Summer Vacation Countdown – by Gina Beltran-Gallegos

Happy Valley Beach, Hinobaan, Negros Occidental

Happy Valley Beach, Hinobaan, Negros Occidental

Summer Adventures, Day One …From Gina’s Memories

We were all giddy with excitement it was the end of March which meant school would soon be over. The preparations had begun, the canned food and dry goods had been bought and packed. My Mom had bought and packed away all the medicine, first aid kits, calamine lotion and vitamins we would eventually need. Our Yayas (nursemaids) had also packed our clothes especially the swimsuits our mother had bought for us in Spain. We wouldn’t need much, just the swimsuits, several tank tops and a few pairs of shorts and maybe a set of Sunday clothes for Easter. Our footwear would consist of flip flops for everyday use, water sandals or old sneakers for the much-anticipated boat trip to the caves and for frolicking around the coral reefs and maybe a pair of formal shoes or sandals for church on Sundays. We kids were running around trying to gather our water gear and fighting over the assorted diving masks, snorkels and flippers. My older brother and I were packing our beloved books. He was bringing his entire collection of Hardy Boys mysteries while I would bring all my Nancy Drew books. The books were only for the inevitable rainy afternoons when we were prohibited from swimming or exploring due to lightning.

Elizalde & Co. Building - Iloilo City

Elizalde & Co. Building – Iloilo City

Verino, our Encargado had arrived, instructions had been given, he had now gone. Our group would be met at the pier by our pick-up truck, the driver had already gone ahead with the Verino, Encargado. My Mom had called her sister to ask her if we could stay the night. She had arranged to pick up our cousins who would be spending their summer vacation with us at the Hacienda. Our Mom was used to having a bunch of kids running around another half dozen or so would not faze her at all. We bid our grandmother farewell, she was too frail and she would not be accompanying us. I always suspected that she would stay behind just for a couple of months worth of peace and quiet and some alone time with our Dad, her favorite son. We bid farewell to our Dad, he would come and visit us during the weekends. He warns all of us to behave for our Mom, he tells my older brother to take care of our Mom, of me, his only sister and of all his little brothers. My older brother must not have been more than ten years old and yet my Dad had given him all that responsibility. My Brother just grinned and nodded his assent, he was the eldest and he was used to responsibility.

Negros Navigation's M/V Don Vicente

Negros Navigation’s M/V Don Vicente


So we all board the ferry and we were finally off on the first phase of our journey to our summertime Paradise destination.  Our adventure had begun and those of us not affected by motion sickness were off running around the boat and being chased by their respective Yayas. Unfortunately for me, I was seasick despite the Dramamine my Mom had made me swallow. The pills made me sleepy and somehow alleviated the queasiness but I was too sick to join my brothers as they tore around the boat. So I stayed with my Mom and my baby brother and his nurse. All too soon for my brothers and not soon enough for me, we finally arrived at the first part of our destination. I was excited, we would get to see our cousins again, it had been too long since we last saw them as they lived on this island and we lived on another island. First, we would all go to my Tita Nena’s house where we would be staying the night. Our cousins, Vicky and Marty, our Aunt’s two youngest children would be waiting for us. They were excited to see us and were jumping up and down. They would not be riding with us as their Father would be flying them down instead. I felt a little sorry for them, they would be missing out on all the fun we would have on the drive to the Hacienda. I was looking forward to seeing our cousins, Peter & Paul, Cachita, Amaya & Jimmy Boy all of who were going to join us on our trek across the island of Negros to the Southernmost tip.


Punta Ubong Sea Cave

Punta Ubong Sea Cave



7 Responses to “Summer Vacation Countdown – by Gina Beltran-Gallegos”

  1. very lovely, I totally feel this being related by my very young prima Gina. This brings me back earlier in life. Thanks for the memories.

  2. “The Dramamine your mom made you swallow” oh,.. you poor poor thing…..I hope you did not make “suka” you little cutie….

  3. In a word, Superb!

    Fluid and gracefull, through your prose you’ve created a time-machine that effortlessly transports one back, thru space and time, evoking memories that are as vivid as if they happened yesterday.

    Keep it up. Our editor (not one easily impressed) has adjudged your piece a tour de force!

  4. Sitting in front of my computer reading this entry, I felt the years melt away and the exact same feeling of excitement and eagerness for the summer vacation to begin washed over me for an instant. Some of the best times of my life,I tell you!

  5. Photo shows wrong boat on the interisland ferry.

  6. Chuck, How could you possibly know that’s the wrong boat????

  7. Gina:

    The depicted ferry is a stock photo; I could not find an actual picture of the venerable M/V Don Vicente (which, as late as 2000, was still plying the Iloilo-Bacolod route, markedly aged yet Grand as ever!).

    Chuck likely recalls that she was a gleaming all-white vessel.

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