We once roamed places that are now nameless, back in the days when we scrimped on pictures because we only had a roll of film or two. Every time we went to camera centers to have them developed, we’d secretly pray, “Please don’t let the photos come out ruined.” Now I have more than enough for this lifetime.
I got to know Pagudpud, Bauang, Iba, Baguio, Laguna, and Santo Domingo because your dreams brought me there. Because you were there first and they made your heart captive, like vines clinging to dear life. It was through your eyes that I first witnessed the world’s magic. In those dawns when you’d wake us up to pack our bags without the slightest hint as to where, I learned the beauty of the arbitrary.
Those places carried light. Mile by mile they changed us.
Last weekend, Lia, MJ, and I went to Subic for work. Just a little ways down the expressway was where we last saw you. At dinner, our photographer, Martin, asked who angkong was. “Lolo (grandfather),” we answered in unison.
“Tatay-tatayan ko (My stepfather),” I added. It tasted bad in my mouth. There shouldn’t be a prefix or a suffix. You are my father.
“Patay na ‘yong angkong ko, eh (My grandfather is dead),” Lia said matter-of-factly. You two would have gotten along very well, with your collective bluntness.
“Yeah, he is,” I muttered.
Yet somehow, today, as I re-member the memories, it feels like you aren’t. Because your dreams are alive. In me. In us.
I am at a point where something darker, more adult in nature, is replacing the magic. Where I have to question the why of reaching places. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because you are no longer here to lend the magic; to make me see. But I know if you were, you’d say, “No, it stays as long as you allow it to.”
On November, I will turn 35. Two weeks after, you too shall turn a year older where you are. But age wasn’t something you bothered with. You lived on your own terms. You dove into unchartered seas and braved places most wouldn’t in your time. You knew territories and names before they were even coined. To you, the where didn’t matter as much as the how afterwards – how full, how alive, how happy.
On my 35th, I hope to do just that. I hope not to care where just like you did. I hope to be reminded – always – of why you opened the world to us; to regain the lessons I once knew, standing on nameless places in the universe, with my small feet and wild dreams. I hope to live my years the way you used to live yours: with zest, curiosity, a sense of adventure, and faith in magic until the last breath.
To the hope of getting there,
Your dramatic daughter