Friday, October 25, 2013
Chapter 13: Trip of a Lifetime
Dodie and Family with Me and Macrine
Last Christmas and New Years(2007-2008), I spent the holidays away from my wife and children. I was in the Philippines with my parents, brother, and sisters celebrating my parent 50th wedding anniversary. I had a great time visiting the country of my birth, but missed my family, who stayed home. I know it would be an adventure with or without them. And what an adventure it was! Just getting to the small island of Marinduque from Manila after a 16 hour plane ride took another 8 hours via a van on a two lane road dodging cars, jeepneys, motorized tricycles and livestock to get to the ferry port. We missed the ferry by 15 minutes and had to wait another 4 hours on the dock. The 3-hour ferry trip was crowded because of the Christmas holidays and there were no seats in the passenger section so we slept in the van in the cargo hold for most of the sea-faring trip. Fortunately, I did not get sea sick.
Please note that on November, 2008, Zestair( formerly Asian Spirit Airline) started air service from Manila to Marinduque,and back 4 days in the week. It takes only 30 minutes of flying time. This is indeed a relief for visitors to Marinduque.
We arrived at my parents house around midnight-24 hours after boarding the plane. But that was the worst part of the journey and I kept thinking that I was glad that my family was not with me because they would have complained the entire time and there was nothing I could do about it. I took in all the bad and the good things that happened, and I had the experience of a lifetime.
Chateau Du Mer Main House-My Parents Winter Residence
What I discovered about my parents surprised me. They were raised closer to the land than I ever know. Just imagine going back to visit your relatives on the farm back in Iowa that's how I felt. Except my parents were rural folks in the tropics. Still, they have a retirement home on a few acres right on the beach,a housekeeper, cook, driver and gardeners, so it was a very comfortable vacation once we arrived. My parents renewed their wedding vows in the same historic church(the Boac Cathedral built in 1756) they were married in 1957. We wore traditional Filipino clothes( barong tagalog for men) and my brother and sisters were all part of the ceremony. I saw some American tourists peaking into the church and taking pictures of us and I remember thinking, "Those tourists are going to show pictures of me to their friends thinking they got a snapshot of the Filipino culture when all they really got was a picture of some overweight short guy from California". From Dodie (Diosdado) Katague, newsletter, 2007-2008
Note: Dodie, my oldest son was born in the Philippines, but immigrated to US when he was only 18 months old. He has a law degree from UC Davis and now a successful prosecuting attorney in Northern California. He is married to his former classmate,Ruth Carver, also a lawyer and they have 3 children, ages 18, 17 and 14. This trip was his first trip back to the island. Currently, his first novel, The Cloyne Court is scheduled for publication by Three Clover Press this Fall, 2009.
Prior to the golden wedding celebration, we had a Christmas party for relatives on December 23. We had a putong ceremony by the group of Tita Glory Jambalos from Laylay and the customary lechon. We were also serenaded by a blind guitarist from Santa Cruz. The kids gave him a lot of tips for his excellent singing.Carenna, Elaine and Macrine watching the lechon getting ready to be devoured by hungry guests.