January 19, 2022

A Return to Bindoy: Revisiting My Mom’s Hometown in Negros Oriental

My mom has been quite insistent that we all travel to Bindoy in Negros Oriental as a family because we’ve never been back in years. My grandma had been asking my mom about me and dad and, in fact, according to my mom, is quite worried why it seemed like we longer wanted to visit her. The truth is, things have just been pretty hectic. Usually, my dad has work when I’m free and I’m usually very busy when my dad is also free to travel. And of course, there’s the whole Vietnam thing. If you guys aren’t aware yet, I stayed in Hanoi for almost a year.

Anyway, after months of planning, the trip finally pushed through one fine weeked in October. Check out Barangay Tinaogan in Bindoy, Negros Oriental. I spent most of my summers (as a kid) here.

After a four-hour bus ride from Cebu City to Santander, and another hour-long boat trip across the Tanon Strait, we finally reached the town of Sibulan in Negros Oriental.

The town of Sibulan is around thirty minutes away from Dumaguete City. From Dumaguete, we got on another bus for the final leg of the trip. Finally, after two hours on the road, we arrived in my mother’s hometown.

We changed upon this scene: Some of my cousins and neighborhood kids playing taksi.

One of the places that we visited was the Dakong Balay or Big House. The Big House was (and to some extent still is,) the residence of the haciendero or farm owner. When I was a kid, the Big House was the focal point of all social activities in this sleepy little farmland. Games, picnics, dances,feasts were held in and around this massive house. Today, the palce is quiet and looking pretty simple.

In photo: my parents

The back part of the house which is facing the ocean. I remember I used to peer in whenever my aunts say that the ‘masters’ were away. My grandfather was the land owners right hand man and at one point was the barangay captain. My aunts and uncles all held positions related to running the plantation or the household. Today, my Aunt Mingga still acts as the mayordoma or head maid.

This giant tree wasn’t there when I was a kid. In the past, a rest/beach house stood on stilts a few meters from where I was standing in the photo. The beach house was very lovely and it had a diving board, big lounge chairs, its own sound system, a sink, and a small bar. It was destroyed years ago by a storm whose name I could no longer remember.

This is the long dirt road that leads straight to the main highway. My mom said that when they were younger, they had to walk down this road in pitch darkness especially if they wanted to go to a public dance in a different village.

A small river cuts through one of the sugarcane fields in the plantation. This was where most people did their laundry. Today, with waterlines going straight to their homes, people no longer come here to do their laundry.

I remember swimming here when I was a kid. Those were the days!

View of a small portion of the plantation that belonged to the hacienda.

The hacienda is sitting right next to the coast of Bindoy. And one of my most favorite spots is this mangrove forest.

The protected forest looks so hauntingly beautiful.

My cousin’s son tagging along and posing for the camera.

After just two days, we were on our way back to Cebu City. Here is a view of Amlan as our ship was leaving for Cebu.

It’s an hour-long boat ride and I’m trying to enjoy every single moment of it. We will be back, Bindoy!


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