4 April 2005 / 4.19 AM / Rm. 519 / Kabayan Hotel

The room is silent except for the monotonous hum of the airconditioner. Thanks to jetlag, I’m up early—uncharacteristically early for a nocturnal creature such as myself. Since I got back several days ago, I have had to fight off sleepiness in the afternoons and resign to waking up very early in the mornings. Not complaining, though. The silence and freshness of the day make for an irresistible invitation to write. Apart from the absence of a cup of coffee by my side at this early hour, everything is perfect for tap dancin’. The swanky PDA keyboard I bought during my trip is working perfectly.

In a few hours I will send off my elder sister to Japan where she will start graduate studies in law. She will be away for at least two years. I am excited for her. Achi has always been the dreamer in the family. Somehow, she’s always known what she wanted and keeps trusting God to surprise her with new things. Yesterday she recounted to me the grace-seasoned stories behind her obtaining a scholarship in Japan, each one an evidence of God’s hand working in her life with impeccable timing.

Ano’ng oras na?”

The light I switched on to write must have awakened her. She’s tossing and turning in bed, trying to get some more sleep, but I doubt she’ll get any more. The few hours before a potentially life-altering event is not exactly conducive to snoozing.

I know of at least two other people who are up and pensive—and possibly teary-eyed—at this early hour. Our parents. Popsy is in Laguna right now with an uncle. He came to Manila several weeks ago to visit my ailing aunt, her youngest sister, and then decided to stay several weeks longer to meet me when I got back from abroad and also to send off my sister. He called yesterday to say that he might not be able to make it to the airport today because of rheumatic legs. Good thing the three of us have had the chance to meet last Saturday morning at the domestic airport when sis flew in from Davao.

Then there’s Mama. She would be all alone at our house in Davao right now if not for a rowdy pair that have been commissioned to keep her company: Tim and Chikay, the grandkids and expert blues-chasers. It’s amazing how kids can be very perceptive and refreshingly direct. My siblings relayed this recent anecdote from home:

Chikay to LolaLils: “Psst… may problema ka, Lola, noh?”
LolaLils: “Wala ah.”
Chikay: “Meron. Kita ko sa eyes mo. Sad ka kasi wala ka na anak sa bahay noh?”
(Lola must have by now been nursing a lump in her throat.)
Chikay: “Wag ka mag-alala, Lola. Andito naman ako.”

True to her word, Chikay (with sidekick Tim who is always happy to visit Lola and her lumpia, bola-bola, and fried chicken) spent the past nights making Lola smile.

With my sis leaving home, my parents are now truly empty-nesters. I can only guess at how they must be feeling right now. This time is also a journey for them—one of trusting God for their grown children. I remember telling them once, “You will have to trust God and believe that you raised us well enough to make good decisions in life. And when we do make wrong ones, which is guaranteed, that you have taught us well how to learn from them.”

Life is full of journeys. Not all are geographical relocations; most are actually spiritual treks we need to take, each one a fertile opportunity for faith to grow.

Happy trip, sis! Wish us well on ours, too!

* * *

Got an email from Achi who is just settling in her dorm apartment in Hiroshima, Japan. Unable to understand Japanese yet, she says she’s been doing a lot of “prayerful guessing”—from operating the household appliances to playing charades with the locals.


  1. and it is always comforting to know (especially for exiles like ourselves) to know that home is always a place we can go back to, although for many of us, home has become as transient as the lives we must now live. sigh.


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