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August 2, 2013

Where You’ve Been Is Where You Are

We are always someplace.

 That place may be home, which can be an apartment in the city, a cottage in the province, or a corner of the beloved’s heart.

It may be where you toil and serve to make a living or break a career.

It could be your happy place, where you savor flavors, watch films, buy books.

It could be the place you go to lose yourself, or the place you visit to find yourself again.

Whether or not we leave a mark on the places we visit, each of those places change us in ways we might not realize now but later, between the clamor of talk and the still of thinking.

tagbilaran essay art

In Tagbilaran

In Tagbilaran, Davao, and Cagayan de Oro cities, the airports are very small, scarcely able to accommodate more than a few planes.

They make up for this by not having jetways and by allowing people to take photos on the tarmac although for the sake of official propriety they announce this is forbidden.

When you land there the sky is always blue, unless it has rained or will rain, then the sky is gray.

The airport terminals have only one baggage carousel and x-ray machine and the traveler exits fast, eager to proceed to his destination.

It is best to travel light.

horses at naicIn Naic

In Naic, Cavite, there is a racetrack—the Santa Ana Park. For two days every week, sleek and swift Thoroughbreds run around the course to entertain aficionados of speed and skill.

The track is in the middle of almost nowhere. Yet it is sustained by money and passion, the love of sport, and the drive of ambition.

So it exists, sufficient unto itself in its loneliness and its urgency. The sand on the track, if it could speak, would tell you in little voices of the wonder of victory, the bitterness of defeat.

fishermans wharf SF

In San Francisco

In San Francisco, the Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the popular tourist destinations. Each time I visit that place I take my sisters to eat clam chowder from bread bowls at Boudin, a bakery where they shape bread into giant crabs and crocodiles.

Here too, on the Wharf, one may fill a bag with candy from Chocolate Heaven (which is staffed by Filipinos) and watch the seals cavort on the pier.

seals in SF

The seals are fat and loud. They are graceful in the water but ungainly on the platforms, out of the waves; but they are very strong, the way they heave themselves out of the sea and on the pier.

They are not afraid of humans, who wave and toss them forbidden bread. Their marine laughter is mocking and sly. Seals know their superiority. They are borne of wind and wave and wildness.

Photos by Jenny Ortuoste


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