Ano Nuevo in Nueva Ecija

Rather a good title. Better not to change it. It was the same title I wrote for one album I posted in Facebook containing photos of our three-day stay in Nueva Ecija, my father’s homeland.

The three-day stay in the countryside seemed like a memory that lasted for so long, and difficult to ever let go. There was a article I shared in the same social networking site tackling the art of letting go and moving on.

It was one of the things I would never let go as I welcome the new year. I could cry over it now if I do. Our stay in Nueva Ecija is one of my happiest since tradition had it that we spend New Year there. Two of my grandparents have already passed away in 17 cycles of New Year but the tradition still goes on – despite family problems, financial instabilities, and misunderstandings.

My aunties on my father side would often have heated arguments (sometimes it goes by the nature) but would take leaving all emotions behind, and devour the New Year’s buffet.

Simple in-law struggles.

This year, it all ended. It’s happy.

***

Often, it is the small things that make you happy. For one, they’re easy to hold, and won’t hurt you much when they leave (or when when you leave them.)

Small things that made me ‘smile’ in Nueva Ecija.

1. I wanted to greet friends on Facebook a Happy New Year’s Eve but couldn’t get access from the Internet. Mobile phones couldn’t capture signals. My 12-year-old cousin would spend most hours of the day playing various computer games. It is from him that I got hooked with Plants VS. Zombies (I used to play it before but time won’t allow me to finish until level 3). I started all over again. He’s on Level 2-3 when we arrived. I was in the 5th level when we left, and he’s still on Level 2.

2. Most of our family members wore white while sipping the wine. White is the color of 2011. It is good luck, they say.

3. I proudly carried these words on my blue-colored shirt: “Change, Heal the Divide.”

4. I learned the backstroke swim in less than an hour. Though I still have to perfect the arm movement.

5. I was able to taste more Nueva Ecijano food: adobong bibe tiim (black duck), the bitter gourd that wouldn’t let you take another spoonful without water, suman salihiya (a pastry entirely made from malagkit rice) dipped in niyog and white sugar, and espasol made from carabao milk.

6. Philippine witches, or should I say the mangkukulam, are true. They don’t go with a broomstick but are comparable to exorcism. My grandfather was a victim. My dad told me he spoke with a woman’s voice when he was possessed by the mangkukulam. A family friend staying in the farm too. Stories said he vomited whole fishes, and urinated rice grains. Creepy.

7. I saw my dad’s college yearbook for the first time.

8. A flock of itiks (a kind of duck), which I took a picture of, would cross the street from the farm where they were famers’ aides, every late afternoon to keep guard of their eggs. Some, to hatch. I remember one scene in Murakami’s Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Beasts leaving and coming back.

***

Some things that made my 2010 complete, and happily closed. Our family in Nueva Ecija has Chinese descent. Chinese clans are filled with high pride and filial piety.

When we left our Nueva Ecija home, I always wanted to go back and listen to  my grandma’s rare sweet goodbyes over and over again.

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