Whenever we go to my husband’s hometown in Cabanatuan, we had always used the North Luzon Expressway. When it was finished some years back, we were very grateful for the convenience it brought. My husband and I had a good surprise this year. We went home on a convoy. My parents-in-law in their Navarra pick-up, my brother-in-law and his family in his Hi-Lux pick-up, and my husband and I and our Little Dynamo in our Pajero. They led the way and we passed by a new route, the SCTex – the Subic, Clark, Tarlac Expressway. It’s good to know that from Cabanatuan, we could conveniently go to Clark and Subic.
The new road (new for me) is an idyllic ride with scenic rice fields on both side. Little Dynamo’s boredom throughout the ride is constantly eased by the frequent sightings of carabaos. A Carabao is a national symbol of the Philippines and a useful animal for farmers. While we were driving along SCTex, hubby and I talked about the necessity of carabaos in a Filipino farmer’s life. Tales of fathers selling their carabaos for their sons and daughters to be able to go abroad abound. Money from the sale of the carabao is usually used to finance the placement fees, processing fees and other miscellaneous expenses for sons and daughters to work as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) – mostly as domestic helpers and construction workers in other countries. It has always been with a heavy heart to part with the family’s prized possession (the carabao) but there is a glimmering hope that there will be a monthly flow of dollars coming from the family’s OFW. Some are succesfully placed abroad, other stories are tragic.
While driving through Tarlac, we saw some men planting on the rice fields. Back home in the outskirts of Iloilo, I still remember watching men in sync in their hand movements while planting rice in the muddy rice fields. A summer memory in Sta. Barbara will never be forgotten where my brother and I played in the muddy rice fields. It was planting season and the ricefields were knee-deep with water. Oblivious of the mud, we played and played. I couldn’t remember how we slled nor how we looked. It was the muddy fun that we had that lingers in my memory:-)