We got invited a couple of months ago to a friend’s place in San Rafael, Bulacan. Not really known as a tourist locale, we basically went there just to hang out.
Besides the fact that I pass San Rafael whenever I go home to my hometown in Cabanatuan, I know zero about it. So I consulted Wikipedia which reported that San Rafael is a first class municipality in Bulacan with agriculture as its main livelihood.
It’s about an hour and a half by bus from Manila and we arrived there late in the afternoon. After a quick snack, we immediately set up the table under mango trees for an impromptu
bonding drinking session. But before things got out of hand, we first watched the sun burn the sky to orange at the back lot which opened up to a sprawling newly harvested rice field. It was a quick but nevertheless fiery sunset. The evening was spent swinging lazily on hammocks under the trees, passing shots, talking about movies, debating whether Incubus has indeed sold out, what album R.E.M.’s Night Swimming is from, and further discussions on the finer points of the 90’s music scene. With no iTunes on K’s laptop, we had to make do with a small speaker which threatens to burst every time a bass drum kicks in from my iPod.
The night wore on to the sounds of grunge music accompanied by the occasional pop of the bonfire and the never ending whir of cicadas.
The next morning found us chugging along the small town’s dirt roads, passing immense rice fields on our right and a slow moving duck-filled creek on the left.
It was harvest time and most of the rice fields had now turned a golden yellow in color. A few farmers we’re still threshing rice and I caught a few photos using my telephoto lens. I’ve wanted a photo of this scene for the longest time but I was unsatisfied with the ones I got, it was too far away. I wanted something closer, like me lying on the field right below the rice thresher perhaps, but I was too shy to ask our host if we could stop and get closer. Next time maybe.
Moving on, we passed through a hanging bridge, not one built for aesthetics, but an authentic one made of makeshift materials; metal panels for floorings, construction steel as girders, and wiremesh as railguards. Even with such construction, it was pretty strong, as evident with motorcycles crossing its breadth every now and then.
Passing through cramped pathways and sometimes crossing over someone else’s yards, the vista again opened up to a massive farmland. It seemed the whole of San Rafael is made up of ricefields and the houses are the exceptions rather than the rule of the land.
This place is a refreshing sight from the usual concrete chaos of Manila. Here, the air is clean, trees stand everywhere, birds of different kind freely roam the skies and fields, and in lieu of the roaring jeeps are cows and carabaos, with the occasional hand tractors plying the rough roads. It was a very enjoyable non-touristy getaway.
I imagine the fields would be more beautiful now that the rainy season has kicked in; the once yellow fields must now be lush green. I definitely won’t mind paying another visit to the sleepy town of Maasim in San Rafael. Now if only we’d get another invite... :P
San Rafael, Bulacan
Farmlife at San Rafael | Palanas Mini-Dam at San Rafael