I’m one of those kids who were lucky enough to experience living in the city and on a farm. My grandfather owns a farm in Bicol and I remember getting excited every time my family would visit Pa and Ma, my grandparents, on summer vacations. Who wouldn’t be? Air is fresher in Bicol. Life is simpler and quieter. Food is cheaper, sometimes free especially fruits and vegetables. If neighbors like you because you’re a well-behaved kid, they hand them to you even if you didn’t ask. In the city, you pay for everything. Actually all these only became my rationale for loving farm life when I became old enough to understand that everything has a tag price. As a kid, the main reason why I want to spend my summer vacations with Pa and Ma is the experience and fond memories I always know I will have with them. I love going to Bicol because I can once again play with my cousins, spend time with my grandparents and eat all the fruits I want to my tummy’s delight. In my Grandpa’s farm if you want to eat guavas, jackfruits, soursops, pineapples, even sugarcane – all you have to do is go to the backyard and pick whatever you want. One and only rule is never waste anything. You pick it; you eat it. Fair enough.
I often tell friends that growing up as one of the few girls in the family didn’t mean I was treated like a princess. It’s exactly the opposite. I had to be one of the boys if I want to play with my cousins. I had to run as fast as them, climb trees as good as them and use machetes as fearless as them. Pa was a blacksmith and he forged each of us our own (dull, of course) baby machetes that we tie around our waists.
I like the quiet and simple life on the farm. Only thing that I didn’t like is when evening came. The sound of crickets was fine, but the howling of dogs scared me. I imagined Dracula nearby ready to suck my blood so I avoided sitting near any doors nor windows. There was no electricity so it’s pitch black outside but when it’s full moon it’s definitely beautiful.
Back in May, three weeks after my Mama passed-away, my Dad and siblings went to Bicol and held Mama’s forty days memorial with her siblings and relatives. I wished I could join them! I knew they were going to have fun – and at least forget about the pain of losing Mama even for a short while. My nine year old niece, Nina was excited. I remembered how I felt at the thought of going to Bicol when I was her age. I told my sister that for Nina to get the most of it, let her do the things she can, from fetching her own bath water to helping feed the animals.
Judging from the photos above which Nina sent me, she definitely had fun.