A familiar voice answered my call on the other line urging me to follow him where he waits. Few minutes in to the call I spotted him and few moments after we were locked into an embrace that lovers could only envy.

After 7 long years my brother is home again for the Pahiyas Festival.

apparently, the abrocket didn't do much to us.

We exchanged estimation of the pounds we gained and hairs lost and dined cheerfully with my wife and his.

I expected an all too familiar sights the following day, May 15 the day of the Pahiyas Festival as I never fail to miss one.But I guess my brother will relish the experience with utmost nostalgia.

Following a satisfying fill of Al Mama and 2 slices of pizza at Ground Zero, a local pizza and pasta resto, we actively digested our extra load by casually strutting the route of the Pahiyas that evening.

kuya won the spelling bee showdown a day ago

Anok, born this way

Residents dutifully festooned their houses with the summer’s harvest in honor of St. Isidore, the patron saint of farmers, on the eve of the festival and some remarkably adorned them days before the celebration.

Our party marched on until we reached St. Louise de Tolouse Parish Church where we met our cousin, Nelson, his wife Sara and their daughter Kirsten.Our chance meeting at the facade of the old church brought back images of our cherished youth.

we did caught the Bieber fever ages ago

Rest of the night was spent on customary drinking session of tagayan (shot),reminiscing the good old days with childhood friends in full Lucbanin twang.As always we drank ourselves to sleep.

breakfast of champions
Praising the heavens for a sunny Sunday morning my brother and his daughter Fae,set out for last minute trip to the local market to pluck some items for the day’s menu before the house fills up with guests.Never wanting to miss out on a quick breakfast the father and daughter tandem devoured a handfull of pancit habhab.
The summer celebration had gone in full swing. Amidst the high noon heat, I trailed my brother strolling the route through human traffic that Pahiyas Festival always creates, as flocks of tourist flooded the streets, eager to be awed by the colorful sights and festive mood.

Lucban Pahiyas Festival 2011

homecoming queens Beli and Cookie

lured by fresh buko juice

As evening approach, the streets burst into an array of radiance seeing that the payas (decorations) were now adorned with dazzling lights. Also, the breeze offered by sundown made the stroll more appealing and by this time the streets were nearly half-congested.

then there was light

Me my brothers Togis and Payat

The journey back home turned out to be a trip down to memory lane with my brother’s return. Im pretty sure that it will be awhile before we relive the images and experiences we shared in so short atime. Home is where the heart is so im certain that we will meet again.

photos:  Fae Maaliw, Camille Barairo, Luis Miguel Maaliw

Howl of dogs ruined the silence of impending dawn as me and my wife began to approach our destination.The entrance was still shut close and from a distance, two distinct figures seem to hold captive the awaiting early souls eager to crossover.

Cordially, the guardians let loose the iron gate, resonating sound that even the dead can hear. As we near, familiar souls greeted us with fervor,persuading us to enter with them.

The breeze from the other side was mesmerizing, to the point of unconditionally inking our names unto a book held by the gatekeeper as though signing our own fate.

The point of no return has been breached, and the end will only come when heaven itself breaks wide open,I thought to my self as we entered the grounds.

opening door to a brand new experience

Me and my fellow runners/joggers had to go through all that every time we ought to be on the grounds of Chinese Cemetery. The notion of running at the sight of tombstones is a bit odd but surprisingly a considerable number of the undead avidly thread the 2.5km loop.

Besides respect for the departed, admission to the grounds requires a runner/jogger to wait for the gates to open at around 5 am, logging your name once you arrive and when you depart, and of course littering will gain you an entry to hell.

hitting the wall

The 2.5km path has gradual uphill of less than a kilometer when you opt to run at it curving left and the rest are mostly flats.

signs will direct you to the end

It is well kept by resident caretakers. Safety is ideal since no oncoming traffic is allowed except for a very few cars of medical personnel working at the adjacent hospital, looking for a spot to park on.Security is divine, as guards are scattered along the route and greet you during runs.Running amidst the graves is exciting and rather humbling.The experience sometimes and somehow may incite paranoia at the thought of someone else’s running with you or keeping a watchful eye on you, but then again who doesn’t need a little push.

ChiCem Runners at home

light at the end of the run

photo courtesy of Tholits Hernandez and John Brian Pacia

Gallery  —  Posted: May 18, 2011 in Runs
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