Monday, September 27, 2010


It was HIS island. Kanawayon. For years he had swam on its beaches, circumnavigated it in banka boats, and crossed over the short distance from the village in larger fishing boats.

Balite (buh-lee-tay), the village of his wife, lay only a mile or so away on the river. The river where he took baths and cooled off from the incessant Philippine jungle heat and humidity.

He could see it now from the island's beach. (His island. His beach!) The brilliant white sands beneath his feet squeezed between his toes as the clear turquoise-colored waters lapped up against them. The village seemed abuzz with activity from this vantage point. Numerous fishing bankas went back and forth in all directions while villagers crowded the single main road skirting the town along its seafront. Their long shadows cast by the setting sun contrasted with the bright colors of the low angle light. Nipa huts that he knew were dilapidated and drooping now looked new as when they were built. Some actually were new as they had to be rebuilt after the most recent typhoon leveled much of the small village.

He turned around and could see the plume of smoke rising from the perfect cone of the Mayon volcano. Always threatning to erupt, it was now in a semi-active state sending rare chills down the backs of the farmers eking out a meger living on its steep slopes.

He now remembered what all the hubbub was about. It was election season! Streets were being closed down so that local politicians could build their platforms and give their speeches. Even though election results were usually based on who gave out the most money or free T-shirts, it was still an exciting time for the village. In a few hours, they would be starting their annual April festival of Spring. Villagers looked forward to this time all year long. There would be music, dancing, speeches, contests, lots of food and more speeches. Booths would be set up along the gravel streets where vendors could ply their many new wares. There would be Cock Fights which would last for most of the week as well as other opportunities for betting and winning (or losing).

Tonight was the first night of the fiesta and folks were getting dressed up and hitting the streets in style! Even the poorest of the poor would wear their best chinillas and sapatos (shoes and flip flops) and drag out their best looking old T-shirts and thin, faded dresses.