Saturday, February 15, 2014

Travel Back to Bacolod City #OFW12

We found a restaurant at the corner of the street, got inside and seated. I looked around to get acquainted with the place. I saw a telephone at the counter, while the lady was busy writing. There’s a juke box music counter, pale blue curtains and table covers. The restaurant was not fully maintained in terms of cleanliness. I called the male server and order two plates of “pancit canton noodles,” family size soft drink and white sliced bread.

“Ayah, is this the town of Kabankalan?

“Yes, part of…this is the Kabankalan crossing. The town proper is thirty meters away.” I stood up and said to Ayah. “I’ll call Edward for a moment; just finish your food here, okay?”

“Okay Marco.”

I telephoned Edward in Bacolod City, told them about what happened in Barrio Tuyom and my decision to start a new life in Manila together with Ayah Isabel. I asked him to purchased two tickets going to Manila through a passenger shipping lines. Edward told me, that two men were asking about my whereabouts and some personal questions too.

“Who are they? Are you sure they’re relatives of Ayah? You checked their identification…through ID cards, driving license, or social security cards? You fool Edward! Can you describe them to me?

“They’re quite professionals, clean cut…well, wearing T-shirts…jeans…and rubber shoes. Hmmmm…..”

“Okay! Okay then, just do what I told you and we’ll meet there…on our favorite disco house. Got it friend?”

“Okay, got it. Marco, how about your meeting with…you know…tomorrow?”

“Just leave it to me, and don’t ask me again about it, okay?”

“Yes Boss…you’re the Boss…your Highness…”

“You foolish….I’m not joking! This is not the time to joke!...We’ll meet there, okay? Bye for now…bye….take care always my friend.”

“Yes Marco my friend… you too, and Ayah Isabel.”

“Bye!” I went back to my seat, Ayah’s crying again.

“Ayah, stop it, I can’t bear to see you like this. Are you coming with me to Manila, or you’ll stay here?" Ayah continued crying and said , “I’m with you Marc.”

I asked some information about the bus terminal from the waiter, and we went ahead to the station. It’s past seven in the evening but the people on the streets were scarce. Ayah told me some news about this town while going to the bus terminal; business establishments too, some closed early as their usual trading hours because of rampant violence and robberies. The leaders of the town were trying to proposed curfew hours for non-residents, and that some political groups opposed for this decree. Political leaders have their own private army to support their leadership, followers, businesses and other personal interests. “That’s our way of life here in the south of the island. Only the rich families have the power, money and fame. They controlled the lives of an ordinary, poor and illiterate people. Isn’t it we learned this from high school?” Ayah asked me.

“Yes my dear, but I’m absent at that time when those topic were being discussed.”

“Ahhhhhh, I see.”

“Come on, let’s get our tickets and rest inside the bus.”

I bought two tickets going to Bacolod City and asked Ayah to come along to the opened shop, trading some ready-made lady’s dresses and shoes. “Which one do you like? I think that one with flowery design, do you like it?”

“Yes Marc, I love that one. By the way, where did you get this money?”

“Remember the money your parents gave to us, I put some on my wallet. Okay then, get it and change your dress at the fitting room, over there and I’ll select shoes that’s suited for you.”

We finished buying things for Ayah; bought some food delicacies and went inside the bus. I selected the rear seats for us both. I embraced Ayah to rest on my left arm and she fall asleep. Few minutes later, sleep kept on bugging my nerves that I started to closed my eyes. But suddenly, my vision focused on a man standing near the ticket booth. He’s the man from the chapel! I closed my eyes again, and spotted him, to be sure. Yes, it’s him!

I hastily edged down the seat with Ayah to cover us from a man’s view. I woke her up slowly, whispered about the man, and waited for almost an hour on reclining position. In my mind, I am sure that I was his target, not Ayah Isabel or her family. I kept track of my past, questioning who had done such horrible acts killing innocent people?

Passengers started to come in, one by one, some in groups, and the air-conditioned bus was half-full, rearing to go, for a scheduled time. The bus helper began to shout, ‘Bacolod, Bacolod, Bacolod City, last chance to get your ticket…there’s still more seats….Bacolod!!!” Just a minute had passed, the bus moved from bus terminal up to the crossroad where we ate our supper. It went to the right side of the crossing going north, which I glanced outside and saw the vastness of sugar cane plantation even it was dark. I closed my eyes to reminisce the story of my mother to me when I was young.

"It was the 30th day of September birth date...and my grandfather's place...It was on the center of the sugar cane plantation where I was born at the small barrio named Tabu, in the town of Ilog, province of Negros Occidental. That time, my pregnant mother and father were there for vacation, and to ask my grandparents for a parcel of land, to be cultivated for our use. The reason why my grandfather built that way was that, he could see at once who’s coming from his house and who the robbers of his most precious wealth; sugar cane, mangoes, jackfruit, and other fruit-bearing trees. The house had a second level section wherein my grandfather used to stay when he’s not on the field. The lower portion of the house was made of wood, concreted floor, where the kitchen and dining area were separated by the wooden partition intricately designed with the old carvings - a large area where nobody knew why my grandfather modeled this way. The upper portion’s roof was made of coconut leaves with knee-leveled wooden wall, and things that were closed to his heart; shot gun, deer-skin leather carpet, tobacco pipe and vernacular. It was he who ran the family business wherein my grandmother was supporting him through keeping records of his transactions. They lived happily with their four children; three boys and the youngest, a girl. It was my father – second child - who dreamed to become a soldier. He wanted to be released from the usual way of farming and breeding animals. He decided to be a soldier was the only way to fulfill that dream. He was brought to Manila for Army Training. The Philippine Army division in Quezon City – the capital of the Philippines – assigned him to another area, near Manila, where he met my mother. They loved each other very much and young to know what’s the real meaning of life. They eloped, lived together, and my father gets sacked for absences without leave (AWOL). They lived in the poverty-stricken place in Manila with their own accord to face the realities of life. My father could not sustain the rigors of living in an unsustainable basic way of family life. They moved to Bacolod City, found a job as a driver of soft drink Company through the recommendation of his newfound friend, and stayed for more than a year. He was transferred to the town of Hinigaran for the Company’s newly opened warehouse. It was on this place that he spent his family life, spending time with his three children; until I came to life as his fourth child..."

“Marco, Marco wakes up!” I opened my eyes instantly when I felt Ayah’s hand and her call.

“Why, what happened? I asked with bewilderment.

“You’re snoring loudly like a boar. All the passengers are clamoring about it. Look at them.....look!”

I straightened up and looked at them; some faces were smiling, some were angry, and I noticed two passengers were just sitting still in their seats. I whispered to Ayah, “Forget them, they’re all ugly wild cow,” while aping with my face.

Ayah wryly smiled at me, but ashamed to the passengers. “You slept for an hour I think and it seems that you’re dreaming something?”

“No, Ayah, it’s just...I’m tired.” I lied to Ayah. “Where are we now… town of Binalbagan?”

“We are approaching the town of Hinigaran. Do you want to visit your family?”

“No Ayah, this is not the time. We have to go on with our plans. When we arrived in Bacolod City, we have to buy The Daily News, so that we have some knowledge about your family in Barrio Tuyom. Besides, Edward bought two tickets for us. We have to leave at once.”

“Okay Marc you’re the Boss….”

The stillness of riding this passenger bus during night time muted my thoughts while holding Ayah in my arms. The new feeling that I found protecting Ayah from any dangers gave me much thought of being a responsible man. A married man, married for the love of Ayah, married for her future.

It’s past ten in the evening when we arrived at the South Negros Bus Terminal. All the bus passengers were preparing to disembark. We hurriedly go down from the bus, while I was holding Ayah’s hand. The bus terminal was quite peaceful for this hour of the day. We pushed ourselves to hail a taxi cab, with a lightning speed two men grabbed us from behind, dragged towards the open door of a red car and a man pulled us inside the car. I stamped my right fist to a man’s face, but he clamped Ayah’s body while aiming a gun on her head where I halted.

“Okay! Okay! Relax friend...” I said suddenly. “Release her!”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A freelance writer who meticulously structured and maintained blogs just for you:A LIFE SO FAR AWAYand my other business blog:SHOPPING eMALL Thank you for your valuable time. Follow my business & writings and you'll find what life's meant to be.

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  1. Notice from the Author: Just click the + sign at the topmost portion of this page, and your comment link will appear here. Thank you.

  2. Pancit canton noodles, family size soft drink and white sliced bread are typical food for merienda so one reading the story would immediately know the setting is in the Philippines. :)

  3. your story is like an excerpt from a novel ... hihihi .. I like the narration ... id been to bacolod only once but never had the chance to see the countryside ... love their food and festival though :D .. cant wait for the next part :D

  4. the story is getting intensed, what happened next is what i would like again to know :)

  5. the story is getting more intensed, what happened next is what i would like to know :)

  6. I hope Marco and Ayah would be safe. It's becoming exciting with this cliffhanger.

  7. I wonder how they'll find a way to escape their captors.

  8. Yeah.. I agree. you should probably write a book. :)

  9. I would love to have some pancit canton noodles right now.

  10. The story reminds me to be very careful at all times while travelling. I'm excited for the next part, but I'm afraid that something bad will happen.

  11. I love stories about traveling since I love visiting new places as well.

  12. I was imagining how far is Binalbagan from Kabankalan for Marc took an hour to sleep while you reach the town of Binalbagan. I am from Negros Occidental. Probably it is an hour if they have reached the City of Bago.


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