Pagudpud, Philippines….thank you!
My bare feet first touched the sands. It felt so warm, so comforting, and thought to myself how the sun must have done a pretty good job in warming up the ocean shores. The waves beckoned me to touch it, to feel it, see what it has to offer, and so I did. It was invigorating! Hits you warm then turns cold as the breeze cools it, to the touch, just perfect! It was so hypnotic the way it forms bubbles against my feet. All the while the sun was about to take a dip, with burnt orange skies as backdrop, as if to take a bow after it had done its part for the day. Perfect scene, the kind an artist would love to capture on canvas. I was standing there loving it all in, and breathing it all out. Feeling the fresh air envelope me, I allowed my tears to fall.
As if it’s the right time and the right place for it. My 6 year old son passed on, on the fall of 1999. It cut real deep, and doesn’t end, just goes deeper. I have never allowed myself to cry, for to do so was to lose what is left of me. I couldn’t feel for anything or anyone because to do so, I run the risk of losing again. So I built, brick by brick a wall around me, a fortress to guard me, and I was its Ice Queen. Until now…. I continued to walk the sandy stretch of the beach making sure I walk right along where the waves would stop before it washes itself back into the ocean again.
It was the most beautiful dusk I have seen in all my life. To this day and everyday, I would look forward to every sunset. It’s the same sun that rises and sets everywhere in this planet but it was different here. This place is called Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. It is on the Northwestern side of the Philippines, a coastal town facing the China Sea. Ilocos was a Spanish town, occupied by Spanish “conquestadores” for hundred of years in between 1500s to 1800 to right before the Japanese took over. The whole Philippine archipelago, all 7,100 islands are surrounded by a body of water. Beautiful beaches abound everywhere in this country, but Pagudpud is different. That time we were there, summer of 2001, most of it was still undiscovered, unexplored by tourist. In fact most parts didn’t have cellphone coverage. The people I was travelling with complained. I was just happy to be disconnected from the rest of the world. I didn’t need the noise of the outside world. I am more interested in this place. I know the more I discover about this place, the more I discover about my own personal journey. I know I am about to turn a chapter. I insisted on sleeping right on the beach in our makeshift beds, right beside the bonfire.
Looking up the sky, I cannot help but feel grateful. Grateful, that I can feel me alive still. That I am not all dead inside. I communed with my creator, and thanked Him, really really thanked Him. Something I haven’t done in a while. Waking up at dawn, I almost jumped, was too excited to start the day. We had breakfast,climbed coconut trees, swam and decided to take a ride up the coast, allowing us to experience lush rainforests. Tall, majestic mountains meet smooth sweeping beautiful beaches. Paradise indeed! As it looms above us, I felt over powered but in a good way. As if I am one with it all. The smell of the rainforest have lifted something off my chest.
Then the driver stopped as if we about to hit something. A family of apes crossed the highway. They must have come down the mountain. A dad, a mom and a baby apes crossed the road with complete abandon as if we don’t exist. We were too stunned to do or say anything. That’s something you don’t see everyday. We finally reached a place called “Paraiso ni Anton”. It’s springwater cascading down the mountains. We drank of it and surprisingly tasted so good. So crisps and clean, believed to have healing properties. I am at a place of allowing and accepting. Allowing what is and accepting what has been. I am thankful for this place as it gave me the strength to cry out repressed emotions, to face my own demons and more importantly, fall in love with life again. I am grateful for this place for imparting in me its energy, so that I brave this new lease on life with more love, a little bit more trust and never ending gratitude for all that is.
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