After a red-eye flight, a 3-hour layover and another hour and a half flight, I was met at the airport by my sisters, nephew and my son. We then headed to the beach because I wanted to walk along the beach with my son. He loves the water, but he is always afraid to try anything at any new place. This was our first time at this resort.
As always, at first he refused to step into the water when I asked him to. So, I did the routine of me stepping into it and showing him it was fun to get the feet wet. After a few minutes, he signaled for me to go back to where he was standing with my sister, and as soon as I reached out my hand, he clutched it and stepped forward.
After that, he didn’t want to leave anymore.
It was cloudy, but it was still a beautiful Saturday morning with the sound of the waves, the cool breeze and the warm sea water. And the love of my life clutching my hand.
I took these photos yesterday flying from Mindanao to Manila. Everything below looks small when you’re thousands of feet above the land. But sometimes you see clouds that look gigantic right outside your plane window.
The last time I traveled by boat was in 2002 from Bohol, Philippines to my hometown. I was with a new friend then. We were just getting to know each other, and he was really nice. So even if it was very dark, star-less night at midnight as we hung out on the stern of the ship, and all I could see was the white foam on the big waves, I didn’t want the evening to end. (I always find it interesting looking back how when I was younger, I was not easily scared by dangerous situations — bombings, typhoons, big waves — for as long as I was with a guy I liked! How silly was that?!)
These days I would rather travel by plane than be on a ship, especially if I have to travel in the evening. I don’t care if Bradley Cooper is on the same ship, I would never travel by boat at night.
Northern Mindanao, Philippines
Don’t get me wrong. I love the sea, the ocean. See, I made this watercolor because I really like this view of a boat sailing on the sea. When I made this, I was imagining myself being on that boat watching the horizon. But now several months have passed, and I look at this again, I’m thinking that can’t be me. I’d never get on a boat alone.
There’s chaos in some parts of Mindanao, but in some areas like Misamis Oriental where the airport is, there’s peace and calm and order.
I had asked the driver to stop at this spot. The farmer agreed with a smile when I asked if I could take a picture. My family and I were on our way to an airport hotel where we could spend the night before my flight back the next day. I didn’t want to miss my flight because of the curfew and numerous checkpoints (at least 6 during a one-hour drive, but the soldiers were all courteous and friendly!)
Being home and seeing how people were scared but were fighting their fear by trying as best they could to live as normally as possible, I was greatly encouraged, and I’m very proud of my fellow Mindanaoans.
Lohas Hotel, Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental
With or without Martial Law, life goes on in Mindanao. There’s still some kind of order.
I have to admit I am a little scared to go home to Mindanao this time. I actually cried as I was packing this morning. Living for so many years in China where the only explosions I hear are from firecrackers or fireworks, I have become too comfortable and a little cowardly. In 2001, when the government declared an all-out war with the rebels, I dared to go to Marawi to accompany my journalist friend who was going to interview a religious leader there. On our way to Marawi, we could see and hear helicopters strafing certain areas. I was scared, but also thought of it as an adventure, something I could boast about later on.
Then I left for China. Seven years later when I went home in the summer for a visit, rebels threatened to attack my city. It was the first time I felt real FEAR. Seeing my sister deathly pale and cold, watching my mother pray the rosary as we all huddled in the bedroom, I nearly went crazy with fear.
Now, I am going home again to a conflict-ridden Mindanao. I envy my fellow Mindanaoans , who do not allow their fear to defeat them, who continue to believe that this too shall pass. I have lost my Mindanaoan courage and optimism, but I hope to get them back when I arrive home. Soon.
It is a great mystery that though the human heart longs for Truth, in which alone it finds liberation and delight, the first reaction of human beings to Truth is one of hostility and fear! -Anthony de Mello