There by the sea, gazed by Mayon,
The garden of my childhood lies,
One made of dreams and sweat and love,
Our home’s own little paradise.
One corner bloomed with bougainvillea,
One side was bright with yellow bells.
Face-crumpling iba was prolific,
In bunches after windy spells.
Clear mornings were enchanting:
The garden blanketed in dew,
Golden sunbeams poured forth from trees,
And roosters crowed, life stirred anew.
Summers dripped with mango juices,
Pineapples, guavas, jackfruits, too;
Our laughter carried by the cool breeze
As we clambered up a tree, or two.
Luksong-tinik and patintero;
Hide-and-seek and flying kites;
Pretend-cooking using flowers;
Breathless races with dragonflies.
Sweet potatoes, yams and coconuts—
Countless festive afternoons
Of pandan-scented delicacies
And songs and lores of many moons.
And when the sea winds rose and fumed,
The garden thrashed and spent and tired,
Kalibo proffered too-early harvests,
A grateful feast by candlelight.
The muru-maria nesting at our porch
At dusk twittered its young to sleep;
We would come in reluctantly,
The bells of angelus tolled deep.
Cicadas then commenced the orchestra,
Crickets, night-nymphs joined the play.
We rested our tired and happy limbs
And dreamed of fun, another day.
Beloved faces now long gone,
Their gift of love has not depart:
The garden and its memories
We carry precious in our hearts.
Through all monsoons, typhoons, and suns,
Tended the garden with blessed hands,
A garden true of love and family,
To remember in these foreign lands.
– 18 Nov 2019
1. There are two plants mentioned in their common names in Bicol (the language of the Albay province in the Philippines): iba and kalibo. Iba is Averrhoa bilimbi, while kalibo is the banana hybrid Musa acuminata x balbisiana ‘Saba.’
2. Pandan refers to the tropical plant Pandanus amaryllifolius, the leaves of which are widely used as a flavouring in Southeast Asian cooking.
3. Luksong-tinik and patintero are native outdoor games popularly played by children in rural areas in the Philippines.
4. The muru-maria refers to the bird species that oftentimes nests in churches in the Philippines. The one we have at our covered porch decided to nest there when the house was just being constructed. It’s been there ever since.