There was suffocating unease as I inched further away from the gate. The night prior, Lia, who had the vaguest concept of the span of days, agreed to send me away to a six-day work trip, smiling as she says, “Bring home Playdoh” — the same way she does every day.
I wondered how long that smile would last once she TRULY realizes that I will not be around to put her to bed for the night and greet her first thing in the morning every day.
Six days. Six long days.
For the first time in nearly four years, I was leaving my daughter for over 15 hours. I had several twists and turns in bed nightly for a week. Somehow, a part of me felt as if I was abandoning her.
During the early hours of 5-6 am, she would search for familiar flesh, eyes shut and half-asleep. I cup her in my arms as she nurses, her tiny fingers wrapped firmly around my girth. The most ant-like of movements awoke her, so I relinquish the opportunity to pee or catch up on dire articles so she could have three more hours of uninterrupted sleep.
From the window of the bedroom, I watched black turn to violets and deep oranges till she rises.
Today, I glimpsed into both sunrise and sunset without her, the latter while seated among fellow travelers on San Juan’s shores, beer and bonfire afront.
Today, I learn to live life without the usual insanity-driving noise and clutter.
Today, as Gay said mother to mother, you live for yourself.
I was among 24 individuals who were sent for the six-day NLEX Lakbay Norte 5 media familiarization tour, an explorative jaunt to Northern Luzon provinces.
Every year, the North Philippines Visitor’s Bureau (NPVB) and the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), along with sponsors Petron and Victory Liner, provincial tourism boards, and host hotels, restaurants, and bars gather media participants – from TV, broadsheet, magazines, and blogs – to experience lesser-known destinations and culinary gems in the north. It’s an advocacy to boost tourism above all. To help build jobs, help build lives.
|Balingasay river cruise, Bolinao, Pangasinan. Photo by Martin San Diego.|
Past participants were taken to Cagayan, Tarlac, Quirino, and Zambales, among a host of other provinces. This year, they sent us off to La Union and Pangasinan.
An animated Victory Liner-sponsored bus served as our second home for the next three days.
We’ve made it from the bar crawl and surfer experience in San Juan to San Fernando’s serene coast to Dagupan’s alamang-laced meals and river cruise to Bolinao’s larger-than-life sunsets.
planking diving. First ATV ride.
|Topload ride to Tangadan Falls. Photo by Martin San Diego.|
And then there were things I never thought I would do. I ziplined – squeamish, acrophobic me – 200 feet above ground, with forested trails and Mt. Balungao in full view. I laughed and shared secrets with people I won’t even share my email password with till 3:30 AM over beer and a game of “I’ve Never”. Even with the decade-wide age gap, it feels like we’ve forever been solemates.
There are many memories. Many cheery and lasting, like sunset in a glass of spirit. Or the salty scent of the ocean after a month in a lifeless cubicle. There are so many, I don’t even know where to begin.
|Tangadan Falls, San Gabriel, La Union. Photo by Martin San Diego.|
|200 feet above ground. Mt. Balungao Hilltop Adventure zipline tower. Photo by Martin San Diego.