RIVER CRUISING ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON
a Reflection by:paul
Gerard planned this trip to the boondocks of Siaton. It was to bring our Australian visitors Ressy and Fe outing and to satisfy our clamor to be with the pristine outdoors. We left home around 2:30 PM after a wonderful family celebration of Junior’s birthday at the newly opened Mandarin restaurant.
We first made a stop at the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, where a statue of the Blessed Mother was mounted on a hill with thick vegetation on the forefront, giving one the impression that the feet of Our Lady was floating on the tree tops.
Then with the two pickups one following the other, mounting a canoe on each, perched at the roof, we drove deeper into the interior. After passing several fields of corn and sugarcane, we finally made a stop in the middle of a very narrow dirt passage.
Or Gerard may have chosen this part because it was at the end of the road. With the help of the three workers, we prepared the motors and all the gears. Gerard, Ressy, Fe and Arry boarded their canoe while Inny, Theresa and I together with Gerard’s trusted Manfriday boarded ours. It was on a part where bamboo grooves lined the banks covering most of the sun from us as we faced a lonely Acacia tree on the other bank. Thus begun our two-hour downstream cruise on the Kanaway River.
What was hard to miss was the uniformly spaced bamboo grooves on both banks, and the carabaos taking their afternoon cool dip. We would encounter a carabao or two, now and then, when the depth of the river was enough to engulf these hard working animals up to their necks. But it was almost certain that on the sections where no carabao was bathing itself...
...the water would be so shallow, we would have to stop the electric propeller. Then we would hear the screech of the canoe’s belly brazing against the stones. It was time to come down and push the boats. At one point we had to make adjustments on the propeller-motor assembly. Then the locking pin dropped. O-pao (the guide assigned to our canoe) and I frantically searched for the missing pin in the mud and stones of the river bed. We finally gave up.
But O-pao decided to get a piece of twig to replace the stainless pin. And then wonderfully the motor started to twirl the propeller again. I suddenly thought that if we could just replace all the stainless steels in the world with twigs and woods, would that not be wonderful?
But my thoughts were suddenly interrupted when a foot bridge suddenly appeared from nowhere. It was made of steel cable and floored with steel plate.
At first, I thought that the remaining trip would be dull because we missed the sunset.
It darkened faster than we had anticipated. We stopped and came out knee deep to mount the lamps of the bow and then continued just as the egrets were coming home and the stars started to appear.
Theresa and I found ourselves singing Panis Angelicus
as we watched the stars begin to dominate the black sky.
(Our thanks to the owner of this picture. We took this from someone's website.
Our own camera failed to capture the fireflies that night,but it was more spectacular than this.)
We rowed under this canopy of stars for sometime in what seemed eternity. But suddenly Gerard calmly shouted to look on the left. I thought for a moment that the angels
have brought small stars very close to us and then very quickly realized that it was a tree
filled with one of God’s most wonderful creations showing off their white lights.
(this picture was taken from someone's website. Our own camera failed to capture the fireflies that night,but it was more spectacular than this.)
I have seen fireflies before but not as spectacular as these.Theresa wanted to let the boat stop as she jeered in awesome wonder expressing her disbelief that she could see them so close.
The display had finally come to greet her so unexpectedly. She had been asking the
past few weeks when we could go to Valenciato see the famous tree with the millions of fireflies in it. And now she was right in front of them!
As we moved we saw another tree filled with hundreds of slow moving lights and then another tree and another … One could not help but notice a firefly or two going astray pretending to come near us and then flying back and going down perhaps to quench its thirst. We could not stare without expressing our admiration for these male creatures lighting up themselves up to attract the lady fireflies and their preys. The stars stopped blinking each time we sighted a tree full of these lighted bettles, as if to give their living counterparts a chance to burn their fires and to gleam their lights. They too follow nature’s way of living life and giving to the fullest. We wondered why coming to this place last February, we never saw them. But we see them now not just as lights but nature’s Christmas tree lights.
And it suddenly dawned on me that it is Christmas again. Is today not the first day of Advent? Is today not the beginning of a new liturgical year bringing with it new hopes and expanding the horizon of meaning to our existence? Is it not so classic of God to choose such a simple and unassuming messenger to announce the coming of a Messiah? In his generosity and wisdom God designed one of nature’s most fascinating creatures perhaps to remind us sophisticated humans that beauty is discovered in simplicity. And simplicity can be learned from a creature so humble that it allows God’s light to pass through them in order to brighten this world.