Two reasons I adore Pope Francis: one, he always points people to Christ and two, his visit gave us a much-welcome five-day vacay. Woot! Woot!
The sudden free time gave me and my friends reason to go up North. My good friend Ciara invited us to visit her hometown Agoo, La Union where we experienced provincial life which, unlike Belle, I thoroughly enjoyed.
I’m actually thinking of moving my family to Agoo. The fresh air and even fresher food will do my ageing family good. The commute is a bit of a killer though. Not all buses take the SLEX and TPLEX for some reason and that translates to nine hours of uncomfortable bus ride from Pasay to Agoo. Ouchy booty!
It’s a great thing that Casa Ciara is only a few feet away from the highway where we got off. Another ride would have been excruciating.
The look of the street where they live (feel free to hum) reminded me of old 70s films where the lead’s beloved would be passing by on her way to the wet market early in the morning, wicker basket in tow. The homey, good-old-days look of their neighborhood was exactly what I needed to calm my strung-up nerves.
Their home is a typical Filipino compound they share with relatives with a guard dog for each house. None of the dogs were very welcoming but the green of the garden and fruit trees eased away all exhaustion from the overnight travel and renewed our energy for the day’s activities.
Since we got to Agoo later than expected, we decided to forego the Baguio trip originally planned for that afternoon for the next day and just spend the rest of the day exploring Agoo.
But first, lunch!
Ciara’s dad cooked Patotim (duck braised in soy sauce) for us. Tito Dan raises ducks and chickens and did us the honor of preparing one of his alaga for us.
It was my first time to try Patotim and it was delish! The meat was nice and tender and the sauce was just perfect. Since they expected us for breakfast they also prepared boiled corn, kalamay, and fruits which we decided to have for dessert. Yum!
After freshening up, Ciara took us to the site of the famous Agoo apparitions of the early 90s where a boy named Judiel Nieva claimed to see and speak with the Blessed Mary. Nieva is now a transgender woman who goes by the name Angel dela Vega.
The site was uphill and it was not an easy trek. I could just imagine all those elderly people making their way to the apparition site in search of a miracle and finding none.
We then headed to town to shop for vegetables for my favorite Pinakbet which Ciara’s mom offered to cook for dinner that night.
But we didn’t end the day yet. After dropping off the veggies for Tita Loy, we hopped onto Tito Dan’s tricycle and raced with the sun to the beach, begging it not to set before we could take a photo. And the gorgeous sun willingly obliged.
We spent the rest of the evening watching coverage of Pope Francis’s Manila visit while having tea and kalamay with a side of chips and dip. I was the first to give in to sleep and left them to their TV bingeing as I looked forward to breakfast in Tita Loy’s beautiful garden the next morning.
I awoke to a magnificent morning with the sun gently nudging us to slide out of bed and the wind beckoning us outdoors. I woke everybody else up and reminded them of our plan to have breakfast al fresco.
Tita Loy pulled out all the stops at breakfast. She prepared chicken macaroni soup, tortang talong, and rice while Tito Dan bought pandesal, and putong Calasiao. Coffee and hot choco were also available and I, of course, opted for the latter.
The morning breeze was glorious. Quiet life in a laid-back town is simply priceless. But all good things come to an end. So, we bid Ciara’s family goodbye as we went up to Baguio for a less-quiet outing.
Read about my Baguio trip on my next post.