Gapok is my hometown! Every New Year holiday, I see to it that I find my self going back to my hometown because the New Year celebration at Gapok is nothing sort of ordinary. Not only do we find ourselves in the company of familiar faces, but we, the ‘batang Gapok’, are always bringing the fun and excitement of the extraordinary blast of New Year celebration to our beloved barangay.
No matter where we are in the country, we always consider the celebratory pull of the New Year towards Gapok. Year 2018 is not an exception in celebrating the unspoken tradition of New Year in the barangay.
Gapok, being a small barangay, is a place where everybody knows every body. Since high school, I have gone back home usually only once a year during New Year; and never get used to the coldness of the place. Seriously, Gapok is so cold I always need layers of blankets when sleeping.
Typically, the New Year celebration starts at twilight of 31st to the morning of the 1st. People will be offering you food or booze as you walk on the road to wherever your destination may be. As nighttime comes, more booze and food will be served and nobody will judge you if you indulge your self. By morning, you expect to be welcomed with empty bottles of hard liquor and multiple stacks of cases of empty beer bottles.
There is also a lone bridge in the middle of the barangay. Hours before midnight, there will be a sound system setup at the side of the bridge where there will be parlor games and dancing.
The dancing and drinking will stretch up ‘till the morn, thus some people are literally without any sleep.
One of the most anticipated New Year tradition activities is the shower of coins by an establishment. They never seem to disappoint us who are always on the wait for the moment. Usually it comes after the fireworks and firecrackers.
Afterwards, the drinking and fun-talking resume. It is in this moment that plans of road trip by the morning commence.
Common road trip destinations are waterfalls and caves. The most famous and affordable however is the river swimming at Kulaman. We practically find a place in the long river to picnic and take a dip. Customarily the mode of transportation will be motorcycle as many of the houses in the barangay own one. You will just have to provide the fuel of the motorcycles.
The road trip will consume most of the first day of the year. And what better things to do than just like that?
At Gapok, we have made New Year not only a mark of the start of the year, but a tradition which always calls us way back home; no matter how far, no matter how hard life can be.