Friday, December 23, 2011

Kindness of a Stranger-Only in the Philippines

In the mid 1990s, prior to the building of our retirement house in Amoingon, Boac, Marinduque, Philippines, my spouse, Macrine and I usually have Sunday drives after church from Amoingon, Boac to Buenavista. This is about a 30-minute drive along the national road which parallels the western seacoast of Marinduque. Along this road are the beautiful homes of expatriates and balikbayans retirees from all over the world as well as rich businessmen from Manila.

The purpose of our leisurely Sunday drive was just to get an idea of the types of architectural styles that we may be able to incorporate into our beach house design. One Sunday we saw a beautiful modern designed beach house painted dark blue, between the towns of Gasan and Buenavista. It was appropriately named, CASA DE AZUL because of the outside dark blue paint. We were struck by the simplicity of its design and its architecture, and we decided to stop outside the gate of the house.

We got out of the car, lingered a while at the closed gate to see if the owners were in. It appeared that someone was in the house so I started ringing the door bell. No sooner than after I pressed the buzzer, a middle aged lady got out of the house and asked us what we wanted. I said we admired the style of the house and asked permission to take a photograph. Then we introduced ourselves and stated our purpose why we stopped.

To our surprise the lady invited us to come in and introduced herself as the owner. Her husband was outside the yard and asked if we were interested in seeing the whole house, as well as the backyard, which faced the ocean. There was a kidney-shaped medium size swimming pool also facing the ocean and a bar on the outside patio. We were delighted to be invited to view also the interior of the blue house. The house was beautiful inside, painted light blue and modestly furnished. We found out that the couple resided in Manila. The house was their weekend retreat. The lady was a Filipina and the husband was originally from Austria. The wife worked in Manila and the husband was in the import-export business. This incident would have never happened in the United States. The owners would have called the police and accused us probably of trespassing.

After the completion of our retirement house, we allowed visitors to take photographs of our front yard to reciprocate the act of kindness we received from the owners of the blue house. We have had several visitors the last couple of years who stopped at our front gate and asked permission to take pictures of the front yard of the house and its garden.

Our front yard is landscaped with blooming bougainvilleas in a rainbow of colors, several dozens of blooming orchids, and several tropical shrubs and flowers that bloom almost all year round. Yes, indeed we allowed them to take photographs of "my landscaping" (I designed the landscaping of the resort) and even offered them a glass of juice or bottled water. It is our way of reciprocating the kindness of the couple who resided in the blue house by the sea.

Unfortunately, we have forgotten their names. They have probably forgotten our names too. Last month, we learned that this private house has new owners and has been converted into a bed and breakfast beach resort. The new owners retained the original name, Casa de Azul.

I feel this story is possible only in the beautiful island of Marinduque—home of the most hospitable people in the Philippines, if not in the whole world. I hope you will have a chance to visit Marinduque, my island paradise, someday. You could even book your vacation at Casa de Azul or my own beach resort, Chateau Du Mer.

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