Sea bounty from Gubat

Sea bounty from Gubat

Marine harvests

Marine harvests from Gubat town.

Above photos show assorted marine harvests from Gubat sea coast being peddled near the jeepney stop to Bulusan. Crabs are similar to Bulusan’s kamilo — a local marine crab with polka dots on the outer shell. Notice also the noodle-like green seaweed.

Photos by Alma P. Gamil


Waiting for the full moon

Waiting for the full moon

A local boy calls the other side of the seawall as home.

Sea breeze gives a steady  flight to this boy's 'buradol' (kite).

Sea breeze gives a steady flight to this boy’s ‘buradol’ (kite).

Kites are in the minds of these young boys still too young to fly the real ones.

“Clouds come from time to time – and bring to men a chance to rest from looking at the moon.” – Matsuo Basho

The moon stood me up last full moon. Not a glimpse of what I was anticipating—an orange pregnant moon reflected in the waters facing the seawall of Dapdap adjacent to the mouth of the river. The clouds covering the sea horizon were bent to obscure the view of the moon rise.
The calendar was clear about the time and the date of the moon rise of the full moon this month: 6:06 PM, March 17, 2014. So I thought the moon was up to something. Maybe the moon was telling me to shift my gaze to some more important terrestrial views. So that was exactly what I did instead of staring at the grayish horizon.

"Follow me."

“Follow me.”

I walked the seemingly endless seawall pathway guided by a local boy going home to a thriving seawall community. Following his tracks led me to a group of children playing on the other side of the wall. But before that there were these two boys flying a kite – a real one, and two boys drawing the kite on the sand (photos). Then further at the end I can see young boys at the tail end of an afternoon late swim with cluster of younger children playing beside and on top of the seawall and some of the bigger ones going to the other side near the water edge. All were playing happily in the light afternoon sea breeze. The playful sea waves as backdrop completes the scene. It is obvious, that the seawall is their playground and they live just a step away from the seawall.

Living on the edge.

Seawall community

Not informal settlers. Fairly neat and modest homes for this coastal community living just a step away from the seawall is the norm.

Dapdap seawall has protected the thriving community for almost a decade. Climate change however is changing the equation.

Seawall community

Seawall community as viewed from the top of the seawall.

The seawall is a long playground for the children of this coastal community.

The seawall is a long playground for the children of this coastal community.

Bulusan seawall

Children at the Dapdap seawall

The innocence and playfulness of the children captured in these photos however don’t hide the fact that these seawall communities are the most vulnerable areas in our town whenever tropical typhoons visit our region. Thoughts about a devastating typhoon that wrecked a neighboring province entered my mind as I gamely shoot several spontaneous poses from the kids.

Thoughts that reverberate as I walked back home.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Seeing Zen

A poem from Jack Kerouac

The world you see is just a movie in your mind.
Rocks dont see it.
Bless and sit down.
Forgive and forget.
Practice kindness all day to everybody
and you will realize you’re already
in heaven now.
That’s the story.
That’s the message.
Nobody understands it,
nobody listens, they’re
all running around like chickens with heads cut
off. I will try to teach it but it will
be in vain, s’why I’ll
end up in a shack
praying and being
cool and singing
by my woodstove
making pancakes.
~ Jack Kerouac

Photo: Alma P. Gamil, Bulusan, 2014

My Technicolor First Sunday of Lent

My Technicolor First Sunday of Lent

A scene during the First Sunday of Lent event in Bulusan, March 9,2014.


Newly painted station of the cross altar, Bulusan, March 9, 2014.

I was expecting a burst of colors at the church ground that afternoon — colors of the flowering kind from the masitas (ornamental plants) and tropical trees blooming this time of the year at the church patio grounds.

The burst of colors was there but of a different kind. Lo and behold, the newly painted outside retablo altars at the station of the cross with its vivid and vibrant colors now dot the perimeter of the church yard just in time for the Lenten season!

What a colorful paint retouch! The local artist with his byline at the first and last station of the cross altars seemed to be in his colorful self during the painting retouch work. Same retouching style extends to the adjacent grotto (below photo) with colors of vibrant red, yellow and blue.

I can’t tell whether this is some kind of folk art or bordering on the  kitsch. But what calmed me down was the thought that a local artist did the job. This means this is an authentic rendering of the stations of the cross as interpreted by a local folk artist.

Children sit at the steps of the belfry during the First Day of Lent event in Bulusan, March, 9, 2014.

Children sit at the stair steps of the belfry during the First Sunday of Lent event in Bulusan, March 9, 2014.

The first Sunday of Lent in Bulusan was attended by mostly children and local parishioners from around the Poblacion and nearby villages. Children with their favorite playmates grouped together in clusters waiting for the ‘istasyon’ ( station’s prayers)  after the mass and obviously enjoying the waiting time  as bonding and playing time.

Istasyon (Stations of the cross prayers) will cover the 14 newly painted stations of the cross outdoor altars and will be repeated for the next Sundays of the season of  Lent.

The station of the cross prayers went smoothly that Sunday afternoon though lengthy as expected. The prayers for the complete set  of  the 14 station altars could last for almost an hour. So I went home late again but not until I was able to take some snaps of local children playing inside the sprawling yard with the belfry as backdrop.

Brightly colored grotto for the Lenten season, Bulusan, March 9, 2014.

Subdued and simple altar adornments with purple hues at the First Sunday of Lent in Bulusan, March 9, 2014.

Subdued and simple interior altar adornments with purple hues during the First Sunday of Lent event in Bulusan, March 9, 2014.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon

Primer Biyernes

Primer Biyernes

San Vicente chapel, Buhang, Bulusan, March 7, 2014

“Primer Biyernes,” the elderly woman (center of photo) answered my short query on what was the event at the San Vicente chapel, March 7, Friday. She was a co-passenger of the jeepney that I was riding from Bulusan’s Poblacion. This route passes by the San Vicente chapel. This was her stop and was paying the driver with her transport fare when she answered my question.

From my jeepney seat, I can see people coming and going out of the chapel’s entrance. Many were lighting candles at a special area at the left side of the chapel. It was obvious that her trip was for this purpose alone — to visit San Vicente.

I quickly snapped a photo of her walking towards the chapel and wondered what petition prayer she will be asking for intercession to the village Patron Saint, San Vicente Ferrer.

San Vicente Ferrer is the Patron Saint of the village of Buhang, the second largest village of Bulusan town. The saint is locally known for interceding prayers and petitions relating to good health, healing  and recovery from sickness.

The visitors of San Vicente chapel however not only include those with prayer requests and petitions but also those who were recipients of favors and prayers granted via the saint’s intercession.  Visits during  Primer Biyernes or First Friday of every month are the best way to show thanks  to the saint. It is also the most powerful day to offer prayers of petition to San Vicente Ferrer done by lighting candles to honor him — ‘mapa-ilaw’ in the dialect.

Photo: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon

Pantomina in a Wedding celebration

At last an authentic unchoreographed Pantomina! Pantomina in situ. This one is an amateur video of my nephew during his friend’s wedding in Bulan, Sorsogon.

The Pantomina dance as part of a wedding celebration is similarly done also in Bulusan and other towns of Sorsogon. Hence, this post.

Although Pantomina dance is an all-happy-occassion number, I particularly love this dance to be specifically performed in weddings. It has all the elements of a celebratory dance. The Pantomina music’s joyful rhythm and the lively and lovely steps and movements of the Pantomina dance especially the ‘paso’ part are celebrations in itself.

The dance is also a fun way for the couple to have an instant seed money to begin their lives together since the money is considered as a community gift for the couple pooled together from ninangs, ninongs , family, relatives, visitors and well wishers. The money given to the couple are not only confined to paper bills of high denominations. Coins also are accepted — this is the reason why the couple is dancing in a native mat i.e. banig. The banig is there to catch the coins thrown to them by well wishers.

As the groom and bride dance to the music of the Pantomina that goes on and on, families, relatives  and wedding sponsors from both sides will have their money at hand tested by upping each other in the pinning of the money bills in a sort of contest. The larger the amount the better. All is done however in the spirit of fun. At the end of the dance,  the couple will have a basket full of money in denominations ranging from 1 peso coin to 1,000-peso bill. The groom will in turn offer (for safekeeping ) the pooled gift money to the bride as part of  the celebrations.

The money however is not the main purpose of the dance. Fun is.

Video from You Tube

Roadside meditations with a little help from a friend

Bulusan's low tide seascape, February 2014

Bulusan’s low tide seascape, February 2014

Roadside tree view image #1, Bulusan, 2014.

Roadside tree view image #1, Bulusan, 2014.

Roadside tree view image #2, Bulusan, 2014.

Roadside tree view image #2, Bulusan, 2014.

Roadside tree view image #3, Bulusan, 2014.

Roadside tree view image #3, Bulusan, 2014.

Roadside tree view image #4, Bulusan, February 2014.

Roadside tree view image #4, Bulusan, February 2014.

Bulusan's low tide seascape

Bulusan’s low tide seacape image #2, Bulusan, February 2014.

The route from Bulusan town to the city (Sorsogon City) is a double treat of ocean panorama on my right and green rolling mountains on my left. The reverse of course of the view i.e. on my left — seascape and on my right — mountainscape happens on my trip back home. Be on camera alert along the road between  Bulusan and Barcelona towns where the most picturesque views  are concentrated.

Since the photos were taken from a moving passenger jeepney, the horizons of my raw photos most of the times need some straightening. For me it is so easy. A friend does it for me making my photos look more stunning than they really are.

The above photos are some of my roadside meditations straightened via a virtual friend. My big thanks!

Photos: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

More about folk healers

More about folk healers

Home-made coconut oil is a traditional healing oil in Bulusan made more efficacious by using it first as vigil lights for santos in the church.

A Bulusan Facebook group site reposted my blog A visit to a Folk healer recently. Reading the comments from the thread, I found out that it seemed to be that the ‘parabulong’ i.e. folk healers though deeply rooted in our local culture’s psyche are not seen in good light by some of my town mates.

For instance a facebook member commented that my ‘folk healer’ blog will put some people in a bad light by my referring to the nickname of the folk healer to a similar sounding name of another local resident. It was as if being a folk healer is  something to be ashamed of, that it refers to a person of low stature – I bet that his view of the folk healer or parabulong is this: a local ignoramus practicing some indigenous rituals with herbs and incantations.

On the contrary, my view is this: that being a folk healer means that one carries an indigenous knowledge that can only be attained with patient apprentice and study passed on from one generation to the next.

A recently published book by Anvil has this to say about Filipino healers and this includes Bulusan’s ‘parabulong’ and ‘parahilot’:

HILOT, the Filipino healing tradition is an indigenous practice that has been handed down from generation to generation by the Filipino sages, or albularyos. Modern medicine has discouraged the use of the method because it has remained undocumented thus bereft of ‘scientific’ evidence and basis for its use and application.

The book also shows how the art is relevant to the 21stcentury thinking that stress affects a person’s general well-being. “HILOT healing has two aspects: the restoration of harmony of the three faculties of man, and, the attainment of balance in the four elements of the body.”

Fajardo writes, “HILOT encompasses a spiritual and medical tradition with breadth, scope and depth comparable, if not equal to, the medical systems of Traditional Chinese Medicine and India’s Ayurveda. HILOT is grounded on a holistic approach that treats man in his totality. In HILOT healing, the concept is to trigger change and to bring back man to his natural health order.” The book also offers the training process for healers and includes a directory of Hilot healing centers all over the country. “

Hilot: The Science of the Ancient Filipino Healing Arts  written by  medical researcher and healer  Bibiano  S. Fajardo and Ma. Aleli V. Pansacola is available in the Health and Medicine Section of National Book Store, Powerbooks and Bestsellers.

Photo: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines