Another wave is forming in the distance, then, all of a sudden, you
hear children squealing. You look in the direction of the noise and you
see them playing bagol-bagol, that abandoned ancient game played with
coconut shells, a favorite pastime before the advent of video games and
karaoke. It is now revived at the park. You remember other games you
played before the roads were paved: tubig-tubig, pansing-pansing,
bakit-bakit, bakya-bakya, tuhog-tuhog, hujop-hujop, salibutbut, batin,
tansan, holen, shatom and tinikling, which is also a form of folkdance.
They were so much fun! They were games of skill that made you feel
accomplished. They gave you a lot of exercise and they were good for
your growing bones. A feeling of satisfaction wells up in your chest as
you realize how lucky the children of today are for having the
opportunity to enjoy the games again.
You turn right from the barangay road towards the sea into a pathway
lined with lush vines with purple flowers, the lambajong. To your right
is a picnic pavilion, one of several in a row. It is empty right now.
You notice that the table is clean and the sandy floor has been swept.
There is a garden of bright-colored flowers in between picnic
pavilions, a project of the elementary school children. The kids scream
again, and, startled, you look in their direction. Then, you see it. In
the distance beyond the bagol-bagol game is a big, handsome bandstand
with gleaming white railing and posts topped by a red tile roof. People
in farming outfits are just piling in. One of them lets out a loud
musical sort of noise - a hungos band! Just like when you were a child,
when the hungos woke you up on their way to the fields, playing their
bamboo musical instruments, making their toil fun, making your morning
fun. You used to join the other kids in marching with the band but not
too far, you had not had breakfast yet, Wow! The hungos is going to
have a concert tonight! You are going to stay and listen, because next
weekend you will be gone, you tell yourself. It is on weekend nights
that shows are performed. They have ensayos, pastores, sinulog, folk
dances such as curacha, kuradang and lubi-lubi, dramas, comedies, big
band music, guitar, ukulele, and choir as well as solo vocal concerts
of native music and folk songs. There seems to be a continuous stream
of performances at the park. They even have rock concerts
As you approach the sea, the haunting wail of a bamboo “flauta” pierces
your heart digging deep into your memory of someone long forgotten,
someone who made you feel giddy and hot in the ears, whose simple
presence in a room was so electrifying you had to get up and walk out.
You were a budding teenager then, before the distant lands across the
deep Pacific blue lured you away. Your reverie is cut short when your
feet sink deep in the warm sand. The pathway has ended. You are now on
sweet Hinunangan beach, a long sliver of dark brown sand gently
sweeping like an elongated letter C. It is not white like other famous
beaches but brown is beautiful when you are standing on it and you will
not for any reason exchange it for any other.
It is to this beach that people from all the corners of the town of Hinunangan come together as a community to take a dip in the sea on the feast of San Juan Bautista. It is to this beach that working people come in the evenings or on weekends to picnic and to while their cares away. It is to this beach that children come to swim and play in the quiet summer surf. It is to this beach that fresh fish lovers come to find what the fishermen have brought in from the sea. It is on this beach that people take walks in the mornings and in the evenings for exercise and camaraderie. This beach is where lovers plan their lives together or cry their hearts out at their parting. This beach is where life's disappointments are forgotten and burning hopes and fresh ambitions take wings. This beach is where dreams are woven and stars are born.
Hot tears smart in your eyes. There is a lump in your throat. Oh God, how you love this place! What if Hinunangan Spirit Beach Park were never born? What if instead of the untouched beauty and playgrounds and bandstands and picnic areas there are shanties and endless rows of sari-sari stores? What if instead of happy squeals of children there are vendors pulling at your shirt, noisily hawking trinkets to your face? What if you were standing on someone's waste instead of this clean hot sand? Ugh! What a dreadflul thought! Thank God there is Hinunangan Spirit Beach Park! Thank God for the opportunity to give homage to the spirit of the people of Hinunangan who consistently excel in their chosen fields of endeavor: the farmers, the carpenters, the ditch diggers, the fishermen, the professionals, the manananggots, the government and civil servants, the overseas service workers, the emigrants and others. Thank God for the privilege of being a part of a monumental effort to preserve the pristine beauty and integrity of Hinunangan beach as a legacy to the Hinunangnons so they can appreciate and enjoy it forever and ever! Thank God for our ability to restore our lost heritage in music, dance, theater and children's games and for the sheer pleasure and pure joy of handing them down to the future generations.
So, my friends, open your eyes, look at your hands, touch your brows and with your hands, feel the beating of your hearts. Say this aloud:
"It is with the toil of my hands and the sweat of my brows that I will still the yearning of my heart; that's when I help make Hinunangan Spirit Beach Park a happy reality."
Click HERE to preserve Hinunangan Beach and support a scholar.