Archive for January 10th, 2015

Windblown – Chapter 3


December 2014

“Son, good thing you are already here!” Donya Esmeralda Lim rushed to greet her son as soon as she saw him getting out of his car.

“Good afternoon, Mama!” Richard kissed his mother on the cheek. He visits his parents Sunday afternoons and stay for dinner whenever his schedule is free. This day, he arrived earlier than usual since he came from a lunch with Ryan and Ivy in Greenbelt.  Instead of going back to his place in BGC, he decided to go straight to his parents’s house in Quezon City. “Bakit, Mama, you need my help with something? Where are Joma, Doris and Sabel?”  Richard asked after their driver and two househelps.

“Sana, son. Can you go with me to S & R please, I forgot to get some things when Sabel and I went there the other day. I need those for our dinner this evening.” Donya Esmeralda asked her son. “Doris is out with Joma delivering my Christmas gifts to some friends. Sabel naman asked for a day-off. Mamaya pa babalik iyon, before dinner. I can’t wait for them. For sure, mamaya mas marami ng tao sa S & R.”

“Sure, Ma. Let’s go.” Richard said. “Si Papa baka gustong sumama sa atin.”

“Naku, your Papa is not here yet. He went out this morning to play golf pero hindi pa umuuwi. I think he is with Probo. Nakalimutan na naman akong i-inform. You know how he is. Let’s go, son. For sure being a Sunday and so near Christmas, baka hindi lang maraming tao roon, jampacked pa!”

“Can’t you just buy the things you need from another supermarket Mama? There is also a good one nearby, isn’t it? I think that shop has a lot of stuffs you don’t normally find in a regular supermarket din.” Richard suggested.

“No, no, please son, I want to go to S & R. This is the only place where I saw those stuffs. May iba pa rin akong bibilhin.” Donya Esmeralda insisted.

“Okay, Mama. It is okay with me, wherever you want to go. I just thought na baka mahirapan ka with that shop kasi parating maraming tao doon on a weekend sabi ni Ivy.”

More than an hour later, mother and son were inside the huge membership shopping store, so were tons of people doing their Christmas shopping or families just wanting to eat pizza and hotdogs at the store’s food court.

“Ricky, let’s just meet later. I will just call you when I’m done. Go around on your own, para hindi ka mainip. Saka I want to go on my own din.” Donya Esmeralda suggested while taking hold of the big pushcart that Richard got for her.

“Ma, are you sure? Eh parang ang bigat na nitong pushcart, wala pang laman.” Richard asked. He does not fancy going around the big store, but for his mother, he will do it.

“I’m sure son.” Donya Esmeralda insisted.

Donya Esmeralda forged on and disappeared among the throng of holiday shoppers. Richard, at first, just stood near the entrance playing a game on his phone. But he got tired of doing that. He thought of eating something, but seeing the long line at the food counters, he changed his mind. He decided to walk around and check the store’s merchandise.

Richard was looking at a Spalding NBA basketball when he felt a tug on his pant leg. He looked down and saw a cute little boy, tugging it, wanting to call his attention. He crouched until he was eye level with the boy. It was then that he noticed that there is something familiar with him.

“He can’t be……” He thought. But he looks like him, he thought. The little boy tugging at his pant leg looks like Maya’s son from the gondola ride! He is not completely sure, though, as his focus was on Maya and the guy beside her on the gondola at that time.

“Hello!” He greeted the little boy with a friendly smile.

“Mister, please help me, please. I can’t find my Dad!” The little boy told Richard calmly. Richard has to admire the kid’s composure and alertness. Based on what he have seen before, lost kids usually cry when they get separated from their parents.

“What happened? I’m Richard Lim, I will help you. Can you tell me your name and your Daddy’s name.” Richard asked gently.

“My name is Pocholo Macavinta, but you can call me Cho po. Iyon po ang tawag sa akin nag Mommy at Daddy ko, pati na rin nina Lolo and Lola, Tito Lino and Tita Ninang.” The little boy said, which made Richard smile. “My Daddy’s name is Jeff. Tumingin lang po ako doon sa Matchbox cars, tapos paglingon ko wala na ang Daddy ko.” He pointed to the toys at the other side of the shelf where Richard was checking the basketballs.

“Oh. Di bale Cho, I will help you look for your Daddy. For sure, hinahanap ka na noon. Kayo lang bang dalawa ang nagpunta rito?” Richard asked as he got hold of the little boy’s hand and they started walking.

Richard was thinking of positioning themselves near the exit so Jeff Macavinta can see his son when he exits. It is very difficult to go around the store and look for him as there were tons of people and there was even a traffic of pushcarts. He told Cho of his plan. The boy nodded. Then Richard thought of something.

“Cho, would you know your telephone number at home para makatawag tayo o kaya ang cellphone number ng Daddy mo.” He asked, though the chance of the little boy knowing that is pretty slim.

“Hindi po Tito Richard eh.” Cho replied.

“Okay, di bale, let’s just wait by the exit.” Richard said. “Huwag kang mag-aalala. I’m sure hindi naman aalis ang Daddy mo nang hindi ka nakikita.”

“Thank you very much po, Tito Richard. Saka baka mauna rin pong lumabas si Tita Ninang, kasama namin siya ni Daddy since my Mommy is sick.” Cho chattered on. “Magkakaroon po kasi ako ng kapatid. Malapit nang lumabas.”

Richard smiled at the kid’s chattiness. He also can’t help himself. Cho gave him the opening he needed. He just want to be sure, so he asked. “Cho, anong pangalan ng Mommy mo?”

“Cristina Rose Macavinta po!” The little boy replied.

So, it is not him I saw in Macau with Maya three months ago! Richard thought. Richard move on, he admonished himself. You promised yourself you will.

Richard took a deep breath, then after texting his mother where he would be, he and the little boy started walking towards the exit.

“Cho…..Cho….Pocholo!”  A lady was hurrying towards Richard and Pocholo. She was so concentrated on Cho, and the face of the guy holding his hand didn’t register at first.

While Richard on the other hand, lost his breath and his heart beat so fast, when he realized who came running to hug the little boy. “Maya…..” He muttered under his breath, but she didn’t hear him amid the noise at the shop. It was a good thing they were walking by the side, there was not so many push carts there.

“Cho, kanina ka pa namin hinahanap ng Daddy mo! Thank God, you are okay.” Maya said as she hugged her nephew. Jeff was very worried when he can’t find Cho. He called Maya and they decided to comb the store from one side to the other to look for him.

“I’m okay, Tita Ninang! Nagpatulong po ako kay Tito Richard.” Cho said, smiling. “Richard Lim po ang buong name niya Tita Ninang, sabi niya, di ba Tito Richard? Tapos papunta na nga po kami sa exit para doon namin kayo abangan ni Daddy. ”

The name Cho said finally registered in Maya’s brain. Richard Lim! She slowly looked up from where she was crouching, then got up and  when she is eye level to the man who helped Cho, she lost her breath, her heart galloped. Before her, gazing at her meaningfully and with a big smile on his face, for he heard Cho referred to her as Tita Ninang, is the man who created such an impression on her poor heart, that it was never the same since that night seven years ago.

“Richard…..Mr. Lim of Lim Corporation!” Maya managed to say. She was so breathless and felt there was no air going to her brain at that moment. She felt lightheaded.

“Ms. Maya Dela Rosa, how are you?” Richard said, giving Maya a lopsided smile that overworked her poor heart more. It can’t beat much faster or she will faint already!

Richard felt so overwhelmingly happy at that moment. Maya remembered him too, judging by her stunned expression. “Kumusta na ang Miss Mindoro 2007? And please call me Ricky!”

Maya was surprised and felt giddy that Richard Lim remembers her too after all these years. “Mr. Lim, errr, Ricky you still remember that! Amazing that you still remember me and that night!”

“You are very difficult to forget Maya!” Richard blurted out, then thinking that his statement may sound too forward as they just met again. “ Errrr, I mean, you missed the party after the pageant and Rebecca Bermudez said it was because of a family emergency.” He said, a bit flustered. Him, flustered! Only this girl can do that to him! “Then, I heard later,” Richard continued,  “that your grandmother died just after the pageant. My condolences, Maya. It must have been a very sad and difficult time for you.”

“It was, Ricky. I grew up with my Mamang kasi. Thank you.” Maya said, but before she can ask how did he find out about that as it was not common knowledge, Jeff arrived.

“Maya, you found Cho!” Jeff said relieved. “Cho, anak, I’m glad you are okay.” He hugged his son tight. Then looked up and noticed the tall, very god looking, chinito guy beside Maya.

“Kuya Jeff, sorry, hindi pa kita natawagan kaagad na nakita ko na si Cho. This is Richard Lim pala. Cho asked for his help when he realized he was lost. Ricky, this is my Kuya Jeff, husband ng cousin ko na si Cristina Rose at Daddy nitong si Cho.”

“Thank you, thank you, Mr. Lim for taking care of my boy.” Jeff shook Richard’s hand hard, expressing his gratitude.

“You’re welcome, Mr. Macavinta. You have a very bright and alert boy. He has presence of mind for one so young.” Richard said, smiling at the guy who he thought was Maya’s husband in Macau! Asawa pala ng pinsan niya! Kasi naman Richard Lim, jumping to conclusion ka kaagad!  But who wouldn’t, presented with that image, he asked back! “Please call me Richard. I’m glad to see Maya after all these years!”

“Call me Jeff, please. Maraming salamat ulit.” Jeff said, then got puzzled with Richard’s last statement. “You know each other from way back?” He asked.

“Iyon na nga, Kuya Jeff, kaya hindi kita natawagan kaagad. Nagkagulatan kami nitong si Ricky.” Maya said with a bright smile. “Siya iyong Chairman ng Board of Judges sa Miss Mindoro contest na sinalihan ko years ago.”

“Really, small world naman! Of all people, Richard, ikaw pa talaga ang na-approach ng anak ko.” Jeff said smiling. “Di ba seven years ago na iyon. Amazing that you still remember each other.”

“Well, that was the one and only time I was a judge at a beauty pageant. It was actually my mother who was supposed to be there, but she got sick and sent me instead. I’m glad that she did.  Maya was pretty amazing that night. She was obviously the most beautiful, the most poised, the most talented as she danced to the swan’s dying moment from Swan Lake, and most intelligent of all the candidates that night. I still remember your reply to my question, Maya.” Richard told Jeff and Maya while gazing at Maya in a way that make her heart beat faster and her face suffused with heat.

“Ricky, you still remember all those!” Maya said blushing while gazing at Richard too.

Jeff looked at his cousin-in-law and the guy who is looking at her with admiration, and suddenly, he put two and two together. Now he understood why no one managed to make Maya’s heart beat faster all these years. It must be because of this guy. He felt a strong vibe coming from the two of them. He also thinks they are close to forgetting that he and Cho are there.

The moment was interrupted by the ringing of Richard’s phone.

“Excuse me please, I think it is my mother.” Richard said as he fished his phone from his pants pocket. “Yes Mama. You are done? Okay, give me 10 minutes I will be there. See you!”

“Maya, Jeff, I need to go. I just accompanied my mother here. Apparently, she is done.” Richard said apologetically.

“Okay. Thank you again Richard.” Jeff said, shaking Richard’s hand again.

“Tito Richard, thank you po ulit.” Cho said then gave Richard a big hug.

“Don’t do that again, Cho. If you want to see something, magpaalam ka muna sa Mommy and Daddy mo. Huwag ka ring hihiwalay sa kanila sa public places. You got lucky this time.” Richard told the little boy as he ruffled his hair affectionately. He is so thankful for this little boy. He is like an angel sent by fate so he and Maya can meet again.

“Promise po, Tito Richard. I stay na with my Daddy and Mommy, also with Tita Ninang.” Cho promised.

“Ricky, thank you again for helping Cho out.” Maya said, happy to see him and she hopes that she will see him again but she was a bit shy to ask for his number. “It is great to see you again after all these years.”

“I’m glad to see you too, Maya, very much.” Richard said, giving Maya another lopsided smile that made her heart skipped several beats. “Maya, may I have your number please, so we can catch up more one of these days? If that is okay with you!”

Maya felt giddy with that. She nodded. Richard opened his iPhone and waited for her to tell him her number. After Maya gave him the number and he saved it, Richard called it.

“There, you got my number as well.” Richard said happily.

They smiled at each other, unmindful of all the people around them, especially a grinning Jeff. Sabi na nga ba! He thought.

Maya and Richard said goodbye reluctantly, with Richard promising to give Maya a call within the next couple of days.

On the way to the parking lot, Jeff was humming…Love sweet love/Ohh, love sweet love/Ohh, love sweet love/Mmh, hmm, yeah…. then looking at Maya with a teasing expression.

“Kuya Jeff! Ikaw ha.” Maya said smiling.

“Hahahaha, little sis, tell me if I’m wrong.” Jeff said, but didn’t say anything anymore.

Maya understood what he meant. She just smiled brightly. She was so happy. It is really good to be home!

Richard felt very happy too, and humming a love song while he navigated the road going back to his parents’s house.

“Parang bakit biglang sobrang saya ka, son.” Donya Esmeralda asked, puzzled. She hasn’t seen her son like this.

“Mama, someone just made me very, very happy.” He suddenly stopped the car and hugged his mother. “Thank you for dragging me to S &R, Ma.”

“Oh, okay, son. I’m glad that you are very happy.” Donya Esmeralda said, getting more puzzled by her son’s action. But she decided to let it go for a now. For sure, her son would say something more about this at the right time. She can find it out from him, anyway.

When they arrived home, Richard grabbed a beer and sat at the veranda while waiting for dinner. He got his phone and looked at Maya’s number. On impulse, he texted her.

Maya, it was really great to see you again. Have a great evening.

Maya’s phone beeped while she was helping her Ate Cris cook dinner. A big smile wreathed her face when she read the message.

It was great seeing you also, Ricky. Have a nice evening.

Simple words exchanged, but it made both of them very happy and giddy with anticipation on meeting each other again, and making up for the lost years.


Note: Hayan, super happy weekend na to all of us. 🙂  After this chapter, pwede na ako mag-BCWMH rewind marathon. 🙂  

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Windblown – Chapter 2

Breathing the same air


“Cho, do you want to take a gondola ride?” Maya asked her nephew and godchild as she toured him and his mother, her Ate Cris, and her husband Jeff at The Venetian in Macau. Cris and her family were in Macau after Hong Kong. It was Cris’s, and her husband Jeff’s treat to Pocholo for his birthday. Luckily, they came while she has some free time. When Crris told her they are coming to Macau as well, she took a much needed vacation too. Too bad her aunt and uncle can’t come this time as they are busy with their various businesses.

“Can we, Tita Ninang? Really, really!” Cho said excitedly. “Mom, Dad, can we?”

“Of course, Cho!” Cristina Rose told her son. “Pero, okay lang ba na hindi ako kasama, sweetie? Ikaw na lang, your Tita Ninang and your Daddy? Medyo nahihilo si Mommy. I will just wait for you at the restaurant over there.”

“Cris, you feel nauseous ?” Jeff asked solicitously. “If it is okay with Maya, sila na lang ang mag-gondola ride ni Cho, sasamahan na lang kita.”

“No, please Honey, just go with them. I’ll be okay. I just need to sit down and keep still.” Cris assured her husband. “I can’t just sit on a moving boat feeling like this. Di ba, you want to try to try a gondola ride and since we can’t go to Venice, this is the next best thing.” She smiled at her husband.

“Sure ka, Ate Cris, I can just take Cho? Okay lang naman na kaming dalawa!” Maya said. Jeff and her cousin told her earlier that Cho will have a brother or a sister in seven months or so. Cris found out that she is pregnant the week before they left for their trip to Hong Kong Disneyland and this Macau trip to see Maya.

“Yes, yes, I will be okay. Don’t worry.” Cris assured her cousin whom she hasn’t seen in two years, and her wonderful husband. She and Jeff got married two months after Maya left for Macau. She was already three months pregnant with Cho then. Maya was not able to make it to the wedding, but visited them the Christmas after that.

Maya and Jeff, both holding Cho’s hand walked to the place where they can buy tickets for the gondola ride down the hotel’s Grand Canal. They opted for a private gondola as a treat to Cho. Jeff and Maya put Cho between them. Soon after, they were gliding along with their very friendly gondolier, with Cho happily looking around.

“Nakakatuwa naman itong si Cho, Kuya Jeff! Hindi takot sa boat ride!” Maya remarked. “You and Ate Cris are so lucky to have this cute little boy. Ang bright bright niya for his age.”

“We are, Maya. He is a joy.” Jeff remarked. “Of course, hoping kami ni Cris na girl ang susunod naming baby, pero sa totoo lang, basta healthy and maayos na ma-i-deliver ni Cris, we are happy and blessed na.”

“That’s true, Kuya Jeff.” Maya said. “Iyon naman ang pinakaimportante sa lahat.”

“How about you, Maya? No plans yet of settling down?” Jeff asked his cousin-in-law. Maya is like a cousin to him too and they got along pretty well kahit hindi sila masyadong nagkikita. Maya on the other hand, considers Jeff an older brother. Unang kita pa lang niya sa husband ng pinsan niya, magaan na ang loob niya dito. She is also very glad that her Ate Cris found herself a wonderful and a very responsible husband.

“Hmmmm, malabo pa yata iyan sa ngayon, Kuya Jeff! Wala naman akong boyfriend!” Maya said with a smile. The truth is she hasn’t had a boyfriend yet, at age 27! But that’s hers na lang to know.

“Baka naman kasi sobrang pili ka and sobrang taas ng standard.” Jeff teased. Maya is a very beautiful girl, inside out. In fact, he already noticed several guys looking at them, at her while they glided along the man-made canal. Cris told him about Maya joining the Miss Mindoro Beauty Pageant years ago and winning.

“Kuya Jeff! No kaya! I date naman!” Maya said, grinning. “It’s just that, I can’t find pa someone that makes my heart beat faster and make me feel giddy seeing him or just thinking of him. Besides, hindi naman ako nagmamadali! ” Then, suddenly, she thought of the guy who managed to do that once in her young life.

Jeff noticed Maya’s faraway, longing look, as if remembering something from her past. Ah, so there was someone who managed to do to that to her. Jeff thought to himself. That guy must have made a very strong impression to his cousin-in-law for her to remember it until now.

“I’m sure, Maya. Matatagpuan mo rin iyon. Don’t settle for less.” Jeff assured Maya.

“Of course, Kuya Jeff. I want a love story like Mamang and Lolo Kiko!” Maya said smiling, then told him a bit about hers and Cris’s grandparents love story, just in case her cousin didn’t tell her husband about it.

While they were chatting happily, with Cho clinging to both their arms as he looked around him and pointed to them the interesting stuffs he sees, a guy was looking at them from one side of the canal. He was looking at them with a sad, pensive expression.

“I found her again and I guess it was too late!” Richard Lim sighed sadly, grimacing at the blow fate dealt him. “She is married and has a kid now. Lucky guy!” He felt like someone squeezed his heart when he managed to confirm that it was Maya Dela Rosa on the gondola, with a guy and a little boy who looks a bit like her.

Who would have thought that this is what he would see when he started to aimlessly watch the gondolas ferrying passengers along the canal while he waiting for their company lawyer, Ryan Molina and his wife Ivy, who went to the souvenir shop of the hotel. He got a bit impatient as they were taking very long, and decided to walk a little bit farther than the shop. That was when he saw her. At first, he thought that maybe it was just someone who looks like her, but as the gondola approached, he was able to confirm that it is Maya! She was chatting animatedly to the good-looking guy beside her and the little boy was clinging to both of them! She looks like the Maya etched in hs brain and who invade his thoughts from time to time. She has  just grown more beautiful and more poised since the last time he caught a glimpse of her.

Since Richard missed meeting her again four years ago at the airport in Singapore, he, sort of, believe that if they are meant to be, they will meet each other again, at some point. Stranger things have happened in this world. However, he is also a realist to believe that it may not happen at all. Besides, maybe, he will not feel this strange pull when he meets her again and get to know her better, so he just went on with his very demanding professional life, designing and developing boutique hotels and resorts all over the country and in some parts of Asia. Though in his heart, he does not believe that he will feel nothing for Maya if he sees her again. Seeing her again, here in Macau proved that. His heart still skipped a beat with a glimpse of her.

Now that he had seen that she has a family of her own already, he felt this overwhelming sadness. He could have actively looked for her the past several years. In this day and age of social media, it is not so difficult to find people you haven’t seen in years as long as they are visible online. And then what, just approach her like that, send a PM to her Facebook account or ask to be her ‘friend’ by sending a friend request, he asked himself? Likewise, thinking that what he felt years ago, the connection he thought they had when their eyes met, was just all on his part made him feel down. Maybe, it is time to move on, or try at least, he mused. She was just something beautiful from his past. For a time, she made him feel an emotion that was alien to him. She made him feel alive.

He took one more look at the gondola where she was, then turned his back to walk back to the shop and look for Ryan and Ivy. This is their last day in Macau as they will return to the Philippines the following day. They have arrived here two days ago to see if Emerald Hotels and Resorts, Lim Corporation’s subsidiary that handle all their property developments, can join in the hotel boom in this part of Macau. While the deal their potential partners were offering was enticing enough, Richard and Ryan didn’t accept it as in exchange the investors wanted the majority control.

“Richard, Brod, sorry natagalan kami.” Ryan said apologetically. “Ito kasing si Ivy, ang daming binili.” He said half-complaining, but smiling indulgently at his wife.

“Ha, sandali lang kaya ako.” Ivy said, gazing at her husband. “Let’s eat. The shopping made me hungry.” She suggested with a smile.

The three of them walked around, looked for a nice and quiet restaurant, and settled in to eat dinner. Husband and wife bantered and told Richard about some of the funniest, and most memorable antics of their children, while waiting for their food. Richard laughed at their stories. Being an only child, he misses having a big family. When he has a family of his own, he wants a big one.

“Ikaw naman kasi Brod, why don’t you settle down na! Eh di sana, may kwento ka na rin namin ni Ivy about your kids.” Ryan teased his boss, fraternity brother and his best friend. Richard have been the best man at his and Ivy’s wedding. When Richard offered him the job as Emerald’s legal counsel several years ago, he jumped at the opportunity.

“Oo nga naman, Richard.” Ivy seconded her husband. “Wala ka pa bang nakikita sa mga date mo. Ang gaganda naman nila. Saka iyong madalas mong kasama dati, mukhang mabait naman.” Ivy was referring to Linda, a model he dated for a while. He dated when the loneliness gets him, but there was always something lacking in those. He had stopped doing so for a while now.

“Kayong dalawa, ako na naman ang nakita niyo.” Richard laughed, a laugh tinged with sadness since the image of Maya with her husband and child suddenly propped up in his head.

“Babe, tigilan na nga natin si Richard.” Ryan told his wife, but added, “Brod, sino ba kasi iyon? Baka naman mahanap mo pa ulit. Kawawa naman ang mga nagiging date mo, goodbye na after several dates.”

“Hahahaha, let’s eat na lang. Mahabang usapan iyan.” Richard said, laughing. But when he thought that the two were not looking, he had a sad, faraway look, which Ryan saw.

While Richard and his friends were eating, Maya, Cristina Rose and Jeff with a sleeping Cho in his arms were on their way back to the hotel where Maya works, which is just several minutes away from where they were. Cris and her family is staying there instead of Maya’s apartment as the hotel is more convenient.

“Sayang Ate Cris, hindi ka nakasama. Enjoy na enjoy si Cho sa gondola ride. I took a lot of pictures naman for you.” Maya chatted as they walked, avoiding the throng of tourists with their camera’s clicking nonstop as they marvelled at this part of the hotel. Maya remembered the first time she was there. She felt like she she was suddenly transported someplace else since it was nighttime when she walked around and when she reached that area, it felt like daytime!

“Thank you, Maya. Next time. Malay mo naman, kapag malaki-laki na itong bago naming baby, mabalik ulit kami rito ng Kuya Jeff mo. Nandito ka pa noon siguro.” Cris said.

“Naku, Ate Cris, baka wala na. But for sure, we can always go back here, sama natin sina Tita Lulu and Tito Mario, saka sina Lino and Lindsay, family trip! Pwede one Christmas season!” Maya told her cousin. “I have been meaning to tell you and Kuya Jeff, that I’m thinking of returning to the Philippines late this year or early next year.”

“Really, Maya! That’s good news! I’m sure Mama and Papa will be glad to know that, pati na rin si Lino.” Cris said, grinning happily. Then she hugged her cousin. “Maya, I’m so happy you will be in the Philippines again. I misssed you a lot, little sis!”

“Awwww, me too, Ate Cris! I think it’s about time I return home.” Maya had been thinking about doing so, for several months now. She had been a way for so long. She felt a longing for the old country. It is time to move again. Maybe, she will get restless again but for now, she is longing for the Philippines.

“I agree with Cris, Maya. Iba pa rin ang sarili nating bansa. I also worked abroad, di ba, and even if the salary is bigger, hinahanap-hanap ko pa rin ang Pilipinas.” Jeff added.

“Eh ano pala ang plan mo pagbalik sa atin?” Cris asked.

“I submitted several job applications in hotels and resorts in the Philippines. Let’s see what will happen. I think something will turn up naman.” Maya spoke confidently. “If not, I can just develop one of the properties Mamang left behind in Mindoro. I’m sure Tita Lulu and Tito Mario will not mind naman. Noon pa nila sinasabi iyon sa akin. Di ba, I got na the money from Mom and Dad’s investment when I turned 25 two years ago. I can use that.”

“For sure, Maya, tatanggapin ka lahat ng mga inaplayan mo. In fact, baka nga over qualified ka pa, with your position and experience here. If you choose to develop naman one of the properties in Mindoro, lalo na iyong malapit sa beach sa San Nicolas, okay rin lang. Di ba, Mama and Papa told you na it is yours. It was what Mamang would have wanted. Kami naman ni Lino okay na okay na kami.”

“Thank you, Ate Cris!” Maya smiled at her cousin, happy in the thought that she is going back to the Philippines and she have several options when she returns.

They have reached the hotel and Maya said goodbye to her cousin and her family at the lobby. She promised to pick them up bright and early for their trip to the historic section of Macau the following day. On the way out, she said hello to her colleagues and staff who were on duty. She is not due back to work for another day.

Since she was not  yet sleepy and she felt restless, Maya opted to walk on the second floor of the hotel, which interconnects to the other hotels via a network of shops. She stopped at a Starbucks kiosk and bought her favorite brew, then continued walking, sipping coffee while window shopping.

While she was looking at a display of a very nice skirt, top and winter boots, her peripheral vision saw three people walking. They were talking in a combination of English and Filipino so she looked unconsciously. Her heart skipped a beat when she caught sight of the tall guy walking with another guy and a girl. He looks like Richard Lim! But before she can check again, they took a turn and disappeared from her sight.

Maya was stunned for a few seconds, heart beating so fast, indecisive on what to do next. Then as if her feet have minds of their own, she found herself going to the direction they disappeared to. However, she can’t find them anymore as the corner forked into two other directions, then several others.

“What would I say to him anyway, if it is him?” Maya asked herself. “Introduce myself and ask him if he remembers me from a long ago beauty pageant in Mindoro! Wouldn’t it sound weird? Saka, baka naman hindi siya iyon. That I just thought it is him dahil iniisip ko siya. Dami namang Chinese dito, baka kamukha lang!”

Nevertheless, that incident unsettled Maya. Coupled with the coffee she drank, which she shouldn’t have, she was unable to sleep that night. She had panda eyes when she returned to the hotel the following morning. While waiting for her cousin and her family, she looked around, hoping to catch a glimpse of the guy who looks like Richard Lim, but she didn’t find him anymore.

Maya drove her cousin to the other side of Macau where all the popular tourists sites are located – from Senado Square to the Ruins of Saint Paul, old churches and others. They spent half a day there, then returned to the hotel as her Ate Cris was not feeling well. Maya stayed in their hotel room playing with Cho, while her Kuya Jeff went out for a walk around the complex.

In that instance, Richard, Ryan and Ivy were in the process of checking out from the same hotel. While Ivy was busy doing it, Ryan inquired if Richard is okay.“Brod, I noticed na parang quiet ka since our sightseeing trip at The Venetian. May problema ba? Is something botthering you!” Ryan asked his best friend.

“Wala naman Brod, baka pagod na rin ako. We have been traveling for quite a bit for a month na.” Richard said, unable to share to Ryan, his closest friend, about Maya. He does not think he will understand. Even he, at times, does not understand this preoccupation with her.

Ryan wouldn’t be a good lawyer if he does not know how to read people at least, on a level, and he knew that there is something bothering Richard, that he was being evasive. But he respects his desire to keep it to himself. He does not want to pry, anyway. “Basta Brod, kung kailangan mo ng kausap, nandito lang ako ha. Daanin na lang natin iyan sa inuman sa paborito nating bar sa Makati.”

“Thank you, Brod.” Richard said, trying to muster a smile.

Ivy returned to them, telling them that they can now leave the hotel. They took the hotel car to the airport. Richard glanced one more time at The Venetian when they passed by it, as if saying a final goodbye to something, or to someone.

The following day, it was Maya’s turn to check out her cousin and her family from the hotel. While doing so, she chatted with some of her old colleagues and staff at the front desk. Two years after she started working there, she transferred to Operations and has been there ever since, as an assistant operations manager. She didn’t know what made her do it, but she thought of asking one of her old Filpino staff if someone named Richard Lim is in the hotel guest list. Edselyn checked the computer, and Maya’s heart was beating fast while she waited with anticipation.

“Meron po Ms. Maya, from Taguig City, Philippines, pero nag-check out na kahapon!” Edselyn said. “He stayed with us for three days.”

“Oh….” was all Maya managed to Edselyn as she felt breathless all of a sudden. So it was really him she saw! She is very positive of that now. They almost met again! She thanked Edselyn, and when she asked curiously if there is something she can do pa, she told her she only wanted to know if they had a guest with that name.

Maya was still in a bit of a shock, thinking of what could have been, when she returned to her cousin.

“Maya, okay ka lang ba?” Cris asked, noticing her pallor.

“Ha….? Oh, yes, I’m okay, Ate Cris.” Maya assured her cousin. “Halika na. Wait for me in the lobby, please. I will just get my car.”

Maya drove her cousin to the airport, distracted with the thought that she and Richard could have met again!

“Maya, thank you for everything.” Cris hugged her cousin when they were inside the airport.

“No worries, Ate Cris, Kuya Jeff, and you little Cho. I’m glad to see all of you.” Maya said with a smile.

“Paano, little sister, see you in Manila na lang soon. Thank you ha.” Jeff said with a big smile.

“Sure, Kuya Jeff. I’m sure bago lumabas itong si Cris Jr. eh I’m back there na.” Maya said, patting her cousin’s tummy. They said their final goodbyes and she went out of the airport. She was back on being on her own again.

On the way back to her apartment, Maya looked around at the place she had called home for the past four years as if starting to say goodbye. While she had a good life here, she really feels it’s about time to go back to her real home!

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