Bicol: I was in Bicol ages ago, Naga City to be exact, which is the region’s political and administrative center, when I was still living in the Philippines. It was because of J who invited me to tag along during one holiday. She and I belonged to the same all-girl high school group of friends, JAMMERS. Aside: It was a trend in our high school for all the factions of students to have names .The other names were Reefer, Lofty Leven and Lemons.
J and her family are originally from Bicol, but moved to Quezon City and then relocated back (well, most of the family members) to Bicol. The Bicol I knew back then was pinned to memories of duck eggs, white sugar, and natural pool that took several hours to get to. The duck eggs and sugar were related to this really sweet cake she was making. I was helping out and had difficulties adding several tablespoons of sugar to the batter. I wanted to stop at two but she kept the count going. Meanwhile, the pool is related to this trip we took away from Naga to go swimming. I didn’t know how to swim – up til now – so I just sat and gazed at the undulating waters as J did several laps.
Bicol is, without a doubt, home and its neighboring place a sanctuary for J even though she’s already based in Canada. Looking at one of the several photos she e-mailed, I had the chance to travel back with her to her province again.
Photography by Joanna Llorin