Thursday, January 30, 2014

What Struck me about Argao

Long ago, as a five-year-old girl visiting my mother’s hometown for the first time, I found everything about the place so enchanting: the gleaming limestone rock overhung with vines over a bend of the Jomgao river, the rocky soil on the hard sloping path leading up to grandfather’s house, the big windows that gave a sweeping view of the sea, the century-old mango trees, the reclining seneguelas, the running spring water, where everyone drinks and takes a bath, and most especially, the white beaches and the sea only a few-minute-tricycle-ride away. Seeing those boy cousins for the first time, teasing their 19-year-old uncle, their father’s younger brother, in one of the reclining seneguelas, when we first arrived one summer in grandfather’s house near the top of the hill. The afternoon sun had softened as it slanted down the hillside; and the uncle, brother of their father, was lying on the reclining trunk. They were laughing. The 19-year-old's head was turned away, only a part of his long and angular face visible to us; resplendent skin, turning pink where it was sun-kissed and bruised by the tree bark; his hair flowing in fair brownish curls reaching below his ears; his long, bony arms sticking out of a white cotton sando, revealing soft golden hair; the faded pair of maong he wore. Among other things that really struck me in Argao that summer was the discovery that I can actually draw the face of a man, without having to resort to stick figures, and to find out that someone hanging around a reclining seneguelas tree can be that good to look at!

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