Who knows what it was that compelled us to take that four-day trip further up north? We had no idea what to expect. There wasn’t even a map until we finally got to Ilocos Norte and decided that we ought to have a means to make plans. Even then the map was so trivial. It just had one line connecting all towns and I remember thinking, as we made our way through that stretch of road, that it would really be something if all important roads were like this. Less winding and less worrisome to traverse. Regardless of the time of day, the road seemed to go on forever and yet, you hardly notice the time like you would on a typical day–on your way home with the metro’s traffic.
Beyond the roads and whatever wisdom they offered, I think this trip was the best way to start the year. When we returned to Baguio, a friend made a very memorable observation. She said, “you know where your heart is.” As much as I enjoyed the previous year, I wasn’t exactly sure I knew myself at all. Or you could probably say that for the most part, there was a conscious effort to not face the tough questions–even when it seemed pressing. The tendency is to cower in fear when faced with the uncertain (especially that which is unsettled within). And whatever shell you choose to hide in will always feel like a good place to be. I grew accustomed to its walls so much so that when it became too tight inside, I wasn’t always ready to leave. Yet, when it finally occurred to me to do so, I crawled out to realize my own depth.
And that is one lesson of this new year brought to you by the beach and its creatures: that we must constantly abandon our shells. Accept yourself as constantly growing toward infinity.
There are other stories too…of weddings we attended and those we crashed, of churches and bell towers whose keepers were kind enough to restore our faith…there was the beach, the stars, the hot showers (and some very cold ones)…there was also the author who was kept a secret in Manila only to be found within reach.
Ideally, I should tell you of everything found in this trip but thinking about it now, it isn’t so much about what I found but what it was that found me. So, keep seeking.