Thursday, December 10, 2009

Happy Jimalalud

My Negros Oriental Tour: Municipality of Jimalalud
The little big town. That’s how they call their town. I did not get to know what they say they are big for or what they are little for. I liked being in this happy town anyway. Maybe it was the time of day (a cloudy 2:30PM) or day of the week (Friday) such that surprisingly, everywhere I went, people in this town seemed to be jollier than anywhere else in the province I have visited. Any face I looked at, there was a smile. Even when they themselves conversed with each other, and I pretended not to be eavesdropping, people in this town were just really animatedly happier. Some would even wave at me with a smile as they or I passed by.

Tongue twister again?! Ah this one is easier! The town’s name is pronounced in 4 syllables, ‘Ji’ is pronounced like the English word ‘he’ or the ‘hi’ in Himalaya. Remember that! The ‘ma’ is pronounced as you would call your mom. Then ‘la’ is also pronounced as is, like when you sing ‘la la la la la’. And the ‘lud’ is pronounced like a quick ‘lood’. It sounds like the ‘lud’ in ‘ludicrous’ and not in ‘lewd’. Easy, right? So, its “ji-ma-la-lud” pronounced in the speed and accent as you would say ‘Himalaya’ – reminding you that the ‘la’ is pronounced like ‘luh’ instead of ‘lay’ even itself in the word ‘Himalaya’! Okay?! Now the folks from Jimalalud call themselves Jimalaludnon, and that’s when my tongue starts to tangle hehe!

Alright, I got off the Ceres bus just across their public market or what seems to be so. Why do I say that? Because, it has stalls, many of them as in a public market, but the building was so clean and dry and it did not stink like public markets do! Add to that, there seem to be some offices (or are they stalls too?) at second level of the building, so I was a bit confused if it was some kind of a privately-owned commercial ‘mall’ or the public market managed by the municipal government. I asked a vendor and a pedicab driver, both said it was indeed, their public market. Hah, hello Dumaguete and hello Marikina… I think you have a competition when talking about clean public markets. And that is Jimalalud! Well, then again, maybe it was the time of day. But still, it was remarkable. When do you see the cloverleaf market at Balintawak or the Susano Market in Novaliches clean and dry?! Aruuu!

Now now… I already mused about the welcome arc pronouncing the place as a “little big town”… and here was another… they call their public market “TIYANGUEHAN SA JIMALALUD”. Haha, what a spelling, it tried to twist my tongue again, but I stuck with the more common pronunciation – ‘changgihan’ or the simplier ‘merkado’ gud! But this showed me something… this town has my character hehe… one that likes to play fun even with ‘official’ words. Hah, I was now wondering if those unique taglines or spellings were related to why everyone was wearing a smile. Could it be? Probably so! Don’t get me wrong, I know that anywhere you go in this country, be it Rio Hondo, NicarAgdao, Tondo, San Lorenzo, Dasma, Payatas, T. Padilla, Club Morocco or Amara, you will always discern that Pinoy friendliness or hospitality, right? And I know that. But in this town, people I encountered did not seem just happy, they looked like they were having fun at what otherwise was another boring day! They were actually more than just smiling; they were grinning – and even if not talking to me!

Still at the market:
“Sir, budbud, buy my budbud or buy me”! I bowed, grinned and went on.
“Hellowww sir, you wanna lunch? We have fish, meat very delicious like me”!
“Here sir, here! Eat here with us or eat me haay hihihi”!
Then I laughingly said “samoka ninyo uy, mga kiatan! Tan-aw ra ‘ko!!!”
And it sounded like the whole market burst into laughter.
“Aw bisaya pala ka, sir”?!
I replied grinning, “hindi ako palaka, tao ako”!
And she replied “ay tao sya, halika sir, kainin mo kami, ay kainin mo ang amin ay hihihi!”

That fun! My goodness, where do all these people get their humour reserves?! I swear, they were not fun because I, a visitor was there. I observed many a conversation amongst themselves, they were the same everytime. Fun! And am not joking or exaggerating. Yeah, maybe I hopped into this town when they probably won something or learned about some good news they were happy about. But, their ‘crazy’ behaviour just struck me! I found my match – a whole town of people in fact hehe. And I told myself, ayan nakahanap ka ng katapat mo? They were more than the flamboyant jolly crazy me, myself and I! And am not done yet, okay?!

I crossed from the ‘tiyanguehan’ to the municipal hall. Fine enough little building of a municipal hall. And it looks to me like a stingray with those additional wings (roofs) on the sides hehe. To make more room for their activities or offices obviously. And I wondered why the need to fence the whole vicinity off with a gate. Hello Butuan, hello Cotabato… is this the fad now? City/Municipal Halls are being fenced off? Away from who or what? Bombers? I would understand that on Butuan and Cotabato, but Jimalalud?! Ah, anyway, maybe the town just has extra useless money to spend so they built the gate and the chicken wire of a fence hehe! The vicinity looks good anyway, with a manicured lawn, a fountain, shrubberies, greens, flowering plants, trees... the works! The gate was open anyway (and at least there are no gate guards like in Butuan and Cotabato), so I went in.

As I took another shot of the stingray, oops, the municipal building (without the fence and gate), I noticed that there were employees just outside the entrance discussing about delivery of supplies/materials for their Christmas decorations. My presence with a camera disturbed and distracted them of course. And I was ready to back out or look elsewhere lest they be offended at my shooting. Then one woman exclaimed, “Hello sir, welcome to Jimalalud, how can we help you?” Da! And she said all that in English. “Oh nothing, am just looking around”, so I replied and realized I unconsciously also said that in English!

Another 'expected' line of questioning came my way, “are you a photographer, sir, a newscaster?” I almost laughed at that question. What kind of photographer wanders around toting and shooting with a tiny Fuji FinePix F200EXR; and why would a ‘newscaster’ be in front of them instead of at their studios reading out the news – that’s a sarcastic thought that immediately occupied my pea of a brain. But I knew better, I smiled and said “di ma’am, suroy ra ko, tan-aw ra, take pictures”. I also expected the reply “aw you are Filipino? Bisaya?!”. And I replied with “oo oi, bisdak ‘tawon”! They all laughed at the realization. “Unsa may imong piktyuran, sir?” was next I heard and I said “ang munisipyo, ang beautiful garden, Christmas tree” as I pointed to the main pole of a Christmas tree in-the-making.

This one I did not expect… “kami diay, dili apil?”! As I laughed with them, I inched nearer and took a picture of them all. Only the 3 ladies thought they were to be in the picture. That man, even moved to the other side of the pillar, and the lady on the right stayed where she was signaling she was ashamed to join in. After I snapped the picture, the tall sexy lady in the picture (who did most of the interrogation hehe) excitedly asked to see how it looked. And the laughter went even louder with them realizing that all 5 of them were included in the shot. They teased the man saying “tago-tago pa ka”! I told them I have a blog, I post some of my pictures there (here) and that I can also post this pic for them to grab. And they agreed for me to post this. One even merrily said “hala oi, naa na ta sa internet, sikat”! I did not say it, but I wanted to reply with "people with such a happy disposition like you should not only be sikat, you should be exulted"! Ah, I had fun talking to them, really!

And yes, I am not quite done! After I thanked and bade the pink-shirted employees buh-bye (that’s their uniform btw, I learned from them), I wandered off to two manongs busy creating an animal. I did not think they saw me approach, but was so surprised that they were first to make a sound when I got near. It was a grinning “good afternoon, sir”. After greeting them back, I asked in bisaya what they were making. Of course I knew it was for some kind of a ‘belen’, I just asked to strike a conversation. The manong replied so, they were making a Christmas display. I remarked at how big the animal was. Thankfully he himself pronounced what obviously was in my mind by telling me “kuan ni sya sir, ang iyang nanay baka, nya ang amahan kay camel”. I laughed profusely for indeed that was what I thought it was! When I took a frontal shot of the beast, he even exclaimed to it saying “say cheers”! Hahaha tears are now welling out of my eyes, laughing as I write this! Oh golly! When I said goodbye to them, the other manong even followed me with “ayo-ayo, sir”! Wow! And yes, am not done with Jimalalud!

I walked towards the church by a street back of the municipal hall. Even from afar, I could already identify that the patron saint is Sto. Nino. He is up there in the middle of a big circular frame painted with a dainty nice blue sky and white clouds for a background. Call it an effect of my encounters moments ago, but from that distance when I took this shot, it looked to me like the child Jesus was Himself smiling at me! Could it have been?! Well, maybe if a dog or chicken crossed my path, I would also have thought they were smiling! Everyone seemed happy and they showed it! But this one scene in the picture is serious. I can’t recall if I took this shot because of that man or I was already taking aim when he came. My heart warmed some more when I saw what he was doing. He was just walking along that street and in front of the church entrance (still on the street) he genuflected with one knee fully touching the pavement. Golly, it reminded me that many of us (yep, you and me) don’t or forget to do this even inside churches. Aminin! And from his ‘attire’ I thought he was not even a lay religious, probably even a worker at the construction in progress nearby.

I entered the church and here we go again! What immediately caught my attention was a squad of ladies (uh-huh, 8 of them) who were sweeping the church floor from front (altar) moving towards the back (main entrance). Most were merrily conversing, even giggling I think, though not loudly, as their voices would have reverberated in the whole church. I already snapped some shots before they noticed my presence. As I walked towards the altar (and them), one lady (in blue) bowed and greeted me good afternoon. That made everyone else rise from their stooping positions with their brooms then followed suit with what sounded like a chorus of “good afternoon, sir”. Returned the gesture and it felt like a priest just said ‘let us show each other the sign of peace’ hehe!

“Oist hawa sa kay mag-picture si sir” said the lady in blue to her colleagues. I butted in with “ok ra ‘day, human na”. As usual, I expected what was next… “aw Pilipino ka, sir”. I replied with a naughty “dili, bisdak ko”! the church suddenly reverberated with their laughter. And I was in a getting-to-know you topic once again hehe – even as they continued sweeping the floor! They joked that I should not take a picture of the dust and dirt. I showed them I already did and the church looks fine (picture in above paragraph). When they saw that they were in that picture one said “hala si sir oi, wala mi naka-posing” (mimicking models’ poses) and everyone laughed again. And they told me to take a picture of their beautiful altar and I said I was really going to and I agree its beautiful!

This is another church with almost no walls. Just wide open spaces though grilled for security. So ventilation is nice and fine. Breezy in fact during my visit such that them ladies had to hide the dirt from wind paths so they won’t fly back to where they’ve just swept. But when I went outside to one side of the church, wow wow! A big grassy garden with its own altar (is that called a stage) named Sr. Sto. Nino De Jimalalud. Ah that should be one grand venue for a garden wedding! I wonder, would the priests allow such ceremonies in that garden? Its part of the church for all intents and purposes and its got its own altar. Hey brides-to-be, isn’t that a wonderful place?!

Out of the church, I walked towards the right attracted by an ongoing construction of a ‘multi-purpose hall’, ‘convention center’, ‘gym’ or whatever else those are called in this country. I was immediately sure it was going to be the form and style of what Mabinay has. Yeah, the posts angled inwards at the top, where in the future the roofing (a blue-green fiber-plastic) would be installed. Haha, what am I now, an engineer?! Haha, I still remember Mabinay from days ago! Passing by workers doing the perimeter fence, I noticed not one but many of them were singing or whistling their own personal concerts as they toiled it out with the hollow blocks and steel bars. My my… this really is one happy town!

Finally, I saw one of the most fantastic sights I have ever seen in this province. At first, from the church area, I thought hey there seems to be a nice little tree house in that corner after the construction site and I better check it out. But when I reached it, OMG, those are two big tree houses on two big trees, connected by another tree house. Wow and really wow! This must be one of the coolest places in town. Signage says, it’s a children’s playground. But looking at the tree house (houses?) I think adults will also be lured to it. I wondered though why there was no one in there. Well, school time for the kids and work time for the adults. But this place really rocks. I’m already falling in love with it hehe!

Hah, happy, I circled back to a waiting shed across the public market and waited for an onward ride to Tayasan. It won’t be easy to forget this town, Jimalalud!

If you want to read the chronology of all stories on this tour, click the following:
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35
36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65


  1. Nice post.I thought hey there seems to be a nice little tree house in that corner after the construction site and I better check it out.

  2. I like your blog..hope I can travel to see your place...
    Alaska Salmon Fishing
    Log Cabin Homes

  3. @Myrtle, you should find time to come see our country. I promise you you'll immediately be torn at just offering Alaska Tours or including The Philippines in your packages! Just holler when you're coming so I can show you around!

  4. You delivered your blogs posts very well in an organized and friendly manner. It was fun reading some of your posts.

  5. hmmmmmmmmmm........
    talking about town?theres no place like jimalalud but when it comes to people uh!!!!needs to be corrected because mostly are disrespectful(they are just looking of the wrong doings of other's) why not themselves....

  6. legscon is correct..........

  7. Hello sir.

    I jumped over to this blog from God knows where, but I'm glad I came over.

    I happen to be a native of Jimalalud, although I work in Manila now as a tech writer.

    Thank you for visiting our town. I love your descriptions.

  8. @john, my pleasure, and I might even go back to explore the outskirts of town soon. you own ''? whoah! keep it on. sige, when you are done with the metropolis, you should go back home and enjoy it. you can write about its technicalities too hehe!

    @the 2 Anonymous comments before John (and I presume you both are from Jimalalud), that trait is common in every corner of the world so no need to single out Jimalalud. you'll have to 'correct' the whole world if that's the case. meanwhile, look on the other side of the coin and smile like every else!

  9. nice post, thank you actualy i missed my town jimalalud.