All We Saw was Gold

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It has almost been three months since Dida and I went to Talisayin Cove in Zambales. Despite this, I do not forget the little details. I’ve been meaning to put down into words my adventure with my father during that hot day in May, but sometimes, I just find myself too busy. I read somewhere that when you finished covering a story, write the article afterwards so you wouldn’t forget the little details that you might have missed in your notes.

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Yet, my adventure – any adventure, really, with my Dad – even though lots of months have passed, I will still remember the little details and how I felt that time.

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There were three little boys who reminded me so much of the lost boys of Peter Pan. The cove was their home, and sometimes, to get to the inner land again, they ride boats. Three young adventurers who helped us pitch the green tent which is almost as old as I am – I pray that you grow up to be hard-working and loving Filipinos. I also pray that you still keep your dogs as your trustworthy companions.

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Maybe I should apologize for saying that I will not forget the little details. Because I seem to have forgotten what the dogs we befriended were named! (This makes me sad). But I do recall their temperaments. Their little quirks. How one dog just sat far away from us and stared. How one dog eagerly smiled at the camera. How one dog gobbled up the leftover food we gave him on a little tray. How the white and black dogs, as if in a secret friendship, decided to go together to this little river and bathe.

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Originally, we planned on going to Anawangin, because that was the first one I heard from all the coves that San Antonio, Zambales offers. Going there felt like I was a tourist in our own province. It was a pleasant experience. I thought we were going to get off at Anawangin too, but Dad surprised me that we would be going to the quietest cove instead. I love that we chose the one that people did not frequent; it was as if giving our love to this child who did not receive the loving attention of parents he loves.

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There were only a few people. The wind, I remember, was relatively strong, but the day was hot. We didn’t get to meticulously prepare for the trip. Dad cleaned our old tent from caked mud and dust, one that was never used for almost two decades already. We also bought a bag of chips, cookies, and luncheon meat. The eggs and pancit canton (a favorite always!), we got from Mang Nestor’s humble store in the cove. He is the man with the gentle eyes and kind smile who lent us a pot for us to cook with, the traditional way! We would survive being castaways if we’d be with my father.

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I was amazed at how resourceful my Dad was! A boy scout, truly. Haha! He got two twigs from a tree and we used these for our utensils. We used them the way you would hold chopsticks. I remember how delicious that pancit canton and hard-boiled egg were. There is beauty in waiting for the water to boil, in the simplicity and slowness of the old days.

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I remember the three little shells that the three lost boys gave us. They are still here with me. It is interesting how the shells kind of represent each of the boys’  height and age. From the oldest to the youngest.

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Before I forget, there was also an old couple living nearby where we set up our tent. I loved how it all looked when my Dad was walking with the kind old lady across the sea shore in the bright afternoon light. It was like seeing two angels walking together, ready to gather some indian mangoes that have fallen from the tree.

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I will not forget how the lady asked us to come by again and get more indian mangoes. Truly, I believe that kindness still prevails. We may not see it everyday, but somewhere behind the mountains are the kindest people you could ever hope to meet even for just a few hours. In the photo above is Dida with Ate Mindy, Mang Nestor, and Mang Domeng. I pray I got Ate Mindy’s and Mang Domeng’s names right! Truly truly truly kind and humble people. 🙂 And there’s also Mang Randy, the brave and humble boatman (I hope I got his name right too).

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I will not forget the treasure I found in the company of the doggie friends we’ve made. I miss them.

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In some patches, some pockets of the cove, are places that resembled places I read about in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I felt like a hobbit with an elf’s keenness for the woods.

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With all the beautiful things I’ve seen in this place, I’m glad that I had someone to share them with. To go to an unknown and beautiful place and to not have someone you love to share it – I cannot imagine how I can stand it. Whenever I remember Talisayin Cove, I remember gold. Not pirate’s gold nor a rich man’s treasure but the color.

Gold was the color of some rocks. Gold was the sun that we didn’t get to see set in the horizon. Gold was the reflected light on puddles of water. Gold were the leaves when the light hit them.

All we saw was gold.

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While I was growing up, my Dad wasn’t there with us all the time. He left for Qatar a few weeks before my elementary school graduation. He’s still working there, now for almost ten years already. He visits when he can, and sometimes when he’s planning something extraordinary, he would randomly pop out of your doorstep and give you a tight hug. He would render me speechless sometimes.

To be honest, I regret that I didn’t text my Dad as often as I should have when I was in high school and college. I do not know the extent of the loneliness he probably felt in Qatar back then. How many seconds does it take to just send him a message, how many minutes does it take from my clock to just talk to him face to face using the video? If I could just turn back time, I would have probably sent another extra message, another extra I love you, just to get my Dad through lonely nights that sometimes I, too, would feel here.

We were always close, but it was only recent that I realized how much I grew to open up more to my Mom and Dad about everything. Yes. Everything. They are my best friends, my sun and moon, as I always say. 🙂

My adventure buddy, my Daddy, you weren’t really away while I was growing up. You never failed, never ever, in being my father. It isn’t about the presents. It isn’t about the allowance. It was never those things at all.

Dida, even though we were far apart physically, never have I thought that you were far from my heart. We always talked, we always bonded. And when I was going through something terrible, you and Mom gave me the highest and purest love I could have ever received from another human being.  When I have nightmares, you would ask me to open Skype, and you would stay with me through the little screen. You would play me my favorite songs from The Beatles and Bob Dylan, and of course, your favorite Safe and Sound.

This is God’s love manifested in my parents. This is something that I cannot possibly repay for I am merely still an irresponsible and immature child who still have a lot to learn from her Mom and Dad.

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We have seen gold in Talisayin. Upon writing this, I say now that I have seen God in my Mom and my Dad.

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On a last note, the morning I woke up, I walked along the shore and chanced upon this rock. But for me, it is not just any other rock.

I smiled so wide when I found it. I was reminded of this verse: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” – Psalm 118:22

Everywhere, I pray to find You, Lord. In the people around me, and in my family.

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