I’d like to talk to you about Ilocos with its spectacular dawn, its vast green landscapes where screaming cows chase arrogant goats and the majestic chorus of crickets and bull frogs harmonizing under the night sky. I’d like to write about their three-storey market, the sing-song sound of my cousins calling me manong or adeng, the sprawling river of cold clear water and my future inheritance which include a vegetable farm, a rice mill and a vacant lot where my future rest house will someday stand proudly.
I’d like to talk about Vigan where history clashes calmly with present modernity, my beautiful Barrio Rioeng in Laoag City where my ancestors once floursihed and Batac where the Marcoses would always be Lords. I’d like to regale you with different stories about my cousins – a gang of humblest and simplest people who are the greatest friends I’ll always have. There was nightly inuman sessions where mixtures of Emperador and San Mig Light drowned those who are in the circle. Or sometimes around midnight, we would walk arm-in-arm within the streets of Laoag town proper where we would eat humungous empanada and feast over mouth-watering bagnet, the best I ever had in my entire life.
But I’m too tired. My body, mind and heart are tired. We were filled with sorrow as our Tatang Tano, my grandmother’s brother, passed away. His final great act, gathering us all under a single roof where once a kind soft-spoken lolo lived with his pomada and an old rumbling calesa. I’m too weak remembering a huddled family mourning over the loss of its patriarch. Too weak from remembering the faces of my aunts, uncles, cousins and many other distant cousins embracing, waving goodbye as tears swelled from their eyes, a deep sadness flooding their faces.
So for now, I’ll tell you about this boy resting inside his white-walled chamber in Bulacan with its wide open capiz window as he try his best to put a tattoo in his mind about his promises…his promise of returning to his beloved Ilocos where once again he could exchange jokes and Ilocano swearwords with his cousins, jump altogether in wild rivers and walk under the wild night sky of Ilocos.
For now the boy will rest and more stories shall follow. But as he takes his rest in his home in Bulacan, he would always think of this home he always have in Barrio Rioeng, Laoag, the majestic chorus of crickets and bull frogs harmonizing under the night sky, the sing-song sound of his cousins calling him manong or adeng, his future rest house and the midnight walks and food-tripping so that way, he will always be home away from home but always nearest.
-photo taken by a cousin