day 3: vici

I CONQUERED a  paradise-like place in my province two hours before i left legazpi city on may 5, sunday. 

the arc going to kawa-kawa
the arc going to kawa-kawa natural park
it was a blessing in disguise that our planned early morning trip to misibis bay didn’t push through. i was the one who begged off because i didn’t want to explore this island in a jiffy. i just told my “dates”- elvie, den and lara – that we would do it next time with a bigger group and perhaps in our most convenient time. 
having seen a three-hour lull in my morning, i asked my sister-in-law if i could request my nephew to drive me to the sunflower plantation at kawa-kawa, ligao, albay. i wanted to see the flowers myself after seeing this perfect cover photo of another batchmate/friend, mimi meels.
image source: www.facebook.com/Mimi.Gongona.Meels
image source: http://www.facebook.com/Mimi.Gongona.Meels
those flowers brought me back to our old residence in daraga, albay where we had these sunflowers looking like big plates when they were in full bloom. ate mer’s affirmative answer, plus her telling me that she and her second son would join me, put me in a frenzy. but first things first. i had to drop by at the funeral parlor to pay my last respect to the husband of a first cousin. this itinerary was followed strictly since i was under time pressure. surely, i didn’t want to miss my flight back to manila.
as we started our trip to ligao,  den messaged me that my order of the 50 pieces of “biniribid” (know about this at https://wanderingjouster.com/2012/09/10/101-mouthwatering/) was not met by the maker, so she had to return my payment. it was a very good coincidence that we were on our way to kawa-kawa. we would be passing by their house and i could just pick the money instead of her going to the airport for that purpose alone of handing it back to me. in 10 minutes, we reached their place, got the money, exchanged a quick chat with her mom and husband while my sister-in-law used their washroom, and then left. wow! i appeared to be a waterspout. 🙂 
in 30 minutes, we were at our destination. what made my conquest of this place easier was knowing the administrator of this natural park personally.
with mila lumadilla-mozon
with mila lumadilla-monzon
mila lumadilla-monzon, a batchmate/friend, met me with the grace and smile identifiable with her when i alighted from our vehicle. she looked so fresh, not having any trace of staying up late at night with us in the grand alumni homecoming. she graciously escorted me toward the inner sanctum of the park. 
young chinese bamboo and dwarf coconut trees surrounding me
young chinese bamboo and dwarf coconut trees surrounding me
then, she started giving me the background. call it force of habit, but i appreciated the gesture by miles. in-between she was also able to update me about her. well, it was also done in a rush. 🙂 
when i told her that i wouldn’t be staying long, we retraced our steps and proceeded to the life-sized effigies that showed Jesus Christ in the last supper. if i would have stayed longer, i would be climbing up hill and would be completing the stations of the cross even if it’s no longer holy week. you see, kawa-kawa hill is a favorite destination of devout catholics during the lenten season. 
looking more like an apparition
looking more like an apparition
the 13nth disciple?
the 13nth disciple?
for a runner like me, this ascending pathway would also be perfect for my training. this i told miles and she conceded. in my heart, i knew i would return to that place and commune with nature in my own pace and time. 
image source: http://juneosidabenitez.blogspot.com/
image source: http://juneosidabenitez.blogspot.com/
after a while, i inquired about the location of the sunflowers which were not yet dry and withered. her pointing the exact spot made me happy because they were what i came for in that hill. 
sunflower plantation at kawa-kawa, ligao. albay
sunflower plantation at kawa-kawa, ligao. albay (photo taken by my nephew, yuram sly gonza mediavillo)
the sight which met me was not the same as that of the breathtaking scenery in my friend’s photo, but i already felt contentment by just being in that heavenly garden. capturing the flowers and the calm majestic mayon volcano was an added bonus for my trip to bicol. 
and who would not be touched by miles’ thoughtfulness when she handed me six violet-colored rice cakes which matched the souvenir mug which i bought? 
love the color of the rice cakes and mug
loving the color of the rice cakes and mug
the message from my heart
the message from my heart

ahhhhh…this is the beauty of  goodwill. this is what i also felt from my two “kumares“, ging and elvie, before my sojourn ended that day. both of them made sure that i would bring with me wonderful memories that would go beyond the material blessings which they handed for my family and me. 

mabalos tabi saindo ang Dios!

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