Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Road Home: Day 1 in Baguio

It's hard to believe that I am actually here. I have not lived here in over 30 years, and my last visit here was 21 years ago. I have no concious memories of this place except from my last visit and from viewing photos of myself at Madeleine's age while living here. I remember the weathered exterior of the second floor, but I don't remember much about the first floor, consequently I don't have anything in memory to compare to this new space my dad had renovated last year.

The first floor now consists of a living room which runs the full length of 1/2 of the house, two bedrooms at opposite corners of the living room, three sets of bathrooms to accomodate guests, and a large kitchen which is about 1/2 the length of the house.

Michael at our front door Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

This is the front door to our house. Dad relocated it to the first floor, at street level, instead of the old entrance which was up the stairs to the 2nd floor.

The floors are finished concrete. The walls are plaster over hollow concrete blocks. The windows are individual panes of glass set in ornate iron frames which in turn are set in the concrete block walls. The interior doors are wood hollow core construction set in wooden door jambs (sashes?). The external doors are solid wood construction set in wooden jambs with transoms. It's very simple construction with wood only used in specific applications - mostly decorative.

There is so little wood here. The forests and jungles are long gone. It may be hard for you to imagine given how much of our construction in North America is dependent on wood. Only our foundations and large scale construction projects depend on concrete. Otherwise, we take it for granted that one can go down to the Home Depot and pick up some 2x4's for framing in a new wall.

My father's parents
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

This is their portrait here in the family house of the two of them when they were young. I couldn't take it head on because of the glare. I will be adding a photo of our family to this wall and encourage other family members to send theirs to put up here in the house.

(Cheryl's note - you'll notice I'm just blogging any photos Allan uploads to flicker to the blog so they don't get lost in my mass uploading. Also C&P-ing any e-mails he sends to the blog)

Michael seems to have recovered from our long, long journey. He didn't nap this morning, but has managed to maintain a high energy level anyway. He is excited, curious, and a little afraid at the same time. He has already figured out the layout of the house, having poked into most of it's corners like a busy puppy.

We arrived at 6 this morning just as the neighbourhood roosters started to crow the first light. It seems that every other garden here has some chickens and a cock or two. It is late afternoon now as I write and they are still crowing. No doubt in a few days I will no longer conciously register them on the soundscape around me, but for now they are a continual punctuation to every passing minute.

Each house seems to have a dog or two as well. They are mostly friendly once they get to know you, but their primary purpose is one of security. They let everyone know if there is a stranger passing by.

We had some hot tea for breakfast and some sweetbread sliced by my cousin Elisabeth. She is the daughter of one of my first cousins and therefore my 'niece', according to local custom. Auntie Felipa says she has just finished Grade 6, so they are quite proud of her. I don't know if that is how you spell her name. To my ears she seems to pronounce it as 'Lisbeth.

After breakfast I tried to call home from here, but the phone here in the house only has local service. We can't call internationally from here - even with operator assistance. So we decided to venture out and find a phone where I could make an overseas call. We walked out to the entrance of the compound and waved a passing taxi.

I'm not going into that experience right now except to say that I'm glad we don't have to drive around here. The drivers here are not insane. It's more a case of the rules of the road here are not to be found in any handbook known to man.

We did manage to find a small shop with telephones and an attendant who set up our call and took our pesos when we were done. I wanted to buy a pre-paid internet card at the same time, but that part of the shop was not yet open.

We came back to the house and then I napped until noon.

Electrical Nightmare
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

If you thought it was tough to get internet access where you live, this is another thing entirely. I am glad I am not a telco engineer having to work on this rat's nest.

I want to keep writing, but it's just too overwhelming right now. There's too much still to process. I will now see if I can use the pre-paid internet card that I bought this afternoon in the market. It's 5 hours of service here in Baguio for P100 - or about $2.50 CAD.

1 comment:

cousin Maureen in NY said...

our gandparents' picture - lola Kangi and lolo Edwin reminds me happy memories in Buwat, Tibangdal and Guisad. My mother- Jane -was their first child.