My Love for Bicolandia (Part 3 of My 5-Year Tribute to 'Ina')
|The Naga Metropolitan Cathedral
grabbed from escapemanila.com.
Originally published on September 17, 2018.
In 2016, I began a five-part tribute to our region's patroness, Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia. The first part was about my family being deeply-rooted in the Bicol Region, and my parents being married on the very Feast Day of Ina.
In 2017, last year, the centenary anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, I recounted how Mother Mary was the last reason - but a strong one - that kept me to the Catholic fold, giving me a very strong and flourishing faith later on.
This year, 2018, as I get closer to my 33rd birthday in 2020, the next time my birthday will coincide with the Feast Day of Bicolandia, the topic will be about my love for the region...
I remember that one day in 1997, as a grade 4 student at BU, I read a page on our textbook in HeKaSi that struck me so much that it has remained in my mind up to now. That moment was something ordinary for most children but it was nonetheless life-changing to me. I discovered the difficult truth that Bicol, that place I was growing up in but which had not become so significant to me until that very moment, was actually the second poorest in the nation.
Being a Bicolano myself, with Bicolano parents, and with Bicolano grandparents, I became so interested in something I had always ignored. To me, in the years and months before, Bicol was just a mere place. That ordinary day changed this. It became more than just a place; it became so much more. I grew significant interests in social studies, and everything that makes up the Bicol Region.
In the following summer of 1998, we had a trip to Baguio City with the family. The curiosity I mentioned above produced strong evidences --- I literally listed down all towns and cities we passed through from our hometown of Daraga, Albay. Every time I discover a new town, I would glisten and delightfully write the town's name down. The last of the towns of Bicol that I wrote was Del Gallego, Camarines Sur (which I later found out to be not accurate as it was actually Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte).
The passion continued in the following months when I literally memorized all the names of the towns in the region from the most peculiar-sounding (Garchitorena, Camarines Sur) to those found in the outermost fringes (Esperanza, Masbate; Gigmoto, Catanduanes).
The love I have for the region continued to grow as the years passed by. Not only did I study the region's geography and its political subdivisions, I also read about its rich history. Like branches of a growing tree, my interests continued to branch out to include tourist spots, beaches, churches, and just lately, cuisine, which I am very proud of due to its distinct heritage and identity. My concern for Bicol in 1997 became love. Soon, I have become enamored of everything Bicolano.
This love is the reason why I find it to be heart-warming to know that I was born on the very feast day of the entire region and why Mother Mary became my last remaining reason for holding on to my Catholic Faith, making me realize that changing my religion would mean discarding Mother Mary's significance to my wonderful life and identity.
Today, I don't think I will be someone else anymore. Actually, I was recently confronted with issues regarding the Catholic Church... but when I asked myself, "so you want to change religion now? Maybe. So you're leaving Mother Mary? Oh no, I will remain a Catholic." The same day, I came back to reading the bible and its catholic interpretations.