A Long Way Home


I was two hours early for my trip bound to Tuguegarao. I feel like a teenager about to attend his first JS prom. Sitting on the weathered bench at the Victory Liner Bus Terminal, I could barely wait to get aboard.   It has been a while since Ive been home. I stopped counting the days a long time ago. I finally adjusted to the stressful life of Imperial Manila. I have learned how to loosen up and have a little fun. I tell you. It was not easy.
I was and still is a full blooded probinsyano. As they say; You could move the person out of the province, but you could not move the province out of the person. Especially if the province is  home to good memories.
At 9:30 PM, after the what seems to be the longest wait for a bus ride in my entire life, the terminal barker finally called for our bus number. As I was making my way to the bus, I can’t help but notice the long line of passengers still trying to get a ticket. Everyone eager to get out of Manila, in time to be with Families for the All souls and All saints day.  It is a long weekend. Everyone wants to take advantage of the little break. Look into their faces, both the young and the old, and you will see the stress from waiting in long lines. Yet underneath the surface, you could sense the excitement and anticipation. Like me, They too are going home.
The atmosphere inside the bus is no different. I could feel the adrenalin rush, the excited chatter all around me is a testament to that. I hear the sing-song tempo of the Ibanag of the Isabelinos, the steady rhythm of the Ibanag of Tuguegarao, the pleasing sound of Ilocano and the beat of the Itawes tongue. After getting bombarded with Tagalog and English in every turn for the whole year, those dialects are music to the ear. Those Dialects is what makes Cagayan Valley the Cagayan Valley I know.  Amidst the sweet chaos of the native tongues, you could hear almost the same Idea. It’s Fun Fun Fun. People planing what they are going to cook for the gathering, when they visit their departed love ones at the cemetery. Some talk about visiting old friends. Some talk about funny but good memories. Some talk about their kids meeting their grandparents and relatives for the first time. I can’t help but smile. how funny it is that we find a way to celebrate life on the day of the dead. It is ironic but it is good.I woke up at around 6:00 PM day before my trip. I work a grave yard shift in my company. After the shift, I went to the mall to get some pasalubong for the people at home. Needless to say, I was awake for more than 24 hours and counting.  I planned to sleep once I get my butt on the bus seat. But with all the adrenalin and the excitement around me, Sleep sounds like a wishful thinking. 
As the bus hit the road, I busied myself on the plans of my own.  After the driver turned off the lights, I was thinking what I am going to do? who am I going to see? and other stuff like it. Then I think about Tuguegarao. I call it Extreme Tuguegarao. Extreme because when it’s hot, it’s really hot. But when it’s cold, even your soul will feel the chill. I had lots of happy memories in that place. I had a number of bad memories too, but I learned from them…or at least I tried to. That was my last thoughts before the coldness and the darkness of the bus sway me to sleep.
I was pulled out from the middle of my dream by a gentle tap on my shoulder. It was the bus conductor, telling me we have arrived in Tuguegarao. I arched my brow. It can’t be. I barely closed my eyes. How could we arrived so fast? Still in state of disbelief, I stepped out of the bus. the morning sun is now shining brightly. I was still dizzy. I waved to a passing tricycle and told the driver where I’m going. With a knowing eyes, he looked at me and asked “Piga sangaw y’yawa mu?(how much are you willing to pay?)”. I looked at him and began laughing. Yes, I am in Tuguegarao. I am home.