Wish I were at the “Hirilingan”
By Hermito (Mits) San Jose
LOS ANGELES, USA — At the moment I’m drowning in nostalgia I must get a breath of air and give release to the memories that arise in me. This yearning for the past suffuses me due to the “Hirilingan Sa Pinaghalean” that will happen in Sipocot this coming Friday, June 21, 2013.
This happening is a reunion of Sipocoteños 55 years of age and over, whether present town residents or former ones who now live in other places in the Philippines or abroad. I belong to the second group, having left Sipocot 63 years ago to settle and raise a family in Naga and later in life migrate to the US of A.
As June 21 draws near, a frenzy of preparations is taking place. Plans for the calendar of events, accommodations, transportation, catering of food, activity venues, motorcades, dances, games, and surprise numbers are afoot. These, plus the fact that in the following two days, June 22-23, the Sipocot St. John Academy Alumni Association will hold its own gathering, and the next day, June 24, is the Sipocot annual town fiesta of St. John the Baptist.
I first learned of the Hirilingan from one of the organizers, Gregorio (Goyo) Castilla, a Seattle-based Bicol Mail columnist who wrote about it in his column. Though we haven’t met personally, we reminisced a lot through email and Facebook about people and places in our hometown. He even sent me his book which included chapters on Sipocot. He’s attending and has flown to the Philippines already.
FB also got me connected to Renato (Nato) Perdon in Australia, a former top honcho of the Philippine Historical Institute, who had published books on his early years in Sipocot. He mailed me two of his books and tagged my FB with many pictures. Because he had recently attended a Perdon family reunion, he won’t be coming home this time.
Attending and already in Manila as I write this is Renato Villacorte from LA who got from me the lyrics of and will sing “Estorya Nin Pagkamoot,” a rollicking ballad set in Donsol, Sorsogon, composed long ago by comedians Didoy and Nappy (Paulo Sta. Ana and Napoleon Estipona) and sung by them on Radio DZRB’s “Hagianan Sa Kabituonan.”
As what happens in the FB social networking, my contacts with Sipocoteños spread rapidly through the many “friend requests.” These friends are much younger than me, the “baby boomers” so-called who came a generation or two later than mine. Among those I came to know are Jose Orogo, Joel Celaje, Honesto Pantalla, Ronald Lontac, Nonoy Perdon, Leo Castilla, and Jose Escarilla, whom I have not met, but whose family names are familiar to me because I knew their fathers or grandfathers. Also striking a nostalgic chord with me are other surnames, such as: Avengoza, Palmero, Pamarang, Sabando, David, Balonzo, Silva, Luzentales, Sancho, Vicaldo, Midem, Crescini, Montilla, Mirate, Navarroza, Bermejo, Padrigon, Astor, Veras, Resurreccion, Momay, San Agustin, Marfilla, Curioso, atbp.
They look forward to the “harambugan” and the “borolahan” during the homecoming. In fact they’re doing these already in their FB chitchats. I can imagine the fun they’ll have.
While they sally back and forth in the Internet, they have mentioned many personalities and local landmarks and posted old photos that have intensely stirred memories of my boyhood and teen years in Sipocot. With wistful longing, in my mind’s eye I see:
*Our San Jose ancestral house, still extant, which replaced an older house where I grew up. Estong Pantalla tagged me a photo.
*The central schools with their buildings and playgrounds where I finished my primary and elementary grades.
*The PNR station and the marketplace where I and my barkada pals used to “estambay” doing our mischiefs.
*The dusty roads (not paved yet) through which we trudged during our quotidian routines.
*The Sipocot “river of no return” on whose one-way downstream waters I spent countless boyhood time playing hours on end. And the smaller Vigaan creek, with its high banks and shallow waters, which I forded on my way to and from barrio Cabuyao. (This forest barrio is where I as a 19-year-old fresh HS graduate was assigned in 1948 as a teacher to open a Grade One extension class, the very first school in that out-of-the-way place.)
*The municipal mayors during my time — Paulino Castilla and Pablo T. Salazar — who were kind to our family and compadres to my father, Geronimo San Jose, who was then the school principal.
*My teachers, like Miss Rebueno, Mr. Palmero, and Mrs. Moratalla, who taught me to read and write, use the dictionary and read maps, and observe good manners and right conduct.
*The teenage loves, expressed or suppressed, that make you wonder where they are now.
These and many more memories too numerous to mention are evoked in me by this homecoming in Sipocot which made me write this article — and maybe get some publicity for this Hirilingan. Regretfully, due to the constraints of my age (84), health concerns and distance, I won’t be able to attend. To the attendees, best of luck na lang and enjoy kamo dian.