A Tale of Two Cities (Iloilo): A New Day Has Come
This is the beginning of my personal journey between two cities (localities), that I call home. Both south of Manila, one in the middle, the other one at extreme south. Each has different characters, each has a story to tell about my life. This is part of the series, A Tale of Two Cities.
Chapter 1: May 6, 2002 – A New Day Has Come…
I’m not supposed to write personal stuff here on my travel blog, but this day, a decade ago, was one of the most significant dates that happened in my personal life. It was the day that I arrived in Iloilo, hoping to start a new beginning, a new life—and it did. My move south a decade ago had made one of the most lasting legacies that made me who I am now, and what HabagatCentral is all about.
It was graduation on April 2002. My dad has decided to send me to Iloilo, instead of taking up college in Manila. I insisted to be in UST (University of Santo Tomas), and UP (University of the Philippines) was really out of my head. I’d rather stay in Manila where my comfort zone was. But again at that time, parents’ decision prevails.
Also back then, I was embittered with high school. I broke up with my girlfriend, betrayed by my classmates, and was mocked by the entire class because of some issues before graduation. It was a bitter parting of ways in which it was supposed to be the happiest days of your life. It wasn’t. Moving out of Manila may also be practical—emotionally. I have to get out!
May 5, 2002. I took a ferry ride through Negros Navigation. It was M/V Saint Ezekiel Moreno, as far as I remember. Since it was high noon that we left, I bade my mom farewell. It was a move to the south that I never knew it will change entirely my perspectives in life.
That journey that lasted for 21 hours was more of reflection. The islands come and go, the dolphins occasionally showed up. It was a great journey under the summer sun and then after the calm night sky. I miss taking ferries now, to be honest.
Then on May 6th, I woke up early. The light of Nogas beckons the breaking dawn. Then as we entered Panay Gulf, the sun has risen over the horizon. For the first time, I saw my future alma mater, basking in warm orange. SEAFDEC dominates the southern coast. Then over the horizon, the twin spires of Molo Church greeted me. That summer morning, I felt I was greeted with such warmth, that there was no turning back. I was teary eyed back then. I don’t know whether what fate has in store for me in Iloilo, but her greeting of calm and warmth that morning was the best feeling, after a tumultuous and embittered elementary and high school life.
From then on, it was at that very day, ten years ago, that my life changed significantly. A Manila Boy—who was stubborn, who didn’t understand or speak Ilonggo or Bisaya, who thought he was far more superior than his probinsyano colleagues, who was emotionally unstable, and who was looking for a place under the sun—will never regret the day and the decision he made to move down south. This may be the day he had thanked the Lord or the Universe of this. A new day has indeed come.
Ten years later, I’m back. A lot of things have changed yet the South Central Philippines is my home and my heart beats with it. I can say without malice, I am promdi and proud of it!
To be continued…