Woke up in Sto. Tomás









 Yesterday my sister had these crazy plans to wake up at the crack of the crack and find and deluxe express bus that takes the TPLEX to Sto. Tomás.  We did get up pretty early, I made breakfast out of the leftovers and did some remote work.  

And then we got lazy and decided to take a walk and get an expensive breakfast at Toby’s Estate with some decent coffee.  We walked around Makati for awhile, and then packed our bags and tried to get an early afternoon bus.   

 Here’s how you travel to La Union from Manila.  Step one is to look up information online and inform yourself about everything and make a water tight plan  Step two is to über yourself to the bus station and on the way, to save time, give yourself a lobotomy and remove any part of your frontal cortex that involves reason or planning.  

We went to a bus station and waited in the bus lot breathing in fumes from an SUV running for no reason in front of the seating area, watching a Pitch Perfect I dubbed into Tagalog.  We were there for a couple of hours and then got on a bus and I smashed my head on the flat screen TV hanging in the front of the bus where tall passengers like to put their heads. They had a basketball game on, and the signal shorted out randomly to snow about every two seconds.  It was golden hour, and there was a pretty spectacular view out of the bus windows if you could ignore the basketball game.  

The bus stopped after two hours and let us off at the bus company’s shed, where there was a karenderia just waiting to serve us a bowl of kick-ass mami with egg, and sell us a package of chicharron with sawsaw squirted into a rip in the plastic.  When we got back on the bus after that, the TV failed to play Mission Impossible III which was literally the answer to my prayer.  

Somewhere along the way, we took on an empanada salesman, who gave everyone on the bus the first empanada free.  I skipped my free empanada because my sister said it was sugary.  

Two hours later we stopped at another company stop outside of Pozorrubio, and I bought a bottle of water and there was a cute stray puppy that kind of looked like a pig.  

Before long we got off the bus at Sto Tomás crossing and found Auntie M.  It had only been a six hour bus journey.  

Auntie M and Atsing T welcomed us and force fed us some relyenong bangus, adobong baboy, red jello and fruit salad.  H and I realized that Auntie M’s Tagalog is crystal clear to us, along with everybody in Sto. Tomás.  People are addressing us in Tagalog.  I don’t always know what to say but H has got it under control. 

The next morning we got up and cooked breakfast for Auntie M; longsilog plus leftovers.  Then cousin D came and got us in two tricycles and we motored over to Tococ, to get big prawns out of the family fish ponds.  After walking out into the ponds over the narrow fish pond walls, we hung out in the pretty awesome hang-out shack (a hut on stilts with a semi-closed off nap room, an open sheltered area with a bench and a hammock), while B and Manong P did all the wet dirty work in the ponds for us.  H did some stand-up rafting.  

I love to hear people speaking Pangasinan.  In the past few years, I only hear it on holidays, and usually exclusively from my parents.  It’s awesome to hear it here in town.  

After what seemed like a couple hours in the awesome hang-out shack we walked back to shore and sat around in another awesome hang-out shack, which was kind of a a shaded bamboo structure built around a tree with a bank of seats.  It seemed like we were there for at least an hour, I lost track of time.  It was super peaceful over the fish ponds, and the program at the time really just seemed to be to hang out and drink cokes and eat some fudgy snacks.  And enjoy it.  

Later we tricycled back to Auntie M’s house at the height of the mid-day heat.  The whole town was having a siesta but H, Atsing T, and I all walked around the block, stopping at landmarks and meeting relatives and friends of my mama. Back at the house, H started playing with two of Atsing T’s adorable first grade grand daughters.  They were playing and giving H Tagalog and Ilocano lessons.  Later Auntie M had us all inside for a very polite and adorable session of eating ice-cream and having good manners.  

Afterward Atsing T took us to the little afternoon market and we bought long beans, kamote greens, zucchini flowers, tomatoes, my favorite seaweed, shallots… and then we came back and cooked for Auntie M and Atsing T.  I made a dinengdeng with way too much water, and H helped me with the seaweed/tomato salad.  And I cooked the prawns in a bunch of garlic.  

We ate, cleaned up, and got ready for bed before 8pm.  Tomorrow we’re taking a road trip, I have no idea what’s going to happen.  

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