Talavera: on hometown and relatives 

 

We all have a special place we call hometown.  No matter how far we are from it, there is always something that draws us back to our place of origin.

Enjoying the cool river water with my sons Rommel-Jude and  RJMine is the town of Talavera in the landlocked province of Nueva Ecija, Philippines, about 130 kilometers north of Manila.   Although I eventually settled down in Metro Manila with my own family, I kept frequenting Talavera for years to visit my parents and expose my young children to the rustic setting of my place of origin.  My visits became fewer and far between after my parents passed away and the children have all grown up and lost interest in my periodic “pilgrimage” to the place of my birth.

I come from a big family of nine children, six of whom had already passed away (kuyang Amen, dikong Boni, ateng Ine, sangkong Narding, kaka Plas and kuya Mike).  The surviving three of us (ditseng Nelly, sanseng Lita and the youngest me) count each passing year as a blessing.

Kuyang (the late Atty. Fermin B. Catacutan) and I studied in Manila and later opted to live and raise our families there, while the rest of our siblings stayed and raised their families in Talavera.  One can imagine how many nephews and nieces I must have in Talavera.  And grandchildren too (!), many of whom I have not even seen.

I still miss kuyang.  He was my big brother, mentor, benefactor and critic.  I also miss my other siblings who had gone before me.  They all “babied” me and in many ways influenced my growing up years.

Elsie and her companion dog NikkoAbout a month ago, I received a text message from a nephew of mine informing me that ditseng Nelly slipped and fell down on the bathroom floor while taking a shower and was rushed to a nearby hospital.  She was released from the hospital the following day after undergoing medical examinations and treatment for minor bruises.  But I was not informed about it until after several days later. 

The following morning, I packed an overnight bag and motored to Talavera with my wife Elsie on what would be my first visit to my hometown in years.

Talavera is a farming town with a vast expanse of rice fields.  The landscape of the town, as far as the eyes can see, turns green from June to August and golden brown from September to November.  Its flat topography and close proximity to the Pantabangan dam hydro-electric complex makes the town an ideal location for agro-industrial ventures.   

The economy of the town is basically agricultural, but it also hosts many business and commercial establishments that are largely concentrated along the national highway traversing the town proper.  It is also home to a number of good leisure resorts, some of which have well appointed function and lodging facilities. 

With the right business impetus and incentives from the municipal government, the areas that border the burgeoning cities of Muñoz to the north and Cabanatuan to the south of the town can be transformed into attractive locations for small to medium scale enterprises.  Not to mention that the town’s current population of around 110,000 is not really a small market for the right goods and services.

Earnings by overseas workers and remittances of money from relatives abroad contribute to the changing street landscape of the town.  I would see many new and beautiful houses every time I go home.

A tributary of the Pampanga river system runs through the heart of the town, and a number of small lakes and creeks can be found in some of its barangays.  I  spent many weekends of my youth exploring the unspoiled attractions of these small inland bodies of water.    

I have fond memories of its people, rice fields, town events and my early schooling days.

Kuyang's grandchildrenI could not find the access road to ditse’s place from Talento Street.  What used to be a narrow makeshift road was now covered by a maze of concrete and wooden structures, so we went first to the nearby house of my nephew Gerry (kuyang’s son).  Ellen (Gerry’s wife) greeted us at the gate and showed us inside the house.  And there they were — Gerry’s children Mary Ann (and her husband Michael), Jeng and Billy.  They’re all grown-up now and Mary Ann already has a child of her own.  Ate Ena (the widow of kaka Plas) came out of a room and cried when I hugged her.  She looked frail but otherwise agile. 

It turned out that ditse and her family moved a year earlier to their new house some distance from Gerry’s, and Michael was kind enough to guide us to the place. 

Elsie with ditseng NellyDitse looked frail too, but I was relieved to learn that her doctor gave her a clean bill of health.  Her x-ray examination showed no internal concussion or injury to her head and body.

I had not been in touch with her for quite some time and I felt guilty about it.  We exchanged mobile phone numbers and promised to check each other out from time to time. 

Bayaw Robert arrived from work just before dark and our visit extended well beyond our tasty dinner of bulanglang, pinangat na ayungin and boiled rice. 

Our visit to sanseng Lita was brief since it was rather late in the evening.  She looked well and “healthy” despite her diabetic condition.  Bayaw Paque was in his usual element and immediately served beer and pulutan

Not long after, his son Dustin and my nephew Dante (the eldest son of dikong Boni) arrived and joined the “session”.  And before the evening could turn into an all-night drinking session with three seasoned beer drinkers, I politely turned down Paque’s offer of another bottle after my second, with a promise to stay longer on my next visit.

I left sanse with mixed feelings.  It was good to see her and ditse doing fine, but I have missed seeing my other nephews and nieces as well.

Looking back now, it is regrettable that I missed far too many events and developments in the lives of my relatives in Talavera, when I should have been present — to witness, celebrate or grieve with them. 

(N.B.:  Many of the still pictures of my relatives on this page are courtesy of my niece and kuyang’s daughter Cynthia Catacutan-Krishnan of California, USA, taken during one of her visits to Talavera.)

 
Published 19 March 2011
Pasig City, PHILIPPINES

Related photos

The municipal hall of Talavera, Nueva Ecija

Mini park in front of the municipal hall

The St. Isidore parish church

Green landscape of the town from June to August

Golden brown landscape of the town from September to November

Business establishments along the national highway traversing the town proper

A commercial building

A department store

Talavera Extension Hospital of the Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center

 Talavera campus of the Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology (NEUST)

Branch stores of Jollibee Foods and Mercury Drug

Chowking branch store

 Mang Inasal branch store at the Crystal Wave Resort and Hotel

The Crystal Wave Resort and Hotel along the national highway in Brgy. Dinarayat, Talavera, Nueva Ecija

 Picnic groves at the Crystal Wave Resort and Hotel

Hotel rooms at the Crystal Wave Resort and Hotel 

Function hall of the Crystal Wave Resort and Hotel 

The Tropical Garden Resort & Hotel in Brgy. San Pascual, Talavera, Nueva Ecija

 Grounds feature of the Tropical Garden Resort and Hotel

Main reception hall of the Tropical Garden Resort and Hotel

 Hotel rooms at the Tropical Garden Resort and Hotel

Wedding carriage for the bride at the Tropical Garden Resort and Hotel

Garden setting for wedding ceremony and reception at the Tropical Garden Resort and Hotel

Garden wedding at the Tropical Garden Resort and Hotel

The Venus Resort & Reception Hall along the national highway in Brgy. Calipahan, Talavera, Nueva Ecija

Main reception hall of the Venus Resort and Reception Hall

Private party pool and function room at the Venus Resort and Reception Hall

Some family photos

 My late parents Jeremias Catacutan and Aquilina Perez Baldedara

 My Grade 1 class picture (I’m seated 4th from left of front row) 

Excursion with the young family of Kuyang at the Campo Cuatro mountain park in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija (I’m the kid second from right of the photo)

Creased photo of high school graduation with my late mother

Consorting a town beauty (the former Yvonne Ramon) during a Flores de Mayo festival celebration.

Enjoying the cool, clear water of my hometown river with my sons Rommel-Jude and RJ

Elsie (seated in the middle) in this photo taken during our high school class picnic at the De Vera farm in Brgy. Sibul, Talavera, Nueva Ecija

Photo taken during a picnic with my high school classmates at a resort in Talavera, Nueva Ecija (I’m standing extreme left motioning one more frame to the photographer)

Elsie (seated in the middle) in this photo taken during our high school class reunion at the Trizone reception/banquet hall in Talavera, Nueva Ecija

Photo taken during a get-together lunch with my high school classmates at the Trizone, Talavera, Nueva Ecija (I’m standing extreme right)

 Elsie with ditseng Nelly 

 Ditseng Nelly (Mrs. Nelly Catacutan-Mesde) and her grandson Arjay

 Sanseng Lita (Mrs. Lita Catacutan-Bernardo)

 Ate Ena (widow of kaka Plas) and Gerry’s daughter Jeng

The family of my niece and kuyang’s daughter Cynthia Catacutan-Krishnan on a Mother’s Day outing  in California, USA (L-R:  Cynthia’s husband Krishnan, Cynthia, sons Richard and Michael, and daughter Jennifer Bavani).

My niece and kuyang’s daughter Nancy (left) on a visit to her sister Cynthia in California, USA

My nephew and kuyang’s son Gerry and his wife Ellen

Mary Ann (daughter of my nephew and kuyang’s son Gerry) and her husband Michael

Young family of Joseph (son of my niece and kuyang’s daughter Nancy) 

Some of kuyang’s grandchildren, L-R:  Joseph, Jennifer Bavani, Reich, Mary Ann, Billy and Jeng

 My nephew Dante (eldest son of dikong Boni)

 My nephew Joey (eldest son of sangkong Narding)

My niece Marie (daughter of sangkong Narding)

 My niece Dulce (daughter of dikong Boni)

 My niece Alice (eldest daughter of ateng Ine)

My granddaughter Reich (daughter of my niece and kuyang’s daughter Nancy)

   

My grandson Billy (son of my nephew and kuyang’s son Gerry) 

 

                  

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