Saturday, January 19, 2008

Touring Our Backyard

A short time back, we offered to take a friend who was visiting from the US to the Angono Petroglyphs. It was to be mine and Husband's first time to see it as well. I'd been meaning to go for ages, but I somehow always ended up at the mall. Our friend remarked on the number of malls in the country and their obvious popularity. Forget parks or museums, the Filipinos are a malling people. How's that for a third world culture? Personally, I think it's mainly because of the airconditioning. People in the tropics seldom appreciate their climate. Anyway, back to prehistoric writing...

We had fun trying to find the figures that were supposed to be there. The turtle, frog, and snake were pretty easy to spot, but I think at one point we identified the same figure as a person and a lizard. Before the site became protected by the government and some other international agencies, vandals had been able to leave their mark. There's the innate instinct to do something for posterity's sake, let future generations know that "Lino was here". There was one wiseacre who thought he would add another creature to the menagerie and etched the word "DOG". He probably went home and told his friends to see if they could spot a dog.

Anyway, the petroglyphs weren't the only attraction. You know the shy grass that we just trample without a second thought? It held the utmost fascination for our friend. Nerd that I am, I had to give its latin name and offer tidbits of herbal information. She also saw huge (normal-sized for the locals) red ants (if you can identify what kind it is, please leave the name in the comments section) with their butts tilted up in the air, like little scorpions. Then there were the butterflies with their amazing colors (even the locals were in awe), lavender, electric blue, mint blue with a chocolate lace trim, red, orange, bright yellow... Wouldn't you know it? Husband failed to take a picture of them, but I promise I'm not making this up. I introduced our guest to the sweet nectar of santan. As kids we used to pluck the little flowers and sip from their straw-like stalk(?). Husband told her about sticking a star-apple leaf to her chin. The sap is like glue. I didn't get the fun in doing that, plus it makes your face dirty. Trust a boy.

For lunch, we went to Balaw Balaw, a restaurant-cum-gallery that used to serve exotic dishes, but has stopped doing so upon the orders of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Our friend was interested in trying out a python, but the restaurant doesn't serve it anymore. Happily, she was still able to find a couple of things that were on the exotic side: Soup No. 5 (Ever heard the joke about the man who ate in a restaurant near the arena where a bullfight had just happened?) and snails (which were pretty common to us locals).

After that we took her to the UP campus (Happy Centennial to us, btw), where her dad had also gone to for college. It's so weird to note that I was, in fact, ten years older than the students around us. I didn't feel older. It was just like looking at my classmates. That was me though. I didn't see myself (hips that have given birth, older eyes with a hint of crow's feet, the extra twenty pounds...) with their eyes. Whatever. It was strange. Have you ever gone back to your college and felt that the current students were just clones of your batch, that you could swear that that boy or that girl had been in your Humanities class?

Anyway, we had so much fun that day, mostly because of our friend. She was a lovely guest, brimming with enthusiasm and bonhommie. I'll remember to be more like her when I'm someone else's guest.


christine said...

We call that ant "antik", those ones are really fierce, it hurts really bad when they bite/sting(?).

We didn't have santan when we were kids but we had a star apple tree, just a thought, maybe Mark used to stick leaves to himself back then...haha!

About the college thing, there are times I see students in our uniform I would tell myself "grabe! hindi pa rin sya grumaduate??" Because most of them do look like my old classmates :D

spinninglovelydays said...

hi, christine. i know those big red ants are called that, but this one has its butt up in the air. is it just the same kind?
mark knew about the santan too, but yeah, he said he used to stick leaves to his chin, probably pretending they were his beard or something.

Anonymous said...

Look like fire ants to me