10 Oct2010

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A day trip to the countryside. A morning of joy and wonder; frustration and contradiction. The Philippine story in a few hours… The Teen had a wonderful nanny or “yaya” from the time she was two years old until she was eight. Her yaya raised her by our rules, and while we, as parents, were extremely involved and around most of the time, we were eternally grateful to have such a wonderful and devoted nanny. When the right time came, her yaya indicated a desire to move on to bigger and better things, and we eventually arranged for her to work with some very good family friends in Hong Kong for some 4-5 years. She earned in dollars, lived the OFW dream and was able to provide for her large family back home in Cebu. We remained in contact and would occasionally see her in Hong Kong on our visits to the city.

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She would eventually return to the Philippines, find her soul mate, and decide to get married. Mrs. MM and I were asked to be a ninang and ninong at her wedding and of course we agreed. So yesterday, we got up in the wee hours of the morning for a 2.5 hour drive to a beautiful rural section of Tarlac to attend a simple and heartwarming provincial wedding. On our way to Tarlac, we passed the new SCTEX expressway and took the exit that brought us to Hacienda Luisita. It was an exit too soon, but the error was serendipitous for we would never have passed this stunning main road at Hacienda Luisita, lined with hundreds of 25-30 year old Acacia trees. The tree-lined avenue must have been a kilometer or more long, and I was so impressed that we stopped to take the photo above. If only we had insisted that roadways all around the country be planted and maintained in this manner. Gorgeous.

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We turned off the main roads, and after various stops and starts to ask directions, we managed to find the modest new church in the photo up top. We stopped to ask directions several times and were amused by some of the answers, like this one from a young and authoritative man “it’s just 5 kilometers down the road” — try 15 kilometers, or the guy who said “just go over the hill and down the other side and the church is visible from the road” — try several hills and towns later and the church was 500 meters away from the main road! It was the Filipino equivalent of someone in a Vermont gas station saying your destination is “just down the road” but failing to mention it’s 30 miles away… :)

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With 15 minutes to spare, we parked the car and walked to the church yard, in the shade of a large acacia tree. The church, up top, was framed by the tree and a sharp blue sky with heavenly clouds drifting by… Across the street was a vista worthy of an Amorsolo painting, save for the electrical lines. Goats, cows and carabaos grazed nearby, a pond in the distance and lush stands of trees and grassy fields. A perfectly shaped, and recently excreted patty of warm cow dung, was warning enough that we were definitely “in the country”. But the views, clean air and honesty of the surroundings made this a very appealing place to spend a Saturday morning…

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The wedding was small but perfect. Simple but appropriate. Guests were decked out in lavender-themed attire (I didn’t know barongs came in lavender and in all sizes, down to the ring bearer!). The priest, who I later found out was only a year or two into his profession, was young and idealistic. He had built this church with monetary donations sourced completely from the residents of the 18 different barangays that the church served. I have my personal views on marriage, ranging from the fact it was conceived when couples probably only lived until their thirties and therefore, only remained married for 15-20 years as opposed to up to 60+ years in today’s over-medicated society, or that I find it bizarre that we are one of two remaining countries in the world without divorce (I think the other is Malta), or that a successful marriage is a statistical crapshoot as more than half of all marriages seem to end badly, etc. Nevertheless, I completely understand that marriage and families do seem to have a huge role in societies, and despite the risks, people continue to cherish the institution.

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So imagine my surprise when the young priest, instead of a long discussion of marriage and its nuances, chose to drill down that this was a “permanent and irreversible contract” and that it had absolutely “no expiry date” or “no return or exchange” and that basically you had no way out, no matter what. Yipes. He waved his clipboard, with the marriage contract attached, high in the air, for us to see the backside of the clipboard, with pink Barbies or other childhood characters taking away from the seriousness of the lecture. Then he went further to say things like, and I translate loosely, “the guy or groom shouldn’t beat up his wife or smack her around” and the “wife shouldn’t nag her husband constantly about mistresses or girlfriends” for doing either (gender specific) would lead to a grim end. Egads. Was this guy taunting them to think twice about marrying and instead run to the nearest carabao and gallop away to elope instead? :) I jest a bit, but had you been there, you would not have missed the irony in this priestly advice. Oh, and prefaced with “I have never been married so I rely on what my married friends tell me…” Take all that with a grain of salt and what you had was a scene that is repeated hundreds of times a day across the country, and it is heartwarming no matter how you slice or dice it. We wish the bride and groom much love and happiness. :)

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On our way home, on the SCTEX highway, just as I was reflecting about all the good and simple things we had to be thankful for, we drove up behind a trailer carrying several luxury cars. Specifically, three convertible or top-down Mercedes Benz coupes which appeared to be second-hand or slightly used, most or all carrying plate numbers from region II, and possibly headed for Central Luzon or Manila. The sceptic in me immediately wondered if these had entered the country legally, and if all the proper taxes had been paid. I could definitely be wrong, but it does seem a bit unusual that such extravagant vehicles making their way down from a far off town with no Mercedes dealers or even possibly folks with tax returns big enough to justify owning one, let alone three of them. :(

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Red, yellow and blue coupes. At full price, probably worth PHP20 million at least. During a previous administration’s reign, smuggled luxury cars were found coming into Cebu through the small port of Toledo, and hundreds of vehicles including lots of BMWs were found to have bypassed customs and large duties. I hope, for the country’s sake, my overactive imagination is completely wrong/unfounded, and that there is a legitimate explanation for this rather blatant display (in broad daylight) of conspicuous consumption. It was a depressing thought, nonetheless.

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Once we got back to the city, the incredibly grey and polluted sky, the horrendous traffic and the oppressively-in-your-face roadside advertising made me wish for some of the simpler pleasures of provincial life. These emotional highs and lows, all in half a day…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. KUMAGCOW says:

    The last photo is Edsa – Ramon Magsaysay High School/NEPA QMart area.. I live quite near that place hehe

    Oct 10, 2010 | 11:26 pm

     
  2. Joey in Dubai says:

    I love your photo of the chapel. I wish they made the sign simpler or did it in neutral color. Anyway, it’s a nice countryside scene….just loved it!

    Oct 11, 2010 | 12:59 am

     
  3. joyce says:

    the second photo is just gorgeous. grand trees always make me feel relaxed and breathe easy

    Oct 11, 2010 | 1:34 am

     
  4. denise says:

    SCTEX is the best! my uncle boasts he traveled from Hermosa,Bataan to Clark, Pampanga in 15mins!

    MM, i’ve seen a red barong!

    Oct 11, 2010 | 1:53 am

     
  5. thelma says:

    what a beautiful story!

    Oct 11, 2010 | 3:57 am

     
  6. josephine says:

    I wish the newlyweds much luck and happiness. I hope your former yaya, as a lady with some life experience (probably much more than the young priest’s) knows what she’s in for. A day in the countryside is always lovely when you live in Manila. I also hope your imagination is being as overactive as mine seeing the passing parade of traffic along that provincial road. But let’s think of happier things…what??? you didn’t photograph the wedding feast? Don’t let us think they didn’t feed you…

    Oct 11, 2010 | 4:09 am

     
  7. uniok says:

    hehehe marketman, tapat ng nepa Qmart yang overpass sa last photo mo…dyan ako namamalengke ng isda at karne supply naming magkakapatid for one week.

    Vacation ko this nov..para attend ako ng kasal ng bestfrnd ko sa nov 20. tapos diko inexpect, kahapon lang namanhikan mga magulang ko kasi ikakasal din kapatid ko. Napag usapan sa Nov 28 naman. :D

    Oct 11, 2010 | 4:39 am

     
  8. tna says:

    Same thing happened to us at SCTEX – we also erroneously exited at Luisita when it should have been one exit further. Anyway, that mistake took us to that fantastic tree lined road and I felt we should have been dressed in gowns and suits and riding in a carriage or something from the genteel era =)

    Oct 11, 2010 | 4:57 am

     
  9. marilen says:

    Such a lovely story – the wedding, the countryside, musings on bayad na ba ang luxury taxes – yes indeed MM – this set off many thoughts as serendipitous as your finding the church – over the hill, do-on malapit lang.

    Oct 11, 2010 | 7:41 am

     
  10. Ilovesta.rosa says:

    happy wedding

    Oct 11, 2010 | 8:41 am

     
  11. present tense says:

    A client – a ranking officer of of Automotive Competitive Counciil – once intimated that Cagayan was the entry point of for hot cars which had retailers up in arms because not only were cars being smuggled but oil too. The understanding that time was a quid pro quo between a Senator from Cagayan and the last Malacanang Occupants. Dismantling this is really easy except that the Senator is still an incumbent – with even more powers.

    Just dont quote me on this. cheers

    Oct 11, 2010 | 9:57 am

     
  12. Meg says:

    Hi MM, I get the same depressing feeling when after a provincial trip, after the airport, and then on to EDSA….all of a sudden reality BITES.

    Oct 11, 2010 | 9:57 am

     
  13. Mom-Friday says:

    What a lovely ending for your teen’s ‘yaya’ :) Yes, barongs come in a rainbow of colors nowadays, even for the big boys, hehe… only in the Philippines!
    And what an interesting day for you indeed, from “green” to “grey”!

    Oct 11, 2010 | 10:15 am

     
  14. KC Binay says:

    i have attended a number of countryside wedding coz im leaving in a probinsya and dito sa probinsya its really a simple and mostly base sa rituals ng matatanda, they have this hahagisan pa ng bigas bago pumasok sa reception and yung sabitan ng pera yung couple habang sumasayaw …only in the philippines….:)

    Oct 11, 2010 | 10:23 am

     
  15. becky says:

    yes, i think countryside weddings have their own charm, honest, simple but festive :)

    Oct 11, 2010 | 11:44 am

     
  16. wilde says:

    Nice storytelling there Mr.MM.

    From the serene landscapes, then back to city smogs.

    Oct 11, 2010 | 1:38 pm

     
  17. Lissa says:

    MM, I share some of your sentiments on marriage, and that ironically, some priests who are not married themselves seem to think of themselves as “experts” on the institution.

    You’re right, Malta is the only other country where divorce is not permitted.

    Oct 11, 2010 | 2:36 pm

     
  18. maia says:

    this is beautiful storytelling, MM!

    Oct 11, 2010 | 3:11 pm

     
  19. Lhai says:

    Wow sir, you were in my hometown and you passed by Hacienda Luisita!!! My grandparents actually do live inside the hacienda because they used to work for the Cojuangcos (who, according to my lola, are the nicest people- especially daw yung mother in Pres. Cory).
    Whenever I’m in the city, namimiss ko ang hangin at ‘feel’ ng province. Iba pa rin. : )

    Oct 11, 2010 | 3:32 pm

     
  20. anna says:

    Mr. MM ganito talaga ang typical na kasalan sa probinsya. walang pictures from the reception? sa amin sa bulacan pag may kasalan halos lahat ng kapitbahay ay tumutulong sa pagluluto. nakapalda at may mga dalang kutsilyo at bimpo (towellete) ang mga nanang. ang mga ninang at ninong naman may pasunod (loot bag) to be taken back home which normally consists of imbutido, pritong manok at leche flan. how i miss occasion like this in the province. work and school brought us to quezon city.

    Oct 11, 2010 | 7:44 pm

     
  21. deirdregurl says:

    lovely story-telling MM…

    Oct 11, 2010 | 8:15 pm

     
  22. Marketman says:

    Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay for the reception and headed back to Manila after the church ceremony…

    Oct 11, 2010 | 8:20 pm

     
  23. Joy says:

    Beautiful wedding.

    Oct 12, 2010 | 12:36 am

     
  24. chloe says:

    for us who frequent Ilocos, the SCTEX is a big blessing that it cuts down travel time.

    Oct 12, 2010 | 5:09 am

     
  25. Irene says:

    Beautifl. I actually want to get married in a small white chapel. :)

    Oct 12, 2010 | 5:14 am

     
  26. bagito says:

    Aww, very nice… sayang, wanted to know pa naman what you ate at the reception. :)

    Oct 12, 2010 | 6:17 am

     
  27. Seigfred says:

    waaaahhhh!!!! i miss manila! that last pic is in Pasay? I miss 31 degrees everyday!!!!

    Oct 12, 2010 | 7:21 am

     
  28. Edwin D. says:

    Raised in Moncada, Tarlac, those pictures reminded me of my childhood. from the carabao dung to the green grassy fields to simple churches, I truly miss them.

    Oct 12, 2010 | 10:03 am

     
  29. Fards says:

    the acacia tree lined road reminds me of the road before San Fernando(?) in Cebu when you are going South. It is just awesome to see these very old trees overhanging the road. I hope they won’t be cut down as they did the trees in Dakit, Barili.
    Very bucolic, love the pictures.

    Oct 12, 2010 | 10:31 am

     
  30. rita says:

    such a gratifying story. what a handsome couple, and the flower girls are so pretty! those acacia trees are gorgeous!

    for the sake of the consumers in the philippines, i hope those cars were not smuggled. that is so sad, if it were. makes me think now – which is more sadder? the consumers who buy them, knowing (or not) that it’s been smuggled? or the tolerance of it being smuggled?

    Oct 12, 2010 | 4:49 pm

     
  31. sunflowii says:

    It’s sad that the priest says “wife shouldn’t nag her husband constantly about mistresses or girlfriends”. How about “husband shouldn’t have mistresses or girlfriends”?

    Oct 12, 2010 | 11:24 pm

     
  32. mbw says:

    very typical probinsiya wedding yet I love how that young priest admonish the new couple diretso…you see napaka- natural ang idealism niya. Let’s say, as married couples we know the realities of being together but then I would rather still be reminded of the marital rules :-). I know young priests too kasi who ooze with such local color yet they strive to be foot soldiers of God in such a jaded world.

    Oct 13, 2010 | 9:02 am

     
  33. Blaise says:

    I wish we have a lot of trees here in the urban Manila, just like in Singapore… wishful thinking.

    Oct 13, 2010 | 9:59 am

     
  34. Marketman says:

    Blaise, Singapore’s landscaping was partially inspired by landscaping of Manila in the 1970’s, under Imelda, I was told… how sad that Singapore took those ideas and have made them really work all over their small but wonderfully maintained island… we have cut down most trees in the urban streetscape.

    Oct 14, 2010 | 8:11 pm

     
  35. Meringue says:

    it reminds me tuloy of the acacia tree in my elementary years…… sayang putol na lahat. ganun talaga sa probinsya, simple lang ang buhay. Kung minsan, pag wala kang ulam, punta ka lang sa kapitbahay, magkakaulam ka na…. But now, it is changing in color especially with the advent of subdivisions…… naging exclusive na rin mga neighbors……..

    Oct 20, 2010 | 6:53 am

     
  36. Mindanaoan says:

    Nalingaw naman ako sa sinabi ng pari =)

    Oct 24, 2010 | 10:14 pm

     
  37. Betchay says:

    MM, I just learned from a graduate of Forestry that what we all know as Acacia tree is not the true Acacia but a Raintree. They both belong to the same Family but of different Genus.The true acacia tree is also known as a thorn tree or wattles.And the raintree which we Filipinos call “Akasya” is also known as monkey pod.Interesting eh?

    Nov 13, 2010 | 11:50 pm

     
  38. TheProtector says:

    On the imported cars—->”The sceptic in me immediately wondered if these had entered the country legally, and if all the proper taxes had been paid.”

    Your gut feeling or instinct is correct. These vehicles passed through our customs with some “bend the rules a bit” schemes by the importer in connivance with the broker and with imprimatur of the customs collector ( through his examiner on duty of the port of entry, which is subic probably )…learned of this modus after being assigned at Subic during PASG days…so sad we are not only dumping grounds but cheated of taxes too…..

    Jun 10, 2011 | 4:18 pm

     
 

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