It was our uncle and aunt’s fiftieth birthday (and apparently also their wedding anniversary celebration - all falling on the month of April). We were supposed to visit them the previous week, but most of us were unavailable and so we decided to change the date. Now that the day has finally arrived, we woke up, grabbed our prepared stuff and left home. Having descended the stairwell of our building and left the village, we hopped aboard the van at around three in the morning. Bags were packed and seats were chosen by each family member. As we left the avenue and drove towards our rather distant first stop, Taguig - where our cousins were supposed to wait for us – we greeted our driver, Mr. Jun from Fox Travel Services - our transportation service, and exchanged introductions. While the rest of the family was talking, I was trying to regain a few more winks of sleep. Finally realizing that the bumpy road and noisy chatter lead me to inevitable failure, I finally gave up trying to sleep. The motion and inertia brought about by the vehicle weren’t helping either.
As we moved on, pointless chatter still went on and I was hopelessly trying to refrain from saying anything impolite. You know how grumpy a person can be without having enough sleep, right? My dad convinced me to transfer seats since according to him and his ego I could catch their “stupidity”, but I refused since if I did I would just become more vexed. With that in mind, I just transferred to the next seat, still in the same row at the back, and watched the passing surroundings through the window. I also checked the time on my phone every now and then.
After a few hours our cousin ate Jennifer, along with her companion, were the next ones to join the van. A few kilometres later, in our point of view were now our aunt and the rest of our cousins. The van was now packed with people, who were surprisingly cheerful even at such an early time of the day. My mom wanted my aunt to sit beside me near the back end of the van. With that, we went onwards to our real destination – to the province of Pangasinan.
Now in a better mood, I greeted my aunt and cousins. I was glad that they were well and I was introduced to my cousins’ children and to the other new people. My aunt said that she didn’t get enough sleep so I offered her my pillow. I continued to watch the surroundings passing by the window, and in my line of view were many things like buildings, cars, and eventually trees and more gifts and symbols of nature, which confirmed that we were truly heading towards the rural part of the country.
A few hours later the younger kids started to ask about when we would arrive at our destination. Some of the people started to eat their snacks, and offered each other theirs as well. Thanks were given, and with a few more events happening during the last few hours, we finally reached our first destination - Manaoag church.
It's actually a stop-over we decided to take before proceeding to our real destination. Although it's a distant location a little bit away from where our Aunt and Uncle where living, visiting Pangasinan would never be complete if we would not drop by the famous church - and say a little prayer while we are there.
If Fox Travel Services didn't sponsor our van, we would not have the luxury of traveling like this. I will tell you more stories about the church of Manaoag on a separate blog article to avoid making this blog entry too long, as well as our trip to one of Pangasinan's beaches a day after the birthday celebration. So that's two more blog articles you should be waiting for.
Fox Travel Services is a field and outdoor travel agency that provides hassle-free tours, transport and ticketing services which includes the provision of vans, buses, coasters and cars. They will make your travel unique, simple, easy and safe. They can customize your travel based on the client's requirement and allotted budget.
Aside from providing transportation, FoxTravel Services specialized also in organizing & facilitating teambuilding & company outing for private, corporate, government and schools. Complete service, they handle all arrangements, reservations, and vendor payment schedules. A single call to them is all it takes, and all aspects of your tour are taken care of by their tour professionals.
After a few hours at the Manaoag church, we reached our stem family’s land in barangay Taloy of Malasiqui, Pangasinan. My mother stopped by the town so she can buy a cake before we go directly to our Uncle and Aunt's house in the said barangay.
As we got off and unpacked our stuff, we were welcomed by our cousins and relatives with lots of food. Funny thing about the latter is that we don’t even remember them that much. Our mom was the one who know them precisely as she grew up in the area and thus she introduced us to each relative and told us to greet them respectfully – using the “mano po” hand greeting – and we would do just that. We did this to basically anyone our mother would tell us to greet, and it lasted for quite a while.
During the party, everyone was either eating or interacting with the relatives; I was playing my godchild’s instrument, the lyre, after I had asked her permission as she had greeted me. I reckon my mom, as well as my cousins, wanted me to eat already as they watched me play the lyre with the young ones. I say this because they always bring a platter of food to me unexpectedly. I finally decided to eat.
While all of this was happening a few folks were celebrating and playing karaoke outside. Meanwhile, my brother was suddenly asked by our mom to sing as part of the celebration. My cousins were setting up the party decorations, and their effort was really acknowledgeable. Mom, on the other hand, was thinking of setting a program for her sister’s and brother-in-law’s celebration as she jotted down the flow of the program on a notebook. She asked my cousin and my godchild to come to her and asked if they could be part of the program, too.
While both the former and the latter were shy and honestly didn’t want to, she still asked for them to do so for them to participate in the celebration. She convinced us to give effort as it was a special occasion for our relatives. According to the original plan, I was only to be in charge of the opening prayer, to be followed by my brother and cousin as the masters of the ceremony. Although I frankly didn’t want to, knowing that my mom was rather a hopeless and impulsive planner, I confidently decided to help out and be the master of ceremony instead.
As that was decided, it didn’t help that they were telling me what to do the entire time. I mean, I wouldn’t volunteer if I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, now would it? Although I am shy, my confidence was actually high enough at first, but with them telling me what actions to take I was getting annoyed and tired. At the very least I would know when to ask when I didn’t understand something, but being told to do stuff repeatedly?
And so, I became the impromptu speaker of the birthday and anniversary program.
Anyway, as I was talking throughout the span of the program, it started with a message from the celebrants, which I both didn’t understand since they were said in the provincial language. (Our mother never taught us how to speak her language.)
Afterwards, my godchild, Angel, who was the child of the birthday celebrants, sang a special number for her parents. She shyly asked me if she needed to give a message to them. Getting the message, I said, “Now for a special message from the singer to her beloved parents” and she expressed her feelings towards them. A special number was sung by my brother as well. He sang the popular “All of Me” as the birthday celebrants danced with each other during the length of the song.
There's a lot more video at the Wazzup Pilipinas YouTube account so do search it to watch more of our celebration as well as our other trips in this province.
The program ended with taking pictures of the celebrants with their entire extended family. It was a rather short program, but I guess that my mom’s point was to present at least something for her sister. With a few inconsistencies the program was finished. Thankfully my voice managed to make a good impact out of the program and all was well.
That's about it, but do watch out for more of my stories about our side trip at the Manaoag church, and our trip at Tondaligan beach. Thanks to Travel Fox Services, we got to several destinations in Pangasinan with convenience and ease. You'll be surprised how many of us were able to fit inside the van. What was so sure was that we really had a great time, and you'll be able to sense that from more of the videos and photos I will be posting here soon.
Bye for now!
Contributed by Hannah Krystelle Del Rosario