2011/05/08 § 162 Comments
And got lost in the profusion.
Which I almost missed, but not quite.
That this abundance comes straight out of the barrenness of winter is the wonder of it. The blossoms do not slowly come out, one by one, like flowers from the ground. No, it is cluster upon cluster of blooms perched heavily or hanging languidly off the branches. All at once. The white ones so like pure snow. An umbrella of white beneath blue skies. Breathtaking and joyful, whatever color they are. I am compelled to go under the tree and breathe in it when I see one. And laughter wells up from deep within.
But just as swiftly as it appears is as swiftly it departs. The cherry blossom lingers just long enough to make us smile.
I sat under a cherry blossom tree today.
I sat on the grass and looked up. So pink against the blue sky. So beautiful. But waning. I was a week late. I watched as the breeze blew petals off the tree. Petals falling gently to the ground. Petals falling gently on me. And I watched as people shook the branches for petals to rain on them. And they danced and laughed under petal showers.
As beautiful as the cherry blossom is in its youthful blush…. it is so too in its dying days. The soothing comfort of its falling petals as immense as the joyfulness of its intense splendor.
Can one ever tire of sitting under a cherry blossom tree?
2011/04/22 § 3 Comments
I have spent almost all my life living in the city. And forever pining to be back in the country. Where my family is. Holidays could never come too soon for me. Pyesta Natay. Christmas. Semana Santa. Summer Break. Those are the times I get to go home. To the province.
I look back at Semana Santa (Holy Week) in my beloved town and I marvel at how glorious a time it was despite the penance and deprivation we were supposed to be undergoing. It was like a week-long town fiesta when townspeople living elsewhere go home. Just like during Christmas, for Christ’s birth. This time for his Death and Resurrection.
The week starts with Domingo Ramos (Palm Sunday) when we attend mass to have our palaspas (palm fronds) blessed. It is always a happy occasion as everyone carries a palaspas (as simple or intricately woven) and eagerly wave it for the priest’s benediction. It’s also the first time many townfolks see each other again after a long while and there are many hi and hellos and short chats after the mass. On Holy Tuesday, we go on a pilgrimage in a remote barrio. There we climb a mountain, akin to calvary, and stop and pray at each station of the cross dotting the mountain face until we reach the top (there is here an opportunity for sorrowful reflection and real physical exertion). And is rewarded with a view of the sea to eternity. There is a procession we either join or watch from our front yards or windows on Holy Wednesday. And we attend the mass with the reenactment of the Last Supper and Washing of Disciples’ Feet
which was a source of a lot of mirth when we were younger on Holy Thursday. There is another mass on Viernes Santo (Good Friday) and townfolks travel from the barrios to poblacion to attend the long procession of people and santos that snake slowly through the town, with everyone carrying a candle and walking behind a santo (saint figurine) enthroned in its carroza. In the evening of Good Friday, we go to church to kiss the feet of Apo Bangkay.
Each night we drop by the church for the Pasyon (narrative of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ in five-line stanzas each having eight syllables). And each year I worry that there will be no one left to continue the tradition. How they learn to chant and find the fortitude to do so for hours on end for so many days is impressive and inspiring. So far, there are the faithful ones who manage to do it year after year.
Sabado Gloria (Black Saturday) is when everyone goes to the beach. The beaches dotting the shoreline of our town and the adjacent ones are filled with revelers. It’s the children’s favorite day after all the vigils and prayers and fasting and abstinence (and admonition against playing and laughing and running around) of the previous days or weeks.
Sabet on Easter Sunday portrays the meeting of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Risen Christ held at dawn. Little children are dressed as angels and stand atop wooden stalls to throw flowers at the procession. I must confess to rarely observing this event as I seldom wake up for it.
All throughout the week, we are visiting friends and family and partaking of (guiltily – good) food at every house. Like I said, a Fiesta. Albeit more subdued til Good Friday.
I thought I would be home this Holy Week. But I’m not. As I write, my family in the province is getting ready to go to the beach for Sabado Gloria. To celebrate life, the coming resurrection of Christ and being together.
The following photos remind me so much of provincial life….
Hope to be home for Semana Santa next year.
2011/04/15 § 8 Comments
It’s Friday! And I’m happy cause tomorrow will be Saturday. A big day for a footie fan like me. It’s an El Clasico day! For those of you who don’t know – it’s the Spanish derby between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, which happens twice in a season for the league. One at Camp Nou in Barcelona and the other at Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid. The first one in November was a right and proper thrashing of Real Madrid. A manita win! 5-0. But as several key Madrid players have healed and regained match fitness, Barcelona is racked with injuries and is playing with a makeshift defense and moving many players out of position. So the Saturday Liga game might prove different from the walk in the park that it was in November.
More importantly though, this Saturday game is the first of four El Clasicos in the space of eighteen days. Four. In Eighteen days! I don’t know many hearts and livers that can take that much excitement and heartbreak or exultation in such a short span of time. The nearest similar thing was in 1916 when the two teams played four games in 21 days. But with lesser trophies at stake.
This time, they are playing for the Liga title (although Barcelona has quite an advantage in points), the Copa del Rey and the Champions League finals berth.
So…as it stands, Barcelona can afford to lose the Saturday game, must win the Copa del Rey, can afford to lose the first leg of the tie at the Bernabeu, but must win at all cost in the aggregate at the Camp Nou.
Because of Barcelona’s depleted team, it seems very improbable to win all four (BUT I still think they can!). The first match, I feel, will set the tone for the rest of the matches so even though they can technically lose that and still be on top of the La Liga rankings, they should try to win it. They have to win the King’s Cup. They have to amass as many away goals at the Bernabeu tie match and if they have to lose, it should only be by a goal down with two away goals at least. Finally, they have to wrap it all up with a massive win at the Camp Nou. (I dream BIG, as you can see.)
Everything is easier said than done (!!!). But I have faith in the skill and spirit of my team, Barcelona. I think it can be done. To win all three titles.
Thank God it’s Friday. Only another night til Saturday. When everything will break loose. The next eighteen days will be both carnival and purgatory. And life might never be the same for cules such as me.
Visca Barca! Forca Barca!
2011/04/14 § Leave a comment
Some spring days feel like summer, but colder. Some spring days are like winter, but warmer. And some spring days feel like spring. When I wake up to freshly-drenched earth, droplets nestled on every petal and leaf. When tiny flowers dangle tenuously from branches still shorn of leaves and buds struggle to push their way out of damp, dark soil. When there are puddles for streets and birdsong for music. When everything is pure and crisp and vivid. And laughter fills the soul and hope fills the heart. Oh, glorious, glorious spring!