive.
And even if we can’t go to the
beach, we can still stop wherever we
are for a minute or two or three, take a
deep breath, and savor summer’s
sounds, scents and the everyday
sacredness of being alive!