Spending my New Year’s weekend with my family is one of the best days of my life. This is usually held in my brother Rodolfo Jr. “Rudy’s” farm in Alitagtag, Batangas. A unanimous decision among us siblings for the Batangas location because its the biggest place that can hold the entire clan! But of course not everybody can come due to one reason or another. So we start it with a road trip, I rented a van that can hold my tiny family (Harry, Maxie and myself), my sister Charity’s family (with her son Nicko, daughters Gene and Nickie, and grandson Mico, and with my sister Ruth’s family (those who were able to come with us on this trip i.e. Ruth, Toni, and Ruth’s 2 sons Moie and Maru). So we were quite packed in the van. The trip to Batangas takes approximately 3-4 hours, 4 hours if there’s too much traffic. My sister Pearl’s family (husband Aurelio, sons Martin, AJ, Jack, and Mateo) will be on a separate trip with their maids, dogs, etc. using their own van. Aisha Hope (Hope’s 3rd child) with her husband will be using their own transportation too.
The road trip to Batangas is as always very exciting, full of laughter and even scolding and shouting towards the kids if they get too unruly. There’s never a dull moment when you are in the middle of my clan’s activities, whether its a party, a wedding, or a road trip. We arrived so excited and full of spirit… my brother Rudy opened his farm gates for us. He, and his wife were there to host the New Year’s party cum Family Reunion. The minute we got off the van, there was yelling (from the kids), laughter among us grown-ups because my brother Rudy is a very good and witty comedian. I used to tell him that he is such a funny man, he should have been a comedian but then again my father was very sick a long time ago and him and my brother Matthew agreed that instead of his wanting to be a lawyer, he should take a course that won’t take as much time since there’s so many of us in the family. So he became a merchant mariner (our countrymen call it seaman). He was one of the few in our country who became a captain at such a young age because he was very good at what he does and he excelled and made a name in the Shipping industry and I am proud of him for his achievements.
So how do you put the two nights and one day of reunion in just a few words? Tough, but I will give it a shot… The kids of course had a blast… Our first night, they were singing karaoke and dancing and played parlor games (left), where they keep passing around a shot of some sort of alchohol drink. Some of the adults were also dancing and singing and some preparing foods to welcome the New Year (2018). The morning after our arrival the kids have gone for a walk to the nearby Taal Lake, then bathe in its highly sulfuric water.
I’m not sure whether that was a good idea… others tout the healing powers of bathing in Taal Lake because of its highly sulfuric content and others are fearful of it. The kids took some photos as always (never forget the selfies, it’s a crime among them if one should forget… hahaha). When I say the kids, they’re not exactly kids anymore, Aisha Hope (Hope’s 3rd child) is 33, Nicko (Charity’s oldest) and George Anne (Ruth’s oldest) are both 30 years old already, Martin (Pearl’s oldest) is 27, Joie Anne (Ruth’s 2nd) is more or less 25, Gene (Charity’s 3rd child) is 22 years old, Toni (Ruth’s 3rd child) is also 22 more or less. So when the walking party came back to the farm, they look beat as if they’ve gone to a war and came back half alive but survived the experience… hahaha
The rest of the family were busy cooking, chatting, just more or less updating everyone of what’s been happening in each of our families’ lives… Our kind of family reunion has always been impromptu in the sense that it’s not some sort of an elaborate event planned 6 months ago or something similar, no invitations involved, just quick phone calls or even facebook messenger calls because emails take even longer. We kind of gotten used to these gatherings and became very good at throwing whatever’s needed for the trip and the event in just a few hours. If there are some ingredients lacking for a dish one of my sisters or sister-in-law will prepare, we communicate with whoever is still on the road to drop by the community markets they pass by or even a mall like in Batangas which boasts of their own SM Supermall too and just make last minute purchases for the event.
My brother Rudy also prepared his place for the onslaught (lol), he had a dirty kitchen set up outside of his main house, prepared his other 2-bedroom cottage for whoever wants to sleep there i.e. extra pillows and cushions… he actually set up his farm for family events such as this. Some of us brought our own pillows and beddings too because my sister-in-law Ate Evelyn, phoned to say she might not have enough pillows and blankets. The food is more or less continental with a mix of native dishes that one family member may like and with to prepare it themselves. Some already prepared it back in the city and just put it on a tight container for safe travel to the province. I usually shy away from these family gatherings because it prevents me from working (funny but true) and I know wifi is not that strong in the province. But when I do go, I always come out of it sooo very happy and excited for the next one because of the experience of seeing the familiar faces of my love ones and I get to hug them once again. There are some sisters and brothers and their families who were not able to join because they are living in our hometown Davao City, Philippines which is the Southernmost tip of our country, it takes a plane ride before they could attend such reunions. But they do get to see what occurred because we post the photos on our family’s facebook page. Happy New Year everyone!