It was my age of innocence, when Lapu-Lapu was legal tender and Loida Theater smelled of freshly soaped leatherette. I never did have any reason to venture out of Molave Street. My friends were there, the komiks-for-rent was just a walk away and the street doubled as a field for our brand of football. On moonlit nights, we would scare each other with stories of ghosts and manananggals, and on sticky summer days—after the visiting cousins’ welcome had worn off—we would fly kites and pick fights with the kids from the other street. Weekends we would spend in Bacon or Pepita Park or Palhi or San Benon.
Then it was time to leave. School was waiting, and there were other more important things to do and learn. The trips back home became farther and father apart. Ties were forgotten: I became too wrapped up in the business of making my own adventures—of walking the earth—to keep in touch. There were mountains to climb, islands to discover, seas to explore. Never mind the fact that I couldn’t quite put a finger to what I really wanted. I was on the move, and that was what mattered.
Two years ago, I saw the old hometown for the very first time. I was assigned to write about the place I grew up in, and I realized that I was practically a stranger. And so, for three days, I went back to my roots. Riding on the waves on our way to Buenavista. Watching the sunset from the Rompeolas. Driving down to Gubat amid the surreal glow of the aurora. It was then that I marvelled at the history-rich walls of the Barcelona Church, trekked Bulusan and discovered the enchantment of Palogtoc. I have been to other places since, but none so moved me as the thrill of coming home.
And so, 17 years after I first left for the city, I am home. Much of Sorsogon is what I remember it to be—the sheltering sky, magical moonlight, the town bedding down at 7 p.m. Of course, people still gossip, as they are bound to do elsewhere, but I am happy in my own space. The wandering spirit has been tamed. Who was it who said “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.”?
Note: This was written 7 years ago. Just thought I’d “resurrect” this from my files…