I took home a lot of things with me last weekend: a tan, a killer back-ache, and some new stories to tell! Ü It was my first production outing with the Living Asia team, and we made the rounds of three provinces in Central Luzon: Pampanga, Zambales, and Bataan. We, meaning my sister and myself. We were doing a show called “Gone for the Weekend” and the format called for two people to go off on a weekend and see places and do things.
I’d never been on a working trip before, so everything was new to me: being on cam not for a family video but for a real show, traveling insane distances in bumpy circumstances just to get a shot of a required location, sleeping in a different place every night and at some point not having a shower to come home to… But it was so much fun!
Our first stop was Bacolor Church in Pampanga. It’s famous for being half-buried in lahar flows, and only the dedication of the Bacolor community saved it from being junked and abandoned. They excavated the gold-leaf encrusted retablos and still use the building for Sunday mass.
In the evening, we found ourselves at Crystal Beach Resort in Zambales, where the staff accommodated us for the night. We took the opportunity to shoot a short segment reading fan mail to Living Asia. I never realized VJ-ing (which is what this was akin to) was hard until I got my own paws on the script and my tongue kept stumbling on the words! I had two more similar opportunities later on the trip and I think I showed some improvement. Ü
The next morning, we took the resort manager’s invitation and learned to surf. I found out that when it comes to surfing stance, I’m a natural footer (right foot behind) and my sister is a goofy footer (left foot behind). We learned the positions on shore, and then they took us out onto the water using long and thick boards so we could have an easier time learning. To our surprise we picked it up quickly. The crew even got a money shot of me surfing — standing on the board!
We had to leave all too soon to head for Bataan, but we kept our spirits up with our own brand of wacky humor.
Night fell soon, and before we knew it, another day had gone by.
Our last day on the trip, we headed for an undeveloped spot called Lumutan Falls. We endured a 45-minute ride in a truck over rocky trails, then trekked 30 minutes down to an ice-cold stream and its source, an 18-foot-high waterfall. I took a short dip for the benefit of the camera, then we had to come back the way we came. All I could say about that was “Whew!”
The rest of our last day was tame. We spent a few hours viewing relocated Spanish colonial houses at Ciudad Acuzar. It’s owned by a private businessman and isn’t open to the public, so we were privileged to see what very few people outside Bataan have seen.
Our last stop, like the first one, was a church. It amazes me how much a part of each town’s culture and heritage these buildings are. The townfolk reckoned the eras of their settlement by the age of the church that’s been standing there since the town was built and by the improvements and renovations done to the churches due to time and the whimsy of the town occupants.
I did my last fan mail reading. Then we packed up and started heading for home. I was tired, smelly, but excited for the next trip — wherever it takes me.