An Ode to My Hometown
It would have been the classic tragedy of all tragedies, had I stayed and been staked firmly into your ground, and killed a dream, forever. I would have been more quiet and still than the already quiet town that it was. I would not have seen, heard, and known what I should have and what I should have not. The parting, truly, just made all the difference.
Had I not bitterly bidden you farewell, the towers I would have only known then were the guava-rich rolling hills, home to fighting spiders of all colors, cocooning inside the deadest and driest of all leaves; the melancholic, yet itchy bamboos, swaying and rustling against the breaths of distant mountains; the three-meter pole to which I would hold my chin up high, with squinted, sleepy eyes, during endless 8 a.m. flag ceremonies, singing the national anthem and reciting the pledge of allegiance; the lofty coconut trees, the trees of life, rising from our backyard with harvest-ready tomatoes and bell peppers rooted to garden beds gorging on carabao dung, and living on Canigao island, white and lonely and the purest of all virgins imaginable, shy and meek; the wooden power posts, greened by algae, pestered by accidental mushrooms, and nested by jet-black crows in holed heads; the two-storey, corrupt municipal hall dressed in cracked paint, leaving texts unintelligible, useless; and the centuries-old Saint Joseph church that stood high through the sweat and blood and tears of those who labored hard under the tropical sun disguised as Spanish crown.
But the things I knew, I have grown up and smiled and laughed with them sealed in between my throbbing temples since the time of our bitter parting, welcoming wherever the world takes me. I have always reminisced our memories, good and bad, immortalized in shameless, old-school diaries kept inside shoe boxes, shunted from dust. Those were sweet and tangy-smelling every time I recall my youth and playground at every possible square soil. I crave for it like the juiciest fruit known to man, and I sincerely apologize to you at the same time. There is a must in all things. And I must do what I had to, explaining and hoping you would understand.
I called out your name one morning of my last young summer, but you didn't hear me. I saw you with a curious companion riding habal-habal (motorcycle-for-hire), as if on a chase -- swift, unmoved, indifferent. And clouds of dust rose above the choked up slender greens lining the roadsides, and my poor, sore, allergic nose, growing red and terribly sneezing.
Still, if you asked me the same question on that fateful day today, I would answer the same and sail the same rough seas convoluted with uncertainties and heartbreaks -- even if it meant leaving you in the cold, again, you feeling betrayed, and me coming back after six full years.
I bade you farewell, my Matalom, the second time, in the hope that you would be happy for me and wishing me well on this journey, even farther and longer and sleepless and uncertain and brokenhearted.