Anna Velas-Suarin

Aurora: a way to look back and move forward

(A repost of a blog from my main site,, dated December 31, 2010.)

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR, DEAR FRIENDS and READERS! May the love and goodness of our Lord continue to be our source of strength and inspiration!

JR and I spent a few days in Aurora right after Christmas. It was a perfect time to end 2010 – bonding with Mom and then visiting the place where she has ‘taken roots’. It was also about time I “introduce” hubby to my Mom’s birthplace.  We had one of our best vacations ever! The trip was not really planned but it was Mom who broached the idea and even offered to sponsor the trip! (Moms are really the best!) I was also requested by Mom to help a relative so hubby and I readily decided to go even if we did not have much time to prepare for it. We stayed up the whole night prior to the trip to finish an assignment, entertain friends, pack our bags (although it was hubby who packed everything!), prepare breakfast (again, courtesy of hubby!) and get dressed. Despite this harried preparations, it was all worth the trouble.

Hubby (JR) and my Mom by the riverbanks near the farm. Isn’t my Mom cute with her big hat? (Photo taken through my HTC phone)

The first thing we did the next day (we arrived around lunch time on the first day but was too tired and sleepy to even go out of the house) was visit Mom’s farm in Dibucao, Maria Aurora, Aurora. Yes, the photo on the right is JR with my Mom. (And yes, Mom is wearing a big hat whenever she goes to the farm!)

This photo was taken by the riverbanks. I was so happy to know that the river by the farm is still crystal clear! I was quite worried because the last time I went there was in 2005 or 2006 so I was not sure if the water will still be that clean. Thank God, it was still as clean as I remember it from way back. It made me look back to my childhood days when I’d frolic in the rivers with my siblings and cousins, full of joys and in total abandon, knowing that the water is totally clean! I sure hope that many Filipino children can still experience such joys in clean and unpolluted river waters! I also hope that we (the public) and our government will do more aggressive steps to stop polluting our water bodies. This is something that we need to do more seriously.

Those are my and JR’s feet – see how clean the waters are? Yes, it is still possible to bathe in crystal-clear rivers in Aurora!

Anyway, after the visit to the farm, we went to the Balete Park where one of the tallest Balete Trees in Asia is standing. Also called “The Millenium Tree,” its diameter measures about 10-15 meters and would need about 60 adults to encircle the base, hand-in-hand. Here is a photo of it. Apologies that this was taken with a camera phone only. The small person with hands outstretched and standing by the base is me! This tree is really amazing. It was actually my second time to see it but I am still in awe of its size, beauty, and mystery.

We had the chance to give respects to the Giant Balete Tree of Aurora (located in Brgy. Quirino, Ma. Aurora). See how huge it is? It towers to about 60-65 meters!

I just hope that the local governments of Quirino and Aurora will work together to save it from ‘dying’ because it looks ‘uncared for’ and hungry for TLC (tender loving care). Several concrete posts of the fence around it are destroyed (they look like they were intentionally destroyed?) and speaking of the fence, it may actually be a good idea to simply remove it because it does not go well with the natural environment, is obstructive to the view of the trunk, and makes it impossible to take nice full-shot photos of it  (e.g., if the photographer wants to take a full shot, he needs to stand further away from the tree but going further means he has to sacrifice aesthetics because the concrete fence will definitely show). If a fence must be built, then it should be constructed further back. I hope concerned citizens can join me in “knocking” on the doors of the local government officials of Aurora so this beautiful tree can live on for many more generations.

The visit to the farm also gave us wonderful moments even if it started to drizzle. Mom constantly reminded us about loving our lands because they are gifts from her ancestors. She said, “Ang pera, madaling mawala; ang lupa ay laging nandito, hindi nawawala.” (Translation: Money goes away fast; but lands always stay, they never go away.) Simple words but truly come from the heart. Those words also reminded me about the gifts of our past. That we have gifts from our forefathers, nurturing us, giving us life.

I stand there amid the rice fields and look at the skies. Ahhh, this world is a true miracle. Thank you, Lord.

Who cannot smile amid this paradise?

Thank you for another year of love, friendships, reunions, forgiveness, laughters, generosity, kindness, strength amid the challenges, and the never-ending voices of your Angels who continue to guide and take care of us.



For trips to Aurora, there are Genesis buses that leave Cubao and Pasay every day. In Cubao, the trips to Baler (the capital of Aurora Province) begin leaving at 4:30 am until about 7:00 am (or earlier if there are many passengers).

Genesis Transport Services, Inc.

Tel. Nos.: Cubao (02) 4211413 Pasay (02) 8533115


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