A celebration of life! (Solano style! )

A celebration of life! (Solano style! )

Lets just say in Solano you are greeted by several roosters early in the day every day. Around 5 they start to crow and it seems like the town slowly starts waking up. Lyn and I have decided to take a short walk every morning to get some exercise and see some of the town while it is cooler and not so busy. I really love this part of the day. There is really so much to take in, from the tricycles to the street sweepers…..you name it things are cranking up in Solano. We walked through parks, by shops and also passed smiling people just starting their day. We had decided to get some Pandesal (Filipino bread.) and take it back to everyone for breakfast. We found a bakery that sold 20 of these delicious rolls for 40 pesos. 40 pesos is about 75 cents by the way! This bread is so yummy and really goes good with any meal but it does seem like it was made to go with your morning coffee! After our walk we took showers and joined everyone for breakfast.

Today we would be going to Lyn’s parents house to celebrate their life and then later go to the cemetery to celebrate some more. We were expecting a lot of people so when we arrived at their house there was a lot of cooking going on. Almost all of it was being cooked over open fires. It really reminded me of camping and the smells where fantastic. There was a large wok of pancit another big pot of dinuguan (Yes that’s me actually trying the dinuguan gravy.) and various other pots of yummy goodness simmering all around us. There were also trays of puto and other desserts  lying around. You can see short video of the cooking by clicking here. As everyone arrived we met and welcomed them. In the corner of the livingroom of her parents house was two pictures of Lyn’s Mom and Dad. They also had candles burning in their honor. Several people from Dominga’s church said a few prayers and sang some beautiful hymns. When the food was ready, a plate was prepared for her parents complete with drinks and placed in front of their pictures. After they had been served everyone lined up to get a plate of food for themselves. Just in case you were wondering this was not a somber occasion more like a family get together but in a way that included Lyn’s parents. It really was beautiful and I wish we could adapt this practice in the US. After we ate we all sat around chatting. Finally I was asked if I wanted a beer and a few of us went outside but when I went outside I hit my head on the door frame. As you can imagine over here most of the door frames are lower and this one was no exception. When I say I hit it I mean it made a noise that made everyone look at me ha ha! Now I know how to make an entrance! After I “recovered” we all sat out back and had a few beers. Even though there was a language barrier we still had a lot of fun and sometimes good times just are what they are and do not need to be communicated. This was one of those times. One relative “Cano” was assigned to me to be my bodyguard and his sole job was to remind me to duck at that door. So whenever I had to go to the bathroom he would follow me there just to make sure I remembered to duck ha ha! The very first trip I ever made to the Philippines Lyn’s Mom had assigned Cano to me as my body-guard if I ever ventured off on my own! So while we were all drinking beer I did learn that I had a special power that impressed everyone. I learned a trick from my son-in-law Justin. You use your wedding ring to open the beer bottle tops. This came in really handy and I probably opened 12 throughout the afternoon for all of the friends and family that were there with me. Finally I could make a contribution ha ha! Thanks Justin!

The plan was to take this party to the cemetery where Lyn’s parents were buried  and continue the celebration of their life. Party in the cemetery sounds crazy as I write it but I am telling you it could not seem more natural over here. Due to rain and the fact that it was getting late we all decided to do it the next day. We ended up taking naps and having dinner at the house. The rest of the evening was spent just hanging out enjoying each others company. We all went to bed around 10. Tomorrow we would be celebrating Lyn’s birthday early. She never gets to be here for her birthday celebration so she was really looking forward to it!

The next morning we woke up about 6 and headed out for our morning walk. This time we had been told another place to buy Pandesal. After navigating a few turns downtown we came a cross the place. You could actually smell the goodness  before you arrived. We bought about 20 and I noticed the sign that said open 24 hours. So if you are ever in Solano drop by “Jemong’s” and buy some Pandesal you will not regret it! Apparently you can drop at anytime! Once we got back we showered and had breakfast. Lyn had been invited to go to church by an old friend. Actually I was too but I really only had t-shirts and shorts so I decided to stay back. (Note to self. Bring one nice outfit in the future! You never know what opportunities might come your way!) I spent a few hours uploading pictures and working on blog related stuff while Lyn went to church. When she got home I could see in her expression that she was so glad she went. By now it was time for lunch and to start the celebration. The next thing I knew two birthday cakes were brought out, one belated one for me and one early one for Lyn. Awesome! As everyone sang happy birthday one candle was lit on each cake but these were not just ordinary candles. In fact I think in the US they would be called outdoor fire works only sold in South Carolina candles ha ha! As the fire works …. I mean candles died down another normal candle was placed and lit on each cake. You can see a short video by clicking here! It was time for us to make our wish and blow out our candles. I really did not know what to wish for as I have more than I could ever need so my wish was a saying that Lyn and I have adopted. “Thank you! More please!” It is kind of our way of just saying give us another helping of what we already have as we could not ask for or need anything more oh and by the way ….thanks for what we have already been given!

We all sat around eating lunch and then it was time to go to the cemetery. The birthday cakes and any left over food would be shared there with Lyn’s parents. As we arrived there the rain started to sprinkle so they put up a tarp and the festivities began. Lyn’s parents picture were placed on their tomb and they were given a plate of birthday cake before anyone else. There also already happened to be an open Red Horse beer on the tomb so some was poured a little in a cup for Lyn’s Dad. Well Cano my bodyguard was running late and when he arrived he made a big deal about how busy he was and was sorry he was late but he knew we were all glad to see him. He is really funny by the way. Anyway he walks up to the Red Horse and pours himself a big cup full does a toast to Lyn’s Dad and drinks the beer. Well all of a sudden he got this strange look on his face and asked why the beer was so warm. Finally we told him that the beer was already open and there when we got there. He starts rubbing his stomach and acting sick and then remembers that he had come in June on Lyn’s Dad’s birthday to do a toast to Lyn’s Dad! You guessed it, that beer that he just drank was the same one that he had left on the tomb since June 7th! Well we all just started laughing and some one offered him a shot of gin to “settle” his stomach. Ha Ha you can not make this stuff up! I truly love the Philippines and its people! Finally it was time to have birthday cake and I was given a large piece of cake that there was no way I could eat it all so I did the next best thing and ate all the icing. I mean all the icing off the top, middle and sides. Yum yum nom nom! Finally I told Lyn that I could not eat anymore. She said that I was just supposed to take what I wanted and pass it on for others to enjoy! Woopsy! Did not understand that part (Says with embarrassed face?!?!??!)….hope the next two people like icing free cake because that’s exactly what they got! Probably as I passed it I had icing all over my face. 🙂 Well finally it was time to head back. Tonight we were going to spend the night in the country with Lyn’s oldest brother. Always looking forward to new experiences and thankful for the ones I have been given. For the next two days we will just be hanging out in Solano before we head out to the Banuaue rice terraces. Thanks for reading.

Random Pictures

Joyful celebration!
Birthday time!
Thank you! More please!
The wedding ring trick!

4 thoughts on “A celebration of life! (Solano style! )

  1. Ben & Lyn, Thanks so much for the phone call we loved hearing your voices AND loved your Birthday stories! We shared the stories about how Lyn’s parents celebrated with the family -being
    first to be served. We all loved this tradition and wished we could make this wonderful tradition happen here in the states. Your blogs continue to be GREAT – you are such a terrific story teller Ben and David and I felt we were right there with you and Lyn enjoying the good times.
    Love you both loads, and love to Lyn’s family too.

    1. Thanks Mom! We agree! We need to step it up back in the US. Glad we were able to get the internet working good enough to call you both. We are in Loaog now and officially celebrating Lyn’s birthday. Love you both and see you soon! Ben & Lyn

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