Natatandaan mo pa ba?

Back then, uso pa noon ang Friendster at Yahoo Messenger.BUZZ! 

We met up for the first time on my trip during Fiesta time sa hometown natin and you brought your friend along to celebrate. Kuya was straggling along with us. AS ALWAYS. Siya ang bodyguarddiba? He would never stop teasing you about this and about that. And, word on the street is…he still hasn’t stopped. Hahaha!

Our time together before the New Year was brief. But we would reunite at your place. I had visited your house at least twice before, at age 3 and 15. However, it wasn’t until this visit that made me realize just how beautiful your part of the province was. The beach, albeit filled with rocky, dirty sand, became the place of solace for me. The path to the beach from your house was still made of dirt and it only took less than a minute to get there. You, me, and Kuya would jump along the rocks, crossing little streams, and watch the sun set as we chat about anything from the silly and mundane to the proverbial. As I graduated from adolescence, never had I felt so free from my worries. And you know how much I worried.

This was the time when we went fishing at the fish pond. My first time and the last time I ever went fishing. We took our Tupperware of bait and our sticks attached to long strings and sat at our own posts around the pond. I sang, Sittin’  on the dock of the bay, watchin’ the tide roll away. I was so excited when I finally caught a fish that I did my little dance. Kuya took a picture of my first catch but it ended up being a short video of me dancing. I still have the footage. We must’ve caught at least half a dozen fish, which ended up being our dinner. Afterwards, we washed and gutted the fish. You and Tita also rolled lumpiang shanghai (y’all know what’s my favorite!) and sushi. The night had arrived and you stayed with us at the barebones lodging closer to the city. We brought the food we cooked and also bought ourselves a large bag of fresh balut and feasted in our room.

I spent my last few nights in the busy city and you and Kuya merrily tagged along. I was supposed to meet up with someone that my friend from Virginia introduced me to but we simply couldn’t find the time. For some reason, all I remember us eating was cheap convenience store food for our meals, such as instant microwaveable Ramen and random tsitsirya. Otherwise, I was fine just starving.

On my last night, we decided to purchase some cheap wine, pulutan, and marshmallows. We sat outside at a table located next to a restaurant that also included a karaoke bar blasting favorable music. With the marshmallows, I challenged you to a game of Chubby Bunny. You had never heard of the game before and I warned you beforehand that people had died playing the game. We would dip our marshmallows in wine before stuffing it into our cheeks while trying our hardest to refrain from laughter. The music from the restaurant was vibrating through the window pane. Linger” by The Cranberries started to play and I peeked through the curtains to see who was singing along to the song. I thought nothing could go wrong, but I was wrong, I was wrong. It was the only song I remember playing that night. During the whole trip. We would stay outside past midnight, laughing and hollering at our kalokohan, until it was time for me to prepare for my return to the States.

The world was still small. We were still carefree then.

Natatandaan mo pa ba?

This post is in memory of Dolores O’Riordan.
Rest In Power. Thank you for your music.