I always have to smile when a Filipino mentions how much fun they had as kids in the ‘summer’. To me, it is pretty much always summer in the Philippines, but of course, this isn’t really accurate. In January and February I love to sit in the coffee houses and watch jacket clad locals sip hot chocolates and hot cappuccinos to ward off the chill ‘winter’ months. When summer hits around April, they all talk about having the big break between school years to get out and have fun; just like the Americans do between June to September.
While it is different in various regions across the archipelago, the months April and May are usually hot and dry, especially in Luzon. Further south in the Visayas it is also hot and dry and down in Mindanao, not as humid. My wife says the months until the ‘Bers’ arrive are the best. When the months end in ‘ber’, that is when the rainy season hits. Actually they can start earlier, in August or even July but I like the ‘ber’ thing. We spend a lot of the months from April to August at the beach, usually with the entire family in tow and that can mean a couple of trips in the multi-cab and on the back of the motorcycle.
The day begins fairly early with Mama and the other women preparing all the food. As the Kano son-in-law, I get to do my own thing until required to drive everyone to the beach. We may have a ‘resort’ in mind, or a spot on an open stretch of public foreshore, or we take pot luck and go and explore. Usually we choose a place that rents out cottages; tables and benches under a rattan roof where we can set up base camp and send the kids off in search of fun while the adults chill in the shade. Planned properly, we arrive as the tide is coming in, so as to enjoy maximum swimming time. Get it wrong and you will spend hours on a wide expanse of wet sand waiting for the water to return. Or else you have to wander half a kilometre seawards to find a hole deep enough to float in. Or you take a siesta.
Cold Beer and Fresh BBQ
We always take food with us, but usually find sooner or later a couple of local ladies will wander up with a basket of freshly caught fish. Mama and the wife will make sure we only buy the very best for the very lowest price and then they cook it. Meanwhile, icy cold San Miguels are consumed to ensure heat stroke is kept at bay. On some trips where there are several Kano’s in residence, Tanduay and Coke (or Sprite if you prefer) is served and several of the world’s wrongs are righted, just in time for the BBQ lunch.
At some stage the ‘dirty ice cream’ man will attend and everyone will have at least one cone, sometimes two. Fresh fruit such as slices of water melon and paw paw may also be consumed as dessert, along with a few more San Migs. Swims are taken whenever the urge takes one and of course the kids have a terrific time discovering all the wonders the foreshore holds. In the cool of the evening we wend our way home, another great day in the Pinas, enjoyed. Total cost? A couple of bucks a head. Memories? Priceless.
Perry Gamsby, D.Lit, MA(Writing), Dip.Bus, Dip. Mktg is a writer and lecturer who lives with his Cebuana wife and five Aus-Fil daughters in Western Sydney. The author of a series of best-selling ‘self-help’ books for expats and those married to Filipinas, he is also a Master of Filipino Martial Arts and a former World Stickfighting Champion who has lived, worked and vacationed in the Philippines since 1988. Perry and his family return to the Philippines on a yearly basis. You can read more of his writing on Philippines topics at www.streetwisephilippines.biz