Candaba in December…

Candaba is one of the biggest town in Campampangan territory. It shares its borders with two other provinces: Tarlac to the North, Bulacan on the East side. Very few know that it’s also one of the first to be established and given a chief under the Spanish. Aside from its historical significance as a pioneering Pampango town, Candaba possess a natural environment that is unmatched all through out the province. Its wetland is a major migration destination for a variety migratory birds. Some come as far as the Arctic region! The other migratory destination in the country is Olango Island in Cebu. But unlike Olango, which are groups of mostly protected islands off the coast of Mactan, the Pampango wetlands are accessible to the rural farming communities which opens it to development – the wetland is not entirely a sanctuary reserve.

Rice fields and egrets...

Tagalog came from the phrase "Taga-Ilog" while Pampanga from "Pampang" - both names tells us where these tribes once lived

The wetlands are now threatened like it never has before. World renowned ornithologist predicts, if not protected, the wetlands would vanish in a few decades. A third of the original number of the migratory birds population (from statistics taken three decades ago) has stopped coming to the wetlands. These species has been flying to Candaba for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years, and now that natural pattern has been disrupted.

Lost forever.

Get this, from 32,000 hectares the wetland area is down to 72 hectares.

The birds will stop coming to Candaba eventually,  sad, but with the rapid rate of urbanization and agriculture – there’s little we can do. Cory declared a large portion of Olango sanctuary during her term, maybe the son have to do the same for Candaba. Otherwise, it would be impossible to stop the diminishing wetlands.

Now, on to a happier note.

It has been raining off and on for two days straight but even the gloomiest of days can’t stop us from celebrating yet another milestone in our family’s life – the 80th birthday of our Lola Marina – who despite her age remains strong, happy and appreciative of family, friends and life.

Happy birthday Lola Marina!

Lola Marina during her birthday celebration.

On my way to Candaba I was worried about the rain (brought by the typhoon that ravaged the southern provinces). Surprisingly, it didn’t cause much disruption during the celebration – it even stopped when the food was being served to those in attendance. God wanted her Marina to enjoy her special day.

“Such birthday celebrations are becoming rare… it is important we celebrate such a day”, say the priest. But what I find so inspiring is not so much the years (a rarity in our time) but the milestone of how she dedicated all her life for her children after the untimely deaths of her husband and the eldest son (the latter, murdered in cold blood). She’s an inspiration to all of those who knows her.

If God painted a picture of a wonderful life, Lola Marina must be in that picture!

Although part of Candaba, Lola and her family are Tagalog. They still speak the language with that romantic Bulacan accent. They trace their ancestry to the oldest of Bulaqueño clans in San Rafael. Most of her family are still residing in the Bulacan side of the area.

Whenever I visit her house I alight at a barrio called Cruz na Daan in San Rafael. From there, its a short 2 kilometer distance to Vizal Sto. Niño of Candaba. You can literally travel two province on foot!

Here Pampango and Tagalog lives, fishes and farms side by side. Which by the way reminds me of the legendary Tagalo-Pampango alliance during the Spanish times. So powerful a union that when they withdrew their support from the Spanish crown – the Colonials lost the country!

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