Dear Lover, Some Little Thing I Owe You

Dear Lover,

I don’t remember saying “We’d see the entire world together”. Or maybe I did, but entirely forgotten because a few memorable places would actually already do.

Remember when I told you I’m taking you to Baguio? In my head I was actually telling you I’m taking you home. And just a month ago, I did. As promised, we took the midnight bus. We did not have the luxury to recline our seats as we missed the bus we’re supposed to take. I would have wanted to keep the curtains open for you to watch the outside pass us by, but I chose that you take rest instead, for mostly, the ride we took were all freeways in sight.

The sun had already declared its might by the time we arrived. I briefed you of my soon-to-be tendency to point out random places and tell stories of what happened then and there. You let out a small laugh because I have already started right before I warned.

We jetted to Tam-Awan Village after that. We were greeted with a massive wall of graffiti my friends did for the village. It looks brighter and a lot less gruesome than it had been. We were welcomed by my old friends, whom to you are new. But at that moment, I knew you knew what I meant how faces become places and how places become faces. Their sanctuary has also become ours.

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You insisted we take the trek past the view deck before leaving. You loved how the weather afforded us a sweat-free trek up until the borders of the village. We hopped on to museums – of people and works you knew. Might have been because you met them once, or I acquainted you with them as per stories told then and there. We took the road up to meet the Oble of the North. I roamed the halls I used to roam. Some ten years ago, I was here, without any idea we’d exist here at one point.

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The night has finally put on its veil just as the rain poured, we sought refuge in a cafe because I promised to give you a taste of the best Strawberry Shortcake. I knew you’d find it not sweet enough, you requested for a slice of Apple pie. We felt we needed something to refresh our palette so we crossed Session Road and headed to an artsy vegetarian restaurant. I know I promised you a glimpse of a lesser known road but equally beautiful as Session, but the weather did not afford us – it was washed white from where we stood. Oh, it was that night you took literally The Magnetic Fields’ The Night You Can’t Remember – deluded with alcohol, you forgot how you wounded up in our room the following morning. And I, of course remembered, how you took a cold shower and jumped to the bottom bunker naked.

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The next day was a stroll on Baguio’s scariest. I must say, I am one lucky person – to have someone like you who looks at these kinds of places with utter admiration of beauty and history rather than what they are shallowly known for. I love how you marvel and wonder like a kid presented with an idea that aliens exist or something. And of course, you made the same face when confronted with a plate full of meat and protein. We took a cab home that evening. It was a toil getting one along Session Road, but it was along the trip you admired Baguio’s city lights. You struggled to take a photo from the moving vehicle. I laughed a small laugh and slipped into my mind that image of you in awe of Baguio’s lights.

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I took you out for touristy things the following day. You knew this was not my forte, I hated to do this actually. We strolled Burnham Park, maybe I just had to lend you stories which unfolded there – afternoons at the playground and some moments affront the lake. We judged a few people because it was what I used to do there. We felt a pull towards SM Baguio, you insisted we watch a movie for sixty pesos. But that was then, two hours spent at the cinema now costs a hundred and fifty. Well, still not bad these days. We stayed a little while at Harrison as we did thrift shopping that evening. It was not really your thing, but I got you sniffing around looking for vintage shirts you could parade and be proud of.

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We woke up early the next morning to oblige for everyone’s pasalubong requests. I took you to the outskirts of the wet market – not everyone has ever been to where vegetables from La Trinidad or Sagada is dropped off, not everyone sees how vendors wash their goods onsite, and not everyone knows there’s a fifteen peso kilo of carrots there.

We no longer left the village after that. We strolled back again to the roof deck, but we caught rain. We missed the sunset, which beauty I promised you forevers ago. However, we were presented with a dazed view of the mountains and South China Sea. We stayed there for a little more while, unmindful of the sharp shudders, without need of a coat, a jacket, or a warm cup of coffee. It’s like a cheesy scene in a movie bound to make you cringe and giggle at the same time.

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I thought the trip would be totally over when we set foot at the bus. On the way down Marcos Highway though, you pointed out again how beautiful Baguio’s city lights were and how it kind of reflected the serene night sky. Just when I thought we missed that part on the beginning of our journey, you brought it to me even before it came to an end.

I kind of smiled myself to sleep, knowing those days have been very exhausting, but promising and exciting. We may not have been able to tick off all that was in my Baguio checklist, but I was glad to have brought you to my heart’s home. Now, it’s yours as well.

Love always,

Asteorra

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Prelude to a Mixtape: The Beep Beep Song

Dear Mr. Snooze,

It has been months since your birthday, two to be exact. You are twenty six years and two months old today. But I have not given you anything yet, and by anything, I do not mean brand new shoes or spanking new watch or a treat to some fancy restaurant. “Anything” actually means something carefully created for you.

You know when they say it’s the thought that counts? I think it should go beyond the idea of looking for something readily available and acquiring it monetarily. Or maybe it is just my sentimental self which thinks it is more special (or the thought that should really counts is,) when it has been crafted especially for you.

So here goes my prelude to my annual creation/curation that is your Birthday Mix CD. This is not comparable to Starlord’s Awesome Mix Volume 1 and 2, but I guess it is kind of awesome too since it’s all about me and you, or you to me. This year’s mix will not be too mushy as the previous years, as I acknowledged the tides and turns and the mature and realistic (as how you pertain to it) aspect of our relationship. But you see, even how many, how strong, or how high the waves are coming to our direction, we can always swim and surf along because life and love is one big adventure with you. 🙂

I told you you’d be celebrating your birthday a bit longer!

Love,

Asteorra

 

 

Moments We Did Not Need To Know

I know I promised not to do anything special today, but what can I do? It has been a tradition in this blog to offer something for us on this date.20140319-121928.jpg

You know this photo is but a part of a series we had in Manila. I love this set as we seem oblivious of the heat and dust and smoke and dirt of the city. Our synchronized selves just seemed to be enjoying the moment.

This reminds me of our randomness – of days we suddenly feel like giving in to our food cravings, going places, watching poorly chosen movies, buying things we don’t even need, and talking about weird things that just pops out of our minds.

This reminds me of places we’ve been. You are the only one who can make me jump into a 10-feet murky river, go snorkeling in minimal gear, engage in spelunking even if I am having cramps, and continue trekking though I am already running out of breath. You are the only one who can persuade me to do outrageous and crazy things. You push me beyond what I can do and make me feel good and proud of myself. And I know you will always be doing so in more days and adventures together.

These were moments that existed then without us knowing for certain why or how. It was quite surprising to have these many memories summing up to three awesome years.

I do not know where we will be in the future, or where our years will take us. Let’s just live today as it is and look forward to more years as we always look forward to seeing each other each day.

Iloveyou, my annoyingly happy man.

*Blog title and text on picture lifted from The Paper Kites’ Drifting

**Photo credits to Jenno, editing via Overgram

When “it” is Over

I remember to have written before in my old defunct blog something about love, loss, and longing, and the waiting, uncertainty, and anticipation entailed. It was about you.

***

I have already been used to not seeing you, not speaking to you, not even thinking about you. You were my “could have been”, though eventually I deemed you my soulmate. Sounds weird I know, but remember when we went around randomly and wasted time on things that were irrelevant to our lives yet seemed to have made sense? Those became remembrances that brought clarity as to how and why we can never be. Those were the moments that haunted me, but at the same time hauled me back to safety and sanity whenever I was in great irrepressible pain.

I even wrote to you and wrote about you. How can I not? When you were the one who taught me the meaning, value, and gravity of each word, more than the dictionary could ever offer. Of course, I added romanticism to that. That’s how we deal with things and people we used to love, right? Also, I could not help it then, knowing that’s the farthest we could ever/never be.

***

And as you always do in the past four to five years, you came to me as a surprise. But this time, with utmost realness (discounting the fact that it was virtual). It was not surreal though. Nothing magical, really. It was unexpected, I cannot put a feeling on it. This was what I wanted years ago. This is what I would have given up things for. But that was not an option then. All we did was pack our things up and leave.

It kind of makes me happy though of the time we have spent apart. Maybe we needed that to wonder and wander. Maybe that was one way of making us grow and realize some things. Maybe it brought us into thinking how we cared for each other in each’s absence.

This is my story of love lost. A narrative of longing, waiting, and anticipation that have gone. It will never be the same love as before. This is now the kind of love/friendship far more than your words can convey.

I am thankful I already have my life on track, and to have people I have lost back is a mere bonus. I guess friendships really do not end. You gobbled up your own words. In the end, it came from you even; that it has to be rekindled.

You were one of my greatest (and weirdest!) friends after all.

’13: A Prerequisite Year-Ender

I didn’t post a wishlist during my last birthday. I thought it would be a little off listing down things I would have wanted to receive when people from the Visayas region are struggling with their lives. Thus, instead of “needs and wants” bullets, I am listing things that made me happy and/or things I should be thankful for this past year. So, that makes this a partial birthday and year-end blog

1. Less rampant skin asthma. As much as I wanted to skip the beach in summer, you just can’t say no to sunny sunny places. Surprisingly, my allergies didn’t shoot up, or was I just OC re-applying SPF like crazy. On the other hand, the trip to Sagada made my skin a lot better. I guess I am really meant to live in the mountains.

2. First time to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve with the boyfriend. I used to hate my boyfriend’s work schedule: night shift and very few holidays. For last year’s holiday however, he took the toilsome drive from his workplace to our home. He arrived with so much glee. He even played the guitar for everyone and brought a puppy for me to adopt.

3. Seeing Stars in concert. Last year’s birthday wishlist included Stars and Sara Bareilles concert. Guess I was a good kid then, heavens answered my prayers by bringing Stars to the Philippines in February! It was a surreal experience to see them perform live. I cried, sweat, jumped, and felt every kind of emotion to each of their songs.

4. Spending the Boyfriend’s birthday in Boracay. It has been a tradition for the boyfriend and I to take a week off from work on our birthdays to have it to ourselves. It’s usually a time for adventure, food, culture, and peace and quiet in between. This time, we chose the shores of Boracay. Midst the bipolar weather, we braved island hopping, parasailing, and helmet diving. Our nights were usually capped off with beer and good music. It was relaxing and fun.

5. Friendship level up with colleagues at Burot Beach. The office Breakfast Club hit the beach in late June. We were camping newbies, but we survived. Nothing fancy for us, but we enjoyed the bonfire, smores, drunk dips at dawn, crazy games/dares, and confessions. Friendship level went up notches higher.

6. Crying over John Green’s “The Fault in our Stars”. It’s been a while since the last time I shed tears over a book. (Last was Marley and Me, I literally bawled and tucked my face into pillows haha!) It made me cry buckets. It was cute and romantic which makes it all the more sadistic, sad, and heartbreaking. I can’t wait for the movie.

7. Sweets and treats delivery from the boyfriend. As mentioned, I used to hate my boyfriend’s work schedule, but one of its perks was he can drop by the office to hand me things I need, like for emergency: meds, supplies etc. But a sweet boyfriend is a sweet boyfriend, he randomly drops by to give me dessert, snacks, and bonus chicken rewards.

8. Well-spent birthday celebration in Sagada. I have always wanted to go to Sagada. I have always believed it has the same promise as Baguio. As part of my birthday celebration, we (friends and boyfriend) took an adventure and nature trip to Sagada. We braved the grumpy weather, trekked to Bomod-ok falls, and conquered the Lumiang-Sumaguing cave connection. I knew it will be one of my favorite places. I will be coming back.

9. Weird birthday surprise from the boyfriend. My boyfriend is abnormal. He takes delight in pissing me off first before giving me surprises, rewards, etc. For my birthday, he asked me to pick him up from his office. It’s really annoying, come to think of it, but hey, maybe he prepared a surprise with his officemates. But so happened, we just hopped and took weird routes from Eastwood to almost Marikina part of QC, from the C5 area of Pasig to Meralco Ave to Kapitolyo. And picked up an avocado cake with greetings from him and my pet rabbit (HAHA). The next week, we no longer traveled far and wide. Instead, he teased me into getting a new pet and picked me up from the office, already with a new female bunny munching grass.

10. My brother finally ending up with something he really really wanted. People consider my brother the happy-go-lucky type of guy. Little are they aware that he’s the kind who’s up for just about anything just to go after what he dreams. After graduation, he sought our parents’ approval regarding entering the PMA. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t allow him because he was still young and immature etc. Just this year, he secretly filed for application for the military. He just broke the news few days before his one-month training. Now, he’s already at the Tarlac camp for his year-long training. I am so proud and happy for my brother.

11. Boyfriend’s new work schedule. How many times have I ranted about the boyfriend’s morning being my evening and vise versa? Well this year, he switched companies and received new work schedule. Though he gets to the office at around 6am, still, that means more time together. Yey!

12. More kitchen collaborations with the boyfriend. From plain brownies to smores to cookie crumble. From lasagna and baked macaroni to lemon garlic dory and baked chicken. Here’s to more awesomeness in the kitchen!

13. Welcoming new babies in the family. Just a month after my boyfriend got me a new female bunny, it gave birth to four tiny kittens! It takes a lot of effort feeding and making sure they’re growing big and strong but seeing them hop, roam around, and open their eyes for the first time is priceless. I’m a happy grandmother.

14. Mini reunions and meet-ups with college friends. My friends and I have come to a point where I rarely see each other due to our busy schedule. It’s such a delight to see them once in a while and spend endless hours talking just about anything like our younger years. Though now, we no longer opt for crazy night outs. We’d rather spend time somewhere cozy while stuffing food on our faces, if not settling down for coffee or tea.

15. My father’s survival from the Bohol quake. Perhaps this is one of the things I am really really grateful for this year. There’s no such dread as knowing someone you love has been affected by such calamity. I am just plain thankful that he wasn’t hurt or anything. Moreover, he helped people in his community.

Sagada Eats

Spotlight on food finds from Sagada:

Yoghurt House

Cream corn soup/corn soup. It was creamy and ~corny~. I could make this at home, not! I liked it, it made me warm.

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Home-made spaghetti. It was a usual mix of sweet, sour, and spicy. And yes, all red sauce pastas in Sagada tasted almost the same.

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Beef curry. I liked this because it had a strong curry taste, unlike some versions which seems to have just used artificial, powdery, commercialized sauce. It’s hot too!

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The serving size in Sagada is really big. It could be enough for two! As apparent in this baked chicken leg (as it says in the menu), which looks like a quarter of a chicken to me.

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Of course, how could you go to Yoghurt House without trying their yoghurts? I forgot how this one is called but it had banana, strawberry preserves (that’s different from jam), honey, and oats. Their yoghurt is sooo creamy, it rolled in my tongue and melted in my mouth like ice cream.

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Sagada Homestay Diner

So this is a plate of random things we had that night: Tuna sandwich, Pork Sisig, and Lechon Broccoli. We had red sauce pasta again but it was not included in this photo. I had mine separated because I am allergic to eggplant. UGH.

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Burnt cheese from the cabin we visited. Thank you, Ironman! Who loves burnt cheese? *Raises hand*

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Looks safe, but it’s fiery hooot! They served this as hot sauce for the Pork Sisig. You could actually see pepper seeds when you look closely.

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Tuna and Ham Sandwiches. Would you believe that the Tuna sandwich just went for Php65? And the Ham sandwich only for Php 85? They’re actually one of the best sandwiches in Sagada. You can even ask the diner to stack them on top of another.

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Strawberry Cafe

We didn’t actually dine here since some guy was fixing the path towards the restaurant, but I just felt like I needed to post the strawberries which they grow on bamboo poles. They’re so beautiful! Also, they were selling strawberry plants! Too bad, they cannot live in Manila.

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Lemon Pie House

Pasalubong, check!

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Salt and Pepper Diner

Cheesy Tuna Omelette is an entry in my comfort food list. I am not picky when it comes to this but the boyfriend was praying with his whole heart that this better be better than what we make. And, it did not disappoint! I loved how it looks mediocre outside, but oozing with cheese and juicy tuna inside.

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This is the only pasta we tried which had a distinct taste. It was made of fresh tomatoes, a lot of onion and garlic, and of course, tuna. Doesn’t look too appetizing in the photo, but it was actually the best we had.

And the bread was a bonus! It was buttered and toasted, yet soft. We turned it into dessert as it came with strawberry preserves.

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Last from Sagada Homestay. Lechon Broccoli! Do I still have to say something about this?

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Here We Go and Dare We Stay*

It has always been a dream to spend my birthday in the mountains. In 2009, I spent several days before my birthday in Baguio. I did research for my thesis, some escapism, and time out for reflection. This year, the boyfriend granted me a trip to Sagada. It’s a lot like Baguio, only less commercialized.

Just few photos from the trip. Some are not yet available (friend hasn’t uploaded yet), and some I choose to keep inside my head.

***

Good morning, Banaue!

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Weather wasn’t too kind. Guy passengers had to go out and clear the road on the way to Bontoc.

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We freshened up, had lunch at Yoghurt House (This deserves a separate food post!), and made way for our 2 hour trek to Bomod-ok Falls. This 180 feet tall waterfalls is a beauty. The water was freezing. I wasn’t able to take photos since my ipod is not waterproof.

After the trek, we cleaned up, took a quick rest and headed for the Homestay’s Diner. We waited for our dinner to be prepared. We had hot chocolate and coffee while the boys played a 5-stringed guitar.

It’s already Christmas in Sagada, by the way.

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We hopped on to Ironman’s beautiful cabin-like abode. We had a hearty dinner while having some sort of experiment with a Teflon pan. Guinea pigs were cheese and sausage. We had wine and some good old Bugnay (rice wine).

He had a fireplace in his house. It made our stay more legit!

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We spent the rest of the evening singing random songs. It was more like an acoustic Rockeoke actually. Here’s the boyfriend doing one of the things he does best.

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The next day was scheduled for the Lumiang-Sumaguing cave connection. I was a bit hesitant to go since I had cramps the night before, but with the help of Salonpas (I smelled like an old lady) and painkillers, I managed to finish the spelunking course. It was tough. As I have mentioned in my Twitter, yes, I have never feared for my life until that moment. Imagine going through the caves’ cracks, crevices, holes, cold water (again!), assaults, there was even a rappelling portion! Not to mention, the rocks and stones were just either sharp and slippery. I was too preoccupied with my survival, I didn’t take any photo.

And here we are, fresh and clean after spelunking.

Time to look around Sagada!

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We walked wherever our feet took us, other inns, courts, cooperatives, hospitals, restaurants, schools, souvenir shops, and churches. I actually make it a point to visit nearby churches whenever going places so I did the same here. However, the Anglican church at that time was closed so we just roamed around the garden.

This view of the sun midst the pine trees is breathtaking. It gives that kind of warmth, joy, and a promise of peace, still, and calm.

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That night, we just stayed at the Homestay and had dinner at the Diner. (How redundant that sounds!) We spent the chilly evening stargazing at the Dap-ay with a dog, Pipay, and foreign visitors.

It has been a mushy dream for me to spend an evening with my lover to do stargazing in a Dap-ay. The timing was perfect. There were plenty of stars in the sky. They were bright (you know stars shine the brightest in the province), I could almost point out every constellation there is! I was secretly cringing (in a nice way) that time. HAHAHA

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We woke up early the next morning. The sun was up, giving the apt amount of warmth midst the cold winds.We headed for souvenir shops and some restaurants we have previously missed. We even walked down until the Sagada Weaving shop looking for pine cones which my mother requested.

We took a quick lunch thereafter and headed for the terminal to Bontoc.

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It’s almost goodbye!

We took the topload on the way to Bontoc. And again, I feared for my dear life. There were still rocks, stones, and dirt on the road. It was dry yet bumpy. I was scared I might fall down the cliff, but the view was awesome. Think: lush pine trees, mountain ranges, scenic terrain, ravishing river. The Sagada-Bontoc trip on topload might have scared me off, but the view was too beautiful to consider the trip bad at all.

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Farewell, Sagada! You have indeed made me fall further in love with the North.

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*Words from Rachael Cantu’s, Far and Wide.

Told You I’m Not Good In Writing A Lyrical Poem, Even If You Wanted It As A Song

Checked through my WordPress and found this overdue draft dated October 18, 2011. I was too shy to publish this rhyming poem (previously entitled Wild Guess: I Suppose This Shall Go Out As A Song) which Mr. Snooze requested for him to turn into a song since it has been ages, guess high school, I last written one.
You asked me to write a lyrical poem,
what do I have to assume?
Is it meant to be read or to be sung?
No choice, I have to finish this soon.
I haven’t composed in a while
words slated to bring out a smile.
Writing with measure
has been a failure.
No, I chose not to,
for it reminds me of days without you –
of lengths and distance,
an unfinished sentence,
of gaps of our breath
as we dive and sleep into the ocean’s depth.
It reminds me of our lost time,
of your then verticals I wish were mine.
I’m bad at math,
I really suck at.
But time, space, and measure
has always been a leisure.
Wonders of how far, how deep, how long,
these were my fascination all along.
But I haven’t thought of it in a while,
cause who cares about an inch, a meter, a mile,
if I have you and you have me,
and if together we shall always be.


Finale

We were bathed in tears and our skin was scarred. Every drop, every contact, thrusts deep. Daggers shoved to an unfathomable depth, beyond skin, beyond flesh, beyond bones.

And we just laid there, hurt and punctured, by our words, our lies.

We resolved to clothe each other with what remains of our love – half-truths, misgivings. We wore them hoping that what had led us to this weaves back what was lost.

Tomorrow, when I wake up, shall we still be in each’s skin?

Dear Lover, I am taking you to Baguio

It actually feels like saying, I am taking you home.

People normally beat the five to eight hour travel to Baguio for a glimpse of the Lion, for a walk up Mines View Park, for a stroll around Burnham, for a taste of strawberries, and for a million pictures they could post on Facebook and Instagram. It is a heartless journey; sad to say.

I won’t be taking you to those places. I’d take you on a different travel.

We’ll take the midnight bus. We’ll draw the curtains to the side and watch everything outside pass us by. I’ll ask you to close your eyes as soon as we get into the freeway. No, it won’t give you an infinite feeling as that of Charlie’s; but I’d let you feel what it is like being somewhere and nowhere at the same time. You’re moving, but stuck. You’re lost, but not really.

You have to recline your seat upon arrival at Pangasinan and La Union, I’d like you to look at the stars and how clear the sky is. You’ll notice a great difference when we arrive at Baguio. You may take a nap after the admiration, but I’ll wake you up when we’re already mid-way Marcos Highway. You’d open your eyes to the sunrise overlooking the mountains and the sea. I’d point the direction of South China Sea and watch your face glow, with awe and wonder and a teeny bit of sunshine.

We’d get off the bus and tell you to exhale on your hands and watch your breath become visible. I’d laugh because you’re another of those I asked to do it and did. We’d walk around and get breakfast somewhere. I’d tell you this is where my blockmates lived, this is where I would’ve marched for Graduation, this is where a white lady shows up, this is where I was almost robbed of my phone. We’d rest in a familiar place. I might even request them to have the fireplace set up for a Baguio newbie like you.

We’d walk up and down Session Road. We’d pay a visit to the Cathedral and its chapel. We’d take the stairs at the side so I could show you the tilework which seems to say, This way to the Cathedral. We’d say hello to my friends over at La Azotea. I’d show you their small gallery and sit by the window for a cup of Cordillera coffee. We’d look over a busy, beautiful, but less-known road. Its beauty overshadowed by the famous Session Road. We’d continue walking and stop at thrift shops. We’d wonder at how cute and cheap Japanese toys are, but we’d be disappointed and sad upon finding out they no longer work the same. I’d get you a leather jacket you’d only get to wear here and bury in your closet once we get to Manila. We’d walk farther, to Burnham Park this time. I’d take you to the lake. I won’t tell you the story that existed here. You know it, you’d think about it for a while, and smile.

We’d walk across Burnham and up the hill leading to the Café by the Ruins. We’d stroll a little back to get a jeepney leading to Tam-Awan. We’d hike up its slopes and rich terrain. We’d enjoy throwing coins at its bamboo wells. We’d cross its hanging bridge. We’d get a massage at one of cottages. We’d stay at the view deck and wait for the sunset. We may not be able to see the South China Sea on a cloudy afternoon, but this is, beyond doubt one of the most breathtaking sunsets you’d ever have. We’d stay here until sundown, after the artists have finished their sketches and are already dancing in the dap-ay. We’d drink with them and eventually stay at their cottage because we’re too tired to travel for the night.

We’d be greeted with Cordillera coffee in the morning, and freshly baked bread, and herby scent of pesto. We’d bid them bye and head on to my then school. I’d tour you around and introduce you to yet another Oble. We’d cross the street and pretend I am marching for my College Graduation.

We’d decide to go to the Botanical Garden next. No, we won’t take photos of the locals in colorful costumes. You know I despise that. We’d walk (again) instead and follow the trail to the Greenhouse and sneak at the ongoing exhibition inside the house made of scrap bottles and plastics. We’d take closer looks at uprooted trees and flora. We’d walk even more until we reach Wright Park. We’d throw coins and make impossible wishes in the rectangular well. We’d take a rest at the hills and take a book out to read because taking photos of with The Mansion as background is too boring and mainstream. We’d take a jeepney ride back to the City proper. I’d point you to this and that, to the haunted Teacher’s Camp, to the haunted White House, to the Pink Sister’s Chapel, to Korean Restaurants, To Diners, and to schools around.

We’d climb the only mall that exists in a hill. We’d drop coins and use the telescope at the top floor. We’d watch a movie because it’s cheap at Php 60 per screening. We’d view the entire city and look at it as if it existed in our palms. We’d stroll a little further for a Pizza and Pasta stop at Volante’s. I’d tell you stories of how I met friends here whenever I visited. We’d consider going to the market by then. We’d get our friends dreamcatchers, and pasalubong because they are suckers for that. I’d tour you around. From where the best Ilocos longganisas are, to where the cheapest vegetables are, to where the biggest and most literal ukay-ukays are. We’d take a cab home because we have too much to carry. We’d give Manong driver no tip because he might get offended and upset, but we’ll reward him with a warm smile instead.

We take a warm bath and spend the rest of the evening preparing dinner then cuddling at the fireplace.

We’d leave with happy and contented hearts the next day. On the way home, treading down Marcos Highway, I’d like you to close your eyes and feel how it is again to being somewhere and nowhere. To feel a sense of affinity and longing to the land you just left. To feel what it feels like to have found and left a home.

That was my home. It has been yours too.