For most people, when they think of summers, they think of the beach and other exotic places. For our family, Caliraya, was our most favorite summer destination. All the kids look forward to summer because we know that we would be spending it in Caliraya.
This is the first resort that we ever stayed in. It's pretty rustic and basic but we loved it!
Caliraya is a man-made lake on top of a mountain. It is essentially a dam run by Napocor (National Power Corporation).
My uncle Florante, who has since passed, was an executive at Napocor and had privileges of renting Napocor's premier summer getaway lodge called Camarin. We hope to visit again soon and hope that Napocor is able to maintain its beauty and charm.
I remember Camarin so well. It had a grand winding driveway that led to the "bulwagan" or great room where our family spent countless meals together. The rooms were quite sizeable, have their own en suite bathrooms and airconditioning :-) (Remember, this was our youth, more than two decades ago, airconditioning was sheer luxury). We would have the whole place all to ourselves during holy week. All seven rooms in the compund!
It was a place that held wonder and adventure. Cool breezes invite for long naps on the porch, wide open spaces invite for a game of "habulan taya", mature trees provide shade for our tired little bodies after a whole day of playing. The lake, provides many hours of boating and fishing (not that we caught any) and I remember hours of conversation among the "cousins" about mermaids and crocodiles lurking in the muddy waters of lake Caliraya. Yes, we looked everytime we took a boat ride.
The grassy landscape provide great hiding places for easter eggs and many hours playing with "makahiya" (a "shy" weed that closes it's leaves when touched).
The most memorable perhaps are the lovely meals that we had there. Meals that were lovingly prepared by our mothers and aunts. Eat all you can fiesta. There were several long tables in the bulwagan and we would line them up side by side so that all of us will be able to stay in one long table, share food, share conversations and be a family.
I feel a little sad that the three male pillars of our family have passed on. My father was the youngest, who died at age 45. My uncle Florante, the instigator of summer vacation adventures, died of a heart attack a few weeks before my wedding and my Tito Boy who recently passed this year.
Yesterday, after sharing a simple meal at my brother's home, we decided to take a two-hour road trip to Caliraya and revisit our youth and to introduce to the third genration, Jay-jay and Ashley, my nephew and niece (since I have yet to produce an offspring), the magical place where their dad (my brother) and I spent endless summer days playing.
We hope that someday, they too, will have a special appreciation of the beautiful Caliraya and make special memories with family and friends.