Sunday, January 27, 2019

2018 -- My Year in 12 Shots

It's always been difficult to  for me to write about my year-in-review.  How do I include all the
things I did, saw and ate in a whole year, in just one post?  My previous posts about my
year-that-was always seemed so interminable.  This time I decided to apply the Marie Kondo 
method to 2018  -- remember  those moments that sparked and gave me much joy.
So dear readers, here's a Baker's Dozen of the highlights of my year.


Being city born and bred, I always daydreamed of the pastoral, bucolic life.  These musings invariably included livestock -- not horses or cows but a sturdy carabao, placidly pulling a plow ... wallowing in the mud ... you get what I mean.  Jay knew about these carabao cravings and at the
start of this year, surprised me with a really neat Christmas gift ... my very own carabao, promptly named Haw Haw (get it? Haw haw de carabao).  
This photo was taken right after Mang Igna welcomed Haw Haw to her new home in Wakas, Tayabas.  She is only 7 months old and I look forward to many years of enjoying her company.


In February, I met up with a bunch of people who I had not seen in over 40 years. My grade school classmates from St James Academy in Malabon very kindly included me in their 45th high school reunion.  What a treat it was to see old friends again and realise that Thomas Wolfe got it wrong ...
you can go home again. 


This is the house that Jay built ... well, is actually still building.  Our little retirement home is about
to be finished, hopefully by 2019 we can start spending a few days a week in Tayabas, where this very thoughtfully and thoroughly planned house stands. 


It's embarrassing to state that in all of our 60+ years we had not been to see the Philippines' contribution to the wonders of the world  ... the Banaue Rice Terraces.  We finally made up for lost time by visiting in April where we trekked through the wide and wonderful Hapao Terraces, one of the 5 terraces cited by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.  It was an amazing experience to walk on centuries old earth packed trails surrounded by rice fields as far as the eye could see.   It is one of
my favourite hikes ever.


San Miguel, Bulacan is known for its pastillas de leche and its beautiful historic, ancestral homes both of which we had our fill of, one sunny day in May.  This photo was taken in the grounds of the 18th century church of St Michael the Archangel.  Located in the center of town, the church is a good base from which to explore the grand old mansions of San Miguel. 


Martina's first trip to Baguio included a visit to the new Museo ng Kordilyera inside the UP Baguio Campus.  The excellently curated museum with priceless artefacts from the Cordillera region is a must-see and a perfect rainy day activity.


This view from Highlands in Tagaytay never gets old, no matter how many times we've seen it. 
An overnight getaway is a refreshing way to escape the heat and humidity of the city.


A quick 24 hour business trip to Naga City was a welcome break but the highlight was time spent with  Fr. Dan Isidro SJ and Ben Bana of Ateneo de Naga.  The former was my son's mentor and teacher in college and the latter is one of his closest friends.  Thank you for the warm hospitality!


In September, Jay and I did a mini version of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage.  We were henro (pilgrims) for a week and walked, bus-ed and train-ed our way through the four prefectures of Shikoku managing to visit 12 of the 88 temples.  This photo was taken in Okubo-ji, temple 88 and 
the penultimate stop for pilgrims.  Dogyo ninin. 


In an effort to widen (and yes, "youthify") its audiences, Ballet Philippines has come up with the hashtag #ExperienceBalletPh.  Ballet buddy Trisha and I took in "Carmen and other Dances" in October  and followed that up with a most entertaining performance of "Snow White" in November. Season tickets for 2019 are in order!


Growing up in the 60s, Manila was my happy hunting grounds.  Malate, Binondo, Sta Cruz and Quiapo were week-end destinations -- we would go to mass,  eat and do some shopping -- in that order.   It was  serendipitous to find a local tour company,  Bukas Quiapo Tours that conducts 
historical, multi-cultural and inter-faith walking jaunts through Quiapo.  
The half day tour run by locals  is an awesome way to discover the history and hidden charms of Quiapo.  The tours are a project of the Save the San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation.  All proceeds go towards the preservation and maintenance efforts of this only all-steel church in Southeast Asia


Since December 2010, I have been lucky to share my birth date with my granddaughter, Martina. 
We always try to celebrate our birthdays together and this year, we decided to inject a little bit of history and learning into the occasion.  Martina enjoyed walking around the walled city of Intramuros and we both had quite a blast (if you'll pardon the photographic pun). 


A pause at the end of the year to reflect and be grateful for all that has come is my ideal way to put 
a close to 2018.  A few nights' stay at the Sacred Heart Novitiate,  secluded in a silent retreat is balm and healing for the soul.