Remembering Calabanga, Part 1

the captivating Balogo Island

When I remember my hometown, Calabanga, it is always summer. It is a small town at the foot of the overwhelming Isarog, which is lapped by the San Miguel bay. Calabanga with a merry mix of rice lands, swamp, coconut plantations, of forest and hills, and long stretches of beaches of fine sand going straight out to a shimmering blue Pacific ocean. Calabanga is a lovely place where the skies are bluer than I’ve ever seen them anywhere and the sea is as calm as a still night and overpowering when angry.

the captivating Balogo Island

I also remember the long rows of coconut trees laden with green and brown fruit, their long, spiked leaves swaying in the summer breeze, so dense that they look as if they were marching down to the plains, or the shoreline from the mountainside.  Nipa houses under the coconut trees are huddled together as if for mutual protection against the strong winds and pelting rain when the sea is heavy and furious waves break against the shore.

more orchids from auntie lolit's
more orchids from auntie lolit’s

The rain often comes suddenly, pattering on the nipa roofs slowly at first, slanting down wide apart, then gradually increasing in tempo as sharp flashes of lightning drive the clouds, followed by a deafening roar of thunder.  But the rain and thunder last briefly.  When the rainstorm is over, the hills and fields are once more golden with sunshine, and the sea is again blue and calm.  And when night comes, the nipa houses twinkle gaily with lamplight and laughter rings out, mingling with the tilt of songs and the murmur of solemn prayers.  When these sounds fill the evening, it is Maytime again.

a cloudy shade of an excellent Cbanga sky, always

May in my hometown, of course, is the month of mellow sunshine, wild green and fragrant freshness.  The rice fields now neatly harvested of their palay break out with the wild flowers of the grass.

May, after the first summer rain suddenly transforms the countryside into a rich lushness, into a riot of sparkling colors.  No wonder the earth parched by the relentless April sun springs alive with glee with the first drop of May rain.

With the advent of May could the Santacruzan be far behind?  So fragrant and fresh flowers are gathered by the young and offered to the Sweet Virgin Mary, along with May songs and prayers.  In my small town, May is a month of dancing and prayers, with scintillating parties leaping from one barrio to another, held after the flower offerings and the prayers.

bandera espanola, from my brother's plant collection
the delicate hibiscus, popular in our place in its tag as Bandera Espaniola, of my brod’s green thumbs

May is when boy meets girl, with the beautiful girls from the barrios blooming as prettily as the flowers.  And when two decide to become one, a wedding follows in June.  At that, what month is more appropriate for courtship, for merrymaking and thanksgiving?  Maytime, when the harvest has been put away and the fields are allowed to lie follow for a while before the next plowing, is a time for great stirrings beneath the earth and within the breast. (

Read part 2 of this post here: Reminiscing Calabanga

(Note:  This is Part 1, and condensed from our article  Remembering Calabanga.. Photo credit for the first frame by Tony Abalayan, Jr..)


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