Summer is synonymous with adventure. And adventure includes exploring, finding and discovering new places off the beaten track and doing fun things.
I joined my parents and siblings this past summer on vacation in Pugo, La Union. “Heaven on earth” aptly describes Pugo, my favorite place in the world. When I am here I am stress free.
Pugo’s quaint towns and Barangays, all accessible by paved roads, sport huge public market places with its small shops, cantinas and cafes. Small farming enclaves sprout in the middle of vast rice fields and in the thick of limited forests. A beautiful river flows and winds its way to the open sea. To the east stands a line of foothills studded with rocky promontories resembling far pavilions. Beyond the hills, mountains rise so high their peaks disappear into the low-lying clouds.
Vacation wouldn’t be complete without our yearly family reunion with the Salvo Clan in Barangay Labayug, in Sison, Pangasinan. Speaking of reunions, we managed to squeeze into our busy schedule a get-together with the Sigman family last April 22nd. Let me tell you about these family reunions. There were endless trays of food, coconut sweets, mango and pineapple ice cream and party favors. A couple of talented cousins who played guitar and sang entertained us. We attempted to sing along and to be honest, wildly and off-key most of the time, we were politely ordered by the elders to pipe down – which we did, albeit begrudgingly. Oh well, that was all part of the fun.
We enjoyed and had the most fun swimming with my siblings and cousins in the deep pools and swirling waters of the Tapuacan river. Compared to the waters of the huge Amburayan River and the massive Abra River, the flowing waters of the Tapuacan River qualify as the most pristine in all of Northern Luzon. As a side note, the name Tapuacan in Ilocano means “jump off point”. This name appropriately describes the high cliffs that rim the river. Swimmers would literally stand at the edge of the cliff and “jump off” or dive into the deep and crystal clear water pools.
Later we needed to replenish the firewood stack. We walked up to the foothills early in the day to collect and gather firewood. Trekking through narrow gullies and extended ravines – waterways for torrential downpours – our gradual climb was long and our hike arduous. But the scenery… As we stopped to catch our breath we looked back and saw from our high vantage point the lowlands stretched for kilometers, a patchwork quilt covered with moss-like green. I enjoyed the ascent but the walk home proved harder since we each had a cord of firewood to carry. I have developed new respect for the woodcutters and gatherers who sell firewood in the public market.
Like all good things, the summer vacation came to an end. So soon, I thought to myself. But there will be next year. I really love Pugo. When I’m here I feel I’m stress free. Someday soon, I hope to give you a personal tour of “Heaven on Earth” – Pugo, La Union.