Celebrating Holidays in the South

I have quite forgotten on how the holidays are celebrated in my hometown. Since I went away for studies and then for work, and eventually became engrossed with my travels (my love, really) and the wonders of both local and international places, I rarely paid much attention to what has happened in my very own hometown. For me, aside from it being a place where I can always find my relatives and friends, it became merely place where I spent my childhood days and a place where I can always go back to to see familiar faces.

Development in the City

It hasn’t changed a lot since I left. Development is quite slow, as expected for most provinces. Even so, these developments amaze me. When I was a kid, places like Divisoria and Mercedes seemed like a million miles away! A day after I arrived home, my mom’s family had a grand reunion in Mercedes (that was the only time I knew that most of my mom’s roots were from there). I refused to go at first since it was on the same day as my high school class’s 10th year reunion, but when my Aunt mentioned that we can leave a little after lunch since Mercedes is merely less than 20 minutes away from home, I was surprised at how a once million milesΒ distance (of course, I’m quite exaggerating) can now be reached in less than 20 minutes!

Toribio Clan Family Reunion

We all had a green shirt on which said that we were descendants of my great great grandfather, Luis Toribio. Lolo Luis, the second of the nine brood, bore a son (Lolo Antonio) with his first wife, and another eight with his second wife, who was Lola Juana Madrazo. Lolo Luis and Lola Juana had my Lola Lorgia, my mom’s mom, as one of their eight children. It sounds stupid though, as most of my friends know their family trees very well, but this was my first time to really get to trace the family tree of my mom.

Brebeuf’s 10th Year Reunion

Even when in Manila, my high school classmates talked a lot about this 10th year reunion. Since the day we all left the comforts of our high school alma mater and went to our own chosen paths, our high school class never failed to meet every 29th of December for a reunion. I am not really a sucker for reunions, although I love the fact that I get to see a lot of friends who I don’t get to talk to and be with everyday. Since our graduation in 1997, I only got to attend two reunions, both of which were held at Myra’s house. This time, since our beloved mentor and more people went home for the holidays, it was held in a pavilion. And I made sure not to miss it.

(L-R Standing) Jen, Mae, Cheng, Carloe, Mark, Me, Geraldine, RJ, Derick, Carlo, Ailyn; (L-R Seated) Congresswoman Beng Climaco, Fr. James Gascon, Nico, Ms. Rosie Hong.

The Now More Serious Brebeufians

Not so parallel to the development in the city, the development of a person is a lot faster. After 10 long years, nobody in our class seemed to be the same as they were. A number of my classmates are now either married, parents to wonderful babies, or are in long, serious relationships. During our reunion night, class conversations were more focused on family (and family planning – haha!), the kids, of course, and future plans and careers. For Ailyn and me, conversations were diverted to travels and our wicked experiences abroad :-).

With Our First Year Moderator and Now High School Principal, Ms. Rosie Hong

Brebeuf Girls With Fr. James πŸ™‚

The Coins on New Year’s Day

I remember my childhood days when we would spend New Year’s day at Lola Blasa’s place and my cousins and I would gather together for pig-out sessions, parlor games, and new year’s gifts. One thing that always stick in my mind when it comes to holidays is the throwing of the coins. Lola Blasa used to head the throwing of the coins. Her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and even the househelp who celebrate the holidays with us would gather in her huge terrace to ‘dive in’ for the coins she threw. After the throwing of the coins, we, her grandchildren, would eagerly count the coins that we were able to get.

This traditional activity went on from generation to generation and after Lola’s passing away, the throwing of the coins was handed down to the eldest in the family. This New Year, I had fun experiencing diving for the coins after some years of being away. πŸ™‚

A Witness To Another Life Cycle

There was a news of someone passing away upon my arrival. Although I have never met her, we paid respect to her death since she was the mother of one of our dear moderators in Ateneo. A few days after, both my Aunt and Uncle (married to each other) celebrated their birthdays together. Right after their birthday celebration, I rushed off to my cousin and grade school classmate, Matthew’s wedding.

A Traveller’s Life

Life for me can indeed be boring without going places. So, even in my hometown, a few of my closest relatives and I went off to Sta. Cruz Island, an island which is about four kilometers from mainland Zamboanga. The sand is white and powder-like with sprinkles of broken red corals, thus making it appear to be a pink sand beach.

A Speedboat Took Us to the Island in 4 Minutes πŸ™‚

Sand Sample

My Sister and Her Sand Castle

The Shells in the Island

I also headed to a mountain resort with Ailyn’s family and friends (that was my first time to actually take a route past Ayala), and stayed in a beautiful, cozy cottage, where I got to eat, sleep, eat, and sleep. Haha! But that was how peaceful and relaxing the place is. πŸ™‚

* * * * * * * *

After my 12th day stay in Zamboanga and now back in Manila, I realized that Zamboanga City isn’t just a place of my childhood days, it is a place of fun, laughter, love, and tears. Life in this city could be slow-moving but it dawned on me that this is were I could totally reflect on my paths of today and tomorrow. Best of all, this is a place where I feel loved the most. πŸ™‚



  1. cathy rogers said

    Hi there. I Googled you and wonder if you could help advise me.
    I live in South Africa and my husband will be in Manila for a weekend in April. Do you have any suggestions for a weekend somewhere close, bearing in mind that it takes 3 hrs to get to airport? Or can you suggest a travel agent/website. We love outdoors, adventure, like to rough it, hike, camp but hate shopping etc.

  2. pamalfaro said

    On CATHY ROGERS: Thanks for dropping by. I personally recommend you to visit http://www.ivanhenares.com – a travel site which has a lot about great Philippine destinations. πŸ™‚ Have fun in the Philippines! πŸ™‚

  3. cherry toribio valbuena said

    hi, I’m from Zamboanga too and belong to the TORIBIO clan of Mercedes. How i wish i were able to attend the reunion last December. I’m from the Tomas Toribio descendants, if my memory serves me right,hehehe… I’m staying now in Marikina – here, every year, we celebrate “Angkan,Angkan”. Hope someday we can do that in Mercedes. I really enjoy your page. I really miss Zamboanga so much. Its my home.

  4. Jade Christle Toribio Ramos said

    hi, couz! =) i’m a toribio, too…Our family attended the reunion last year. We were the ones wearing red shirts… Lolo Vituh’s line. =)

    I’m searching for some info about our clan… and i’m happy i found you. My mom…her name’s Carmen, asked me to look for a story about how our great, great grandparents got from Pasonanca to Mercedes. Would you know? If you know some sites where i could find it, can you email it to me? =) Thank you so much!

    It felt really good reading your posts. i’m proud to be a toribio… and i’m happy that you are too. =)

    thank you again… hope to hear from you soon!
    tiene cuidaw pirmi! Gracias!

  5. pamalfaro said

    Hi Jade!

    Thank you for writing. It’s nice to meet you here. πŸ™‚ I had been quite busy for the past couple of weeks which explains my not-so-updated blog.

    Wow, I had no idea that our roots came from Pasonanca (?). Haha. Thanks for the info. But I don’t really have much info either. Should I get to cross sites which are relevant to what you are searching, will definitely let you know. πŸ™‚

    I hope to meet you someday in person. πŸ™‚

    Regards and cuidaw tambien! πŸ™‚


    HI ! I’m Edelyn. I belong to the Toribio Clan of Mercedes. I’m from the roots of Maria Toribio… Unfortunately, i was out of country during the reunion…..But i heard that it was a success… I hope I can get to go to the next reunion so I could meet all of our cousins… including you…. God bless…

    • pamalfaro said

      On EDELYN JALAO FERNADEZ: Hi Edelyn! Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you could go to the next reunion πŸ™‚ Keep well.

  7. andre carlo i. toribio said

    hi! my father’s family comes from naic, cavite. not sure if we’re related.. love to know though. not sure of the significance but naic is the town before ternate cavite wherein the first generation of settlers speak chabacano fluently. my father is a military figure before and has met toribio’s from zamboanga…

  8. Flow Meter said

    we always keep track of our family tree because it is exciting to know the family tree ~`-

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