Saturday, October 07, 2006

Remembering Guimaras

I always have a soft spot for this island. I grew up admiring it from my bedroom window at Monja Compound in Iloilo City.   There was Balaan Bukid and its magnificent cross that jives with the setting sun.  It was a scene as classic as my mother's painting collection.

I do not know what is with Guimaras that endeared our family to make it a significant part of our lives.  For one we owned a rural bank in the town of  Jordan. My father bought it with closed eyes from its previous owners. Well, it was in the 1970s and money was not that scarce. As a consequence, my mother who managed it (poor her!) has to cross the Iloilo Straight two times a day. Thats ten times a week!! But then my mother grew accustomed with her daily trips to Guimaras. She rode all sorts of floating vessels to the island - from the big Fel-Am ferryboat with names like Island Hopper and Loadstar to outtriggers dubbed Don John and Kevin Lee. Thats my mother - the unsung adventurer. Hey, did I tell you about the day when the car she and her staff are riding was nearly smashed into bits by a Panay Railways train? It happened while they waiting to board a Fel Am Ferryboat at the Iloilo Aduana. Well, that a whole different story.

As our parents heavily invested on the island, so did their children. During my college days, I opened two hardware stores in the island. One in Jordan and another in Alibjon (San Miguel). Like my mother, I frequented the island to sell all sorts of knick knacks. Sacks of cement and fertilizer, boxes of nails and pails of paint. That was my usual inventory. To think that I was only 16 years old then! It was doing good until a big fire gutted 90% of Alibhon public market forcing us to close shop. I was not able to return to selling nails bolts and GI sheets for good. Yet, I missed my sukis, the day of tienda, our next door Bukay's Batchoy, Nanding's special roasted salty pork belly and yes...the free wheeling downhill motorcycle ride all the way from the IBC Transmitter to somewhere near Jordan's cemetery. But then some good things have to end.

After law school, I went back to develop one of our properties at an idyllic cove at Barangay Dolores, Nueva Valencia. We called it the Guisi Property. It was one of the nicest inland beaches there is. White sand with deep blue green waters at the middle of a natural swimming pool. I never went swimming there though...I am careful not to sully the water (joke only). It was just that beautiful. Like threading over an immaculate fabric. Experiencing its pristine beauty is pure euphoria. I tried to developed it to an eco-toruism spot but so far no takers. Maybe they would wonder -where the heck is Guimaras?  Well, thats fine. On the other hand, few or no tourists will keep it an exclusive hideaway. If I am given one chance to be selfish...I will treasure this place all to myself.


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