Aunt Nancy Vigil, my mother's youngest sister, and her hispanic husband, Uncle Jose arrived Friday afternoon from Wisconsin. They were the only remaining relatives we have there after Aunt Linda, the eldest of Mama's sibling, succumbed to brain cancer a few years back and after her caucasian husband, Uncle Nathan remarried. Glory days are over, Don Felipe suffering from Alzheimer's. He was diagnosed with the disease after he lost a great deal of money in a partnership deal back in Wisconsin. He was said to be saving the money to fulfill his dream: Put up a gasoline station.
Weeks before their homecoming, I have already decided to steer clear of their way in every possible way I can. I did eight hours work so that I won't be home when they arrive and planned to leave right after I come home to change. But my parents, who picked them up at the airport, didn't left me any money so I had to wait for them nonetheless.
It's not that I didn't like them, it's just that I feel they are complete strangers to me now after Aunt Nancy have ignored a favor I asked from her thru a letter one time when I was still in grade school. We we're really close then before she went to the States to pursue College because she took care of me and my sister and I was really hurt about what she did that I never forgot about it.
The intros went swift much to my delight. I have managed to stay out of any long-conversation with them to my father's dismay, who enjoyed watching me speak in English while I talk to them. I really wanted to leave right after that but at their prodding, I went with them to the Market! Market! and bought some stuff. At first, I was slightly taken aback when Uncle Jose asked me what I want but thanks to my irate clients, I have already been used to American's cold way of conversing.
They bought me, Lael and Hansel new pair of sneakers each. I felt really grateful and wanted to offer something back. I tried to ask them if they already have Khaos anti-pollution device (which later I learned to be a gas-saving device, not anti-pollution) in their cars, that one made by a Filipino inventor which was reportedly being bought by the US for patent rights, and began thinking to buy them one. But after Uncle Jose began talking about SOH-whatever's and things about engines in the US that I have perfectly pretended to understand, I dropped the idea and refused to talk about it any further.No, that's not Mayon you see. This picture was taken with the Mayon behind me. This is the view of the Mayon Loop from the top. Remember Picnic Grove in Tagaytay?
Saturday morning, we went together to Bicol and arrived there about past seven in the evening. The reunion was a little touching, the sisters cried upon seeing my grandfather, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, because he doesn't seem to be well taken care of. We hit the karaoke that night as I took the time to bond with my cousins whom I rarely see.
With my vacationing Aunt, Nancy.
Next morning, we went to the the grand Mayon Loop in Albay with the whole clan. It was said to be the closest tourist spot to the crater of the infamous Mayon Volcano, overlooking the whole town. We had our lunch there before we proceeded to Tiwi in search of the hot springs it has (or had) been famous for. We found out that the hot springs we we're looking for no longer exists after it has been taken on by a geothermal plant so we looked for Amater resort instead, a natural spring we have reached through Aunt Norma's memory. She recalled we went there back in 1988.
With my vivacious Lola Guadalupe and her always-stern-looking, sister.
It was the only time again since I was a kid that I enjoyed being there in Bicol with all of them. Everyone was so nice, not too much of the questions about when I will graduate came, so no rounding up of accomplishments was needed, and everyone seemed to just enjoy the time being together. It is not everyday that my family feels like what families ought to be.
My terrible cousins, with the great Mayon as a backdrop. Some things just don't fit. Hehe..
Much to my regret, I had to go back to Manila right after that for work. Leaving them at the resort, I took the bus with Lael and Hansel, who also had school, from Naga Monday afternoon. At 2 am, I am back to my workstation on the 19th floor of the RCBC Plaza feeling happy for the first time after a very long time.
The Amater resort. I just wish I had more time.