Monday, July 29, 2013

July 7th: Villa Escudero & arriving at UPLB

The girls on the last day in San Pablo City posing in the backyard
of the Rubico-Jamir family's house

Hello, my name is George, and I am a Banduria 2 player in the IP Rondalla. What a week it has been! A large concert at Resort's World, a courtesy call and special performance at Malacanan Palace for President Aquino, two TV/radio appearances on ABS-CBN, two performances at Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and so much more were all packed into our schedule -- and that's just for Manila. We are now in San Pablo City, 87 kilometers southeast of Manila, nestled in the foothills of Mt. Makiling, Mt. Banahaw, and Sierra Madre mountains. After such an intensive week, all of us needed a refuge for rest and relaxation. That refuge would be the breathtaking ranch resort of Villa Escudero.



A lovely Carabao ride through the Villa Escudero property
IP Rondalla kids having a blast dancing and singing songs in the late afternoon torrential rain
while parents run for cover under the nearby sheds.
Our day started late in the morning. The sweet, peaceful sound of chirping birds in the countryside of San Pablo replaced the usual sounds of orders being given out, bags being zipped, doors getting slammed, and bus motors running. Instead, we all slept in peace as the birds serenaded us (at least I did). After packing, loading the bus, and having breakfast, we were finally on our way to Villa Escudero. One hour later, the bus entered into the Villa's rustic, ranch-like scenery. We were greeted with cool ice tea. Of course, the gesture of hospitality was very warm, unlike the drink.

Next, it was time for a carabao ride. The carabao is a native water buffalo, and I was so excited to meet one face to face (but not too close). My group's carabao looked very hot and tired from the afternoon sun. His driver took him to a water hole to bathe and we all watched intently as he was hosed down. As we rode through the resort with the carabao pulling us in tow, I took in all of the beautiful scenery. The breathtaking mountains were a beautiful backdrop to the endless fields of grass and moss. However, the fun was just beginning.        
                                 
People having sumptuous buffet lunch at the Villa Escudero waterfall
IP Rondalla family photo in front of the church/
museum - a good time to remember our fun day


















                                                                      By the time the carabao ride was over, it was time for lunch. Lunch was served in a traditional Filipino style, but in a roaring, rushing setting: a waterfall!!!!!. As we sat eating our pancit, adobo, and rice, strong currents from the waterfall swept over our feet and mist sprayed on our hot, weary faces. Everyone went close to the waterfall and soaked themselves. Everything was going well until, suddenly, the heavens opened and a huge downpour came down on us! As all the other customers ran for shelter, the rest of the Rondalla members went out into the open and began dancing and "singing" in the rain. "Raindrops Kept Falling on their Heads," and it really did not matter. I was busy eating in a shelter and was perfectly dry at the time, but my fellow Rondalla members took care of that. Everyone hugged me until I was wet all over! I guessed being dry is just not as fun. Afterwards, we spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and just relaxing. By 5:00 pm we were on the bus, bound for the University of the Philippines Los Banos.
video

Los Banos. An exotic name with a bit of romance. We arrived at the campus of UPLB in the late evening as the sun began to set. We were unexpectedly greeted by a community of UPLB student performers and professors, who wanted to share their gratitude in our arrival. Sierra met some of her family friends as well, and her mother, Sonia Rubico-Jamir, gave a little speech on how proud she is that our group will be performing at this magnificent place.

Our hotel is called SEARCA Hostel (operated by South East Asia Research Center for Agriculture) and it is a comfortable residence hotel. We will be having three performances tomorrow. You will hear more from me later. Till then, see you.


George

Fun times "Pinoy Posing" with the UPLB Sandayaw Cultural Group

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