Traveling: Chasing The Light
The best seat to take when traveling in a car is next to the window where you have an easy view of the landscapes. I choose the seat behind the driver, when boarding a van, because I get the best of everything: ventilation, music, enough room to stretch my legs and the view here is perfect. I had this in mind last night while thinking of our family trip to Boracay today.
I planned all the details. I declined taking breakfast with my ulterior motive to occupy this seat, for our family observes the first come first serve rule. I also reasoned that it is too early, and a cup of coffee can hold me to Kalibo for our stop over later.
We leave home with the barking of jordan, our dog, fading in my ears. Behind us is a dark, quiet Roxas City at three o’clock in the morning. It is a family tradition to pray the rosary as we embark on a trip, and so we do now. I hear my teenage nieces giggling in the rear seat and my sisters with their kids on their laps hushing them in whispers, while our parents chant prayers that mesmerize everyone – row by row – to sleep. A few moments after we finished the five mysteries everyone except for the driver and me have fallen into a mysterious sleep. It could be the power of prayers – or perhaps the breakfast – I am not sure, but am certain that we are in Ivisan, Capiz; the town after Roxas City.
Fish vendor now start to swarm the public market with the night’s catch. This town reminds me of sumptuous seafood meals. I regret not taking a bite of our tapsilog breakfast earlier, but this seat is more important to me. I would not take anything – Ivisan’s crab, talaba, tahong, or grilled danggit with steam rice – in exchange of this. Enough said.
I stopped thinking about foods, and listened to music instead: To reach you, I’ll fly across the skies… Regine sings this song in the sterio while I slide the window open to welcome the air. Fleeting scenes flicker in the window, like in movies, unreeling living photographs. It is my habit writing my thoughts on paper, but since it is impossible to do that now in a moving van, I used my cell phone and in it write:
My story begins in the morning, before sunrise.
Stars are no where to be seen in the gray morning skies.
The roads are wet from the rains that bathe the humid night.
A quiet scene; shadows fade, giving in to the light.
I closed my eyes briefly, and smelled the essence of dawn:
The scents from flower buds opening to greet the sun;
Rice fields smoldering with fog of morning after rain,
And the aroma of coffee from someone’s kitchen.
I save this in the archive, when I noticed that we are in Sapian, Capiz, consistently judge the cleanest and greenest town in regional and national competitions. I am absorbed in this thoughts when suddenly, my nose catches a whiff of a strangely familiar scent that evoke from me a profound emotion I express in Haiku:
Smoky scent of woods
Slowly burning at sunbreak
Of a childhood lost.
Sweet memories of my smoke-scented childhood mornings of summer at my grandfather’s farm in Masbate visit me. This is what I enjoy most among the many pleasures of traveling: the roads teeming with things that stir emotions, invoke flashbacks, and inspire the sentimental tourist in me.
There is a certain solemnity in the province of Aklan, still asleep, as we enter its boundery. I remember this is the place where, his eminence, the late Cardinal Sin grew up. Perhaps his spirit still hover here with the legacy that he left.
The mind has the power to travel back and the speed to travel ahead, and so my thoughts veer as we approach the still dozing Kalibo. I am amused observing the body movements of my sleeping family confined in the van, as it synchronize with every turn of the vehicle. When I notice that the driver is watching, I quickly conceal my grin and return my attention back to the landscapes.
The sun now peeks through the lush trees creeping up slowly.
In Awe, I watch the drama unfolding before me.
A wild wanton wind blows my cheeks with torrid kisses.
I wished they came from lips of a love I longed to have.
Like flowers opening at sunrise, the kids awake. Mirth grows when shared. Our faces glow as the van comes alive with our laughter. I see a certain anticipation written all over the kids’ faces. The van now rolls to a halt. We have stopped for our breakfast of the fast-becoming popular Kalibo langgonisa. It is time, too, for our personal necessities. I am grateful for the toilet that costs me a peso, and I do not mind paying for an albatross-scented restroom.
The structures that line our way out of Kalibo remind me of Ati-atihan festival. Flashbacks of its merriment play in my mind and echo in my ears as we continue our trip. I am satiated, mind and heart, with joy I can not contain. And we are not even half through our trip! There is a poem that spoke of parting words for somebody setting out to Ithaka. The journey, it said, enriches the voyager more than the destination does. I feel that way, and I feel nauseated with our heavy breakfast, or maybe, it is the pleasures of the trip that exhilarate my spirit. I fall to sleep with that note.
The road must be smooth I didn’t feel any bump and remained undisturbed until the breath-taking zigzag roads near Caticlan roused me. We are awake, but the majestic mountain ridges and lush forest silenced us. I’m singing in my mind the line: so high that I can almost see eternity.
The day is bright; the flowers I can now see clearly.
The verdant fields and azure skies in their hued glory.
I see birds taking off the skies, soar, chasing the light.
They stretch their wings wider, as they fly highr today.
n Caticlan port, aboard a ferryboat en route to Boracay Island, I read back what I have written. I composed a poem from my passing glances. I thought, Traveling: Chasing The Light, is an apt title. I am seated again next to the window of the boat. To the poem I add:
I feel like the birds embarking to a pristine day,
Like the fishes swimming to the heart of the sea.
Traveling, I, too, am ready to conquer the day.
I cruise the roads, and cross the sea; I am on my way.
Moments later the boat docked. Mixed sounds and smells wafted in the air. The swashing sound and salty scent of the sea; the roar of the boat’s engine and its fumes; the chatting of my family blending with the strange tongues of foreigners – wearing varied perfumes and body odors. But all these are soothing to my nose and are music to my ears. Our heavy loads seem light as we line up to disembark. When it was my turn to step on to the white strands of Boracay, I notice ripples of tiny waves cleaning the sand fresh ready for my footsteps.
Boracay, Summer of 2005