Greetings from the Philipines and Brother Jose Dureza

Dear Friends,

PEACE.

A few more hours and it will be Easter Sunday here. We arrived in Kalibo 8 weeks ago and we would just like to assure you we are in good health and spirits and are thinking of you this Easter. Kalibo is an urbanized town but not yet a city. It is the capital town of Aklan Province. It is more known for the Ati-atihan, a festival that dates back to the barter of Panay c.1300’s when the aetas, black natives, gave up the lowland for the highlands for the price of the Golden Salakot and other fineries, with the 12 Datus from Borneo) When the Spanish came this annual revelry of goodwill was later dedicated to honor the Santo Nino. Boracay, the island resort, gave Aklan another star in the international map. It is 67 kilometers west of Kalibo. By the way Kalibo airport is being spruced up to accept international flights. Asian Spirit will start flights from Seoul to Kalibo soon. Life here in Kalibo is not exactly routine. I’m supposed to settle down and paint pictures and Mahal will be reading novels and tend a little garden like we imagined before. The bungalow that we are renting allows us to do all those, except that the air conditioning is always on and there’s only limited space for the pots of euphorbias (?) and some bromeliads. Shopping for the most part is done at Gaisano Mall nearby. Iloilo City, Where I went to high school and college, and the regional center for business, and culture of Panay Island is 160 KMs or about 3 hours by bus. Bacolod our erstwhile booming hometown in Negros Island is another hour away from Iloilo via high speed ferry boats. So we looked for an alternative to place live. We found a beach front lot in Barangay Cawayan, in the town of New Washington, 14 kilometers east of Kalibo. This town has small seaport and is more known here as the hometown of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin. Much smaller than Kalibo, New Washington is the Asian home of Sam Boucher of the Precious Moments fame (collectible figurines, etc.).with his 5 star resort and hotel cum museum of his Asian art. Also the French Monfort Brothers with their operate aTecnical school, and the Pink Sisters with their well cared monastery and church are located nearby. We are building a fence and a 34 feet long sea wall, a bath house, and a picnic shed. The beach is not Boracay white sand and waters are not crystal clear, but there are no tourists. If finances permit we would like to put up a bamboo house to escape the tricycle fumes and heat of Kalibo. We’ve been spending most of daylight hours there, and at sunset we would motor back to Kalibo in our brand new 1995 Honda Civic. We are not sure what lies ahead from here. Meanwhile Mahal is getting her wishes of having a personal maid, be near her ageing aunt, and not having to meet her classes in NYC. Our simple pleasures here are long walks at the beach, and gathering agihis, tiny bivalves that are tasty as clams. Other fresh sea produce, such as large local crabs, oysters, fish, and shrimps are in good supply. Maybe we will lose our taste for a life in a condo in Manila where we planned to settle when it will be turned over in April 2008, and decide to stay here in our bamboo and nipa thatch house in Cawayan beach for good. As to my art works, I plan to show in Bacolod in October, and Manila in August at the Ayala Museum with my New York group. The coffee table book has come out and I’m waiting for my copies to be shipped, and the “Transparent Colors” book by Teresa Rodriguez about the 3 Filipino American watercolorists, is with the printers now. Our thoughts and prayers are with you this Easter day. We miss all of you and everything we used to be and do. We pray that God in His mercy and goodness will continue to keep you happy and healthy until we meet again. Rejoice, Christ is risen!

Much love,

Joe and Mahal

Mahal getting the hang of beach combing business.


Agihis. The trick is to pick them from pebbles

Seawall's halfway done.

Joe feasting on skewered fish

They call this fruit Mikimoto, from eggplant family.

To our east, Sibuyan Sea, and Capiz Province, Joe's birth place. The fishermen bring in their catch each morning, just hundred feet away.