Finding Ourselves

“We travel initially to lose ourselves. We travel, next, to find ourselves.”

– Pico Iyer

It took 31 years for most of us to come home to Legazpi. We graduated in 1985, when our school was still called, “Science Oriented High School” of Aquinas University. We were less than a hundred as a batch; two classes only per year level. The idea of the Dominicans was to form students in the ‘sciences’ – not just in the hard sciences as Biology, Chemistry or Physics.


According to Fr. Orlando Aceron OP, our beloved principal, we were also to be educated in the ‘other sciences’ as Logic and Philosophy. We were just two classes, indeed an experiment, with college professors as members of the faculty.

Photo: Our beloved principal, Fr. Orlando Aceron OP.


After graduation, we all dispersed. Most have traveled far from our home base. Some have explored other possibilities and professions. Some have discovered their true vocations.

Here is a photo of Fr. Ricky Bermas and Fr. Orlando Aceron OP. Our batch also produced a dominican, Fr. Stephen Redillas OP, but he was in Australia.


Pico Iyer has a sense: it has been true to many of us that we “lost ourselves” first. And the process of “losing ourselves” was necessary to arrive at who we are today. Like young saplings, we have to branch out in great abandon, often reckless and experimental.


I remembered the day I left home for college. I was both sad and excited on the new adventure ahead of me. The freedom that goodbyes bring initially has “loosened up” many of adolescent issues and hang-ups, but that “scattering” will soon find its own shape, that is, a re-fashioning that is uniquely ours as we age and mature.


The return then is a rediscovery of our roots. We have revisited Aquinas University, our old school, appreciating both its oldness and its newness.


We toured some spots in Albay like the new Kawa-Kawa in Ligao City, and the old Mayon Resthouse, now called the Mayon Skyline. And we have appreciated many new things to explore.


Here are the two sights we visited.

  1. Kawa-Kawa, Ligao, Albay.

People visit Kawa-Kawa for two reasons. Kawa-Kawa is named after the recessed area on the plateau of the hill in Ligao, Albay. Kawa is the Bicol word for the cooking implement called the “wok.” Kawa-Kawa means like a wok. This area also reminds me of the University of the Philippines’ Sunken Garden in Diliman, Quezon City, except that Kawa-Kawa is scenic, it is on a mountain overlooking the valley with Mayon Volcano on the horizon.


People go to Kawa-Kawa for two reasons: one is religious; the other is leisure. One can do the Stations of the Cross to the top and around the “wok” area. This makes the nature park a haven for devotees especially during the Holy Week. A Catholic church dedicated to the Divine Mercy is being constructed at its base.


And for many, especially young people who boisterously climb with great laughter, they just enjoy the nature park.


On the base of the Kawa is a sunflower garden.


For solo backpackers:

From Legazpi City, you can take jeepneys plying the northern route to Polangui, Albay. Request the driver to drop you off at the junction to Kawa-Kawa in Ligao City. From there, tricycles can bring you to your destination.

  1. Mayon Skyline.

Although this is to me a major disappointment, it is still worth going if you want to see half of the Province of Albay. It is a disappointment because the area is unkempt; mounds of garbage are within view. The planetarium has been abandoned, and certain areas need to be renovated. The government should put this on their priority list, not just to boost tourism, but to care for the environment as well. So I would suggest this the least of the places to visit.

Reunion SOHS 1985

I think it would be best to rent a van from the hotel you are billeted. If you have a van, it can take you to Kawa-Kawa and other places since you are renting them for a day.


This a group photo of Batch 1985 of Science Oriented High School, Aquinas University, after 31 years.


Published by Jboy Gonzales SJ

TV/Digital host: Kape't Pandasal. Vlog: YT On the Line. Environment, Youth Formation. Music. Leadership. Always dancing to a different drum.

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