Before I got the chance to visit this town for the first time, I’ve been kind of skirting it, just skirting it, on my way to Southern Leyte and back. I saw the signboards declaring that it was the town’s territory, or that we were exiting from it, but I didn’t see the town proper itself.

It’s all because I, together with some companions, was just passing through the diversion road. The town is sort of confined into a secret enclosure one will never see it unless one will decide to visit it. Nevertheless, I had this feeling that this town is somewhat magical, hoarding with it some secrets that could potentially entice newcomers.

My first impressions of the place were provided by the enchanting beauty of rice fields, with their assorted colors, against the magnificent mountains in the background. The captivating sceneries that had inspired the painter Fernando Amorsolo come into view as we drove down the mountains to settle on the plains below. With the sunrise or sunset as the background, the scene becomes even more pristine and lovely.

Birds, butterflies, flowers, bees, and other enablers of beauty swarm along the way, singing their hearts out in praise of their abode, proudly declaring the unquestioned charm of the place with their songs.

Every time I passed by this place, I always take pictures of the flashing scenery, trying to capture the most attractive angles of trees and plains, and mountains combined. The pictures turned even more enchanting with the blue skies and cloud formations for backgrounds. With the sun in there, the photos looked superb, indeed.

From those elegant scenes, my attention was grabbed by the friendliness and natural kindness of the townsfolk. So the next thing that I fell for was the people of this place. That’s when I finally visited there in person. They seem to showcase that attitude of barrio folks in their most civilized version: hospitable, friendly, helpful, sincere, and generous. With their obvious mestizo and mestiza looks—thanks to the American soldiers who had improved their race—visitors like me could not help but admire them.

And you know what, when I heard their town hymn for the first time, I admit I really fell in love with it. From the place to the people, and to the hymn—yes, that’s right, I fell for all these. The melody is very Filipino, so melodious and touching; and the lyrics, oh boy, poetic at that and full of love, literally. It made me wonder how in the world did they come up with such a beautiful hymn that expresses their culture, dreams, passions, and aspirations.

Not many towns in the country had impressed me that much. But this town did not just impress me—it endeared itself until I fell for it. The peacefulness of the place coupled with its bountiful harvests are enough to draw anyone to it. If you add all of the above, moreover, you might decide to relocate to this place and make it part of your life. It’s a place called, Abuyog.