Gut feeling often reminds us that a mystery cannot be explained so easily.
Nearly a year of stay in the City of Pines brought me hundreds of colorful memories. From the Strawberry Fields to the rice terraces, from close encounters with snakes to nearly riding a horse. from numerous chances of getting hitched to similar numbers of getting ditched, that memorable chapter in my life was concluded later in an unforgettable twist of fate.
Restless of being stuck in a joyride, I began to question my fate, whether I would be a Peter Pan of sorts, living but not growing, wasting my potentials in a wonderland of fun but not of meaning.
My decision was made: the final trek back to the capital could not be prevented. It was that or a life keeping the bottle as company everyday. I chose the former.
With a heavy heart, everyone let me go. All the friends and acquaintances I collected were not prepared to see me no more. They accepted the fact that I would not coming back for a long time. I said so myself.
A few weeks in the capital did not sit well with my plans. Stagnation overcame me. I felt like stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Suddenly, one day the earth moved, literally. An earthquake of great intensity shook the main island of Luzon: the city of Pines took a near direct hit. The devastation was staggering to imagine.
I was transfixed to my chair, immobile for more minutes I could not remember, tears flowing down my cheeks. I had the worst feeling that casualties included people I learned to love.
Back then, communication was down. The roads leading to the scenic summer capital were blocked by huge rocks after landslides occurred. The news reports were sketchy at best.
I wished I never left them. I wished I came back a few months later. I wished I knew they were all alive.
I was afraid to face reality. I wanted my memories in tact: they were forever living in my mind, happy to be remembered till I grew old.
One of the saddest day of my life had to be written. To this day, I insist that they escaped unharmed.