Typhoon Ulysses was not the first tropical depression to hit the Philippines in 2020 but it was the worst to hit Luzon last November. It made landfall in Quezon packing maximum sustained winds of 150km/h with gustiness of up to 200km/h. Winds were blowing for almost a day. Thankfully there was minimum damage to our farm. It took us around a week to clean up branches and trees felled by the strong winds. We were able to drive down Marcos Highway two days later to check on our cabin. We came across some landslides which in effect formed small but spectacular waterfalls, a gift from the skies.
However, for the Katutubo (Dumagat tribe) living in the mountains of the Sierra Madre and the hinterlands, this deluge of water wiped out everything they owned. A one-month old footbridge collapsed. A stranded vehicle was not spared.
It has been almost two months and there are still some poor areas that are not accessible to this day. But relief operations continue. Rain or shine those with much, and even those without, continue to traverse rivers, rough and muddy roads to get to those in need.
Once again, we see how the ugliness of calamities brings out the good in people. Celebrations this Christmas 2020 will be subdued but its spirit lives on in the hearts of mankind - in the sharing with the less fortunate, in the caring for those in harms way. There can be no greater love, no gesture more rewarding, than service to our fellowman.
Since this pandemic started in December 2019 so much has been said about COVID-19, and much more will be added into the archives of history about how this novel coronavirus affected lives. On the forefront are the numbers who have died due to this invisible enemy that man cannot seem to defeat. Borders have closed. Globalisation has separated families who are suddenly hard to reach. Being together is a blessing not to be taken for granted. The world as we know it will never be the same. We look forward to the new normal and embrace what we have learned – that life is indeed fragile and should be lived to the fullest. Everyday counts and everyone matters.
As socialising ground to a halt, people are learning new skills and are reinventing themselves. There are now more cooks, bakers, painters and gardeners. Netflix and Zoom are house words. Online buying and selling is the norm. Masks and face shields are the new accessories and grey hair is now acceptable.
The hubbys projects – the outdoor Kitchen, the Pugon, the Parilla – have come into fruition. A charming and wonderful place to share with family and friends.
My projects came in the form of words and was able to write a few poems during the lockdown.
P IS FOR GARDEN
After all this time you are sad, I know
This pandemic is tough and you don’t know where to go
We need to be out to work, study and play
But til now all we can do is pray
I choose to search for my pollinators
And create my beautiful garden outdoors
My place of refuge and peace
Putting my weary body and soul at ease
I will heal from the scourge of this pandemic
And tell stories that will be epic
Meantime I work with the birds and the bees
And enjoy the beauty of the flowers and the trees
I look up to the sky, grateful to be alive
With my renewed spirit I will survive
In spite of the terrible tragedy we are experiencing let us be thankful that we are healthy; while we yearn for the people we love who are far away, keep in mind that all things will pass…
Since we bought our property in 2011 there has been a lot of development in the area. The locals will say that since Marcos Highway, also known as the Marikina-Infanta Highway or MARILAQUE (Manila-Rizal-Laguna-Quezon) was cemented and extended, traffic has doubled from just 1-2 overflowing public jeepneys a day to more jeeps plus private vehicles on a regular weekday. On weekends the highway is swarming with groups of riders on mountain bikes, dirt bike motorcycles and all terrain 4x4s. Not to mention the longboard skateboarders and joggers.
Private homes are sprouting like mushrooms. Businesses enjoying this boom of visitors in the area are the restaurants and cafes. There are venues for conferences, training seminars or just weekend family getaways where guests can do the zip line, rappelling or wall climbing. For the more active group there are the Daranak Falls, Batlag Falls, Calinawan Cave, Tinipak River, Masungi Georeserve and Mount Daraitan.
For a glimpse of history there is the San Ildefonso Church more commonly known as Tanay Church located in the heart of the town proper. It was declared as one of the 26 Heritage Churches in the country by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts on July 31, 2001 due to its age and the centuries old religious artefacts that it houses (www.tanay.gov.ph).
Pilgrims make special trips to Regina RICA where they can enjoy "a place of prayer, an ecological sanctuary and wellness environment" in the 13-hectare property owned and maintained by the Dominican Sisters of Regina Rosarii (www.reginarica.org).
You don't have to limit your adventure to Tanay. To the West is Antipolo City, also a popular pilgrimage site to the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. To the Northeast is Infanta, Quezon with its beautiful beaches and lambanog. The coastal towns of Laguna de Bay in the South also have their own bragging rights.
We should not forget the fresh air and cool weather of Tanay. Being 500meters above sea level, low temperatures at 25*C would be during the months of December-February.
All these make for a great stay in Tanay!