I was born and raised in the city all my life. But believe it or not, part of me is a “farmer”, or better yet, a probinsiyana. Since I was very young, I was sent to the province every year to spend my summer vacation there. As a young girl, I thought that was a norm. I thought every kid had their own province where they spend their vacations at. I thought it was normal to run along the rice fields, to know how palay is transformed into milled rice, to feel the smell of freshly harvested red onions.
My dad came from a farming family, because his father and grandfather were farmers. My mom came from the province too, where their family also owns farmlands. They were both “landed” (or land owners) but they knew pretty much the rules of the soil.
A short ode to my dad who is a big part of my probinsiyana roots. A few anecdotes:
- There was a mobile phone commercial on TV bragging about how realistic their screen graphics were, and because of this the chicken was “sitting” on the eggs shown on its screen. It caught my dad’s attention and quickly mumbled, “bakla yang manok na yan” (“that chicken is gay”), because apparently the chicken they used for the commercial is actually a rooster. But most other people couldn’t tell the difference, could they?
- There is a big rice exhibit in the middle of our museum, which features a number of actual different rice grains embedded in clear resin. When my dad saw this, he started to name the different varieties. There weren’t any labels there, but he was sure of those he was naming, like it’s second nature to him.
- We were in a faraway province one weekend, and during the morning I heard a chicken clucking. I asked my dad, “nangingitlog ba yung manok na yun?” (“is that chicken laying an egg?”). He quickly responded, “hinde, tandang lang ang tumutunog ng ganyan” (“no, only roosters sound like that”). I wouldn’t have ever known.
- My dad has explained to me the ENTIRE PROCESS of planting and growing rice, including the different styles and their effect on yield, the different requirements, and the post processing after harvest. All of those information he knows by experience. He’s a consultant now (for something else other than farming) but when they have projects for farming communities in different provinces, he is able to communicate well with them since he really knows what he is talking about.
The province is a wonderful place to learn the deepest tagalog I could ever fathom or the wonderful dialect of the Kapampangan. It was wonderful to walk to the market in the morning to grab the freshest meats and vegetables for the day’s meal. It is also the best place to eat the heartiest meals, especially during fiestas. There were perya (small carnival) and sayawan (dance party) and tiangge (bazaars) during fiestas too.
What else? Uhm, carabao milk, eating frogs and some insects (cooked of course), my love for caldereta and papait na kambing, driving an owner jeep, climbing trees, shooting birds with a slingshot, and so many other things… Now I know I am much blessed to have spent a very interesting childhood summers in the province.