Sunday morning kiss


A flirty butterfly displays some tricks in courting a pretty flower. The demure flower says nothing. The answer is obvious. It is a yes!

Photos: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines


Bulusan’s indispensable bancas


Bancas at the mouth of Bulusan river, for ferrying passengers to nearby villages, to transport farm produce and for fishing.


A passenger/fishing banca takes a rest as local boys watch their playmates dive and plunge under the bridge.


Windbreaks provide shade to a banca in Sitio Riroan.


A simple little banca is an indispensable tool for a ‘parapadagat’ (fisherfolk) like Inggo.

Afternoon banca rides such as this one are the stuff of memorable summers for these two boys.


Parked bancas near the seawall as viewed from Sabang bridge.


A rustic banca for this local fisherman blends perfectly with the serene lake. Bulusan Lake, 2012.


A parking space for local bancas near the river in the Poblacion can be viewed from a jeepney parking lot where this picture was taken. Also in the photo is a boy with karagumoy hats on his way to the plaza to deliver the hats to hat traders. (Bulusan, 2014).

Bulusan's indispensable bancas

Bancas are ubiquitous in almost all the coastal villages of Bulusan. These indigenous boats predate history and are regular part of the local landscape and culture.


Bulusan river traversing the Poblacion provides safe shelter for bancas. This river view is just a block away from the public market.


A banca maker in the coastal village of Dancalan is finishing a small banca ordered by a neighbor for the summer vacation. He can do also large bancas for fishing and transport purposes with motorized engines depending on the specifications of the client, says this banca maker.


Home to this banca is the river bank separating the villages of Sabang and Central.


A Bulusan made banca – sturdy and utilitarian stands by ready for the day’s foray to the sea (Sitio Riroan, Mabuhay, Bulusan, 2013).

The bancas in Bulusan’s coastal areas are so common that these are most of the times taken for granted. But after stumbling upon an article on the Philippine indigenous bancas, my photos of local bancas suddenly popped out in my mind like a waiting cache of treasures waiting to be rediscovered.

Of the 24 villages of Bulusan 18 are coastal communities (i.e. the ocean’s edge is just minutes walk away from the villages) plus one mountain side village with a lake. This means bancas are constant fixtures on our shores and beaches. Utilized for fishing, transporting farm produce, travelling from the villages to the town centers or simply for leisure like for example an afternoon banca ride (above photo).

Interestingly, the local bancas of my town have their own peculiar names specifically designated for each kind of locally made bancas. These are: sibid- a small banca, sibiran – next in size to sibid, kasko – a banca without the outrigger, paraw – banca with sail, baruto – bigger than a paraw.  For many of us though who are living in the center of town, the banca is simply referred to as ‘sakayan.’

Thanks for sharing information* on the importance and beauty of the Philippine indigenous bancas, I can now begin to fully appreciate the  true value of this under appreciated Filipino heritage. This time, I know I will never look at the familiar bancas of my town’s villages the same way again.


Photos: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nothing Gold Can Stay

by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Note: To B my eternal best friend who passed away in 1997.

Video from You tube.

Red clusters along the highway

Red clusters along the highway

A pandanus species growing along the road of Barangay Porog, Bulusan, 2013.

Bulusan is a town that is immensely rich in flora diversity. This is the main reason why I started contributing plant photos to a botanical site of Philippine flora. For instance, this fruiting pandanus species (photo) was spotted along the highway of Barangay Porog just 2 kilometers from the Poblacion during one of my photo ‘expeditions’ in the countryside.

There seemed to be no end to these photo forays. A good thing since these activities will keep me occupied for many years to come and  photo shoots are perfect to the slow rural rhythm of my hometown.

Accompanying  images for this pandanus species are shown at the Phytoimages’ gallery:

Photo: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon

Gathering memories, gathering sea shells on a cloudy day

Gathering memories, gathering sea shells on a cloudy day

Dancalan Beach on a cloudy day, December 2013.

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A Gloria Steinem’s quote  explains briefly the difference between sadness and depression: “When you’re depressed, nothing has meaning. When you’re sad, everything does.”

Maybe this is true to me i.e. maybe I am sad not depressed.
Everything has meaning even the lines of the markings of the waves have meaning. The shells lining the tracks seemed to be waiting for me and the waves were endlessly throwing the little sea shells of my childhood right on my feet in the sand for me to gather. But my mood shifted more strongly to gathering memories instead of gathering the muying*, the varied buskay* right in front of me as I walk slowly on the wet sand.

Maybe the waves knew exactly that the shells lining along the pathway marked by its endless coming and going will somehow remind me of the childhood days when we used to play sungka* and siklot*. Maybe these little waves now and then touching my rolled denim jeans knew exactly that when I go home after this little play with them there is no one there but me and the soft lights of the monitor…and I will be typing these lines.


*Muying is a specific kind of sea shell loved by the children who grew up in Bulusan town. It is the cutest among the sea shells. Buskay is the generic local term for almost all kinds of sea shells in Bulusan while sungka and siklot are popular sea shells’ games for girls in my hometown during my childhood years.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil
Dancalan Beach, Bulusan

Rallying call

Mirage-like image of Mt. Bulusan provides a backdrop for the lush green of the rice fields that constantly depend on its mountain waters for irrigation.

Mirage-like image of Mt. Bulusan provides a backdrop for the lush green of the rice fields that depend on its mountain waters for irrigation.

If you are from Bulusan and living within a 15 kilometer radius from Mt. Bulusan/Bulusan Volcano just like me, you better heed the call of Father Edu Fulay of the town’s Saint James the Greater Parish. For several Sundays now after each mass, he patiently reiterates the consequences of hosting a Geothermal Power plant which I have already pointed out in several posts about Bulusan Geothermal :

Renamed as West Bulusan Geothermal, it is the same thing as the Bulusan Geothermal where Bulusan folks rallied against two years ago.

Photo: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

End of Christmas season

End of Christmas season

Reading past homilies of past Christmases is my source of inspiration for meditation every Christmas  from  dawn masses to the end of the season. I will recap it now since today, January 6,  is the last day of Christmas to most Catholics in Bulusan.  One of my favorites is the 2007 Christmas homily by Pope Benedict which partly reads:

“The message of Christmas makes us recognize the darkness of a closed world, and thereby no doubt illustrates a reality that we see daily. Yet it also tells us that God does not allow himself to be shut out. He finds a space, even if it means entering through the stable; there are people who see his light and pass it on. Through the word of the Gospel, the angel also speaks to us, and in the sacred liturgy the light of the Redeemer enters our lives. Whether we are shepherds or “wise men” – the light and its message call us to set out, to leave the narrow circle of our desires and interests, to go out to meet the Lord and worship him. We worship him by opening the world to truth, to good, to Christ, to the service of those who are marginalized and in whom he awaits us.”

Merry Christmas and Happy Three Kings Day!

(Image : Adoration of the Magi by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 17th century from Wikimedia commons).


Bulusan's belfry

One of the four bells on top of the tower.

The bells and the belfry are participants to almost all religious celebrations in Bulusan such as this one.

The sound of the bells emanating from the Spanish period belfry still figures prominently in the lives of Bulusanons. It can be heard daily from the morning bells to the dusk’s angelus. The full-bodied sound of the biggest bell can reach up to 3km from the Poblacion to the villages adding excitement  during celebrations such as during fiestas and weddings. It also warns the residents of calamities e.g. Bulusan Volcano eruption, fire etc.

Indeed, one cannot describe Bulusan town without mentioning the belfry. It is embedded in the collective memory of Bulusanons – from birth to death. Referred simply as the Kampanaryo by the locals, this belfry is actually a watch tower, part of the defense fortress of Punta Diamante in Bulusan.

For a feel of the actual sound of the bells, you may visit this site:

Photos by Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines


A Blessing for the New Year*

by John O’Donohue

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.