Christmas in Bataan meant taking time to pause from work and travel to a distant location and rejuvenate. In a nutshell, the vacation did me good. It helped me recharge in all aspects. My mind detached from work and it felt decades since I last did that. Plus, I got to reunite with the sea! Anyway, shall we recount the pleasant memories?
How did the Christmas in Bataan start?
The planning stage started when we heard about the possible official business (OB) schedules and Australian public holidays that occurred during the holidays. I worked until December 24 morning because the afternoon got declared as official business already. Moreover, December 27-28, 2021 were declared public holidays in Australia so I gained extra time without even filing for leave. I honestly did not want to file for leave since I didn’t have official leaves then.
Nevertheless, Jayson dreamt that Dakila and I would be spending the holidays there with him and the rest of his family. He told me about this dream and I told him that it will happen just not sure when. So, with all the talks about OB and public holidays, we found a schedule that fit our calendars. He filed for vacation leave (VL) on December 27-28 which coincided with the days that I did not work. Win-win, right?
Now, onto the logistics part.
How did I travel with Dakila to Bataan?
Fortunately, Jayson’s grandpapa (read it with a very socialite tone, for fun!) let us borrow his car for transportation. The next thing on the list is to find someone to drive the car so they could pick us up and bring us to Bagac. That was Jayson’s task already. 🤣
When we found a driver, we split the travel expenses as other couples would do. We strategized on how to pack things and how would we place them in the trunk or in the car in general since it was a sedan. I packed light during that trip however, Dakila’s things were more than what I packed. He owned more stuff than I did! Therefore, I rethought his stuff and brought only the essentials. But, he owned too many vital things to be left at home. 🐶
On the day of the travel, we sat at the back, and Dakila and I sat beside each other. Jayson took the shotgun and of course the driver, on the wheels. He was a bit restless during the first few hours of the travel but eased in when he felt that I felt sleepy. However, he woke up when he heard random barks from other dogs along the road.
On the way back
During our return trip to Manila on December 28, Dakila had his own spot in the car to which he really liked. Jayson put the CPU on the car floor which gave us more space behind. He placed a blanket for Dakila to catch his fur and he was mostly asleep during the entire travel. I, too, fell asleep during the trip back!
I felt proud because Dakila was so calm during the whole trip. He did not fuss or anything.
The Bataan Diaries
Honestly, we did not have a solid itinerary because we just wanted to chill to prevent catching the virus too. So by the time we arrived at their home on the 24th, we spent resting indoors and dining together with his family. His mom prepared pork estofado and beef broccoli for me, but there was pork bbq too! The dinner was very delicious!
Plus, Dakila felt home in an instant!
We woke up in the morning and prepared ourselves for their holiday celebration. They do these rounds wherein they do house hopping and visit relatives and pay respect. Of course, I rode with Jayson and got introduced to his relatives. I met his aunts, uncles, and grandparents from both sides. Of course, we brought with us our sanitary kits to ensure our safety.
I remember his grandmama telling me that they’re noisy and pretty much all over the place. It’s funny because it reminded me of how my family and relatives are too. Things get to a point where we get naughty and loud especially when chikka gets involved.
After the rounds, we ended up eating lunch at Jayson’s home. His relatives went there and one of his cousins, Jacob, became my favorite kid to tease! Jacob reminded me of all the younger relatives that I have and how I teased them and made them cry. 🤣
In the end, we gifted him with a sketchbook to which he really liked. I also bonded with Janelle, Jacob’s older sister, and Mico, Lory’s partner. We enjoyed stories over soju and Korean bbq. Good thing, there’s a Korean mart nearby!
In summary, his family felt warm and very welcoming. I did not feel like an outsider at all. They’re so light and chill in contrast to some.
I remember this day very clearly. Jayson brought me to the beach because I requested it back when we started planning this holiday trip. I specifically requested that I see the beach to inhale all the fresh air, touch the waters, and walk barefoot along the shore.
The day started late because we overslept. The 25th felt a bit tiring yet good so since we did not have a very formal itinerary for the 26th, we decided to stay indoors more and just chill. I got to read on my Kindle, feel the peace that Bataan offered me, and savor every moment of the mini-vacation I had.
We left their home at around 4 PM and enjoyed a long walk on the beach. He parked somewhere near the river and we strolled down the shore and reached the other beach resorts. Looking back, it appeared like a really long walk but did not feel that way. I enjoyed the sun rays touching my skin and how the sea greeted me with such bliss!
It was a pretty chill day as we did nothing but lounge and feel the fresh air touch our cheeks. Dakila enjoyed the breeze that Bataan gave him. He conquered two of the chairs in their home and turned them into his thrones. Honestly, it was such an amusing thing to see. He listened to the noise from the neighbors, and even to the sounds made by passers-by. Who knew that a pet like Dakila will like listening to the small talks by other people passing around?
As the sun went on spinning, his sister asked if we wanted to chill someplace else and just enjoy some good food and drinks. We went to a place called Hideout. I enjoyed their cookies and cream shake but I felt guilty because I used single-use plastic straw. Nevertheless, the view was so good (look at the greenery above) and Dakila got exposed to other creatures such as cats and other dogs.
As expected, Dakila reacted differently. Jayson found a tick/flea that got lost in Dakila’s fur. Good thing, he got it in time before infesting my baby boy!
In other news, it was Dakila’s first time riding a kulong-kulong (a tricycle with an open sidecar). The same goes for me since tricycles in Albay mostly use a covered sidecar. So, it was a refreshing ride! He felt confident and stepped on the front ledge while Jayson was holding him for security.
The day that we found ourselves packing and preparing to go home. Spending the past days in Bataan truly recharged my heart, mind, and soul. I never felt like that for years and I’m beyond grateful for my happy pill for arranging the trip.
There was also playtime that happened between Dakila and his abuelo from Bataan. Here are the photos to show you how they were having a good time!
The trip from Bataan to Manila felt quick and such a breeze. Dakila and I slept most of the ride going back and Jayson woke us up for a quick stopover and then we went back to sleep. I felt proud of Dakila since there was no fuss at all and he just sat in his spot and lounged. He became calm in an instant, that’s quite an achievement for someone like me who adopted an adult Mini Bull Terrier!
The quick break allowed me to totally detach from work and focus on living and breathing at the moment. That’s something I forgot to do for the past few years. Sometimes, going through a tumultuous life event reminds us to treasure every waking moment and maximize everything while we can.
My vacation was simple yet very much satisfying. It fed and recharged my soul to a whole new level and I intend to go back there to spend more time!
One of my goals for my next visit, visit and try a day tour at Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar! The fees are pricey so I need to save!
Shameless wish, if people from Las Casas see this, I hope you’d consider working with me! 🤣🧿✨
I wish you spent your holidays recharging and staying safe while meeting people.