The Heavens

The night sky over the hills of Himanag, Lagonoy, Camarines Sur. There’s Saturn as a bonus! For this shot: @18mm, ISO 1600, 30″, f/3.5. Taken May 13, 2016.

It was more than fifteen years ago since the very first time I saw the Milky Way. I was staying in my aunt’s place in an island fishing village in the Bicol region during the summer vacation. I woke up at around three in the morning to join the older men tend their fish cages. And as I looked up in the sky there it is. I just could not believe it. It was almost a magical feeling. I grew up in the city and there aren’t many stars visible through the city’s haze and pollution. So, the first time I saw it, I knew it got to be the Milky Way. And when the summer was over and another school year started, I used to tell my friends and classmates all about it. We were young kids. But sadly they don’t seem to share my excitement – which was fine with me. They always think of me then as rather eccentric kid, who always come up with strange stories of island adventures every time summer vacation is over.

So I then promised myself that in the future I’ll buy me a nice camera to take a snapshot of what I saw.


Once Again

Every morning when the dawn breaks, I have renewed hope. In this photo, the sun had just risen and was strolling under our pomelo tree in Candelaria, Quezon Province. For me, every morning was a sight to behold.

I’m back!

So, it’s been ages since my last post. And I never have imagined that I’d be writing once again. I’ll just take this opportunity to tell a very short story about what happened to me since my last post.

I’ve been struggling on how to fix my life. Turns out that the company I have worked with as a writer cannot financially sustain its operations and had to lay off several employees. And since I was the newest member, I was the weakest link. Up until know, I still wonder on how a media company would possibly be able to keep on running, broadcast worldwide, and pay about fifty employees with just selling geomancy and feng shui stuffs as source of income. I mean, seriously, I was very ambitious on the owner’s part. But then, that was a different story.

Just last year, I met a former co-worker from that company and told that sometime after we were laid-off, our former boss and owner of the media company faced a lawsuit, charged with estafa. Well, I thought, that figures.

Life was hard. Life of joblessness was churning my soul. I simply couldn’t figure out what was happening to my life. I have a family. I couldn’t simply give up, even if I desperately wanted to. They need me.

In the first months of 2014 things just got worse for me. Due to some dire circumstances me and my family were forced to move from our urban home in Bacoor City and to live in the rural backwaters of  Candelaria, Quezon Province. My father-in-law lived their in his childhood. And since his mother died recently and the house was left abandoned he offered me the house for us to live in. That time, I already have two sons Рmy eldest was four years and my youngest was turning one Рand my wife was pregnant to our daughter.

I was used to living the life in the rural setting. During my own childhood and my teenage years, i used to spend my two-month summer vacation every year in my mother’s home village in Camarines Sur, Bicol Region. I had experienced living without electricity and running water, with the only means of connectivity to the modern civilization was a battery-powered transistor radio. So living in Candelaria wasn’t all that difficult for me – even if I have to gather firewood for cooking. As for my kids, they seem to be doing fine. They don’t mind at all living in the countryside. For my thinking, what’s wrong for them living there? They got to breath unpolluted air, the vegetables they eat are fresher, and the they got a quiet neighborhood.

My wife, however, wasn’t all that amused. She gave me all kinds of hell because she didn’t like living in the province. She was born and raised in the city and probably have no experiences whatsoever on living a rural life for more than a week. I totally understand her complaints and displeasure, I mean, I couldn’t agree more that we were facing a very serious problem of unemployment and having to borrow money from my mother to feed my family. But by that time, what choice do we have? We had nowhere to go. Candelaria was all where we can run to and ¬†we had to make the most of it. We just had to be patient and wait and see and try to figure out how we can earn money to make ends meet.

To be honest, despite all the hardships, I found happiness in Candelaria. There was peace. There was quiet. The people are nice. During the first weeks of living there, I felt that I belong there. It was home. And although we were still struggling on figuring out on how to make money, I rediscovered my skills and talent. Or maybe I should say I was forced to. And I was happy about it. Because for once I get to realize that my future is in my hands. I’ve been overlooking my artistic skills for years. Maybe I could resume drawing and painting and other artworks then sell them. I could totally use the quietness and the tranquility of my new surroundings to regenerate my soul! I could totally use my passion for cooking for opening up a business!

Pancit Habhab, one of the reasons I fell in love with Candelaria. Most eat it without the use of utensils, hence the word “habhab”, but I devour it using chopsticks.

Suddenly, the possibilities were enormous. There were still hard works that had to be done and odds are tremendous. But the possibilities were there. And that gave me hope.

But none ever happened. Nature has a way of rearranging itself, our lives, and our dreams. In July 2014 we were struck very hard by a devastating typhoon. Never in my entire life have I experienced such violence from nature. It was just the first one for the year’s typhoon season. In the middle of the night the house was flooded due to relentless rain brought by the typhoon. The house was not destroyed, though. But most of our things got soaked in the muddy flood water. We were so overwhelmed and the conditions unbearable for my family that we decided to go back to Bacoor City. That time, it was already alright for us to return there.

Wild flowers bloom on our forested backyard.

Looking back, I had learned pretty hard lessons. It seems that I was purged. I was made to look deeply into myself and made me reassess my life. Of course I felt sorry for my family especially for my wife. But then again we had no choice.

By June 2014, our pomelo started blooming, promising sweet pomelos. Something to look forward to.

Storms may come and go. They test our strength. The house was still there until now. Worn and neglected maybe, but it’s still there standing, waiting for its new occupant.

Looking back I am very grateful because in times of my troubles I found shelter. And in the middle of hardships I found true peace of mind and happiness. And most of all I found renewed hope. Everything happens for a reason.