Exiled to Paradise



A family friend and schoolmate had been exiled by his father to Hinoba-an for the summer as punishment for infractions he had perpetrated at school.

Little did the Father realize he was exiling his Son to Paradise! 

Never having been to Hinoba-an, the Father knew only of the town’s remoteness.  The exhausting five to six-hour (or longer depending on road conditions) trip over rugged country and treacherous mountain roads, disposed him to conclude that the place was the boondocks.  And he was dead-on: the area was as entrancingly “probinsya” and the town as charmingly rustic as one could get in all of Negros.

Under the auspices of his good friend, Don Antonio (‘Tonito’) Beltran—a Bilbao son-in-law, husband to Don Estanislao’s daughter, Blanca—who made the yearly summer sojourn with his family, the son would be safe but relatively uncomfortable and likely bored in that most rural of settings. A fitting punitive measure the Father surmised. 

The Father could not have been farther off the mark.

Amusingly, the movie Papillon—based on Henri Charrierie’s autobiographical novel of his exile to a French penal colony in the Carribean—was contemporaneous to the Son’s banishment.  Was this mere coincidence or was the Son’s deportation, in fact, a take-off on the film, we wondered, as we constantly ribbed him about it.

One thing was certain, Hinoba-an’s Happy Valley Beach, the Son’s supposed tropical penitentiary, was no ‘Devils Island’.  Far from it, this was a place of breathtaking beauty.  Its remoteness gave it tranquility; the absence of electricity (during daytime as small generators provided essential lighting at night) effectively and quite refreshingly, placed one back in tune with nature.

Resting soundly from the previous day’s trip, the Son awoke the next morning and beheld a calm, picturesque seaside setting.  It took him a moment to affirm that he was actually awake and not dreaming.

It was shortly after breakfast—a sumptuous affair whose piece de resistance was a tandem of grilled, freshly caught fish and lobster—that it sunk in.  His summer exile had done a complete about-face and had turned into a summer idyll! 

From that point on, the many pleasures of idyll continued unabated.  Gustatory feasts of lechon [char-roasted whole pig], lechon-na-kambing [char-roasted whole goat], lechon-na-manok [char-roasted chicken], and all manner of the freshest seafood—-fish, lobster, crabs, prawns was commonplace.  Chilled and ever at the ready was the iconic San Miguel beer; ubiquitous was everyone’s favorite Marlboro Red cigarettes; and, just yards away, the gorgeous jade green Sulu Sea was his to frolic in any time he cared to.  Add to this a rollicking band of Bilbao cousins hell-bent on a fun-filled, roaring good summer, and boredom became practically impossible.  Quite the contrary, the Son may have tired of the non-stop romp.  Tired or not, one thing had become incontrovertible: in exile, he had had the time of his life.

“It appears Hinoba-an suited you,” the Father remarked as the deeply tanned, healthy glowing Son arrived home after a month-long absence.

The Son could only muster a smile.


One Response to “Exiled to Paradise”

  1. like the pictures as well as the captions

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