Spending a day with old friends and making new friends at the same time always makes for a great day. Mixing that together with a special holiday, and also some wonderful food and spirit only makes it that much better!
A week or more ago, our old friend, Father Franco Uras, an Italian Priest who has been living in the Philippines for more than 40 years now texted me. He told me that he was putting together a special get-together for Easter Sunday and asked if Feyma, the kids and I could make it to his place for the event. Of course, I gladly accepted the invitation, and we made plans to venture up to Buda, a small Barangay on the Davao-Bukidnon border, about 90 minutes away from where we live in the City.
On the way up to Father’s house, we encountered a terrible traffic accident. A big 18-wheeler truck had smashed into the back of a jeepney. It was a terrible scene, and both Feyma and I said that we would be very surprised if nobody had been killed in the accident. I told Feyma that I would actually be shocked if anybody survived the accident, it was that bad.
Upon our arrival at Father Franco’s place, we saw that some other old friends would be in attendance, Maej Villanueva and Mandy Dinglasan. We used to spend a lot of time with Maej and Mandy, but in the past year or so, we seem to have lost contact for some reason, although I am not certain why. In addition to these friends, we also met a lot of new friends on Easter at Father Franco’s house. There were several German Doctors in attendance. There is a German operated hospital near to Father Franco’s place that treats the poor people of Buda, so we enjoyed meeting some of the doctors giving their services to the mission.
Also, we were so happy to meet some new friends at Father’s house too. This was a group of three women. Two were sisters, and the third was their mother. The first sister was Marianela, she has been living in the Philippines for 19 years already! Her sister, Erica has been living here for 5 years now. The mother, Cela has now been living in the Philippines for about a year. The women are from Peru. The two daughters do missionary work here, and they live in Davao. We certainly plan to get together with these ladies and get to know them better. The two daughters can already speak Bisaya, and of course their native tongue is Spanish. As they spoke Spanish, I felt the language coming back to me, although I have not spoken any Spanish for more than 30 years already. It felt kind of good, and I was able to converse with them a little bit, although I found myself wanting to mix in Bisaya words too. One interesting thing that Marianela and I talked about is that she has already become a Philippine citizen, something that I am also considering doing. Meeting these three ladies was really a highlight of our day, and as I said, we intend to get to know them better in the coming months.
For lunch, we had spaghetti (you can’t go to Father Franco’s place without a plate of pasta – he’s Italian after all!), roasted pig heads (I was a little concerned about this, but it was delicious!), lechon karnero (roasted lamb), french bread, rice, apple pie and blueberry pie. There was some other stuff, I’m sure, which I’ve forgotten. It was absolutely delicious. The lamb turned out to be a bit tough, but we managed to eat it anyway! When I ate some of the roasted pig head, I was shocked at just how good it was. I was tempted to eat a pig ear, which was sitting on the platter in front of me, but I decided to leave well enough alone. Maybe I’ll have an ear next time! All I can say is that the food was delicious!
After the meal, Father broke out some of his famous home made liqueurs. As always, excellent! The liqueur that I had was much stronger than I have ever had from Father, but still delicious! One shot was all I needed, after that I enjoyed watching the others partake – I was driving home after all!
The big surprise of the day was that Father Franco gave our kids an Easter gift. A baby rabbit! So, the kids came home with their own Easter Bunny. The rabbit is a black and white Dutch Rabbit. I have had pet rabbits over the years, since I was only about 10 years old or so, and I have always loved rabbits, so this was a treat for me too. The kids always love going to Father’s house anyway, and today they came home doubly happy with their new pet.
The drive home was about 2 1/2 hours instead of 1 1/2, thanks to a really bad storm along the way. Most of this drive is up in the mountains, and when there is a storm in the area it usually is a bad one. Visibility was nearly zero, and there were tree branches in the highway, and flying through the air too, which made the drive interesting. Heavy winds, super strong rain, black skies, what a drive! We did make it home safely, though, which is always a blessing.
I hope that all of you enjoyed your Easter as much as I enjoyed mine.