Prison and Paradise
Whenever vacation comes, I become so
lonely, instead of being relieved. I feel this way, not because I'll miss
my crush but because I know I am not going home - again.
For the past three years, I have felt this
certain kind of isolation whenever the vacation approaches. This is because
I cannot afford the plane fare to Batanes. For three years, I have been
longing to catch a glimpse of paradise again. Many times, I imagine myself
being on top of a hill, watching the sun as it slowly hides itself in
the horizon. But for three years, I never knew where the sun rises and
sets. I didn't even know where was north and where was south.
the Town of Mahatao
When I was in Batanes, my guide was the North Star, or the different children
of nature. Here, I am guided by different road signs that I easily forget.
Oftentimes, I get lost because I become so lulled with the road intersections
and all the buildings around me. My surroundings are very complicated
that I always get nervous. I have never felt secured ever since.
I remember my first trip to Manila. Once I came out of the bus, I began
to feel dizzy; I felt my guts, forcing their way to my throat. My body
refused to accept the taste of pollution, so that for a while, I literally
stopped breathing. Once my body was full of it, it didn't resist anymore.
And just like a bird, I have adapted to my new 'habitat.' Yet, when I
looked around, I didn't know where to go. The city seemed so disorganized.
However I still felt a tingle of excitement running through me. 'This
is it!' I said to myself, 'The city, at last!'
But the rise of excitement pays with a sudden emotional downfall. Now,
I constantly become a prisoner in the four walls of my room. Most of the
time, I have no choice but to lock myself in this dark room, feeling bored
and unhappy. I don't know if the sun has set or the sun has risen because
there are no mountains, no oceans to look at. I can't look at the North
Star because the window is barred with screen. I can only look at the
ceiling and think of my old happy days.
Recently, I asked a friend who just came home for a visit. She said Batanes
is very different now. There are many new things. New houses, new people,
new everything. I felt happy, because that is a very positive change.
However, as I thought deeper, I sensed something that made me become a
bit troubled. Change is change. Somehow, this will involve change in all
aspects - whether it be good or bad. And the scary parts of change are
the negative ones.
Admit it or not, we Ivatans tend to overlook the negative things. Sometimes,
we believe too much from the people who came from outside because we feel
that they are smarter than us. This certain faith and dependence takes
away our sense of reason - whether it is good for us or not. Many times,
we simply follow the trend. If a classmate joins a 'frat,' we join too,
because everybody does it.
I admit that I'm also lured by the trends I see around me. But through
time, I have learned to look at things differently. And that is my way
of getting out of trouble.
The Ivatan tribe is developing, and I take
pride in saying that I belong to this tribe. And because of this I have
all the right to care and to fear what might happen to it. Batanes is
now becoming popular, even around the world. And that's because of one
reason: it is unique.
Town of Mahatao
It is good to accept progressive change, because for it, we will bear
more pride in belonging to our group. But this change doesn't mean that
we will gradually forget our culture and our paradise land that made our
trademark in this world. If we begin to forget our history and become
ensnared in the mighty hands of development, we will no longer be unique
- and little by little, the world will forget the great paradise of the
Its about time for me to go back. Come March, my friends will be asking
me again whether I'll be going home or not. At that time, I will no longer
hold back the tears, knowing that I would be a prisoner once again. Just
like in a dream, I would be flying high, together with the clouds, eager
to see the beauty of my home again.
I will go home, knowing that the beauty I once knew will not be corrupted
by selfish intentions. I will go home, knowing that the sun will rise
and set at the same place; and the North Star will still be my guide in
looking for north and south. I will go home knowing that my hill will
still stand there, not washed away by floods. And I will go home knowing
that I'm once again in the paradise, which is special and unique from
all of God's creations.
like to thank Ms. L. Galarosa of Mahatao for contributing the above article
and for allowing us to share it with the Ivatan community.