Retracing a dear old timer

When they told me we were headed to Nueva Vizcaya, I caught a glimpse of my seventeen-year-old lovestruck self in a momentary flutter, giddily snickering in the background. It was about time I got to see the place for myself after years of utmost curiosity and now-long-gone connection. But the prospect of enduring yet another road trip under the long-haul category (at least eight hours) snapped me back to reality and easily washed away the tinge of excitement. In truth, the wake up call was needed.

It was early November, the calm before Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), when we went to the town of Bayombong for our first ever regional forum and also squeeze in an outreach for a school community in the nearby mountain. As a treat to our participants coming from the different provinces, we brought along two local celebrities, who both have shared their amazing talents with us during our #TatakEDSA Night and the GK Expo held the month before: Beatbox Gor of TV5's Talentadong Pinoy and Lee Grane of ABS-CBN's The Voice of the Philippines. And as luck have had it, I was assigned as their talent coordinator for the activity. Road manager ang peg?! No complaints here!

Although, no, there was no jamming session ala High School Musical, Glee, or Pitch Perfect in the entirety of the drive. Instead, we kept to ourselves and dealt with the silence over hours and hours in the best way we know how: why with music(als), of course. Lee was lullabied by a chill playlist, Gor watching Pitch Perfect for the nth time, my colleague Raji orienting himself with Les Miserables, and I pouring my heart and soul over an Adele concert. Still so typical for our bunch, if you ask me.

Our stay was quite brief, however. Between check in at our hotel (Highlander), their once-in-a-lifetime impromptu collaboration onstage (a surprise treat for everyone, including for our event heads), and our van getting surrounded by a crazy mob of fans asking for autographs or pictures after the event, we spent what had been our very limited downtime checking the few tourist spots in the vicinity.

The Tribu Biscayano Village shows the traditional dwelling spaces of the many tribes in Nueva Vizcaya. The provincial museum, on the other hand, used to be the governor's office until it was moved to a much larger area in the capitol. Now the museum houses memorabilia and collections of previous governors, as well as the traditional costume and weapons of the Biscayanos. And then there was the exterior of St. Dominic Cathedral that even at first glance, had already melted both my seventeen-year-old and present heart.

Our entire event had been undoubtedly successful. I'm sure we gave Region II a forum and outreach they will never forget. Meanwhile, we had to stay a day longer than planned due to the heavy rains brought in by the supertyphoon. We watched Atom Aurallo in the news and prayed for everyone's safety while waiting. In any case, seventeen-year-old me was quite happy we made the trip while present me was bursting with content. I whispered a little thanks to the universe.

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