Life in the Fast Lane


Going Back to my Roots

By 9:50 AM , , , , , , , , , , ,

I'd always joked in the past that I was a frustrated Amazing Race contestant. If I had the stamina for it, I would've signed up a long time ago. Alas, my body's immune system (or lack, thereof), coupled with the fact that my asthma slows me down, will forever discourage me from doing so. 'Til the Lord allows someone to discover a cure for asthma, I'll have to resort to watching others compete in the show and live vicariously through their experiences.

However, for 24 hours or so, I got a glimpse of how it was to be a contestant on the show what with the whirlwind pace and flurry of activities that I was about to experience from November 7 to November 8, 2011.

My relatives on my mom's side (at least those who've been living in the United States and Canada) all flew in over the course of the last few weeks in time for what would have been my grandfather's 100th birthday. Once upon a time, Godofredo P. Ramos was the governor of the province of Aklan. Today, he is widely regarded as the Father of Aklan after having given the province its own identity and independence from its neighboring province, Capiz.

With that, the whole clan was invited to fly to Kalibo, Aklan's capital, for a major celebration on the 8th of November.

A day earlier, however, my mom, brother, my aunt Grace and I flew to the world famous Boracay for a bit of fun under the sun. My brother, Chuck, had never been to Boracay (it's ironic, I know, given our roots, that our family doesn't get to travel to Boracay/Aklan as much as we should) so we decided to give him a taste of the Boracay experience. Even for just a few hours.

Naturally, he had a blast.

Boracay's airport has officially been named after my grandfather. Pretty cool, I have to say.

My aunt, Grace Ramos Zorrilla, and my mom, Sonia Ramos Araneta. Proud daughters of the late Godofredo P. Ramos.

Hello again, gorgeous view!

Nope, I don't think I'll ever tire of seeing this.

With my brother, Chuck. Our two other siblings couldn't join us because one couldn't take off from work and the other had things to do for school.

Walking on water.

Rain clouds looming over the horizon.

Behind the shoreline and the hotels/resorts surrounding it is a row of shops and restaurants. It's impossible to be bored in Boracay.

Not much of a sunset since the clouds covered the sun, but it still gave me a dramatic shot.

The following day, the four of us found ourselves in Kalibo, which is a little under two hours away from Boracay. We then joined our other relatives who had arrived in Kalibo a day earlier.

The morning started with a mass at the cathedral. It was a "full house"!

My mom (second from the right) and some of her sisters.

A procession followed afterwards. Students from all the schools where my grandfather studied participated in this event. There were also teachers from the different schools, different local government units, as well as the military and police force.

Camera shy!

Some cars carried this commemorative plate. I thought that was a nice touch.

One of the highlights of the day was the unveiling of the statue in memory of my grandfather.

Thank you, Aklan!

A 21-gun salute in his honor.

After several wreath laying ceremonies and speeches, we were invited to the governor's house for lunch. I have no experience with politics (read: I had to smile, make small talk, shake hands and greet practically everyone in sight), so this was a first for my relatively introverted self.

No classic Filipino celebratory lunch is complete without some lechon (crispy suckling pig).

Before we knew it, it was time to board the plane and go home.

Yep, just a little over 24 hours after landing in Boracay.

It was great to see how warm and extremely hospitable the Aklanons were. They really went out of their way to look out for us, to make sure that we had rides to and from all the places we needed to go to, to make sure that we got to the airport on time, etc. There was so much food to go around and I met so many relatives. Most of whom I never knew existed.

Growing up, I never really had the privilege of getting to know my mom's side of the family in Aklan. At least I now feel so much more connected to this wonderful province.

And it had to take my grandfather's 100th birthday celebration for this to happen. Better late than never, as the saying goes.

Thank you, Aklan, for the wonderful celebration and for honoring Godofredo P. Ramos the way you did. I am 100% sure that he is smiling down on every Aklanon right now.

'Til the next adventure!

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