I remember the day I first believed in love at first sight.
I wasn’t as pretty as the movies would prove, but it was magical. I remember my small delicate fingers entwined to those of papa’s huge, candlestick ones and mom’s. My eyes were twitching in amazement and deep bewilderment. It was in a theme park; a place of sea breeze and nostalgic memories—a place where the first hero of the country’s statue stands tall; a place where I spent most of my childhood days. It was the only place I call home.
Mactan. I’d shiver to the ends of my skin whenever I hear the word. I could say I’m one proud Oponganon. My mind goes back to the scenery of bloodshed and the spark of clanking blades like I have been there. Victory of battles won swoons over my yielding heart every time I realize that I live in that stunning island. On the other hand, the Mactan Shrine is such a spectacular view. The tall, meticulously carved Lapu-Lapu sends forth a stare to the everlasting cloud banks, watching the horizon as it splits in two. No wonder my parents brought me there all the time when I was five. How I wish I could go back to being five. But then I’m stuck in seventeen.
Meanwhile, as far as I can remember, I still needed someone to tie up my shoelaces for me that time. I even am keen to committing ludicrous and violent behavior. For instance, I could never forget that time I stabbed my classmate’s left eye with a pointed pencil. Fortunately, I was in kindergarten. So you’ve got to forgive me.
Nevertheless, the nostalgic days were over and clearly, I grew up. However, like everybody else, I had once a free spirit; I was vibrant, fresh, and young—never would’ve thought a child like me would ever fall in such intimate regard. You can’t be young forever. We each had a time in digesting ourselves beautiful pleasures of being yagit. Eventually we’d grow up and leave these things like unfinished dreams.
Clinging to mom, we walk past the dim lighted posts on our way outside the shrine. We usually leave the place when the skies turn weakly blue. And clinging to mom, I’d listen to how her day went in the hospital. She works there. Sometimes, Pap would carry me with my thighs on both his shoulders. I can picture the most beautiful smile I have running across the cheeks of my juvenile face.
Then we’d pass by these stalls of vended shell ornaments, shirts, and a lot of native handcrafted goods. But most of all, I’d catch a glimpse of those fragile things that bring music, all aligned by sorts.
“Mommy, mommy, mommy, unsa diay na?” Curiosity washed my face as my eyes scanned at the beautiful pea-shaped wooden masterpieces.
“Mao na siya ang nagpa-oo nako sa imong papa,” she smiled as if a child my age could possibly know any of those things.
But inside of me, my skin craves to touch it. Feel it, even. I longed for every inch of it. My eyes were childish and innocent, but they haven’t failed to appreciate the handcrafted wooden treasure. It was long and flawless; it was smooth and was just perfect to the untrained eye. My eyes lingered from the head to its bottom, totally swept. Its parts fit themselves perfectly. I could spend a whole hour just by looking at it. Believe me.
It took me a few years to know what that feeling meant. And then I knew. I was in love.
Days and nights passed, I kept thinking about it; about that precious sight. I wished I had the strength to cradle it. I wished I was smart enough to have fun with it. I wished that one day my small fingers would run along one of its strings. I wished I could do any better than wishing. It wasn’t long before the stars took faith and granted me my wish.
The day I turned nine, I was the happiest kid in the world. My folks made it possible, and I am deeply in awe. They brought home the joy I’ve been seeing in the theme park every day and every day in that span of childhood years, I never forget to thank Mom and Pap. Up until now, I still do.
It was the day I finally put my hands on my very first guitar.
Every day, I’d play it with my heart’s content, wishing I could sing. I’d even bring it with me to sleep. Part of me longs for those times we’d spend every afternoon in the park, and part of me longs to see myself wearing that beautiful smile again. How I wish I could rewind time! But then we grow up; we fail, and we fall short. Mom grew. Pap grew. Failure is a necessity in this earth, and there are certain things I’ll never know why it had happened but for sure, I’ll never forget the day I learned “love”.
Mom and Pap gave me the greatest gift I ever had received and I ever will receive. Love. And through those little things, I am undoubtedly and forever thankful.