Nonong worked as a teacher in the Philippine Refugee Processing Center. He left PRPC in 1992 and became a court interpreter. He then moved into the world of television and entertainment in Manila, an exciting, fast-paced and stressful life.

Several years ago, Nonong moved back to his home town, San Agustin on the island of Tablas, to take care of his mother. We visited him there at the end of our trip through the Visayas, the island region between Luzon in the north and Mindanao in the south. Tablas is one of the Romblon group at the geographical center of the Philippine archipelago. This was Lina’s first trip to Tablas, and her first meeting with Nonong since 1992.

San Agustin is the sleepiest of all the places we visited this year, small, slow, delightful. This post will be a photo essay to show you the life Nonong has returned to and is creating at the same time.


On the road to San Agustin, other islands in the Romblon group in the distance


Tiny fish are dried on nets spread out along the road. Here the nets are being rolled up as it is late afternoon.


San Agustin extends a welcome!


We ate all our meals at a carinderia, or food stall, at the bus terminal. Great food!


At the request of the town government, Nonong has started the Kalipayan Festival in San Agustin.


The festival draws from Caribbean Carnival as well as Filipino traditions.


Children still play in the streets.


An old house in the town center


And another that doubles as a store


This entry way commemorates Magellan on the right, who was killed in 1521 by Lapu Lapu, a chieftain of Mactan Island, on the left. Here they stand peacefully together.


Marble quarried on the neighboring island of Romblon turned into balusters.


Nonong’s ancestral home bears the letter “N” for his family name, Navarrete, a reminder of the Spanish presence in these islands for over 300 years. One ancestor inherited the house, another contested the inheritance, so the owner sold it to someone not in the family!


A bangka being loaded at the port


The ferry to Romblon and Sibuyan makes one round trip a day, leaving San Agustin in the morning and returning in the afternoon.


Very fresh fish



The weekend market where many local farmers bring their fruits and vegetables.


The rice fields and mountains in back of town


One of the barangays or neighborhoods across those rice paddies crowned a beauty queen, and she was driven through the streets on this float.


No pageant would be complete without a “mini queen”! Ashley is held tightly by her mother.

Momordica charantia - Cucurbita   Ampalaya, bitter melon

Ampalaya or bitter melon grows on a trellis by the door of our hotel.


Palm Sunday in San Agustin


Palaspas – beautifully plaited palm fronds – are an important part of the Palm Sunday Mass. They commemorate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The priest blesses the palaspas during the Mass. The faithful raise the fronds and wave them back and forth, a forest of palm leaves greeting Easter Week.


At Busay Falls, in the hills in back of town


The promenade along the harbor has been repaired after typhoon damage.


Nonong enjoys his life in San Agustin!