Sunday, June 22, 2014


Take me to the place. Take me to the place where my body sweated off its childish yet full, bursting, relentless spirit, as I ran swiftly, slipperless over a dusty and uncemented track, and breathed off a steam of relief at the finish line. I claimed the first prize from our local captain, such a meagre amount, a pittance, but was fat lunch enough to feed my piggy bank. It was a most momentous day despite having to walk home with a limp thereafter, for I gloriously scraped my left knee and elbow at where the lowered, down-to-my-ankle, stiff line was. How could they? I don't remember their faces, but I can't forget what happened. Victory was ironic that it had to be painful, bittersweet, and I just stared blankly at the colorful banderitas over my head as blood was let out. It was our barangay fiesta, and it was high time for money-making for me and my sister by winning games. 

Take me to the place where my cranium and its innards plotted "The Strongest Fish," an underdog story that moves the good-hearted to stand up for himself and gives bullies a taste of their own medicine. For as long as my memory aids in my recount, the young, valiant protagonist knocks down the smirking, arrogant, Goliath-sized bully in the underwater boxing ring. I wish I still had a copy of our elementary school paper. 

Take me to the place where I buried the pages that I tore off from my notebook. It was a sunny afternoon. Using my trusty gardening tool, the sometimes rusty bolo knife, I dug a small hole in the ground where the trunk of my gmelina tree stood. The tree was a treasure find for someone with green thumb. The sapling jumped off our neighbor's truck, was left lying across the street, and good Lord, I safely brought it home at night. The nonsensical love notes met top soil and water, and were gone in a month's time, united with humus. 

Take me to the place where dreams, ghost stories, songs, riddles, and even gossip kept us awake until midnight. More so, squashing mosquitoes was part of the routine. We often had our not-so-secret meetings at the pergola of our ancestral house, which served as a walkway, the second gate. It was a shed made from bamboo amongst guava, lanzones, and santol (cottonfruit) trees, santan, roses, yellow poppies, and a variety of orchids. After we tired ourselves from playing on the street, all soiled and wet, under the pale, Friday moonlight, a stream of puerile, excited laughter still managed to seep through the walls of the pergola, while we beheld with wonder the hundreds of magical fireflies glowing in gold around the bent, old guava, and lent an indifferent ear to the buzzing crickets -- until our angry parents came looking for us to go home and hit the hay. Sticks proved to be more effective than just an endless nag. 

Take me to the place, and then tell me what it means to be back to where my mango, tambis (love apple), jackfruit, and mahogany trees grow. They must be full-fledged, bearing fruits by now, spreading their sturdy branches off the bamboo fences. Watching them grow is a deferred capacity, long overdue. 

Take me to the place. Take me home.

Photo source credit: Ecology Global Network


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