Richard quickly exited from the San Nicolas Airport as soon as he got hold of his luggage. He is excited to see Maya. He misses her a lot. Time passed slowly in the more than two days they have been separated. The last glimpse of her he had, was when he took her to the airport Wednesday morning for her flight. The night before that, they had dinner at her house after he took her home. But he didn’t stay long as she needed to pack and get ready for her trip.
He was about to scan the terminal for the sight of his lovely girlfriend when he noticed her waving at him from the right side of the building. He walked towards her with a big grin on his face.
“Maya…..” He said lovingly. He hugged her tight, then proceeded to give her a quick kiss, then hugged her tight again. “I missed you so very much.”
“I missed you very much too, my Ricky.” Maya replied, very happy to see Richard again. He occupied her thoughts a lot the past two days. Yes, they have chatted on the phone in the evening, but that does not compare to seeing him, being with him. She has gotten used to seeing and being with him everyday. She hugged him tight back.
They stayed like that for a while, then Maya suddenly remembered her cousin.
“Ooops, I forgot. Sorry, Simon”. She said as she got out of Richard’s embrace, smiled sheepishly, then introduced the two. “Ricky, this is my cousin Simon Dela Paz. Simon, si Richard Lim, boyfriend ko.”
“Richard, ikinagagalak kitang makilala.” Simon offered to shake Richard’s hand. Sa wakas nakilala rin niya ang boyfriend ng pinsan niya. He and Maya talked about Richard last night, with Cristina Rose, after their dinner with Mamang. Just liked with Emman and the parents, Maya gave her cousins and childhood friends, and her Mamang this morning, a condensed version of hers and Richard’s love story.
“The same here, Simon. Madalas kang makwento ni Maya sa akin, pati na rin si Cristina Rose, kahit noong una pa kaming nagkakilala.” Richard shook Maya’s cousin’s hand, at the same time giving him a friendly smile.
“Mamaya, you will meet din Cris. Sinamahan lang si Cho sa school, may activity sila ngayon.” Simon said.
“I’m looking forward to that, also meeting Cho, and also her husband, Jeff, di ba?” Richard added.
“Wow, Ricky, you still remember, even Ate Cris’s husband’s name!” Maya exclaimed.
“Of course, my love. Lahat ng may kinalaman sa iyo, naaalala ko lahat.” He said lovingly.
“Ehemmm, ehemmm, dumarami yata ang mga langgam dito sa San Nicolas, Maya, parang imported, galing Maynila.” Simon teased his cousin and her boyfriend.
Both Maya and Richard shared a loving smile and a sheepish look.
“Oo na, Simon, titigil na kami, hahahahaha.” Maya told her cousin. “Halika na nga, punta na tayo kay Mamang at for sure, inip na inip iyon. Excited nang makilala itong si Ricky.”
They all trooped to the parking lot where Simon’s owner-type jeep was waiting for them.
“Richard, pagpasensyahan mo na itong jeep ko.” Simon said apologetically.
“Naku, Simon, okay lang.” Richard assured Maya’s cousin.
Maya insisted that Richard sit in front with Simon while she went to the back of the jeep. Richard assisted her in climbing in. Soon after they were in their way to the poblacion, where Mamang lives in the ancestral house of the Dela Pazes, Mommy Tessie’s side of the family. Simon stopped the jeep in front of the beautiful, well-preserved Spanish-era house.
“Wow, this is really beautiful!” Richard remarked as he looked at the two-storey house with capiz windows, ventanillas which make the house cooler especially in hot summer nights, intricate trimmings and in the tradition of old Filipino bahay na bato, the living area is on the second floor. They went inside through the front gate, up to the beautiful stairs made of old hardwood.
“Mamang, nandito na po kami!” Maya called from the base of the stairs, then indicated to Richard that they should ascend. Richard put his hand on Maya’s back to assist her. Simon followed, liking Richard’s solicitousness towards his cousin.
Mamang rushed to greet them from the top of the stairs. She came from the direction of the kitchen.
“Maya, apo, naku, panhik na kayo. Pasensya na at hindi ko kayo nasalubong kaagad.”
“Magandang hapon po, Mrs. Dela Paz.” Richard greeted Mamang formally and respectfully, when they reached the top of the stairs.
“Mamang, heto po ang nobyo ko si Richard.” Maya said to her grandmother as she gazed at Ricky lovingly. “Richard, heto naman ang maganda at mabait kong Mamang.”
“Please to meet you po, Mrs. Dela Paz.” Richard gave Maya’s grandmother a warm smile, then took her hand. “Mano, po.”
“Naku, kaawaan ka ng Diyos, anak. Mamang na rin lang ang itawag mo sa akin. Masyado namang pormal iyang Mrs. Dela Paz.” Mamang said, looking closely at Maya’s boyfriend. Kagwapo naman pala at mukhang mabait itong nobyo ng apo ko, she thought. “Natutuwa ako Richard at sa wakas nakilala na rin kita. Halina, parine tayo sala at doon mas masarap magkwentuhan.”
“Mamang, uuwi po muna ako sa amin.” Simon said. “Babalik na lang po ako, mamaya.”
“O sige, Simon, sama-sama tayong maghahapunan mamaya ha. Paki-remind mo rin sina Cristina Rose, Jeff at Pocholo at ang mga magulang mo na dito tayong lahat mamayang alas siyete ng gabi. Pa-welcome natin dito kay Richard.” Mamang told Simon.
“Opo, Mamang. Sasabihin ko po sa kanila. Excited nga rin po ang mga iyon na makilala itong si Richard.” Simon replied. “Richard, Maya, maiwan ko muna kayo.”
“Sige, Simon. Salamat ha. Mamayang gabi na lang.” Maya told her cousin. Richard also thanked Simon.
Mamang led Richard and Maya to a grand living room, full of antique furnitures and filled with framed black and white and sepia photos of several generations of Dela Pazes. They sat on the small sitting room on the side of the room.
“O maupo na muna kayo at magpapahanda ako ng merienda.” Mamang said, moving towards the direction of the kitchen.
“Naku, Mamang, ako na lang po. Puntahan ko si Manang Narcisa. Magpahinga ka na rin. Knowing you, ‘Mang, nakialam ka naman sa pagluluto ng mga putahe para sa dinner natin.” Maya gently assisted her grandmother to her favorite solihiya chair. Then she indicated that Richard should sit on the big one beside it.
“Kumusta naman ang flight mo, Richard?” Mamang asked when they were both seated and Maya disappeared to the direction of the kitchen. “Mabuti rin at nakasama ka rito kay Maya sa amin.”
“Maayos naman po, Mamang. On time naman ang flight.” Richard replied, realizing that this an opportunity for him to talk to Maya’s grandmother. “I asked Maya po if it is okay to go with her when she visits you pagkatapos ng meeting niya sa community kung saan sila may project kasi gusto ko po kayong makilala. Matagal na po niya kayong nakukwento sa akin, noong nasa New York pa kami. Nabanggit po ba niya ang tungkol sa amin?”
“Oo, anak. Nagkakwentuhan kami ng husto nitong apo ko kaninang umaga, pagkagising namin at habang nagkakape. Kagabi kasi, nagkasiyahan silang magpipinsan. Medyo matagal na hindi nagkita-kita ang mga iyon. Natutuwa ako na sa kabila ng lahat, kayo pa rin nitong apo ko. Mahalin mo siya ng husto ha, iyan lang ang hiling ko sa iyo.” Mamang said.
“Makakaasa po kayo, Mamang.” Richard said, then taking a deep breath, he forged on. “Sa katunayan, may isa pa po akong dahilan sa pagpunta rito. Gusto ko rin po kasi sanang magpaalam sa inyo.”
“Magpaalam para sa saan?” Mamang asked, though like Mommy Tessie, she has an inkling on what it will be.
“Matapos po kina Mommy Tessie at Mark, also my Mama, magpapaalam din po sana ako sa niyo na mag-propose kay Maya. Gusto ko na po sana siyang yayaing magpakasal, if she will have me.” Richard finished in one rush.
Mamang smiled, then put her hand on her chest, happy for her apo and the man she loves. “Oh my! May idea ba ang apo ko na may pinaplano kang ganito, Richard?”
“Wala po.” Richard said.
“Masaya ako para sa inyo. Of course, si Maya pa rin ang sasagot sa iyo, pero for me, welcome na welcome ka sa pamilya namin. Alam ko namang mahal na mahal na mahal ka ng apo.” Mamang finished, then stood up and hugged Richard. “Salamat sa paggalang, Richard.”
“Mamang, ako nga po ang dapat magpasalamat sa inyo, sa pagtanggap.” Richard said as he hugged the old lady back.
“Salamat saan?…..” Maya said from the doorway, carrying a tray of drinks, followed by Manang Narcisa, with several servings of mouthwatering rice cakes, before Mamang can ask Richard when is he planning to propose.
“Wala, sabi lang ni Richard, salamat sa pagtanggap dito sa bahay natin.” Mamang replied, smiling conspiratorially at Richard. Richard smiled back, silently thanking Mamang and her discretion in not spoiling his big surprise for his love. “O kain na nga tayo.”
They chatted while having merienda. Maya told Richard and her grandmother that everything is set for her and Donya Esmeralda’s project in a remote village, more than an hour away from San Nicolas. She told them that the people there were very nice and are looking forward to the literacy program, especially the kids who really want to learn.
While Maya was chatting, Richard’s gaze never left her face, looking at her with so much love. She looked at him with the same expression on her face. Mamang was happy looking at the two and the overflowing of love between them. She is happy that her apo had finally found someone to share her life with. Richard looks like a very responsible and a very nice young man. Ma-respeto pa.
They were winding down their merienda session when Manang Narcisa interrupted them, saying that one of Mamang’s katiwala is looking for her.
“Maya, apo, pagpahingahin mo na muna itong si Richard doon sa kwarto na inihanda natin for him. Kailangan ko lang kausapin itong si Berto tungkol diyan sa mga tanim natin sa Barangay San Antonio.” Mamang suggested. “Richard, excuse me. Kailangan ko lang bumaba.”
“Sige po Mamang.” Maya said. “Halka, my love, ilagay na natin iyong mga gamit mo doon sa room mo.”
“Thank you po, Mamang sa pagpapatuloy niyo sa akin.” Richard respectfully.
“Naku, wala iyon Richard. Welcome na welcome ka rito sa bahay ko. Kapamilya ka na rin namin since nobyo ka nitong apo ko.” She said smiling.
Maya led Richard to a corridor then to a room towards the side of the house.
“Here it is! This one used to be my Tito Jose’s room, and I’m having Mom’s old room at the opposite side of this, beside Mamang’s room.” Maya said as she opened the door to a big airy room, with a big antique four-poster bed in the middle. “The bathroom is over there.”
Richard just gazed at Maya while she was showing him everything. When she was about to move to show him something more, he got hold of her arm, and gently reeled her to him.
“I missed you very much.” He softly said, and before she can react, he lowered his lips to hers and gave her a searing kiss.
Maya responded to Richard’s kiss. Before long, they were sharing hot kisses, while slowly moving towards the bed. Richard broke the kiss to sit on the bed, then put Maya in his lap. Then he resumed kissing her. He ran his tongue on the rim of her lips, silently asking entry. Maya opened her mouth to let Richard’s tongue in. Their tongues duelled and mated, sharing searing kisses that inflamed their senses and their desire for each other.
The afternoon suddenly felt so hot. Richard’s hand soon started wandering, caressing Maya’s back, moving to the hem of her blouse, then to the underside of her breast. He left a trail of heat, igniting May’s senses more. His wandering hand finally reached Maya’s breast. Richard cupped her breast on top of her bra, caressing it maddeningly making Maya hot to her core. He did the same to other one. In the process, he discovered that Maya’s bra has a front closure. He flipped it open, then his hand was free to roam and play with Maya’s breasts.
Maya started caressing Richard too as they shared another bone-melting kiss. Richard trailed kissed on Maya’s neck, her collarbone, the valley between her breasts. While he was raining hot kisses on her, he continued playing with her breasts. Maya on the other hand, caressed his nape, his hair, and everything she could touch. From where she was sitting, she can feel the evidence of Richard’d desire for her.
“Maya, my love, you are making me crazy with want. I want you very much, but I think we need to stop soon.” He said with difficulty. “Your grandmother might come looking for you soon.”
“Oh….” Maya looked at Richard with her desire-glazed eyes, that made it harder for Richard to stop what they were doing. But they needed to, he made the supreme effort, knowing that he is the experienced one and should have more control. They both tried to catch their breaths.
“You are lethal, Ms. Dela Rosa.” Richard said, grinning at Maya and caressing her face.
Maya just smiled at him, blushing a bit, realizing that they were in a very intimate position. She can still feel the imprint of Richard’s maddening touch on her breasts.
“I better leave you here, so you can rest.” Maya said, getting up from Richard’s lap after fixing her dress with trembling hands and shortness of breath.
“Maya, I don’t need to rest. I would rather spend the rest of the afternoon with you.” Richard said. “Why don’t you tour me around this house, please! Then, is there a place we can just chill out and chat? Have coffee you know, and cuddle!” He added with a naughty grin.
“Ricky…..” Maya said smiling. “Hmmm, I think I just know the place. Come.”
Maya toured Ricky around the magnificent ancestral home. Then she led Richard to an azotea, which has a coffee table and some chairs.
“Wait here, I will get us some coffee.” Maya said, giving Richard a quick kiss before heading towards the direction of the kitchen.
Maya came back with two steaming cups of coffee. She and Richard had a wonderful time in the azotea ringed by bougainvilleas and all kinds of ornamental plants. They only returned inside when it was getting dark. They got ready for the dinner Mamang is hosting for Richard.
Simon and his family arrived together around 15 minutes before seven o’clock and the house suddenly burst into a happy chatter. Maya introduced Richard to her Tito Jose, Tita Pilar, then to her Ate Cris, her Kuya Jeff, and Pocholo.
Richard felt overwhelmed and very happy with the warm welcome he received from Maya’s family. Dinner was a very lively affair. Mamang and Manang Narcisa prepared a feast. After everyone’s stomach was full, they moved to the living room to have coffee and dessert.
The party broke out at around midnight. Cho fell asleep in Mamang’s room while the adults where having coffee and chatting in the living room so Cristina Rose and her family opted to stay there as well. Richard and Maya after saying good night to everyone shared a chaste kiss in front of her room before retiring for the night.
When Maya woke up the following day, Richard was already up and having coffee with Mamang in the dining room. Cris and her family had left to go to church.
“Good morning, Mamang! Good morning Ricky!” She went to kiss Mamang on the cheek, then move to Ricky giving him a quick kiss on the cheek too. Richard stood up and pull a chair for her. “Did you sleep well?”
Richard smiled at her mischievously. “I did. I slept like a baby and had the most wonderful dream.”
Maya sensed something in Richard’s statement, but she better ask Richard about it when they are alone.
“Maya, apo, kain na!” Mamang started bustling in and serving Maya all kinds of food.
“Mamang, fiesta ulit.” Maya said smiling. “Thank you po. Mamang, bibiyahe na nga po pala kami ni Ricky before lunch, di ba Ricky? May dadaanan pa kami. Saan na nga iyon Ricky?”
“Yes nga po pala, Mamang. May dadaanan po kami diyan sa San Quentin.” Richard replied.
“Ganoon ba? Di bale, malapit lang naman iyon dito. Pahatid na kayo kay Simon.” Mamang said.
Maya and Richard told her that they have already made arrangements with Simon for a pick up at around 11 o’clock. The three of them spent most of the morning chatting with their overly long breakfast. Then, Maya and Richard excused themselves to get ready to leave. Soon after, they were at the gate, saying goodbye to Mamang,
“Maya apo, Richard, dalas-dalasan niyo ang pagdalaw dito ha.” Mamang said, getting teary-eyed.
“Opo Mamang. Mas mapapadalas ako rito kasi may project kami diyan sa San Manuel na baka six months din ang abutin.” Maya said. “Baka nga po, minsan, pagdaan ko rito, kasama ko pa ang Mama ni Ricky.”
“Oo nga, isama mo nga rito nang makilala ko ang magiging…” Oops, good thing Mamang was able to stop herself. Kamuntik na siyang madulas. “….ang magiging katuwang mo diyan sa maganda mong project,” she finished.
Richard heaved a sigh of relief! He thought Mamang would say ‘ang magiging biyenan mo’, and more.
“Mamang, maraming salamat po ulit sa lahat.” He said, then hugged the old lady. He does miss having a grandmother. Hindi na niya nakilala ang grandparents niya dahil maagang namatay.
Simon arrived while they were saying goodbye. They loaded everything into the jeep and waved to Mamang as they were leaving.
More than an hour after, Simon stopped the jeep at the base of a road that goes up to the mountains.
“Hanggang dito na lang ba kayo, Richard?” He asked. “Kaya naman siguro ng jeep ko ang paakyat.”
“Maraming salamat, Simon. Sobra-sobra na ang pang-aabala namin sa iyo.” Richard said. “Okay na, I have made arrangements na, parating na rin siguro si Mang Caloy. Napaaga lang tayo ng kaunti sa pinag-usapan naming oras.”
From a distance, they saw an oncoming pick-up truck. It stopped and out came an old guy.
“Sir Richard, pasensya na po at naghintay pa kayo.” Mang Caloy said, then looked at Maya and Simon. “Magandang hapon po sa inyo, Ma’am, Sir.”
“Magandang hapon din po.” Maya and Simon said, one after the other.
“Maya, Simon si Mang Caloy, caretaker ng vacation house ng family namin diyan sa may taas ng bundok.” Richard said. “Mang Caloy, si Maya Dela Rosa po, girlfriend ko and ito naman si Simon Dela Paz, pinsan niya na taga-San Nicolas.”
“Ikinagagalak ko po kayong makilala. Mga apo ba kayo ni Donya Conching?” Mang Caloy asked.
“Opo Kilala niyo po pala si Mamang?” Maya asked.
“Opo, Ma’am Maya, Sir Simon. Pinsan ko po si Berto na caretaker niya sa Barangay San Antonio.” He said.
Maya and Simon smiled at the old guy and told them they are happy to meet a relative of Mang Berto.
Soon after Richard and Maya said goodbye to Simon and boarded the pick-up truck that took them through scenic, but rough roads and curves going up to the mountain. When they reached the top, Maya found the view breathtaking. She can see the whole of the island and the water that surrounds it.
Mang Caloy stopped the vehicle in front of a big house. The best way to described it, is that it is like a bahay kubo na mansyon. The house has cogon roof, made of wood, with a wrap-around balcony, and when Maya and Richard got inside, she discovered that it has floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a breathtaking view of the mountains and the sea way below.
“What a marvelous place! Is this your family’s, Ricky?” Maya asked as she moved towards the big window. “Parang wala ka namang nabanggit na may relative ka rin dito sa Mindoro.”
“Wala kaming relative dito. This house was offered to Papa by one of his friends who have been building vacation houses in the area several years ago. Nagustuhan naman niya, and also ni Mama. Madalang lang din silang magpunta dito. Ako ang medyo madalas, before I left for the States in 2009, especially when I needed to be alone and want to have a quiet time. If Superman has his ‘Fortress of Solitude’, this is mine. This is a special place for me.” Richard said as he stood behind Maya and hugged her from the back, his arms around her waist and his chin on this shoulder. “And you are the only one I have brought here.” Richard said softly.
Maya’s heart skipped a beat, touched. “Thank you, Ricky. I love yo very much.”
“I love you more, Maya, now and forever.” Richard said as he moved a bit so he can kiss her.
Their lips touched and they shared a gentle, loving kiss, in the place that would become more special to them.