Monday, January 10, 2011

A journey through time and across the country, and back home

Just now (11:56 AM, Manila time), I closed the Google Earth and is excited to blog about my emotional journey throughout the country using the said application.

It has been a long time since I opened it, I think it has been around two years since I launched it. Suprsingly, I thought I deleted it, but when I checked Spotlight and typed Google, Google Earth was the top result, so I clicked and launched it.

There it goes, that neat application with the planet Earth and the view of the Philippines. I clicked and zoomed until Makati city's buildings are in view. I then decided to trace my route to my condo. I was not able to measure the distance between office and my place, I'll do that next time. Google Earth was so neat but busy since I last checked it. It has pictures of places uploaded by different people across the internet, that's the coolest! So many tags about places to go to! I was an excited kid as I click the photos along the way to my place as I travel along EDSA then to Commonwealth highway. Google Earth is also now updated, the picture of where my condo is now a picture of it when it was under construction, last time I checked it was a picture of an empty lot, by the way, this place is already finished and what's under construction is the Commonwealth highway extension in front of the condos. I surveyed or browsed the updated images surrounding my condo as well as the assorted uploaded pictures from different people, some are interesting enough, others well, not quite.

Out of nowhere, a song played. Hiling by Silent Sanctuary, suddenly I travelled to Manila, and zoomed in at the corner of Vito Cruz and Taft Avenue, too bad or fortunate for me, no picture of that particular condo building was uploaded. On the map, the condo building is behind two other condo buildings, so there was no way I can see that damn, fucking building! I said to myself "'buti na lang", then the song Hiling kept on playing in loops to my head, then as I stare at that spot along Vito Cruz and Taft avenue, emotions of deep sadness and unmistakable longing purged out from deep within the dark depths of the grave I dug so deep inside me back in 2008. I wanted to get of there! So I ran... I clicked the mouse, dragged and click, dragged and click until I got to my place of wandering refuge...

Cubao, I clicked no interesting pictures from the so many posted on the map, or perhaps I just clicked the wrong ones. I wanted to go home, to my sanctuary, so I scrolled up towards Novaliches. I am home. Then I suddenly miss my mom, I wondered if she could only know what issues his son is facing right now, how would she react? So clicked and dragged towards the East, Rizal.

My mom's place is far up in the mountains, I can just imagine the long hassle of the daily commute from her place to her work in the other end of Rizal. Point A to point B is such a struggle for me with just thinking about it. Then I checked the surrounding greenery of the tiny village where my mom lives. My landmark was a dirt road which is in clear view from the satellite image. So I checked out what lies beyond the concrete road and unto that winding dirt road. To my surprise, there are a lot of pictures uploaded by bikers, some photographs are actually nice, which made me assume that some of the bikers are also photographers or are hobbyists. I clicked and dragged more to the East, and I noticed that the farther I am from Manila, the better I felt. Still in Rizal but to a place where I can no longer zoom and it was all greens from the satellite image where uploaded pictures of small waterfalls and a river and small but clean bodies of water. I thought that I must have travelled so far from civilization. The only clue that there are people living in that area was... A hanging bridge, a small store that is almost like a tent pitched up in the middle of nowhere that I think only bikers and a few trucks go. I clicked a photo and it was a photo of a Rizalista flag, oh boy, I am indeed somewhere, and a photo of an old chapel or church on a hillside. A few more clicks and drags I found a lonely photo in the middle of dark green surroundings, and wow! The photo was of a dirt road over looking hills and mountains covered with clouds! I stared at that photo for more than a minute appreciating the view and wondering where is that? It says... "Tanay... Silang road" or something like that. So it is a road linking Rizal to Quezon province. Then I thought it could be the C5 road unpaved which indeed links Rizal to Quezon through the mountains of Sierra Madre.

I found myself in Silang, Quezon. A quiet far away place, I then found out that it is a fishing town, of course, obviously because it is near the sea. I headed back to Rizal with just a few click of Google Earth's zoom. I was back to civilization. I then browsed the rest of Rizal, going South to where my mom works. Damn, it is so far, I said to myself. Then I travelled down to Tanay, then Binangonan then Jala-jala and I found myself in Laguna. I then excitingly clicked and checked the National Highway, or so I thought that was the National Highway going to Bicol, my birthplace. I got lost becuase there were so many roads and the clouds were blocking the view and I could not zoom anymore. Good thing the uploaded pictures helped me find my way to Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte... I was at my birthplace. Then I thought to go to the place where I grew up, so I zoomed out and travelled way down south.

Cebu, the place where I grew up. I quickly zoomed in to find my Grandma's house. Hoping that the images are not updated enough to show the house still standing. Using bits of memories from my childhood I quickly found and used Fuente Osmena as my landmark, then I looked for University of San Carlos. I got lost for a few minutes and I got frustrated! "Where is that school!" I shouted at myself. I was so frustrated I zoomed out the map. All of a sudden my mouse hovered a photo... It was a photo of University of San Carlos, so I immediately double clicked. There I was, looking at the school compound, "my Grandma's place is just near here" I said. I then remembered the first time my daddylolo send me out to buy pan(pan de sal in tagalog) at the nearby bakery on my first week in the city! I was forced to learn Cebuano real fast. When I clicked on the surrounding photos near University of San Carlos, gooosebumps crept out all over me. I then saw the roof of the building where I bought pan, nearby is a store where they sell school and office supplies, the corner with a stoplight and a small one way street where multicabs (there were not much jeepneys during those days in Cebu) pass by going downtown. Then I clicked and dragged to Don Pedro Cui street. The roof of my mommylola's house was still there. The big garden of the house where flowering trees (yes trees, not plants) with such beautiful smell grow. Then I saw where my tita Lorna and tita Paz lives. I imagined myself when I was there the last time, when daddylolo died. I traced back my route from tita Lorna's house to the street where I hailed a multicab going to the funeral place.

I then tried to remember my most beautiful childhood memory of a place, Danao. Still in Cebu, I travelled north. The images showed buildings and much progress has been made in Danao, which is now a city. I tried to look for a hill somewhere at the western side from the beach. I wasn't able to find it. It was where my mom and I lived when we left my grandparent's house in the city. We lived in a small hut or bahay kubo, with barely but small cardboard boxes with us where we store our clothes and some clay and metal pots for cooking. What we had for stove was a local clay version of a stove in which chopped woods are used to fire it up, it was simply called kalan. We cannot afford to buy kerosene to light up the wood, so instead we buy wood shavings during that time. The hill where the hut was had an overlooking view of the town and the sea. In some sunny and beautiful afternoons I can see big passenger ships sailing to the south carrying people from Manila to Cebu. I can tell those ships were from manila because of their size, ships bound to Cebu from Manila were usually the largest at that time, air travel were for the rich back in those days. I then clicked and dragged more, looking for the church as a landmark. I then saw that there is now a mall in Danao, and a sports complex and buildings. I was not able to find the Elementary school where I wanted to study at. So that I wanted to study there I stare at the gate whenever I pass that place by during my daily rounds of peddling puto. Along the strip of beach that I saw and with the help of the few pictures I clicked on Google Earth, I then realized the places where my mom and I used to swim, it was near the fish port now. I said to myself, "Wow, we were that poor". I finally saw the image of the church and saw a picture or two of it, it was the church! I can remember that one afternoon, when the sun was just about halfway setting down the sea, the sky will turn dark blue and the sky to a deep orange rust and the bright yellow streetlights just turn on and the waves at sea was gently pushing on the sand and back to the sea again, their sounds as they hit the beach were like whispers on my ear, beautiful whispers from the sea.... Then I walk home with my day's earnings.

I also travelled to Talisay, which is South of Cebu city. We lived there for sometime where there, I peddled not just puto, but also dried fish. It was during my tweens and when the famous pepsi contest happened (that eventually became a scandal), we were living at that place. We lived onthe second floor of a very small house, no running water, but I can't remember if we had a bathroom. What I remember was that my mom had to go to the river to do the laundry and me to fetch water from the only source of water in that entire community, poso as we call it. I was circumcised when we lived there and my mom bought me to the beach, that was my first and only experience of bathing in nude at sea. I remembered I punched an older kid on his face which made him lose his two front teeth, that because he accused me of not falling in line properly, that was where people fall in line to get water from the poso. I zoomed out Google Earth.

I felt so much better after that long trip down memory lane with the big help of Google Earth. I am still safe at home, relaxed, but that trip was exhausting, yet was very exciting, emotionally that is.

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