“Wow!” Both Abby and Lance exclaimed when they got inside the spacious room with a beautiful view of Taal Volcano. “Daddy, can Lance and I play with my iPad while we are resting?”
“Hindi ba kayo inaantok ni Lance? Ayaw ninyo bang mag-nap para mas may energy kayo later?” Richard asked, then when Abby and Lance both shook their heads, he gave his consent, “Okay.”
“Lance, heto o, I brought my iPad with me para tig-isa kayo ni Abby. I downloaded na rin some new apps for you. Maybe you and Abby can also exchange at some point.” Maya handed Lance her iPad, ruffled his hair.
“Yes! Thank you Ninang!” Lance hugged Maya and gave her a big kiss.
The two kids stayed in the living room of the suite, settling into the two armchairs there, while Richard and Maya went out to the balcony and admired the view. The sun was pretty intense at that time of the day, but they can see the lake and the volcano clearly. It was very relaxing seeing that wonderful scenery just outside their room.
“Coffee, sweetheart? Hindi tayo nakapagkape sa ibaba kanina! I thought also na mas okay dito, tahimik and we have the view to ourselves pa.” Richard said. Maya nodded, so he went inside the room and ordered coffee and dessert for both of them, and orange juice for the kids. He returned to the balcony. From the door, he admired Maya’s beautiful silhouette, looking at her with all the love he was feeling for this wonderful woman.
“Nice view and place, di ba?” Maya remarked, sensing Richard behind her. She just knew that he was there. She knew for certain when two arms engulfed her in a sweet hug and kisses were planted on her bare shoulder. She turned and smiled at him sweetly and lovingly. “We didn’t go here when my law classmates and I went to Tagaytay several months ago. This place is on the expensive side for law grads who have not yet pass the bar, and still jobless!”
“Mama and Papa used to take Grace and I to Tagaytay when we were kids, and we used to stay here, in the old Taal Vista Lodge. Hindi pa ganito ang hitsura noon. Pero that viewing deck outside, medyo ganyan na rin iyan noon. Na-spruce up lang.” Richard said pointing to the viewing deck which offers the best view of the lake and the volcano along the Tagaytay ridge.
“Iyung Mama and Papa mo, you mentioned to Mrs. Melendrez that they are coming back here after ten years? That’s good news!” Maya remarked, upon hearing Richard mentioned his parents. She had been meaning to ask him about them when she heard him mentioned them to Mrs. Norma Melendrez earlier.
Before Richard could reply, their orders arrived. Richard went to answer the door. He asked the hotel staff to place their coffee and dessert on the coffee table in the living room, and the kids drinks on the small dining table. Maya went back inside, opened the curtain so they can still look at the beautiful view outside while drinking their coffee and eating their pasties in the cool room. She and Richard shared the sofa. The kids were very much engrossed in their games. The two of them have also moved to the bedroom and got comfortable on the big bed with the TV on.
“Lance, Abby, I ordered juice for you. Nandito sa table sa dining room.” Richard informed them, standing at the doorway.
His daughter looked up, thanked him sweetly, and told him that they will just drink it later. Lance also thanked him, and said he will just drink the juice when he and Abby get thirsty. Richard returned to the living room.
“Going back to Mama and Papa,” Richard started as he sat down again. “Yes Mama said they are planning to go home. She said about time na that they do. She called up this morning para kumustahin iyong paglipat namin. Siya nga ang gumising sa akin. Nalito sa oras! She and Papa are in San Francisco at the moment. And since she called, I also told her about us. I have been meaning to call her to tell her, and Papa too, that I have found you, and that we are in a relationship now.”
“Really, you told her? What did she say? Anong reaction ng Mama mo?” Maya asked, then suddenly took a big sip of her coffee, nervously waiting for the answer to her questions.
“Well, of course, I did. I was very happy to tell her, sweetheart! She is very happy for us, so don’t fret.” Richard said, smiling, then he put his hand over Maya’s. “And she said she is looking forward to meeting you.” Hopefully as my fiancee, Richard thought to himself, smiling secretly at the thought of his ring on Maya’s finger, finally, hopefully very, very soon!
“How about your Papa?” Maya asked, remembering that Don Roberto seemed to be against a relationship between her and his son years ago. She sensed in the one and only time she met him, and judging by what Richard told her, he seemed to have told him specifically not to tell her that they were going away.
“I was not able to talk to Papa as he went outside with my uncle. But Mama said it will be okay with him too. Wala na naman siyang issues na, sweetheart. I did what he told me to do. I finished school and took over the management of the business, built my own company too in the process. I will also talk to him din. Wala na rin namang time kasi kaninang umaga. Balak kong tawagan siya pagbalik natin sa Maynila.” Richard said. “Besides, sweetheart, whatever my father will say, it will not change my feelings for you and I will be by your side no matter what. I think if what happened did not happen and the circumstances were different, kung tayo ang nagkatuluyan at that time, I would have fought for you. And I’m pretty sure, my father will relent in the end. Hindi ako bibitiw sa iyo, sweetheart. I love you very much, you know, and I would fight for that love.”
“Oh, sweetheart! Thank you very much. I love you very much too.” Maya hugged her boyfriend, overwhelmed by his declaration. “But I want your father to be happy for us too. I know it is important to you. Bayaan mo, if he has objections pa, the two of us will convince him otherwise, walang sukuan.” Maya vowed.
The two of them shared a loving smile, then they kissed. However, they stopped reluctantly after several long seconds as the kids might see them, or get out of the room suddenly. They did actually, after several minutes. They told Richard and Maya that they would rather be with them in the living room. Lance and Abby sat on the floor in front of the sofa and continued playing there after downing their glasses of orange juice.
Richard and Maya were content to watch the kids playing, marveling at their abilities to manipulate and play the apps on their iPads without assistance from the adults, while they enjoyed their coffee time and private moment.
“Ricky, I’m planning pala to go home to Mindoro next weekend. I remembered last night na holiday pala dito sa city natin! Nakalimutan ko na, actually. Makakasama ka ba?” Maya asked all of a sudden, suddenly remembering that she was going to tell this to Richard today. Nawala na sa isip niya ang holiday with all the wonderful things that had happened.
“Really, holiday next Friday! That’s great!” Richard said, happy to hear this. “Of course, sweetheart. I will. Let me arrange everything, okay.” Before Maya could react, he was on the phone with Liza.
“Hello Liza, sorry to bother you on a Sunday, but could you please book a flight for Maya and I for next Friday, returning on Sunday afternoon.” Richard said. “Yes, the earliest flight on Friday, to San Nicolas, Mindoro. Sa Time Airways na lang. Please call our contact there.”
“Okay po, Sir.” Liza replied. She was surprised to hear from her boss on a Sunday and his request is on the odd side. For Maya and him, ha! Hmmm, mukhang may napakagandang nangyari over the weekend na hindi niya pa alam. She is so looking forward to seeing Attorney Maya on Tuesday!
“Thanks a lot Liza.” Richard said, and ended the phone call.
“Sweetheart, di ka naman masyadong excited sa trip natin ha! Flash Gordon talaga ang peg mo.” Maya said smiling. “Naku, feeling ko lang I’m in for a grilling from Liza on Tuesday.”
“Slight lang, sweetheart.” Richard said, putting his arms around Maya. “I’m just happy, finally, we can go to Mindoro. Don’t mind Liza. Besides, she is bound to know that we are in a relationship. Feeling ko naman, alam na niya na doon tayo papunta noon pa man. For her, I may have acted out of character din since I hired her. Saka siya ang nag-book ng lunch and dinners natin.”
“Tama ka diyan, sweetheart. She is like a reporter kung magtanong ha. But I don’t mind. I don’t think she is making tsismis lang. I like her.” Maya said. “So, Friday ng umaga, aalis tayo? I will call Nanay and tell her pagbalik natin ng Maynila. Matutuwa iyon.”
“I’m really looking forward to meeting her and finally seeing where you grew up. What’s your favorite part of San Nicolas? I head maraming magagandang tourist spots sa inyo.”
“Iyong most romantic place!” Maya replied quickly, then got dreamy on Richard. “It’s a small park beside a lake, may malaking punong mangga sa may pampang, very nice and peaceful, and most romantic kasi doon nag-propose ang Tatay ko sa Nanay ko. Madalas kami doon ni Doris noong mga teenager pa kami, bago kami nag-Manila. Nandoon pa sa punong mangga ang mga pangalan nina Tatay at Nanay na naka-enclose sa heart na may pana.”
“Talaga, sweetheart! Can you bring me there?” Richard asked, a most beautiful plan forming in his head, and he needs Liza’s help to execute it, also maybe, Doris too, if she is not too busy.
“Sure, sweetheart. I would love to. Iyon yata ang favorite spot ko.” Maya looked up at Richard and gave him a beautiful smile.
“I’m looking forward to seeing that.” Richard grinned, happy at this development.
“Ricky, nagri-ring yata ang phone mo.” Maya suddenly said, hearing the distinct ring tone that Richard uses.
“Oh, I didn’t notice!” Richard said, looking at his phone. “Unknown number, baka si Grace ito! Nalaman na kay Mama ang tungkol sa atin. Sandali lang sweetheart.”
Richard stood up near the balcony as he answered his phone. Maya sat on the floor with the kids and asked them to show her the games they were playing.
“Hello Ricky, your Mama told me the news!” Don Roberto Lim told Richard after Richard picked up the call and had said a tentative hello to whoever was on the other line.
“Pa, ikaw pala ito! I thought si Grace!” Richard was surprised to hear from his father promptly. “I called up Mama earlier. She said you were outside the house with Tito Carlos.”
Maya heard that it was Don Roberto on the phone. Her heart beat faster. She is hoping that the outcome of the phone call is a positive one, especially for Richard.
“Yes, yes, we grilled some meat kasi. Toka namin ng tito mo. Kanina pa sana ako tatawag sa iyo, pero kumain muna kami and then tumawag iyong isa kong business partner after that.” Don Roberto told his son. “Your mama mentioned that you have a girlfriend there? Si Maya, iyong neighbor natin dati sa Mirasol Street, is that correct.”
“Yes Papa, she is now my girlfriend. She is the one and only woman I love. Hindi ko naman siya talaga nakalimutan kahit after ten years. Alex and I we understood each other, but it was not the kind of love I have with Maya. It is Maya I love very much. I’m lucky to have found her again and have this second chance with her. I’m sure you knew how I feel about her ten years ago.”
“Yes I did, I do, Ricky, son, and I’m happy for you and Maya. Really I am. Iyon ang dahilan kung bakit ako tumawag. Kasi sabi ng Mama mo you were worried na baka iba ang maging dating sa akin, that I may oppose your relationship.” Don Roberto paused, then plunged on. “I would have wanted to say this in person to you, but since it not possible at the moment, I would like to tell you son na all I want is for you to be happy after all that you have been through. I’m glad that you have found Maya again. I knew, yes, that you felt differently for her, and I’m sorry son, for being hard on you ten years ago. I was a different man then. After the biggest crisis in our family, yes, it was difficult to trust people again, but I also realized the most important thing, it is our family and what makes us – you, your Mama, and Grace happy. Forgive me son? And son, hindi mo na rin naman kailangan ang approval ko, but I would like to give it.”
“P-pa!” Richard gulped, collecting his thoughts, surprised at what his father said. They haven’t had a father and son talk like this the past ten years. He was not expecting this at all. It was not also in his father’s character. “Thank you, Papa. Thank you! What happened had happened. Wala na naman tayong magagawa roon. The important thing is Maya and I found each other again and we have this chance. Yes, I do wish you to be happy for us, pero hindi naman kita pipilitin if ever. No matter what happens, I love you and Mama, and Grace too.”
“Thank you, son, thank you.” Don Roberto said, his voice breaking a bit. “I hope your Mama and I can get to meet Maya soon, son. She must be a very wonderful lady. I want to get to know better ang magiging manugang ko. Kailan ba ang kasal?”
“Pa, hindi pa nga ako nakakapag-propose eh. Next weekend I will, hopefully.” Richard said in a whisper, taking care that Maya did not hear what he was saying to his father. He checked and saw her engrossed with what she was doing, while Abby and Lance looked on. As if sensing his gaze, she looked up and gave him a loving smile. He returned it and mouthed ‘I love you’ to her. She made a flying kiss and sent it to him, mouthing, ‘I love you too’.
“That’s great! Good luck, son! I’m very, very happy for you and Maya.” Don Roberto said. “Your mama said nasa Tagaytay kayo kasama ng mga bata. Please say hello from me na lang at baka mamamasyal pa kayo. Please tell my apo that I love her and tell Maya that I am looking forward to meeting her formally as your girlfriend or fiancee.”
“I will, Pa. Thank you for this call. You don’t know how happy you have made me.” Richard said emotionally.
“Me too, son. O sige, I have to go na. Enjoy your excursion and see you soon.” Don Roberto said.
Richard pocketed his phone with a big smile. He went down to where Maya was, and gave her a big, happy hug.
“What is it, sweetheart. Is everything okay? Ano sabi ng Papa mo?” Maya said, sensing that the outcome is good as Richard looks very, very happy!
“Sweetheart, halika sa balcony, I will tell you about it.” Richard stood up and extended his hand to Maya. “Kids, dito muna kayo ha. Get ready na rin kasi we will be leaving for the amusement park in a while.”
When they reached the balcony, Richard put his arms around Maya, while he told her about his meaningful and surprising conversation with his father.
“Sweetheart, I’m so happy everything is okay now!!!” Maya said happily, hugging Richard tight, and giving him a quick kiss on the lips after he had finished telling her the gist of the conversation and how his father is looking forward to meeting her too.
“He said, he is looking forward to finally meeting his future daughter-in-law.” Richard finished, making Maya’s heart skipped a beat. “Ganoon din ang sabi ni Mama sa akin, you know.”
“Daughter-in-law talaga, sweetheart!” Maya smiled, then an imp seemed to have possessed her, she asked, “Bakit, sweetheart, are you planning to propose to me?”
“Hahahaha, sweetheart, ikaw ha hinuhuli mo ako. Secret!” Richard said, then he teased back. “Kapag ba nag-propose ako, sasagutin mo ako ng matunog na YES! Make sure that you do, sweetheart!”
“Hmmmm, pag-iisipan ko,” Maya bantered back. “Pag-iisipan ko kung husband material ka talaga, Mr. Richard Lim.”
“Ha, sweetheart, wala ka na yatang makikitang katulad ko, mabait, guwapo at mahal na mahal na mahal ka. Nag-iisa lang kaya ako sa mundo.” Richard said, grinning at Maya.
“Wow, Mr. Lim, parang babagyo rito ngayon sa Tagaytay! Biglang lumakas ang hangin ah! Ikaw talaga, sweetheart! But siyempre, nag-iisa ka lang talaga.” Maya affectionately pinched Richard’s cheek. “Halika na nga, dalhin na natin ang mga bata sa amusement park.”
Richard laughed and slung his right arm over Maya’s shoulders as they went inside the room.
“O kids, close your iPads! Aalis na tayo. Pupunta na tayo sa amusement park. ” Maya told Abby and Lance who by then were lying on the floor with their iPads up.
“Yehey!!!” Both Abby and Lance shouted as they hastily ended the games thy were engrossed with. They got ready in speed time.
Maya, Richard and the kids were on their way to the lobby of the hotel several minutes after Richard called Joma and told him that they will just meet him, Sabel and Lea at the lobby. Joma drove everyone to the nearby Sky Ranch where the amusement park is, even if it was just a short distance from the hotel.
The kids were overwhelmed, upon entering the park grounds, when they saw the various rides they can take. Maya asked them to agree on what they want to ride first. The kids wanted to try the Wonder Flight first, then followed by the Nessie Coaster, Express Train, Red Baron and then the Carousel. The kids wanted to ride the Sky Eye, the giant Ferris Whee,l with Maya and Richard, and all of them agreed that it is best to do that when the sun is about to set.
Sabel and Lea accompanied the kids to the rides, while Richard and Maya watched them from the sidelines, and took tons of pictures, happy to see the kids, and Sabel and Lea too, screaming happily, especially while at the Nessie Coaster. Joma on the other hand, just walked around the place, watching those who were brave enough to try the zipline along the Tagaytay ridge. Lance and Abby loved the Nessie Coaster so much that they rode it several times.
They were in the line for the Sky Eye when the sun was about to set. However, when the four of them were about to board their gondola, Abby and Lance told Maya and Richard that they didn’t want to go up as it looks scary up there! There was no time to convince them to ride as they didn’t want to hold the line. Sabel and Lea offered to take the kids to the Express Train, and back to the Nessie Coaster again. Richard and Maya ended up riding the gondola, just the two of them.
“Sweetheart, sure ka bang okay ito? I didn’t try this one when we were here last!” Maya asked, suddenly getting nervous as the gondola slowly ascended. “Medyo scared ako ng kaunti sa glass elevators and Ferris Wheels!” She admitted to Richard, smiling nervously. “Ayaw ko rin lang ipahalata sa mga bata kanina kasi baka matakot sumakay. Hayun, natakot nga sila! Baka nakakalula ng husto sa taas. Masukahan pa kita!”
Richard took hold of her clammy hands. “Don’t worry, sweetheart, I’m here. Saka mabagal lang naman ang ascend nitong Ferris Wheel. I think this is similar to what I have tried once with Alexandra in Nanchang. Nandito lang ako. Kapit ka lang sa akin.” Richard assured Maya.
“O-okay, if you say so.” Maya said, taking a deep breath.
Richard put his arms around Maya, and distracted her by pointing various landmarks to her as they make their slow ascend. Before Maya knew it, they were at the highest point and the view was incredible!
“Wow!” She exclaimed as she looked around, forgetting her fear of heights. “Sweetheart, sobrang ganda naman dito sa itaas! Tara picture tayo.” Maya took out her phone and took a photo of her and Richard. “Isa pa, sweetheart!” She told Richard and as she pressed the button, Richard suddenly gave her a kiss on the cheek and that was what she captured on camera.
“Send me copies of those ha, I will put them my computer, and my table!” Richard said grinning, looking at the pictures, with Maya gigling, and his lips planted on her cheek at the second photo, and both of them mugging it for the camera on the first one, with big happy smiles on their faces!
“Sweetheart, pati iyong second? Paano kapag nasa meeting ka and you will use your laptop for a presentation. Parang nakakahiya.” Maya said.
“Nope, I’m not ashamed! I’m proud to tell the world that you are my girlfriend.” Richard told her lovingly.
“Awww, sweetheart, you are the best boyfriend talaga!” Maya said, touched. She cupped Richard’s face and as the Ferris Wheel made its slow descend, they shared a long kiss.
“I love you, Mr. Lim!” Maya whispered lovingly when they broke apart.
“I love you more, Attorney Dela Rosa!” Richard replied, caressing Maya’s face.
The kids where waiting when they got out of the Sky Eye.
“Daddy, Daddy, Tita Maya! Was it fun?” Abby asked.
“Yes, it was sweetie! Not scary at all.” Richard replied. “Di ba, Maya, it was super fun?
“Yes, it was Abby, Lance. Do you want to try now? Don’t be scared. I’ll tell you what, I must admit noong una rin, scared si Tita Maya, pero noong paakyat na, I was not anymore. Besides, we can go up with you again. Sama-sama tayo sa isang gondola.” Maya said. “Saka, it is not fast, mabagal lang siya na Ferris Wheel. See, o.” She pointed out, very much wanting them to conquer their fear, but they do get really scared, they will not insist, baka mas lalong ma-trauma ang mga bata.
The kids nodded and they fell in line for the ride again. The kids sat on Richard’s and Maya’s lap. Like Richard did earlier, they distracted the kids by pointing various landmarks. When they reached the top, the kids forgot whatever misgivings they had earlier for the ride, and enjoyed it very much. They even shouted ‘Whee’ during the slow descend.
They walked around the park after that ride, eating french fries and just that once, cotton candies for the kids. Richard and Maya wanted them to enjoy the whole park experience!
When it got dark, they returned to the hotel, had dinner there, checked out of the room, and prepared for their trip back. The kids looked tired and sleepy by then. Lea sat with Lance, and even before they have left for Tagaytay, he was fast asleep. Abby was the same, on Maya’s lap.
Maya and Richard shared a look, and mouthed ‘I love you’ to each other, as they journeyed home, both feeling very happy at the outcome of their first outing. The first of many, many more to come, Richard thought. He smiled as he settled into his seat, He has a proposal to plan, and execute!