I greet all of you this sunny Easter morning from my balcony in Sitio Remedios. This early, the folks from nearby towns are slowly filling up the beach to wash their sins away. This is the end of the rituals of Lent, after the sweaty Good Friday procession. They come to purify their souls from year- long of transgressions.
As in previous years, Sitio Remedios is full of cityfolk escaping the grime of Manila. The breeze fans unceasingly. The eternal Ilocos sun paints silver streaks on the calm waters of the West Philippine Sea. Grandparents doze off comfortably in butaca in the shade of the talisay tree. Yaya guard their wards as they test the shallow waters. City children bury themselves gleefully in the sand. Others chase the chicken and the goats. These are scenes I know so well from my Ilocos days of yore.
Sitio Remedios, our homage to times past, continues to grow. The brickmakers of San Nicolas have patiently fired their clay to produce bespoke adornments patterned after flowerettes and wavy lines from the ancient walls of the Paoay and San Nicolas cathedrals. I admire the colors of the burnt earth plastered on the posts and pediments. It taints muted patterns on the cement walls.
The plans to enhance the structures with proper lighting are underway. The leaves of the lotus plants filling the waterways in the Avenida de Azucao now float on silvery ponds of light, inviting passersby to smell the faint wisp of fragrance from the lotus flowers. The redolent smell of dama de noche overwhelms.
The walk to the monument of San Miguel has become more leisurely and safe. Soon the church buttresses will also glow in the dark. The trunks of the manzanita, and the siniguelas trees show off their wrinkles. The tamarind tree, its gnarled branches now aglow with a sure light, presides over the Plaza Manzanilla like a wise grandfather. I love the memories of guitar strummed in the plaza of my old town flooded by moonlight.
The staff have become proud Ilocanos in the way they anticipate every need of the guests. Pipo the fisherman turned maître d’ continues to tell his stories of the sea, correctly predicting the rains, the direction of the winds and the catch for the day.
Adrian knows when to put the last drop of calamansi in the pitchers of fresh yellow melon. Paul knows the best way to roast the dorado. He now includes a Paella Ilocana in his repertoire of Ilocano gustatory delights.
The girls continue to patiently design their greetings on their inabel-covered beds with petals of bougainvillea. These refinements delight the tired travellers. We continue to explore simple ways to bring joy!
The month of May is special in Sitio Remedios. Eight years ago we opened our doors to coincide with a fluvial parade in honor of the Virgin of Good Voyage. On May 1 this year, Riel Hilario the Ilocano sculptor will mount his tableaux dedicated to the folk hero Lam-ang. It is a complement to the statue of Ines Canoyan mounted to ensure the safety of every fishermen in Currimao as they venture out to the sea.
Ines Canoyan is the beloved of Lam-ang. Riel is in love with this legend. He wants to immortalize the characters in stone. Sitio Remedios is happy to host his passion.
Song and dance
This May 1, artists and the fisherfolk will fly kites, build sand sculptures and watch a Kannatiran, a revival of a folk tradition of song and dance unique to the coast of Currimao Cove. It will be a pleasure to witness this authentic celebration of the cycles of life. Please join us on this delightful evening
This year, after the monsoons, Ambeth Ocampo will regale everyone with his explorations of the life of Luna, Ricarte and Aglipay, all noble sons of Ilocos Norte. We hope to complement the already vigorous undertakings of the governor to honor Ilocanos who made a difference in our country. The plan to make Sitio an addition to the sites of Ilocano studies will surely be beefed up with this undertaking. Many more of these discourses are planned.
The scholars who sing for us in the choir are now gangling youngsters. More of them are in college, and I am happy that a few of them chose to be students in the School of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
Their expertise will be needed in the rehabilitation of the fishing grounds now markedly diminished. Together with the Dean of Fisheries in the Mariano Marcos State University, we are planting mangroves and sea grasses among the dead corals in the north end of the cove. We will start small, but we hope to show the way. We are working on the timing of when to plant. We will work with the cycles of the sun and rain.
There is much more we want to do to honor our good life in Sitio Remedios. As we remember, we learn and know better how to move forward. This is our creed. On this we anchor our passion.
I share these thoughts with you at Easter. It heralds the coming of the rains in May. As we anticipate the beginning of the planting season, join us in these thoughts with the fervent hope of a good harvest. Come home to Sitio soon, to your home in the sun in Ilocos.