Giving Santiago a (second) Chance


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Some call it perfect timing. Like how as we talk now about love letters from the 70’s, Matt Monro croons in the background.

“I’ve seen places, faces and smiled for a moment
But oh, you haunted me so…
…My running around is through
I fly to you, from Russia with love”

Outside the window, rustic scenery of Cagayan Valley is rolling like a diorama. Vast rice fields turn golden when struck by the last rays of the day’s sunshine. The driver shifts to third gear and we steadily slice through seemingly infinite plains cut in half by black asphalt and white road markings (I begin to feel like a tiny part of a giant zipper). We are now driving towards Cauayan for a relaxing massage and dinner; the sunset could do nothing but chase us from behind.

“This is the type of song your Tito listens to”, she said hinting a smile; her face is in the boundary of reverie and thoughtful affection.

Almost three years ago, I first stepped on the soils of Santiago, Isabela under sad circumstances: we visited a grieving friend. And because of this, my memory of the city is only limited to emotions associated with blue and grey.

Right now, while talking with Tita (my friend’s mom), I could feel that circumstances are a little better. What used to be all blue and grey now have specks of red, green, and yellow.

I believe that some experiences (or people, and places?) are worthy of a second chance. That’s why I decided to visit Isabela again with a different state of mind; and a steady resolve to remember the place in full colors.

Sunset over Santiago City (Isabela); and Flowers for Tito.IMG_3300

Balay na Santiago museum (open from Mon-Sat); The Old Calao Bridge; Busy streets of Santiago.

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Santiago City. The city named after me St. James IMG_3302

While Santiago is not known as a gastronomic heaven, among the places you could try are: Marilen’s, Felicita’s (they serve Pancit Cabagan!), or a little coffee place called Cafe Pamela.

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2 Responses to Giving Santiago a (second) Chance

  1. Thank you for this blog about our city. Can I repost these photos on Santiago City, Philippines Facebook page?

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