Summer. The season of warm breeze and white sand. NOT. No, it hasn’t been warm in our place and we don’t live anywhere near the beach. For me, summer is my mother’s hometown in the heart of a forest.
We haven’t seen most of our relatives on our mother’s side of the family until three years ago when my family went back to unpaved roads, scheduled electricity, and nature.
Uma, my mother’s hometown and a province in Kalinga, is in a rain forest People here live in simple houses, sometimes with only one or two rooms, and cook over the fire. They only have about 5 hours of electricity a day and mostly everyone speaks in the native dialect. Oh, and they have outdoor but sanitary pit toilets that I never got used to when I was a child (Thankfully, dad renovated our grandparent’s house so they now have an indoor bathroom. Yay!).
No McDonald’s or 7-11 or convenient stores or internet or cable TV.
But Uma has stores that sell everything from coffee to live chicken, native pigs that roam freely in the backyard (AKA the forest), free spring water from the tap, a 24-hour access to a forest crawling with monitor lizards and wild cats, and an evening orchestra of millions and millions of insects. But the best thing about Uma is the people. The simple, practical, friendly people who offer you coffee even though they know you just had coffee or even if they don’t know you at all, and our relatives who are willing to kill one of their few pigs to welcome us back.
This is Uma. Summer and home.