Archive for November, 2015
It all started over coffee, one afternoon. I told one of my best friends that one day, I would like to go to Negros Occidental and see for myself the beautiful ancestral houses there. I told her that, in particular, Silay City is on my bucket list of places that I would like to see in my lifetime. Since I have been to Vigan three years before, Silay is my next goal.
She sipped her coffee, smiled at me and then she said, “Tara!” I looked at her, quite surprised as normally, being a mom like me, she needed to arrange things at home before we can go somewhere, even for our ‘coffee and movie dates’. I asked her again to be doubly sure that she would like to go with me and that we will do it now, instead of in the future. She said yes! And so we planned our trip, the first out-of-town one we took together.
I got in touch with one of my old friends who is now based in Negros Occidental, as well as a former colleague who is from Bacolod City. My friend gave me a list of places I can check out when I asked him for a recommendation on accommodations. My friend and I would like to stay within our budget, so a simple, clean one will suffice. We only need the place for sleeping and to park our things. However, I have another requirement – that it should have a TV as I don’t like to miss an episode of On the Wings of Love, even while on vacation!
He also suggested we base ourselves in Bacolod as the places I want to see are not that far from the city. That way, he said, we can travel around, and at the same time explore Bacolod. His idea is actually brilliant and it saved us from packing and unpacking and moving from one place to another. That way, we also got to explore more places, like he said. I chose the cheapest on his list, if I remember correctly, and the most accessible from Bacolod’s main street. I also read the reviews, looked at photos online, and the place seemed okay.
We took the first flight out of Manila via Philippine Airlines towards the end of September as it was cheaper than the other schedules. By taking that flight, my friend and I had our first ‘Everyday I Love You’ moment, as Enrique Gil and Liza Soberano were on the same flight! We wondered if they have a show in Bacolod since it was around the start of the Masskara Festival season. Our question on where they were going was answered two days after, when we made it to Silay. We saw Enrique getting out of the pick-up they used in the movie near the church there! He and Liza were in the area for the location shoot of their movie!
We landed at the Bacolod-Silay International Airport more than an hour after we left Manila. I was told by the pension house where we will be staying that there are shuttles from the airport going to hotels and inns in Bacolod at Php 150 per person. However, my friend and I opted to take a taxi as it would just cost Php 100 extra each on our part. We have one luggage each, plus our carry-on bags. The taxi costs Php 500. The guys manning the taxi line were very nice and as promised, and after passing through a bit of only sugarcane fields and not much houses, we arrived in Bacolod, and at Pleasant Travellers Pension House after 30 minutes or less, I think.
The check in at the pension house is at 1PM so we had to wait. We were unable to check-in early as our room was not yet available. The staff showed us to the area where we can rest and wait. We left our things there to eat breakfast. First, we checked their canteen, but the food there didn’t appeal much to our stomachs at that time. We decided to venture out to Lacson Street, Bacolod’s main street, even if was raining a bit. Luckily, a taxi dropped off some people at the pension house when we were about to brave the drizzle. The first place we checked out, base on my Lonely Planet guide-book and my map, was undergoing renovations, so we walked a bit more, and found this very nice coffee shop at the L’ Fisher Hotel complex. We thought it would be on the expensive side, it being in a hotel complex, but it’s not. They offer nice and very filling breakfast meals, breads and mouth-watering cakes and pastries, and nice coffee too!
We went back to the pension house after breakfast and waited until we managed to check in past 12nn.
Our room is at the second floor, at the back part of the inn. It was okay, big enough for my friend and me, with two single beds, a bedside table, a closet, a dresser, a bathroom with hot and cold shower, and of course a TV! The place is clean and cost Php 780 per night (the one without a TV is around Php 200 cheaper). The blankets were thin (those white ones, and it got very cold at night, even if we adjusted the air conditioning). We requested for extra blankets (and pillows since there was only one each) at an extra, but minimal cost. I also wore socks to bed. Problem solved!
Bacolod’s streets are laid out in a grid form, along Lacson Street, so it is easier to find your way around. Our inn is at 13th street, parallel to Lacson. We usually just walk to Lacson and travel from there. All jeepneys and taxis pass through this street. My Bacolod colleague told me that Lacson is also their national highway. Indeed, you can access the North Terminal going to say, Talisay, Silay, through Lacson.
In between traveling to Silay and Talisay, we managed to explore quite a number of places Bacolod in the four and half days we have stayed there. Here are some of the activities we did, and you can do, while in the City of Smiles:
Food trip/coffee time moments along Lacson Street. Aside from the usual chains of restaurants you can find in Metro Manila and other urban centers, there are quite a number of local restaurants, and cafes along this busy main street. Here are some of the places we have been to:
- Ann Co Cakes
4. C’s at L’ Fisher Hotel
5. Starbucks (for the Bacolod mug)!
• Walk around Negros Occidental Capitol Park and Lagoon!
• Visit the Negros Museum.
• Have another coffee time at the Negros Museum Cafe.
• Explore Downtown Bacolod!
• Dine at Aida’s Chicken at Manokan Country
• Shop for souvenirs and pasalubong at the Negros Showroom along Lacson Street. The place has a lot of beautiful and very nice local products. Aside from these two, I also bought a beautiful abaca bangles which is now a favorite accessory!
• Go to Panaad Park and Sports Complex. Our Negros Museum guide told us that a real train that was used in the transporting sugar canes in the old days can be found in this place, so off we go, especially after we decided not to go to Victorias Milling on this trip. I was also curious about this place as I remember that a Philippine Azkals game was played at the Panaad Stadium. Panaad is far, if we will measure the distance from where we have been, which was the Negros Museum.
• Mall fix at The District. Getting out of Panaad commuting became a bit of a challenge as we were not familiar with the jeepney routes, and the area itself, anymore. Not much taxis either in that area. Luckily, we found this very nice taxi driver after a while. We asked him to take us to The District in the neighboring Talisay for our mall fix. He was also the one who took us back to the airport the following day for Php 500. We ate lunch there, had coffee, and then just went around.
• The Art District in Mandalagan. We managed to reach it after getting lost. We missed the stop to Mandalagan. There was not much activity in the area when we went there in the afternoon. Maybe, it is best to go there in the evening as I noticed there are several places where you can sit out and drink. After braving a dark stairway, we found the Gallery Orange and the current exhibit there.
Next, and that is after I have written the update to my fan fiction, my trips to Talisay and Silay! 🙂
Note: Sorry, this one is very long post. I put more information and photos, more than I would normally do, (including rates, prices of stuffs, fees, and also some links for more information) for those of you who would like to go there as well, and also for people who will end up in this blog, looking for information, like I do, before going to a place. I hope you will find this post useful!
Lorraine Tan, ‘Lori’ to acquaintances and fans, looked behind her when she heard someone called her name, her real name, from that direction. Only family and very close friends call her ‘Lorraine’. She was in a popular bar in Bonifacio Global City. She decided to go out, even if she has an early schedule the following day as Ricky Lim was driving her off the wall with his inability to see reason. She felt like she was going insane. Ignoring her text messages and her calls, how could he, really, she fumed. The last straw was her unsuccessful attempt again that morning. She hurled her phone across her room when she failed again, for the nth time, to reach him.
Lorraine had been in that bar for over two hours. She greeted people who said hello, politely, and generally kept to herself. Her inner circle of friends were in Europe. She was supposed to go with them but opted not to, after her latest and most serious quarrel with Ricky. He broke up with her again and told her that they are really over this time. But as it had happened in the fast, Lorraine was not that worried in the beginning. But after several days, she got really, really worried. She needed to be back in his good graces. Her parents will kill her if she fails to fix this. She promised herself she will really shape up if Ricky gives this one last chance! But there is a part of her that says she is too late this time and if she is a cat with nine lives, she had used all of hers when it comes to Ricardo Lim III.
She had been trying to reach her fiance, well ex-fiance, if it is up to him, but he had been mulishly stubborn on not taking her calls and replying to her text messages the past week. She tried to see him at his office, but his dragon of a secretary refused to let her inside Ricky’s office, saying that he was in a meeting. She refused to budge even if she threaten her that she will let Ricky’s father know about her attitude. She tried then to go to his condo unit, but the guards apparently have instructions not to let her in the building. She presumed that Ricky had also changed the security code to his door. Several days ago, he disappeared on her. Her secretary told her he was out-of-town and she does not know, or most probably, was just not telling her, where he is.
“Oh hello there, Miguel!” Lorraine smiled a bit drunkenly, seeing that it was one Ricky’s best friends who called her name. She could use the company. Maybe, he also know where Ricky is. She stood up and swaying a bit, gave him a beso. “How are you? I haven’t seen you in a while. The last time yata was when Ricky and I had dinner with the girl you were dating. What’s her name, Pamela Razon, the beauty queen!”
“I’m okay, Lorraine, and that was months ago. I don’t date Pam anymore. Where’s Ricky? So, hindi na pala kayo tutuloy sa beach house namin? Kailan kayo bumalik from Ilocos? May nangyari ba?” Miguel asked, puzzled at seeing Lorraine here, but at the same time he felt relieved as he was unable to reach Ricky after their initial chat that morning. It never occurred to him that Ricky was not with Lorraine and that the two have broken up. “Tinatawagan ko siya kanina pa, several times na, to let him know na may problema doon beach house na hinihiram niya, pero naka-off iyong phone niya. Normally kasi hindi naman nagpapatay ng phone iyon. I thought kasi na baka kasi ma-inconvenience kayo. Sasabihin ko sana na i-postpone muna ng ilang araw iyong trip hanggang maayos iyong kuryente sa place namin.”
“Beach house? Ilocos? So, that’s where he is!” Lorraine smiled triumphantly. Gotcha, Ricky Lim! She can’t believe that she finally got lucky after days of frustration after frustration!
“Oh, you mean, hindi ka kasama ni Ricky sa Ilocos…? I thought…..?” Miguel then realized his faux pas, his gigantic faux pas! He stopped before he can do more damage. OMG, Ricky will kill me, he thought, what did I do! He wanted to blame the alcohol in his system for not thinking straight. But he only had two shots of vodka, so far. The friend he was out drinking left a while ago due to a family emergency, and that was when he looked around the crowded and noisy bar, and saw Lorraine. He thought Ricky was with her.
Miguel never thought that Ricky was not with Lorraine. Come to think of it, on hindsight, Ricky was a bit evasive this morning when he asked after Lorraine. Pero sino ang kasama niya sa Ilocos? Lorraine and Ricky have been together for as long as he could remember. They were already a couple when he became friends with Ricky in college. The two of them have spats and have broken up several times but they always get back together. They are even getting married next year. Their families are all for it. Ricky even asked him to be his best man. He had reservations about Lorraine. He thinks she is a spoiled brat and he heard rumors about her, but if she is what will make Ricky happy, then so be it.
“No! Is he with someone else? Who? Did you know where he disappeared to?” Lorraine asked, getting red in the face, feeling the effects of the several glasses of martini that she had indulged in, while cursing her ex-fiance in her head. “Saang parte ng Ilocos nandoon ngayon si Ricky?”
“Errrr…..” Miguel managed to say, trying to extricate himself out of the situation he got himself into.
“Come on, Miguel, you already mentioned where he is. You might as well, tell me where exactly he is now, saang parte ng Ilocos. Please. I need to get in touch with him.” Lorraine pleaded beautifully, using her charms on Ricky’s friend. “It was my fault, it was my fault, I need to fix this thing between us.” She said, slurring a bit, then a bit hysterically, she muttered, “How can he ignore me like this. How could he broke up with me. Hindi ako papayag. Ikakasal kami next year. Matutuloy ang kasal namin!”
Miguel realized then how drunk Lorraine was, and that she and Ricky are having a major problem in their relationship. He put two and two together. Ricky broke up with her and ended their engagement! Miguel knows that it is something that Ricky will do lightly, considering all the things that are at stake. He also thought that Ricky loves Lorraine, but apparently, he does not anymore. For sure, may very compelling reason ang kaibigan niya in finally breaking up with his fiancée of several months, and girlfriend of so many years.
“Lorraine, come, I will take you home, please. Marami ka na yatang nainom!” Miguel put his hand solicitously on Lorraine’s arm, guiding her gently towards the direction of the door of the bar. He had a suspicion that she has more than alcohol in her system, but he is not completely sure.
“No…!” Lorraine told him, refusing to budge, her voice rising and the other bar patrons were starting to look at her and the tall, mestizo guy beside her. They know who she is, as she is a theater actress and had just finished a big musical production recently. She had also been on the cover of several magazines before as she dabbles in commercial and fashion modeling from time to time. “If you don’t tell me, I will cause a scene in this place.”
“Lorraine, please, control yourself. Do you want to end up on social media and in the papers, or in a viral video. You are not exactly unknown. Do you want to be a fodder for online bashing and everyone having an opinion of your actions as if they know you for them to judge your action that they will see for several seconds or a minute or two?” Miguel tried to explain to her gently the repercussions, then he played his ace cards. “Do you think Ricky will like it? You know how his family shuns publicity! How about your parents?” While he does not know the Tans personally, he had heard that they are rigid people and expected too much from their only daughter. They are perfectionists. In the small circle they move in, you really will hear a lot of things.
Through the haze of alcohol, and yes, a bit of recreational drug in her system, Lorraine tried to control herself. “Miguel, please, I just want to know where he is, so I can fix the mistake I made.” She pleaded, playing the pity card.
Ricky, forgive me, he thought. He took a deep breath. “Okay, I will tell you what I know, but calm down please, and promise me that after what I will tell you, you will allow me to take you home, and that you will wait until Ricky’s return from Ilocos to iron things out. I’m sure makakausap mo na rin siya ng maayos pagbalik niya. Kung ano man ang naging dahilan ng away ninyo, for sure naman, mas malinaw na ang isip niya pagbalik niya ng Manila. Is that okay?”
Lorraine nodded. She would have agreed to anything, just to be able to find out where Ricky is.
“Now, please sit down, and let me order coffee for the two of us.” Miguel signalled to the waiter and guided Lorraine back to her seat. He sat across her.
Miguel waited after the waiter had delivered the coffee that he ordered for him and Lorraine before speaking again. He also gestured for Lorraine to drink the coffee while he tells her what he knows. He also decided that he will gloss over some of the details for everyone’s peace, especially Ricky’s and the girl he was with in Ilocos.
“The truth is, at the moment, I don’t know really where Ricky is, except that he is in Ilocos. Norte or Sur, I don’t know, really!” He said, deciding not to mention that Ricky was with a girl, and when would Ricky be at his family’s beach house. He also decided not to mention the exact location of his family’s beach house. As far as he could remember, Lorraine does not know where it is. Knowing that Ricky is with another girl might send Lorraine to the deep end. Looking closely at her, he is now sure that she had taken some kind of recreational drugs, and with the alcohol she had down already, it could be a dangerous combination. “How long he had been there, I don’t know. Kanina lang niya ako tinawagan kasi he wanted to borrow my family’s beach house nga in Ilocos, at some point.”
“Oh, and why did you assume that I was with him? May kasama ba siya?” Lorraine asked, remembering suddenly that Miguel assumed that she was with Ricky! “May ipinalit na ba siya sa akin?”
“I just assumed that you were with him, Lorraine kasi di ba, engaged couple na nga kayo.” He countered evasively. “Look this is the first time in a long time that Ricky took a vacation. I also know that you have been asking him to go on vacation with you. I was happy nga to know that you finally managed to talk him into taking one. Iyon pala, you two had a big fight kaya siya biglang nagbakasyon.”
It didn’t escape Lorraine that Miguel was being evasive on whether Ricky is alone or not. He didn’t really answer her question. But she decided not to say anything about it anymore, a plan is forming in her head. Madali namang mag-gather ng information. She now had an inkling on where Ricky went. One phone call and she can find out for sure. She does not even have to ask Miguel the exact location of his family’s beach house. Baka rin sabihin niya kay Ricky na nagtatanong siya. She wanted to surprise Ricky.
“Yes, we did. Pero, you know naman that it has happened in the past. I’m sure magkakaayos rin kami, lalo pa at ikakasal na kami.” Lorraine said. “But, you are right, I’ll wait na lang when he returns. Maybe we need this space.”
Miguel nodded. He felt a bit guilty about not telling her everything. But his loyalty is with Ricky, kung hindi nga lang siya naipit, hindi siya aamin kay Lorraine. Bakit ba naman kasi hindi man lang siya nag-isip kanina bago tinanong si Lorraine! Besides, it is Ricky’s life and he does not want to interfere in his personal life. He had known Ricky a long time and he knows that he does not do things lightly. There was actually something different in Ricky’s voice that morning. Ricky sounded happier. He also had a bad feeling about Lorraine. She had calmed down really fast. Ano kaya ang balak niya? He would call Ricky in the morning, too late already that night, and tell him what happened that evening.
“So, you are okay now? Come, I will take you home. Did you drive or nagpahatid ka lang?” Miguel asked Lorraine, putting down his coffee cup.
“Yes I am!” Lorraine replied. “No need, Miguel, I can drive myself home. Thanks for telling me where Ricky is.” She stood up, and swayed.
Miguel can see that Lorraine was not really in a condition to drive.
“Please Lorraine, I will feel better if I take you home. I have my driver with me. Ipakuha na lang natin sa driver ninyo ang car mo bukas. Kausapin ko lang iyong manager nitong bar. Di ba, he is a friend of mine and Ricky’s. We can chat pa on the road.” He dangled to her, to make her agree.
Lorraine, hoping to subtly press Miguel for more information, agreed.
While Lorraine and Miguel were on their way to Lorraine’s house, Ricky and Maya were on their leisurely way back to their hotel, walking along Calle Crisologo again, while holding the coffee they bought at the McDonald’s restaurant near the plaza, after another mouth-watering dinner of Ilocano food.
Maya felt that she has gained several pounds already with all the delicious food she had been sampling in Ilocos. She told Ricky so, after their dinner, and while they were having a cup of coffee. Ricky laughingly complained that he would need to hit the gym again when he returns to Manila dahil sa rich and delicious food sa Ilocos. The two of them then talked about their ways of getting fit and aside from the gym, the two of them found out that they both like taking long, leisurely walks when they have the time and the opportunity. They decided to do just that after their dinner. They circled the plaza, via the cathedral, then the provincial capitol, stopping by at McDo, then walked through the side streets leading to the direction of their hotel, and through Calle Crisologo.
“The perfect way to end a perfect day.” Ricky remarked contentedly.
Maya looked at him, and smiled. “Yes, it is.” She said softly. “Parang ang hirap ngang matulog pa.”
“Come, let’s sit there, and enjoy Calle Crisologo to ourselves, since pareho pa naman tayong hindi inaantok.”
Ricky led Maya to one of the two-seater wooden calesa benches, lining up the cobblestone street where tourists usually pose for a picture. He put his around her while sipping his coffee and enjoying the night. Maya made herself comfortable by leaning against Ricky’s chest a bit, both of them remembering another wonderful day that they have shared in their unplanned but so far, turning out to be, best vacation ever.
Maya slowly opened her eyes and looked around her, trying to shake off the remnants of sleep in her system. Like a clockwork, she woke up at 7 o’clock that morning. She saw Ricky still sleeping soundly in his bed, tucked cozily in his comforter. He looked at peace, as compared to the state he was in, when he was in the throes of his very bad dream. She decided that she will let him sleep some more. They are not in a hurry to go anywhere. Besides, she has yet to do her ‘morning ritual’! She feels better and ready to face the world after she does that.
She got her iPad from where she had left it the night before, the bedside table on her right. She likes going online, while lying in her bed, before getting up. She starts her day by checking her social media accounts, read the news from the sites she had put in her favorites folder, and checks if the bloggers that she following have updates. When those are done, of there are not much updates, she just reads a chapter or two of the books she bought or downloaded into her Kindle app or iBooks.
Maya was deep into reading the update on one of the fan fictions that she was following, when a low buzzing sound broke her concentration. She looked around, checked where the sound was coming from, and saw Ricky’s phone blinking and moving around the night table between their beds. She stared at it, torn whether she will wake up Ricky or let him sleep, and just ignorr the call. By the look if it, it was not the first time the phone rang that morning. However, since the phone was on silent mode, she presumed that Ricky was not really waiting for any call. On the other hand, he might have put it on silent mode while they were in the church, and forgot to change his phone settings before they went to sleep.
While Maya was contemplating on what to do, the phone fell on the hardwood floor with a loud thud. Maya tried to grabbed it but she was not so fast. She hoped that the racket didn’t wake up Ricky. He did move. The phone was still ringing when she retrieved it on the floor, and since it fell with the screen facing upwards, she saw the name of the person who was trying to reach Ricky. ‘Lorraine Tan’! What is she to Ricky, she mused. Baka importante talaga ang phone calls nitong si Lorraine Tan. Kanina pa yata ito tumatawag. Baka ito rin ang tawag ng tawag kay Ricky before.
“Maya….?” Ricky sat up on his bed, trying to shake off sleep. The thud did wake him up. He looked at Maya, still crouched in between their beds. “What happened? I heard a loud thud. Are you okay? Nahulog ka ba?”
Maya stood up, then gave Ricky his phone. “Good morning, Ricky! I’m okay. Hindi naman ako ang nahulog. Itong phone mo mo ang nahulog. Nag-ring kasi and on vibrate mode. Sa dami yata ng calls, nahulog na. Sorry, hindi ko na nasalo bago bumagsak. Here, baka importante ang mga call. Feeling ko kanina pa iyan ring ng ring.”
“Good morning, Maya. Thank you. I was not expecting any calls naman. I ironed out everything na yesterday while we were in the church.” Ricky looked at who was calling, and saw that he had several missed calls from Lorraine. He sighed. He wished then that she would stop calling or texting him, they have nothing to talk about, especially after the last time. It was the last straw for him. She knew that. He really tried to make the relationship work, maybe out of all the years they have been together. But it turned out it was not enough and now he realized, that he was shortchanging himself if he was willing to settle for that kind of relationship for the rest of his life. Now, he just wanted to have a very wonderful time with Maya and find out where this intense atraction to her, and what he was starting to feel, will take him, and her!. He shut down his phone.
Maya saw what Ricky did, surprised. But she didn’t say anything. She does not want to pry. But of course, she was very curious. Come to think of it, despite all that they have chatted about the past days, he was a bit reticent about his personal life. He never ventured something very personal about relationships and stuffs. Come to think if it, he spoke of it in the most generic terms.
“Breakfast?” Ricky asked, breaking into Maya’s thoughts. He can sense Maya’s curiousity at his action, and even his previous actions. But he was procrastinating. He does not want to deal with it at the moment. He will tell her about it, but not at the moment! “Allen said breakfast is served at the garden restautant of this hotel.”
“Sure, let me just take a bath first, and get ready.” Maya said, then looked at him, a bit self-consciously. “Mauna na akong mag-banyo?”
“Sure, Maya, please go ahead.” Ricky said, smiling at her.
Maya gathered her things and went to the bathroom. Ricky, on the other hand, leaned against the headboard of his bed and was about to switched on the TV to watch the news on CNN when he remembered that he needed to make a phone call. He opened his phone and hoped that there would not be text messages from Lorraine. He heaved a sigh of relief when there was none. Maybe, she had given up. He hoped she did. He scrolled down his phone book, and smiling, he pressed the number he needed.
“Ricky, hi! Kumusta pare?” Miguel Lorenzo greeted Ricky heartily when he picked up the call. “Napatawag ka! It has been a while!
“Oo nga, pare. Busy lang. Di bala pagbalik ko ng Manila, magkita tayo nina Vince and Sam, pati na rin si Ryan.” Ricky said, mentioning their three other barkadas. The five of them were classmates in the university, forged a friendshp, and that friendship endured even after that. Though, lately, they have not see each other much due to their busy schedules and with Vince and Sam, being family men now. Of course, Ryan, the fifth member of their barkada works for his family’s company and he was the one whom he had left the running of Lim Corporation for the duration of his unscheduled trip to Ilocos.
“Bakit pare, nasaan ka ba ngayon?” Miguel asked, curiously. “Work ba ito? I will be surprised and happy talaga kung bakasyon kasi I know you have not taken a vacation in long time.”
“Nandito ako sa Ilocos. Actually, kaya nga ako tumawag ngayon, I need a favor. I need to borrow your beach house in Pagudpud, if it is okay, and the offer still stands.”
“So bakasyon nga! Oo nga pala, your family has a beach house there. Iyung nabanggit mo dati na sa lolo mo.” Miguel said, remembering Ricky telling him that in passing. “Of course, pare, you can stay in our beach house in Pagudpud. Maganda doon. Sabi ko naman sa iyo, feel free to use it anytime. Ikaw lang itong sobrang busy sa work. Mabuti naman you are taking a break. Hmmm, why do I have a feeling na hindi pa nag-iisa ngayon.” He added teasingly. “How’s Lorraine?”
“Hahahaha, pare, ikaw talaga. I’m sure she is okay.” Ricky said, but didn’t offer any explanation. “But thank you, very much for letting me borrow your vacation home. I need it for two days, starting tomorrow, please.”
“Sure pare, no worries. I will just call our caretakers para mapaayos iyong place. It has been a while too since I have been in that place, but our caretakers there are the best. You two enjoy the place. The view is really incredible from there. Mabuti my father found the place.”
Ricky didn’t correct Miguel’s assumption that he was with Lorraine. It would take a lot of explanation, one that he doesn’t want to do over the phone. However, before he can end the call, Maya came out of the bathroom, dressed in ripped shorts and a simple body fit blouse that flatters her figure.
“Ricky, it’s your turn.” Maya said smiling. “Sorry, natagalan…..oops, sorry.” She mouthed seeing that Ricky is on the phone. Hmmm, so he returned ‘her’ call, after all, was the first thing in Maya’s mind, assuming that Ricky was talking to that Lorraine Tan.
Ricky nodded to let her know that he heard her, then on the phone, he can hear Miggy’s teasing voice.
“Sabi ko na nga ba. O siya, hindi na kita aabalahin pa. Enjoy your stay in Pagudpud. If there is anything you need, let me know. Pero I’m sure you are in good hands kina Manong David at Manang Marcela. O sige, you two, enjoy your vacation ha. Kailan na nga pala ang kasal?”
“Thank you again. Saka na lang natin iyan pag-usapan. I’ll cal you when I get back. Magkita tayo.” Ricky said evasively.
“Sorry about that, Maya! Are you ready na? If you want to wait for me at the cafe instead, para makapag-coffee ka na. Sandali lang naman ako.” Ricky said after he had shut down his phone, which did not escape Maya’s notice.
“ Sige lang, Ricky, I will wait for you. Remember wala naman tayong hinahabol na oras. I will just continue my morning ritual while waiting for you.” Maya said, then smiling she said, “Actually, na-interrupt ng morning phone call mo ang ‘ritual’ ko.”
“Oh sorry, about that! But what’s your morning ritual, Maya. Sorry if I ask. You got me curious there?” Ricky said with a smile.
“Nothing much, Ricky. I just want to connect to the world as soon as I wake up. I usually go online while trying to wake myself up. Mula ng mauso ang iPad, I can do that in bed. See, mabuti I grabbed this too, when we went to the house yesterday.” Maya showed Ricky the iPad she had dropped on her bed earlier while trying to catch Ricky’s phone.
“Oh, that’s nice! Ako rin, I read muna before I get up and start my day. E-books I downloaded into my Kindle or my Kindle app. That was what I did nga before I fell asleep and had that bad dream.”
“Speaking of that! How are you? Did you sleep okay? Wala ka namang naging bad dream? When I looked at you earlier, you look so peaceful naman. Kaya nga sana ayaw sana kitang magising ng phone call mo, kaso nalaglag naman sa floor.”
“Yes, I did actually. Thank you again, Maya.” Ricky said, then remembering his very nice dream, he gazed at Maya, intently and smiled. “I actually had a very nice dream, Maya.”
Maya got self-conscious with the way Ricky was looking at her. Taking a deep breath, she managed to say, “I’m glad na okay ka na. And judging by your smile, mukhang you had a sweet dream nga.” She finished with a smile.
Ricky grinned. “I did, Maya. I did. One of these days, I will tell it to you.” He finished, then with another smile at Maya, he was off to the bathroom.
Maya felt herself flushing and she was still when she grabbed her iPad and tried to concentrate on the sites she usually goes to, and not think of Ricky in the bathroom. It was hard enough to fall asleep the night before with Ricky at the other bed. She really forced her brain think of other things so that she will fall asleep and not think of him at the other bed. He looked so handsome pa naman in his white shirt, and blue pajama and freshly showered. And the smile he gave her after they have said good night, it almost send her to a toss-and-turn-the-whole-night state. Arrgh, Maya Dela Rosa, stop, stop. See, may kausap nga sa phone, may tumatawag pang Lorraine. Temper down that intense attraction and whatever you are starting to feel for him! She admonished herself.
However, Maya was failed miserably with her effort to divert her attention by reading her favorite blogs, and showbiz chismis online so she gave up. She was idly going through her apps, when she accidentally pressed the iBooks icon and remembered the PDF file of the journal that she had saved there. She clicked on the file, and rapidly searched on the part of the journal which Ricky dreamed of. True enough, it was as he dreamed of! Strange, really, really strange as he has not reached that part of the journal yet. She will show Ricky the entry, but maybe not that day as he might still feel the lingering effects of his dream. Baka gusto na rin naman muna niyang makalimutan ang sad dream niya, especially, that it was what really happened to their grandparents.
The door of the bathroom opened while Maya was about to close the file. She looked up, with a smile on her face, and almost dropped her iPad in the process. Ricky emerged from the bathroom, freshly shaven and smelling so nice, and clad only in his towel! OMG!
“Maya, I’m sorry.” Ricky said, smiling sheepishly, seeing that Maya was staring at him. “I forgot to bring my clothes to the bathroom.”
Maya gulped and took a deep breath and blurted out the first words she could think of. “It’s okay, Ricky. Do you need any help?” Then realizing what she said, she got flustered. “Errrr, I mean, do you want me to get your clothes for you. I can just give it to you, para hindi ka na maghalukay. Balik ka na sa banyo.”
“Oh, thank you, Maya. I can manage, I think.” He said. Ricky only realized that he left his clothes outside after he had finished shaving. He had no other recourse except to come out like that, with only a towel wrapped around his waist. “I’ll be back in a jiffy.”
Maya stared hard on her iPad screen without really seeing anything, as Ricky rummaged through his shopping bags. She heaved a sigh of relief when he returned to the bathroom. He emerged several minutes later, clad in a violet polo shirt and khaki shorts, taking her breath away still.
“Shall we?” Maya asked, wanting to be out of the room fast. It suddenly looked very small for the two of them. She needed space, lots of space, and air, lots of air, as she felt out of breath! It felt like the oxygen level in the room got thinner that morning!
“Okay. Let me just grab my things, para dire-diretso na tayo sa labas.”
Several minutes after, they were at the hotel’s garden restaurant eating Vigan longanisa, with achara and egg, paired with steaming hot brewed coffee.
“So, what is our plan for today, Maya?” Ricky asked after a while, while they were enjoying their second cups of coffee.
“How about we take a calesa tour of the city and the nearby areas?” Maya suggested.
“Sounds great! That way, makikita natin lahat in one go. Basta if you want to take pictures and may inspiration kang nakita for your painting and such, take your time. Hindi naman tayo nagmamadali. We can also stop along the way and try the food at the interesting restaurants that we would see.
“Okay, thanks for this Ricky. I’m having a wonderful time.”
“You’re welcome, Maya. Pero you don’t have to thank me. Ako rin naman, I’m enjoying our unplanned vacation and road trip, very much!”
The of them left the hotel half an hour later and flagged the first calesa they saw, and start their adventure for the day, looking forward to being with each other again.
“Ricky, please wake up! Ricky, shhhhh, you are having a bad dream. It is okay, nananaginip ka lang.” Maya said softly while shaking Ricky’s shoulder gently.
Maya woke up when Ricky cried out in his sleep. He seemed to be very much in distress, judging by the tone of his voice. He actually cried out her name. It was what woke her up from her sleep. At first, she was disoriented on where she was, then she looked around, and at the other bed. She saw Ricky tossing and turning and mumbling ‘Maya’ over and over. When he wouldn’t wake up even if she called him several times, she approached his bed and shook him gently.
Ricky slowly opened his eyes, looked at his surroundings, disoriented, feeling very tired and very sad. Then he saw Maya hovering over him, sitting by the side of his bed nearest to hers, with a very concerned expression on her lovely face.
“Maya….” He sat up, then realized where he was, actually. He was in the room in the hotel in Vigan that he was sharing with Maya. He spontaneously hugged Maya as if to check if she is real, and for comfort. Suddenly, things are not so bad anymore. Maya hugged him back and patted his back, offering comfort. She kept assuring him, that everything is okay.
“Ricky, how are you? I heard you crying out in your sleep. Ginising na kita kasi parang you were having a really bad dream.” Maya said, touching his face, after a while, when she gauged that his breathing has returned to normal. “Parang feeling ko nga, binabangugot ka na.”
“Maya, I’m sorry for waking you up, and thank you sa paggising. Pasensya ka na. Yes, it was a really bad dream. Hindi lang bad, dream, sobrang lungkot pa, and yes, para siyang bangungot. Hindi ko alam why I have dreamed of our grandparents saying goodbye to each other on their last days at the beach house. It was so vivid. Parang nandoon ako, Maya, and I was really experiencing the whole thing.” Ricky told Maya as he hugged her tighter, then he told her about his dream in details.
Maya didn’t interrupt him. She can feel his lingering distress and sadness as he told her about the dream, as if he was really in that dream. She just offered comfort by touching his hands and his arm, from time to time. What Ricky was narrating was familiar to her as well. When Ricky was finished telling her the details of his dream, she cupped his distressed, and very sad, face.
“Ricky, it is familiar as that was what basically happened when our grandparents parted.” Maya said softly, gently. “You dreamed of what your Lolo Ricardo wrote in the journal. Parang pumasok na siguro sa consciousness mo ang nabasa mo sa journal, na-internalize mo na! Parang nandoon ka na kasi iyan ang paglalarawan ng lolo mo sa nangyari sa last days nila ng Lola Maya ko. I felt the same the first time I read the entries in the journal too. Hanggang panaginip nadala ko, and for several days, feeling ko nandoon ako sa past and sobrang affected.”
Ricky was startled to learn that, and blurted out, “But Maya, I haven’t reached that part of the journal! Nandoon pa lang ako sa part na nabanggit ko sa iyo while we were having coffee and chatting in Sta. Maria!”
“Really! Pero…..pero, the way you told it to me, ganoon talaga ang nangyari sa journal! How could it be, that you know even without reading it?” It was Maya’s turn to be surprised, then a thought occurred to her, one which she was reluctant to believe in actually, but how best to explain what is happening.
“ Hindi kaya….but that can’t be, di ba? Posible ba talaga iyon na…? I am not her!” She whispered almost to herself. She entertained the thought before, but she discarded the idea before. While, she loved the grandmother she had not fortunate to meet or spend time with, she believes that she is her own person.
“That I was relieving it because I was really Lolo Ricardo in my past life?” Ricky finished for her. He had heard about it reincarnation, of course, more than read about the topic. Lorraine is into those, as well as into believing in soul mates, past lives and the likes. but he considers those topics as bits of a mumbo jumbos. “ That I was his reincarnation, and that probably you are your grandmother’s? That somehow, meeting you here in Ilocos, the place where it all started beautifully and ended sadly, and reading the journal, triggered the onslaught of the past for us?”
“Naniniwala ka doon?” Maya asked, astonished to hear it from Ricky. She never thought that he believes in that.
“Not really. But I had an ex-girlfriend who believes in those things.” Ricky said, simply. “But how do we explain that dream and also the deja vu I have been experiencing since I stepped into the beach house and meeting you?”
Then he continued, “You know earlier in the church, I had a deja vu too. I felt like we were there before and that we were about to kiss. It was what happened between our grandparents in my dream, di ba! They were there too, in that church! Besides, I have this feeling that I have known you a long time! Di ba, you told me that you also had deja vu moments, like when you are holding a paint brush and you are in your grandmother’s studio?”
“Yes, but I thought I was just remembering what I have read in the journal. I have read it countless of times. And yes, noong una kong nabasa iyan, sobrang affected din ako and napanaginipan ang mga nabasa ko, and talagang parang I was there. Pero that was after I have read it!” Maya insisted. “Besides, I was reluctant to believe in those kinds of things. Yes, there are really things we can’t explain in this world, but this!…. Yes, I have those deja vu moments, pero…. ”
“I don’t know what to think, Maya. Yes, there are so many things happening in this world that we can’t really fathom, no matter how we much we look for answers and try to understand. You know, to make a logical or a rational explanation out of it. Yes, I will admit, had I met you under different circumstances, I would still be drawn to you, attracted to you. You are beautiful, and as I get to know you, not only that, you are lovely inside out. I feel very happy when I’m with you even if I just met you.”
“Ricky….” Maya blushed. She was not expecting Ricky to say that. At the back of her mind, she also remembered him mentioning an ex-girlfriend earlier.
“It is true, Maya.” Ricky said, gazing at Maya. There he said is. He was not intending to, not this early, he just wanted her to know and to drive a point. He then opted to go back to the topic they were discussing earlier as he suddenly realized that his intense attraction to her is a dangerous topic to bring up when they were in that situation – in the middle of the night and alone in that beautiful room, and her looking so lovely in her sleep-tousled state. Besides, he does not want Maya to be uncomfortable and he promised her that he will be a gentleman.
“Basta ang alam ko sobrang lungkot ko sa panaginip ko.” Ricky said, still hugging Maya. “Parang hindi ko rin ma-discount ang reincarnation na iyan, outright. Come to think of it, both of us were born after our grandparents died di ba, so posible iyon. But let’s leave it at that. Mahirap ipaliwanag and I don’t think we will get answers now. Pakiramdam ko lang, I’m so tired and unsettled.”
“True, pero tama ka, let’s leave at that. Do you want water, Ricky?” Maya asked, seeing that Ricky looked thirsty and quite tired, really. “Sandali, ikukuha kita. Sorry, I forgot earlier! Nag-worry ako ng husto sa iyo.”
“Maya, I can do it.” Ricky insisted, and was about to get out of the bed when Maya stopped him with her hand on his forearm.
Maya got out of Ricky’s embrace, and bed, walked to the small fridge in the corner and grabbed one of the bottled water there. She gave the water to Ricky and sat down on her bed, facing him.
“Thank you again, Maya, very much.” Ricky said after taking several sips. “I don’t usually dream like this. I don’t know what happened to me. I feel drained talaga. Mabuti na lang nandiyan ka.”
“It’s okay, Ricky. I’m glad to be here when this happened. Minsan kasi siguro nadadala natin sa subconscious mind natin ang nangyari sa atin sa totoong buhay.” Maya replied.
“I agree. I’m okay na. Please go back to sleep na. Pati tulog mo na-interrupt ko.” Ricky said. “I think I’ll really be okay na. Lalo na nandiyan ka lang sa kabilang bed.” He added with a smile. “Pahinga ka na. Marami pa tayong pupuntahan bukas.”
“If you are sure, ha.” Maya said, sliding down her bed and arranging her comforter around her. She put her hand on her cheek, then faced Ricky “Basta if you need me, or hindi ka pa makatulog and you need someone to talk to, gisingin mo lang ako ha. Good night Ricky. Sweet dreams this time.”
“Good night, Maya. Thank you. Just the fact that you are there, beside me, comforted me na. I’m sure makakatulog na ako ng maayos and will have a sweet dream this time.” Ricky said, giving Maya one of his bone-melting lopsided smiles. “Sweet dreams!”
They shared a sweet smile, while gazing at each other tenderly, until Maya got a bit self-conscious again. Hand, still cradling her cheek, she closed her eyes with a smile on her face.
Before long, Ricky heard her steady breathing, signifying that she was in sleep land. He was really grateful for her presence. He smiled. She really looks so beautiful. He likes her a lot. What he said to Maya earlier was the truth. He was intensely attracted to her, drawn to her in a way he can’t explain. He just want to be with her and he was immensely happy when he is with her, like his heart is singing. It was a feeling he didn’t feel with Lorraine, despite the fact that he had known her practically their entire lives and that they have been together for several years. It was, he realized, something missing in their relationship, this connection he has with Maya. He settled back into his bed and instead of dwelling on his bad dream, and Lorraine, he remembered his wonderful evening, earlier, with Maya.
Maya and him managed to find everything they needed at the shopping complex near the cathedral and the provincial capitol. They took their stuffs back to the hotel, and freshened up. The room was quite big for the two of them, beautifully decorated in wood and other native materials, the beds, looking so soft and inviting, a big LED TV on the wall, between the beds. Maya chose the bed nearest to the door and he took the one after it, near the bathroom.
Maya told him to use the bathroom first as she need to arrange her things and do other women stuffs, she added with a smile. When she came out of the bathroom an hour later, he caught his breath. She looked so lovely in the printed skirt and white blouse that she found in one of the shops. He told her so, and saw her blushed. He noticed it before. It does look so adorable and refreshing when she does that.
They had dinner at an inn near their hotel which offers quite a variety of mouth-watering Ilocano food. They chatted with ease while having dinner. Afterwards, hands intertwined without intending to, they walked along then deserted Calle Crisologo, as well as around the capitol and the plaza in front of the Vigan Cathedral, to shake off the heaviness in the tummies they felt after bingeing on their very splendid dinner. From time to time, they would smile at something they observed as they walked, or simply gave each other a look, a smile, as if to say how happy they are to be with each other, and to be sharing those moments. At least, on his part that’s what he felt. He thought Maya also felt that way, enjoying his company! He hoped so.
The two of them retired to their room around midnight. At first, Ricky thought he would not be able to sleep, too aware of Maya. She slept readily, while he opted to read a bit. It was a good thing he has a book in his phone’s Kindle app, diverting enough to take his mind away from Maya and her lovely self sleeping on the other bed like a babe. He tired himself and finally managed to succumb to that restless sleep and had that terribly sad dream.
It was a good thing, really, that Maya was there. His earlier dream really disturbed him. But he didn’t want to think about it now. Instead he focused his attention on Maya and the continuation of their adventure in the morning. After Vigan and the other areas they are planning to see, he knows where to take Maya in Pagudpud. He just need to make a phone call to make it happen. He smiled. Happy with his plan, and hopes Maya will like it as well.
Taking one more look at Maya’s sleeping form in a fetal position. She really looks adorable when she sleeps, he smiled then succumbed to sleep again and this time, he dreamed of Maya and him locked in a passionate kiss, in a beach, while watching the sun setting on the horizon. It was a very lovely dream, indeed!
June 20, 1966
Maya and I almost kissed! I tossed and turned that night, replaying that moment in my head, and thinking of what happened after that near kiss in front of the bell tower of the majestic Sta. Maria Church in Bantay where we heard mass that morning!
It was almost a week by then since Maya and I met each other, a meeting that really changed our lives forever. We spent most of those days with each other. There was just us and this seemingly unquenchable thirst to know every little detail about each other, to spend every moment possible together, as if at the back of our minds, somehow, we knew that were on borrowed time. Though most of those times, I tried to forget that I have another life other than the wonderful one I was having with Maya. It consumed my being. By then I knew that I love her with all my heart. I never felt like that before and I never thought that I would feel like that, like my whole being was on fire for this beautiful and wonderful lady. She was my world and I was like on an all time high when I was with her, even if we were just spending it by the veranda of either of our houses, sipping coffee as we watched the sun to set. I was not completely sure, but I felt that she has feelings for me as well, and that too had fallen in love with me. What I was feeling then can’t be unreciprocated as it was so overwhelming. However, as if by tacit agreement, we never talk about what we really feel for each other. I for one, just decided to show her how I feel about her, through my gestures, my deeds, and by spending most of my waking moment with her.
When most of the churchgoers have left, we decided to walk around the church grounds, marvelling at the view before us and the ingenuity of the people who have built this beautiful structure dedicated to God and the spiritual well-being of the people of Sta. Maria and the nearby areas!
We were gazing at the bell tower which was built separately from the church, when suddenly, out of nowhere, a child of about seven, run towards Maya and shyly told her that she is very pretty, like a manika. Maya stopped down, smiled at the little girl and asked her what’s her name. The girl told her that her name is Miriam. Before long, Miriam’s mother came running and apologized profusely, saying that her daughter thought Maya is a doll as she looks so pretty in her long flowing skirt, embroidered blouse, and with her hair loose. She wanted a closer look and wanted to touch the ‘talking doll’. Maya assured the embarrassed mother that it was okay for Miriam to do so, and that she likes Miriam, affectionately ruffling the little girl’s hair, and hugging her as the little girl touched her face. Maya gave the little girl some candies she had in her bag and asked her to wait a bit as she had a treat for it. She got the sketch pad from her bag and draw the little girl, much to her delight and also her mother.
While this was happening, I was just gazing at Maya and admired how she interacted with the little girl, thinking that she would make a very good mother, and that she is, indeed a very beautiful person inside out, and very caring one too. I wish then that it was our own little girl she was hugging and sketching.
When Miriam, clutching her sketch, and her mother left, Maya caught me gazing at her intently. She told me she called my attention as I was so deep into my thoughts. Thoughts actually of her and a little girl who looks like her, and maybe a boy who is the spitting image of me, but there is also a bit of his beautiful mother in him.
Maya had to call my attention several times and had to touch my arm, before I was jolted out of that dream and back to where we were. I smiled at her and told her softly that she is very beautiful, inside out, and that she will make a good mother. Maya blushed. We gazed at each other and before we knew it, as if there was a strong force pushing us, our faces got closer and closer to each other. I cupped her chin, angling to kiss her, and then because I can’t help myself, I whispered to her that I love her very much. She was startled, I can see it in her eyes, but didn’t say much, instead I saw love in her eyes after the initial surprise at my words, which she was not expecting I would say at that moment, I guessed. However, before our lips finally met for the first time, several people arrived at where we were, catching their breaths from climbing the 80 plus steps leading to the front of the church.
We looked at each other again, both unsure of that to do next. I took matters into my own hands. I felt that moment that Maya and I needed to talk as it was the first time I declared my feelings for her openly. She must have felt the same as she didn’t protest or say anything when I guided her towards the side of the church overlooking the mountains of Abra. We sat on the low wall, and for several minutes, we stared at the beautiful scenery before in silence, as if absorbing the momentous event that happened in front of the church. With those words that I uttered, the world we created shifted.
Taking a deep breath, I forged on, cupping her chin and looking deeply into her expressive and beautiful eyes, I told Maya that I meant what I have said earlier, that I love her very much, that I have fallen in love with her. That for the first time in my life I am in love, with her, even if I am not free to do so. I heard her catch her breath, then teary-eyed and with a soft, shaky voice, she told me that she felt the same. She confessed that she love me too and that despite everything, she had fallen in love with me. Hearing her said she loves me too was like music to my ears. However, after she did, she got sad, and told me that we can’t be, that there would be no us as it would mean hurting and disappointing our loved ones and that she can’t have it that her happiness would be built at the expense of others, that the two of us had indeed found a love, she knows would last a lifetime as she never felt the feeling she has for be in her entire life, but it happened at the wrong time.
In my rational mind, I know that what she said was right. But my heart says otherwise. There was a part of me that wanted to forsake everything just to be able to spend the rest of my life with her. We hugged each other, and held hands as we quietly contemplated our situation. My heart sang knowing that she loves me too. But at the same time, I felt this overwhelming sadness that we can’t be, she was right, my rational self admitted. After a while, I told her that I just want to make most of the time I have with her if that is all I will have. It has to last me a lifetime, it has to last us a lifetime. Sometimes, it was not really a matter of how long the moment lasted, I told her, but how that moment was spent. She squeezed my hand and nodded, understanding that our short, intense moment was better than a lifetime of nothing. We decided to live for the moment and squeeze life of every moment we can have with each other.
From the Sta. Maria church, we traveled to Vigan and nearby areas, putting in more memories for our treasure box of memories, something to remember in the years to come, something to treasure when we finally say goodbye. We returned to our place by the beach late that evening and had dinner at my house. But instead of ending the night after that dinner, and as if we were very reluctant to part that night, we camped out under the stars, chatting and just enjoying each other’s company. When it gotten so cold and, she was almost half-asleep in my arms, I took her home. I hugged her, then squeezed her hand tight, kissed it and uttered a soft good night before I reluctantly left her for the night, consoling myself with the fact that I will see her again the following morning and that we will have several more days together before the inevitability of our parting.
I spent most of the night tossing and turning and feeling very restless, for some reason I can’t explain. When I managed to fall asleep I was plagued by a series of dream. At one time, I dreamed that Maya and I were walking in the very beach where we met, carrying two beautiful toddlers, a boy and a girl, our twins. Our twins were so happy seeing the waves crashing to shore and then rolling again. We let them play in the sand and help build a big sand castle. I woke up suddenly and got a bit disoriented as to where I was since the dream was so vivid.
I forced myself to fall asleep again as when I checked the time, it was just three o’clock in the morning. This time I have dreamed that I saw Maya walking along the beach, but away from me. I called her, several times, but she didn’t seem to hear me and continued walking towards the opposite direction, until she disappeared into the night. I woke up drenched in sweat and feeling very distressed. I felt so tired. I didn’t realize then that was a foreboding of what was coming.
The next thing I knew, there was a knock on my door and I felt very tired. I remembered feeling a heaviness in my heart which I can’t explain. I checked the clock and realize that I overslept. It was already 10 o’clock in the morning. Manang Felicing told me, when I opened the door, that Maya was downstairs, waiting for me. I smiled and felt lighter. Maya was there and knowing that, dispelled the bad feelings I was having.
When I went down, I immediately sought Maya where I knew she would be, eager to catch a glimpse of her. True enough, she was standing by the veranda, looking out the beautiful view before her. As if sensing my presence, she turned, but instead of the sunniest smile, one that lit up and transformed her face, that she gives me every time we see each other, her face was etched with sadness. I also noticed that she was dressed more formally, as if she was about to take a long trip. Beside her propped against the wall was rectangular material. It looked like one of her canvases.
Maya gave me a sad smile, hugged me tight and told that she is going back to Manila that morning. Her father has sent their family driver the night before and asked her to return to Manila as soon as she can as her fiance is in the hospital. He had an accident and in a serious condition. Hearing that, I felt the heaviness I was feeling doubled. I knew then that it was the end for the two of us. She touched my face, saying softly, sadly, that maybe it was better this way as it would have been so much harder for the two of us, to part, that maybe, fate has intervened as we were not meant to be. She told me, that maybe in another lifetime we will meet again, we will seek each other again, and we will be free then to love one another. She told me that she will not love another and that I will be forever in her heart. I professed the same to her. My heart was breaking into million pieces.
I told her I will love her until to my dying days and if finding her in another lifetime is possible, that is the first thing I will do. I hope that fate will be kinder to the two of us then. I embraced her tight, holding on to her and not wanting to let her go. I then cupped her face and lowered my lips to her. We kissed, and kissed as there was no tomorrow, putting our feelings in those, letting each other know of our love for each other with the fusion of our physical selves. With tears flowing from her eyes, and mine too, we kissed one last time, before she said a soft goodbye. I walked her to the car that would take her away from me, forever. I stayed at the gate of the beach house, long after the dust has settled, and I can’t see the sight of my beautiful love.
I went back to the veranda. I never knew how I made it back there in the state I was in. I felt like I died a thousand times. I sank into the wicker chair, shell shock. My gaze caught the object that Maya left there. We never gotten around to looking at it or her telling me about it. My name was on the Manila paper protecting it, and when I removed the wrapper, I gasped. It was a painting of me, the one Maya was working on, but refused to show me, no matter how I teased her about it. It was an image of me I have not seen, a happy, carefree me, looking out of the canvas, with so much love on my eyes, to the person I was gazing at, my beautiful Maya. Unknowingly, Maya has captured it in her canvas. It was obvious that she saw a part of me that no one had seen before, and that the painting was done with love. I saw her name scrawled on the bottom of the painting. I touched it reverently, lovingly, sadly. With tears in my eyes, I stared at the painting for how long, I can’t remember. I mourned, until deep into the night, the love that was not meant to be. I didn’t sleep at all.
Two days after Maya left, I packed my bags too and returned Manila. I just can’t bear to stay in that place anymore. Everything was bleak, as if the place was leached of all colors when she left. I tried walking along the beach, trying to think of our happy memories together, instead of the sadness of our parting, but I failed miserably. All I felt was this immense sadness. Taking with me the painting and the photos that the photographer delivered the day after Maya left, I headed back to my reality. A whole lifetime without her! How I still miss her so!
I made it again to Vigan, as well as other parts of the Ilocos provinces, almost at the same period I was there in 2012, without really intending to! I was supposed to go there last month, but due to Typhoon Lando I had to move the trip even if my bags were already packed and my hotel accommodation and the bus ticket were booked. Going to Vigan in November, it turned out, was better than that October weekend. The weather was pretty good and there were not so many people when I was there recently.
It was a very fulfilling and a very enjoyable, laid-back kind of trip. Aside from revisiting one of my favorite places in the country, it reconnected me with something I really love doing but had neglected in years – traveling, the way I like it.
I love exploring and discovering places armed with a paper guide-book, maps, information I gleaned online, and from helpful people I met while traveling. I started to realize how I really missed this kind of thing when I went to Negros Occidental in September and explored the places in my bucket list by bus, by tricycle, by taxi, by foot, and by jeepney, armed with a map, a guide-book and by asking a local friend for information. As soon as I returned home after that trip, I planned this trip to Vigan with my friends who would like to go there as well. Suffice it to say that, I am truly bitten by the travel bug again!
Traveling to Ilocos Sur and Norte cleared the head, as well, as I was in some sort of crossroads in my life! I now know what I would like to do next, among other things! I would like to travel more and write about those travels in this blog, and of course, continue writing fiction/fan fiction, as well as other interesting stuffs for you guys.
My blog entries on my travels to Negros Occidental and the two Ilocos provinces, coming up after I finish the updates of my current stories. I hope you will like those posts as well!
Now with batteries recharged and with spirit renewed, I better buckle down and start writing! 🙂
Cheers and good vibes!
❤ Antigone ❤
“Maya, are you okay?” Jeremy asked Maya as they sat on two big boulders before the majestic Katibawasan Falls. They have been gazing at the waterfalls for the past several minutes or so, both lost in thoughts. But Maya’s was punctuated by sighs so Jeremy found himself asking after a while. He had an inkling earlier that Maya was not completely with him. She seemed to be mulling over something. He kept his counsel and opted to just cheer her up. He thought he managed to do so as she would smile at him or laughed at his silly anecdotes.
The 250 meters high waterfalls was their last stop before heading back to the resort. The places where they have been were all beautiful and breathtaking, but for Maya, this waterfalls will be a favorite. She is in awe of nature’s display here. So, very beautiful and she felt peace taking over her soul by just gazing at the majesty before her.
“Yes, Jeremy, I’m okay!” Maya replied, taking her gaze away from watching the hypnotic falling water, hitting the lake below with force. “Why do you ask?” She asked inquiringly.
“Well, you seemed a bit distracted and if I may say, listless. Are you still feeling the effects of all the alcohol you drank? You should have told me if you are not feeling well. We could have done this excursion tomorrow.” Jeremy looked at Maya worriedly.
“Thank you for the concern, Jeremy. I’m sorry, I’m not very good company at the moment. There is just something in my mind at the moment.” Maya said.
“Maya, I’m not usually a meddlesome person, but I just want you to know if you need someone to talk to, I’m just here. I know we just met, but I felt like I have known you a long time. I like you. I like you a lot. I like to be more than your friend….”
“Jeremy….” Maya blurted out, getting uncomfortable.
“Wait, let me finish please.” Jeremy gestured for Maya to let him continue by raising his hand in a stop gesture. “But I have a feeling that your heart is engaged somewhere. So, can I just be your friend?” He asked charmingly.
“Thank you, Jeremy. I would be happy to have you as a friend. I’m sorry it can’t be more than that.” Maya said apologetically.
“No worries, Maya. My heart will recover.” Jeremy said, grinning. “Now, spill it out to good ‘ol Uncle Jeremy. I will hazard I guess, a good-looking Filipino-Chinese guy is making you ‘hot and bothered’, quote unquote!”
Maya smiled at Jeremy’s choice of words. “Hot and bothered! Really, ‘Uncle Jeremy’! It sounded like something out of the pages of a Mills and Boon/Harlequin romance novel.”
“Yes, I finally see a smile!” Jeremy teased Maya. “ I have two sisters who are romance novels addicts to thank for, for being able to make you smile. But seriously, if you want to talk about it, I’m just here, if not, then it’s okay.”
“Thank you.” Maya took a deep breath, then started talking. “Okay, I do have a question for you? Have you been in love? What’s really feel like? How do you know if it will last? Have you had your heart-broken before? If yes, do you want to, or have you tried risking it again? How would you know if it will not happen again!”
“Whoa, that was not ‘a question’! Jeremy said, smiling. “But okay, if it will help you, I’ll try to answer your questions as much as I could, if it will help you a bit. First, yes, sort of, I have been when I was in the uni. But it was not meant to be. She and I, we have different things we wanted out of life. It hurt for a while, but the heart recovered in time. If I am willing to risk my heart again? Then I would say yes to that, Maya, with the right person, I will. I don’t know if I will have my forever with that person, but if she is worth risking it, I will. I will work for our forever, with her. If we didn’t end up together, at least I have tried. I would have not been ruled by my fear of getting hurt again.
You see my friend, nothing is guaranteed in life, except dying. We live in uncertainties, in challenges and in changes. But that what makes life worth living, being alive. And being alive means, feeling emotions – sadness, happiness, love and lost. At the end our journey in this world, we should be able to say that we have lived. Take a risk, that is part of life. Making mistakes and rising from and learning from those are part of us being human.
You should ask yourself, if that other person is worth putting your heart on the line. Listen to your heart. But do it slowly. Don’t hurry, you will find the answer from deep within. Sometimes, things happened in our lives for a reason. It is up to us to find out and realize eventually.”
“That was very deep, profound and very wise, Jeremy. And thank you. Are you sure you are not a psychologist, masquerading as a bum resort owner? “ Maya asked, smiling. She was feeling so much better. “Seriously, Jeremy, thank you for those very moving words.”
“Well, close. I was a Philosophy major at the uni. I thought I would enter the priesthood. Yes, my family is among the minority where I came from. I’m a Catholic. But along the way, love happened and diverted my tracks. But in hindsight, I know I was not destined for the religious life.”
“Really! But I think you would have been a good priest.”
“Well, water under the bridge. I like the life I’m living now. I hope I have helped you think better. But in the end, Maya, it is you, and you alone can decide on your next course of action.”
“I know. But you have helped me put things into some form of perspective.” Maya said. “Shall we get back? I have a dinner date.”
“Ouch, my heart!” Jeremy said, exaggerating, teasing Maya. “I think I know with whom.”
Maya just smiled at him, flushing a bit. Truth to tell, she is excited with her dinner with Richard. She and Jeremy climbed up to the entrance of waterfalls where they have parked the scooters. She texted Richard and informed him that she and Jeremy were on their way back. Richard just said okay. Maya was a bit puzzled with the shortness of his reply.
More than an hour later, they were back in the resort. Maya and Jeremy parted at the restaurant. His friends immediately hailed Jeremy and invited Maya as well to have dinner with them. But Maya declined. She went back to her bungalow to freshen up. She saw a piece of paper with her name on it pinned on her door. She opened it after placing her stuffs on the table inside.
Hi Maya! When you are ready, please proceed to the part of the beach where there is a big driftwood. I’ll be waiting. I’m very much looking forward to our ‘first dinner’!
Maya felt like she can literally hear the beating of her heart after reading Richard’s note, especially the way he had signed it. ‘Yours’! Why does the word make her very giddy! She knows the place Richard is referring to, as it is her favorite spot also by the beach, especially during her sunset watching moments. Maya found herself humming a love song as she took a quick shower and get ready for her dinner with Richard.
Half an hour later, Maya was dressed in a floral skirt that reached mid-thigh and a white plain sleeveless blouse paired with flat sandals. Good thing she had brought some nice clothes. One never knows when one needs it so she always make it a point to be ready for any eventuality. She wore her hair in a bun to protect it from the wind. She walked slowly towards the place where Richard was, a bit breathlessly and yes, excited, of course.
When Maya reached the place, she saw Richard standing, gazing at the sea. He was wearing loose dark pants and white shirt that billowed in the wind. He looked so handsome in silhouette. She caught her breath. Then as if sensing her presence, he turned, gave her a bone-melting lopsided smile and a big wave. He walked towards her to guide her across the sand with a very intense expression on his handsome face.
Maya felt that she can’t breath anymore. She was so overwhelmed with emotions. She likes this guy. She likes this guy a lot. Maybe, it is really about time to take the leap. To stay out of the shadows and embrace the sun and all its brilliance. Maybe, with this guy who have known love and hurt, she can finally do it. They say that love is a gamble. Maybe, it is not so bad to bet again, to take a chance again.
“Hi Maya,” Richard greeted Maya softly when he reached her side. She gave him a sweet, tremulous smile. She looks very lovely in her simple and yet elegant clothes. She took his breath away. He was glad that he really gave in to his impulse and made this trip. He wouldn’t exchange this moment for the world.
“Hi Ricky! Were you waiting long? Sorry, it took me a while to get back.” Maya said as Richard held her elbow and guided her towards to where he was before.
“That’s okay, Maya.” Richard assured her. “It took a while also for Marina and me to set this up.”
“Oh.” Maya then finally took a closer look at the set-up up the beach. There was a table with a dainty white lace table-cloth on, near ‘her drift wood’, strewn with rose petals, two hurricane lanterns providing a soft-yellow glow and it was set for a dinner for two.
“Do you like it?” Richard asked anxiously. He wished he has more resources or more time to plan this.
“Of course, Ricky. This is so beautiful and you went to too much effort, and on such a short notice! You worked miracles.” Maya said happily, touched at his effort.
“For you, Maya and for having a memorable time with you, I’ll do everything I could.” Richard said seriously.
“Thank you Ricky.” Maya said softly.
Richard bestowed Maya a brilliant, happy smile. Then he pulled the chair for her. Soon after, Marina and her nephew Mario arrived with their dinner.
“Wine, Maya?” Richard asked Maya, gesturing towards the bucket cooling on the table. “I took the liberty of ordering white, but if you prefer red, I’ll just go and tell Marina.”
“No need to do that, Ricky. I prefer white actually. Thanks a lot.”
Richard poured them a glass each. He handed hers to Maya. “To us, and beginnings!” He toasted.
“To us, and beginnings!” Maya echoed. “Thank you again for this, Ricky. For everything!” Maya added, without putting much into words her gratefulness in Richard not pressing her. For just being there with her in that wonderful moment!
Richard gave Maya another of his beautiful lopsided smiles, tilted his head in acknowledgment and to let Maya know that he understood completely. “Thank you, very much also, Maya for this unforgettable moment.” He said simply.
The two of them enjoyed their sumptuous dinner amid the quiet of the night, with a gentle breeze blowing and the lapping of waves. They laughed heartily, shared smiles, and just got lost in each other’s company, enjoying the moment. They also talked deep into the night, as if they are in a hurry to find everything they could about each other. Maya was very happy. So was, Richard. He can’t remember a time he felt this contented.
“Do you want go for a walk, Maya, before we turn in?” Richard asked after he and Maya finished their second cup of coffee.
“Sure, Ricky! It is a nice night to walk along the beach.” Maya said.
Richard stood up and guided Maya out of her chair. He took hold of her hand, and they started walking along the beach. Maya gazed at the stars above, and sighed contentedly! It was really a wonderful night for a walk, a romantic night for a walk like this. She could have not asked for another person to share this moment.
“Maya…..” Richard started. He just can’t take it anymore. He needed to say this.
Maya looked at Richard, waiting for him to continue.
“Maya, I would just like to thank you again for accepting my dinner invitation. For allowing me to barge in on your vacation. For this moment! There is no place I would rather be, than this place with you, sharing this with you.” Richard said.
“Ricky, thank you too! I feel the same.” Then facing Richard, Maya decided to verbalize what she had decided on while having dinner with Richard. “Ricky, about what you said this afternoon, about us….”
Richard waited for what she was going to say with bated breath, hoping that it is what he wanted to her, had been wishing for her to say soon, since he returned to his bungalow that afternoon, waiting for Maya to come back from her trip with Jeremy, trying not to think of her enjoying the company of another man, no matter how innocent it was.
“I have made up my mind,” Maya continued, then said simply. “I would like to take those baby steps with you, one day at a time.”
“Maya….” Richard said, surprised at very happy at what he was hearing, his heart beating so loud! Then he gave her a smile that lit up his whole face, showing Maya how happy he was with her decision.
“Just be patient with me, please.” Maya implored, looking at Richard with her very expressive eyes.
“Of course, Maya. We are in this together.” Richard assured, Maya. Then taking her hand, he raised it gently to his lips. “Thank you, Maya. You don’t know how happy you’ve made me.”
Maya smiled at Richard. She felt she was at the top of the world at that moment.
The two of them gazed at each and they stayed like that until a strong wind blew, making Maya shivered. Richard warmed his hands and put them Maya’s to give her warm. They continued walking for several more minutes, then call it a night.
Hand in hand, sharing happy smiles, they walked back towards their bungalows, hearts so full.
Note: I may disappear for long periods of time, (really hoping/trying for shorter periods) but I am just here. 🙂 Sometimes, I just need to regroup, take a short break, or attend to stuffs. Thank you very much for the support, as always! ❤