PAETENIANS CANADA HOSTED GLOBAL "CAMPING 2000"
Toronto, Ontario, July 31, 2000 - Paetenians now residing in Toronto hosted a grand reunion of Paetenians from all over the world in a camping weekend at the Bingemans Campsite in Kitchener, Ontario last July 21-23, 2000.
Paetenians from all corners of the world were gathered via the "Paete, Laguna Home On The Net" Mailing List and Newsgroup (UsapPaete) where plans and brainstorm sessions went on everyday for almost a year, since the camping project was first conceived. The Paete Web site, www.paete.org, online since 1997, became the "Tayangtang" (Paete word for "hang-out") of Paetenians scattered far and wide. Its mailing list grew in membership by leaps and bounds. It's like the town itself, that became the home-away-from-home to most Paetenians, rose in its beloved presence into their homes overseas; a rebirth of this beautiful village set between the Laguna Lakes and the Sierra Madre mountains arrived, with its endearing presence, onto the desktop computers in the very living rooms across Cyberspace.
On the Web site, Paetenian families started coming together, relatives, classmates and friends found each other after decades of separation, Paete recipes, Paete talents, current news on Paete's births, deaths, garbage, sewer and water problems, fiesta, Mahal na Araw (Holy Week), Flores de Mayo, Salibanda (St. John de Baptist) were discussed with marked excitement and awe. Digital photos from the town's celebrations were constantly uploaded on the Web site. Video shots are now even enjoyed by multimedia users. And at the Camping 2000 reunion, just imagine finally meeting each other face-to-face! It was indeed a "first" and most awesome experience!
The Paetenians of Canada started planning an International Reunion for all Paetenians everywhere last July 1999. The plan was conceived at the Paetenian Mailing List (email@example.com). As plans went underway, reservations for the tent-areas, trailers and cabins were made as well as for motels (for those not-so-camping-inclined) right on the highway across the Bingemans Campground.
The planning of the event itself was mostly done in Cyberspace. No meetings to schedule where and when. No time to waste phoning committees and waiting, no last minute fuss. Ideas that formed the organization of the project simply mainstreamed daily for almost a year from all over the world in the List.
The first arrivals on July 15th were a Paetenian couple from Paris, France. From Chicago followed, then from the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, California, New Jersey, New York, Washington, then Switzerland, Florida, Michigan, Maryland and more later. They all came with a common thought, the Paete Fiesta, for in the Philippines, Paete was in the midst of celebrating its fiesta day on July 25th.
The "guest campers" were given a guided tour of downtown Toronto by the hosts, the Paetenians Canada; then they were convoyed to the Midland Shrine of San Lorenzo Ruiz and to a Boat Cruise along the 30 Thousand Islands on their second day; next day it was the big Niagara Falls trip. Then it was time to head for Bingemans in Kitchener to set up tents, camping orientation and the welcome dinner.
First night at camp was the informal dance party at the Berkeley Room where the Line and Ballroom dancers did their expertise; highpoint of the evening was the Mayor of Paete's Hour when he answered questions from the audience about the town of Paete; its problems, needs and improvements; then the "sistehan" (chikahan) done in traditional "Usap Paete" almost never ended. Our special guests were Mayor Noel Cadayona and his wife Evelyn who came for the visit from Paete, Laguna, Philippines.
Saturday was the all-day "potluck" chow. So reminiscent of Paete culture emerged in the food. Lutong Paete (Paete Recipes) abounded like "Laksa", "Minanok", "Tinutu", "Biringhi", Mike-Lu, and many more. From sunrise to sunset the Karaoke was busy with the singers, Paete jokes, Erap jokes, magic (where volunteers for the magic show were awarded a real, fresh, US dollar bill by the master "magician" from Chicago) and other antics. Then the Bonfire was started, marshmallows were roasted, and as darkness enshrouded the camp, quiet guitar sing-along ended the awesome second day of camping.
Breakfast on Sunday, the last day, was more subdued as the unwelcome feeling of farewell started to creep in. Talks were already about farewell dinners back in Toronto for these beloved out-of-towners.
Not to forget, of course, the tons of digital pictures taken by these Paetenians on the Net. And each night of every celebration these photos were uploaded (posted) on the Web site eagerly waited by those who were not able to come to Camping 2000. A digital video of the entire weekend was shot and uploaded on the Paete Web site.
Finally, included in our thoughts during the weekend were the non-Paetenian web surfers who have become Paete's cyberfriends, who have been visiting the Paete web site to follow up the activities of this momentous week! We can only thank God for this incredible Internet technology that brought us this project to reality! And now, we stop and think for a moment, of yet, better things to come for us all. Hello, from Cyberspace!
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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