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Home Articles Visitor's Narrative Simara Island - A Memorable Experience

Simara Island - A Memorable Experience

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by Ria Santos-Fajilago


The Honorable & Mrs. Eusebio ‘Bio’ S. Advincula & their family had invited me to join their 68th Town Fiesta from April 21 to May 01, 2003 in Corcuera Romblon with a side trip via Odiongan and Calatrava. Uncle Bio, who hails from Romblon, Romblon and was a barangay chairman of San Vicente, Corcuera Romblon in the late ‘70s to early ‘90s and now as a municipal councilor of Simara, was my best friend’s father.


When I took this trip I left my everyday self behind, with all its must-dos, “forsaking for a while the innumerable small and large tasks of work, home, and family.” I was determined to live the moment. Thus when witty Architect Manong Pino Delfin was introduced to me while on board into small bangka leaving Calatrava to Simara, to regale each other with some jokes, I did my part, shedding inhibitions, enlivening the jokes (especially talking with their own dialect) with gestures that never failed to elicit guffaws from Manong Pino who, like me, were there to have a good time, we found ourselves seatmates on the bangka. We were 11 in all lead by Kuya Ely, on one tour boat.


Simara was a most pleasant experience. The sight that greeted us as we arrived to Uncle Bio’s home was that of a little subdivision countryside, concrete houses, with glass windows and iron grilles, amidst old houses bleached by the sun in a sparsely inhabited island. I was impressed over the Simaranhons’ preservation of their lush trees stand to protect the isle from landslide or in flood and allow fish and various marine life to propagate. The route was interspersed with plantations of coconut trees, for which the municipality is well known.


There was a grumbling over the ungodly wake-up time of 6:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 27, for us to be able to catch the first and last mass. We were served a lunch of native tinola and adobo sa gatang manok and fresh buko while a trio of domesticated animals serenaded us at Auntie ‘San’s home in San Vicente. We had returned home the night before. Auntie Letty served us a hearty dinner!


The Cultural Night on Sunday, April 27, was to be a special treat for all balikbayans especially to me as a visitor, some having traveled from abroad, for the reunion. When I told Mr. Bernie Fallurin, one of the committee of the productions for the Cultural Night, that I was going to Simara, he suggested if I could be one of the judges on the coming big event. I had to come days ahead of the night to do this, the venue being the Amphitheater at the Corcuera Plaza. I furnished Bernie with my brief CV per his request.


The event promptly started at 8:00 p.m. I was delighted to be able to hear the contestant’s lovely voice and to see the scenic intermission numbers. We called it a night when 12 midnight gone off, hence only got six hours of sleep. I still had my ability to sleep soundly despite the din of voices.


Our next itinerary was along Mahaba passing Pidape, Tacasan, Mabini (thanks to Meltzi Fojas for a refreshing coca-cola!) and Mangansag for a short tour (an hour back and forth) aboard a single motorcycle. The scenery was that of a natural tropical jungle unspoiled by human habitation. (I was half expecting to see Tarzan swinging on the thick vines.) I felt like I was witnessing the dawn of creation.


Thursday was crowded with devotees of the St. Joseph, who had arisen early in the morning to catch the fluvial parade or to attend the early morning Mass. Lucky that this fiesta isn’t in the south monsoon months! I had never been to this place before, so couldn’t help being bedazzled by the flamboyance of the long-week celebration that went into the games and presentations. Such profligacy, I thought, for a poor country. We truly are a fiesta-loving people who will barter away our treasure just to have a good time, and to preserve our public face. Some probably do it, too, in fulfillment of a vow to the saint for past favors received or for petitions being prayed for.


We spent the rest of our holiday walking on the wide beach (it was low tide), and came back with dozens of lovely shells. I was enthused over the fine sand that had the consistency of flour, even better than Boracay’s, they attested. The clear water was teeming with starfish.


We were nonetheless happy to have had the privilege of witnessing this once-a-year spectacle, courtesy of Mayor Bibs Fanlo & Attorney Raquel Banares, and were relieved to be taken to the rest house of Ms. Roma courtesy of Bernie and Grace in Mahaba for our remaining two days stay. We only had to politely listen to the young ones’ tęte-ŕ-tęte.


But of course I was there to be with my best friend’s family and relatives, to interact with them and explore more friendships, perhaps to reclaim Jean’s memory. Sha told me that he had eschewed these reunions for five years while she mourned the loss of her dear friend, Jean Ferry. She had also lost her zest for seeing her old classmates because it would only bring a flood of memories of her absent friend with whom she had spent many happy times. I’m sure that Jean’s family and relatives, seeing Sha without Jean, likewise experienced an ache in their hearts, for Jean (according to Sha) had been a jolly good fellow, infecting them with her contagious laughter.


We went back to Manila the following morning grateful to Honorable Uncle Bio and Auntie Letty, who helped us make our travel successful, for the wonderful time we had.


Of experiences such as these are memories made. For all the gigabytes of memory in computers, “the memory that matters resides in what W.B. Yeats called, ‘the rag-and-bone shop of the heart.”


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 March 2009 04:20  

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