By: Bing Bangaoet
The year was 1980. The CISV Baguio delegation to Waterloo, Canada made up Homer Abiad, Michael Leonen, Geraldine (Dindin) Munsayac and Melody Hamada, with yours truly, Tita Bing Bangaoet, as Adult Leader, was ready to leave. The trip was made more exciting to all because the mothers – Emy Hamada, Lynda Munsayac, Genie Abiad, and Andring Leonen decided to make it so.
Our first stopover was Hawaii. We were so impressed when we were met with Hawaiian music and a bevy of beautiful girls who gave us welcome leis. But, to out disappointment, our welcoming wahinis asked to pay for the leis! At the hotel, the porters didn’t help us with our luggage because they said our party was made up mostly of children, “without money for tips.” The next day a lady in military, a family friend of the Munsayacs, picked us up from the hotel to see the sights, We went swimming in a military beach, then spent some time in her Kahala Hilton Condo, where we swam at her pool, hoping to get a glimpse of the famous Jack Lord of Hawaii Five-O, who was staying in the same place. But no luck. We were brought to the usual tourist spots od the island and did a little shopping. We met a Japanese Hawaiian lady who was fascinated that I was the one who taught her to dance the hula, when it should be the other way around.
On the third day, we flew to Los Angeles. We could not understand why it was always cloudy but never rained. Somebody explained to us that it was smog not rain clouds. Every day our tour guide would pick us up from our hotel to take us to a different theme park. We had so much fun at Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Knott’s Berry Farm since it was our first visit to these places. After a few days in LA, we were brought to the airport fir our flight to Springfield, Ohio. We missed our flight. The airline said they called our hotel but we never got the message since we were out most of the time. It was easy to get another booking but poor hosts, the family of Homer’s aunt, Elena, waited a long time at the airport. When we finally landed, Elena lost no time and immediately sent us touring; we particularly enjoyed Springfield’s airplane museum.
On the following day, we were on the plane again headed to Washington D.C. There we toured the Air and Space Museum, the White House, the Washington Monument, and the Smithsonian.
Two days later, we were off to New Jersey, where my sister-in-law, our host, took us to the West Point, where we met a cadet from Baguio City, and some New York City landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty.
We arrived in Toronto a day before the Village started. Our host family gave me an ocular tour of our Village – a leafy spread with a big hall surrounded small cabins. There was a swamp with lots of fish and turtles and small boats. There were even squirrels and gigantic mosquitos.
The Village came alive the next day with the arrival of the various delegations. Our group gelled with the rest like ducks to water. Homer caught the eyes of the girls; he was everybody’s crush. Among the most enjoyable activities were International Night. An International Night was shared by two countries. But an exception was made of the Philippines, probably because of our reputation for being the most prepared. We had a International Night all to ourselves. We didn’t disappoint expectations. Our kids danced Tinikling, using PVC pipes for bamboos; balanced glasses with lit candles on their foreheads while rolling on the floor in Pandanggo sa Ilaw; wrapped glasses in handerchiefs for Wasiwas Everybody was impressed and later tried to learn the dances. Homer, Michael, Dindin, and Melody, also taught the Village a funny song, Salidumay, with the line, “lipistik ka nga, lipistik, di naman nag brush ng teeth,” eliciting lots of laughter. Our chicken/pork Adobo with fried steamed rice was also a hit. For the first time everybody ate so much, there were no leftovers.
Picnics and outings took us to many interesting places in the area. We spent a day in the park with an enormous skating coliseum. We went to Niagra Falls, taking the “Lady of the Mist” ride to go under the falls; climb the famous CN Tower for a fantastic view of the city; we enjoyed weekend shopping, when the main streets were closed to traffic and turned into a street fair. Home-stays with local families enriched the cultural experiences of the kids. Upon their return, four excited children competed to share their experiences. It was delightful to listen to the stories. At the end of every hectic day, Adult Leaders put the children to bed with lullabies the “goodnight line.” For the latter, Adult Leaders and staff queued up for a turn to give each child a goodnight hug.
Unfortunately, all good and beautiful things must eventually come to an end. After 28 days of living together in harmony, fun, and friendship, we had to bid each other goodbye. The last night at the Village was so sad. After packing their suitcases, the kids opted to sleep together at the hall. Then the next day, one by one, the delegations were picked up by their hosts to be brought to the airport. There was no dry eye.
With my crying children, I loaded our big suitcases in the van of our host. It took so much time to make everything fit, which was why we almost missed our flight. We were the last one to get board. But because of the near-mishap, my children temporarily forgot their despair and slept throughout the flight to San Francisco. We arrived early morning, and since our flight to Manila was late evening, we had a lot of time to kill. The Hamada sisters, relatives of Emy’s, were waiting for us at the airport. We left our suitcases at the airport lockers then off we went to see Dindin’s relatives and still had sufficient time to ride the Cable Car, take in the Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Coit Tower, enjoy big meals and pass the “crookedest” street on our way back to the airport. Completely tuckered out, slept our way back to the Philippines.
Not all CISV Villages are perfect, but pardon us for thinking that ours was the best!
(This article was written by Bing Bangaoet and first published in the 50th Anniversary Book of CISV Philippines)