This small community in Daraga, Albay (Bicol) is a 10- to 15-minute walk or a 5-minute tricycle ride from Busay (the home of the famous Cagsawa Church). But while Busay is quite popular and is receiving a lot of attention from tourists because of Cagsawa and the Mayon Volcano, Pandan is almost unheard of—a quiet and peaceful place.
Every time I think of Pandan now, I always remember it from the eyes of a child, from my eyes when I was just 4 or 5 years old. It’s a remote place where the noise of traffic is uncommon and where people do not rely on clocks to tell the time. The dawn is announced by the call of the roosters, while the night starts to set once the hen and her chicks already climb our jackfruit tree that was their home during the dark.
Most people in Pandan live by farming and planting crops. My Lolo and my Uncle are farmers themselves, and most of our relatives are. When the palay planting and the palay harvesting seasons come, everyone in the family would be busy—the men working the farm and Lola cooking a large quantity of food for the farm workers.
In between the planting and harvesting seasons, my Lolo would harvest coconuts and make copra to sell in the town of Daraga. Aside from coconuts, we also have an abundance of fruit trees around our home—from the usual avocado, banana, papaya, Indian mango, jackfruit, and guava, to the not-so-popular star apple, star fruit, guyabano, rambutan, and other fruits. All of these were all for personal consumption. We would always have enough, and even a lot more to spare. Back then, I always thought of food as free. Good times.
We also had different kinds of pets—dogs, cats, and chicken roaming free; fishes in a pond; pigs to grow and sell; cows and carabaos for farm work. Once I remember, we even had a turtle.
Pandan is a small community, and most of the people here know each other—most are related either by blood or marriage. As a child, I would accompany Lola when visiting neighbors, and then I would play with the other kids. Life was simple.
All of these things… The trees, the animals, the serene life in Pandan—they were the center of my childhood.
Over the years, there have been many changes in this community—more houses have been built, the roads have been paved, and the residents have found other work besides farming. But, most of it remains the same. People still know each other, farming is still the primary source of living for many residents, and the place still retains its serenity. For these I am thankful.
I know I’ll visit and see many other places in the future. But, wherever I go, Pandan will always be my paradise.