How I Met Your Father

The boy and the girl in Samal Island, Davao del Norte
Long ago, in a faraway land called Samar, there lived a girl who was cursed with awkwardness. The maesters of the land might have called the illness she was afflicted with as … ‘inferiority complex.’
This girl had a fondness for quills and … Sweet Valley Twins (nope, not Sweet Valley High, but Twins).
One day, a wise (school paper) adviser told the girl that she would journey to the north to attend a gathering of quill-lovers from all over the realm. So, the girl got on a magic carpet to Manila and then in a carriage that would take her to the magical cold place called … Baguio.
There she noticed a boy, who, truth be told, didn’t need any more noticing – he was already the center of everyone’s attention (and it was for both good and bad reasons. Mostly bad reasons).
“What an odd boy!” the girl thought. “He seems to crave attention; how totally unlike me!”
The events at the gathering involving the boy were all baffling to the girl from the province – like when the boy said ‘peanut bri’l’ instead of peanut brittle. Or when the boy, without hesitation, sang Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” in front of all quill-lovers present.
 The girl and her quill-lover friends at Burnham Park in Baguio. May 1999.

The girl and her friends were so fascinated with the boy that, one day, armed with an ancient relic called a …  cassette recorder, they decided to talk to the boy.  (Here one must explain that it was a time when having a cassette recorder was the cool thing to do for quill-lovers, so they would not miss ideas from old wizards… or just to record random, nonsensical teenage conversations.)

The girl was filled with so much awe when, asked if he was gay, the boy said he most certainly was not. That moment, when the fair boy looked up to her under his glasses, the girl realized that this boy was … weird. Awesomely weird.

“How odd!” the girl exclaimed. “I must be friends with this person from the faraway and obscure place called Bolinao.”

And so they became friends.

 

The boy, the girl, and their friends at Teachers Camp, Baguio. May 1999. 

‘Til one night, amidst discussions of  haunted fortresses, and a game involving a spinning bottle, the boy from the faraway and obscure place called Bolinao dared ask the girl a question she deemed inappropriate for a 15-year old.

The next day the quill-lovers bade each other goodbye. It was the end of the gathering.

The girl hoped that the boy would try to patch things up between them.  But he didn’t because, well, he was weird like that.

As the girl got in the carriage that would take her home, she saw the boy standing in a corner staring at nothing in particular. He was being his usual weird self.

The girl thought that was the last time she would ever see the boy.

It made the girl sad to think that she would no longer be friends with someone whose weirdness could potentially be her source of entertainment.

So, not a week had passed since she arrived home when she picked out her loveliest parch …, umm, stationery, and drafted a letter that she would rewrite over and over until  she was sure there were no writing mistakes that the weird boy could laugh about later.

The girl wanted the letter of apology about how she might have overreacted to be perfect.

She sent for the fastest raven from the rookery to deliver her letter to the boy.

Unknown to the girl, at the same moment that she was writing her letter, in the obscure and faraway place called Bolinao, the boy was also writing an apology letter.

At a time when stationery paper was ubiquitous, it was taboo among the teens to write letters on a sheet of yellow pad paper. But that’s exactly what the boy used for his first letter to the girl. 

The boy and the girl wrote each other because they both knew that the other was worth fighting with and apologizing to. In the girl’s lifetime, there would only be a handful of these.

The boy and the girl would receive each other’s letters at about the same time.

And that was the beginning of a year filled with ravens flying the skies between Samar and Pangasinan.

The boy and the girl wrote each other so frequently that the ravens would sometimes bump into each other, decide to hang out for a bit, or have a few drinks, resulting to letters that would sometimes get delivered late.

No matter, during that year, the boy and the girl would rush home from school to see if any letters had arrived.

 

 

The boy fondly called the girl a Martian because she used hardy-har-har way more than should be allowed by the law. 

The boy and the girl saw each other again after a year because they were attending the same university in the capital of the realm.

But they did not become a couple then because, well, life’s like that.

It was several moons after when the universe would finally correct itself and the Sisters of Fate would bring them back together.

 

The Sisters of Fate sensed that the boy and the girl needed to be together to see the world through each other’s eyes – so they could point out important things to each other, that, on their own, they would fail to see. Very important things – like how the girl pointed out to the boy that the word “Bolinao” in Samar means anchovies.
Or how during a journey beyond the wall to the Cordillera region, the girl observed that the locals look contemplative. To which the boy quipped, “You mean they always look high?”
Or how the girl called taking photos of ruins in Zambales “defamiliarizing the familiar,” but the boy called it shooting bricks and rocks.
Or how the boy asks why it has to be “defamiliarizing the familiar” when it can just be “defamiliarizing.”
And there will be many more of this as they see the realm together.
The boy and the girl’s first travel destination as a couple was, of course, Baguio.
The boy and the girl catching the sunrise at Kiltepan in Sagada. 
 
The boy, the girl, and some new friends in Banaue. 
 
The Sisters of Fate sensed that the boy and the girl belong together because they make each other think about things they would otherwise not think about.
They were brought back together, so the boy could ask the girl manly questions like “Isn’t Frozen the best Disney animated release since The Lion King? “ Or “Is ‘Let it go’ the counterpart of Scar’s ‘Be Prepared’ in Lion King?”
 The couple, who was seven months pregnant, in Borawan Island, Padre Burgos, Quezon. 

And they lived. Not happily ever after because, well, life’s not like that.

They still fight about big things- from who gets to drink the last of the Coke Zero, to why the boy downloads stuff that slows down the connection while the girl is on the internet for very important things such as, well …  Facebook, to why the boy insists on not answering Zimbio quizzes honestly so he can manipulate it into saying he’s like his favorite character.  (Tyrion Lannister? Puh-lease)

The girl, the boy, their little girl, and Douglas and his friends at MacArthur National Park in Palo, Leyte.

But at the end of the day, the boy and the girl know they’re at the right place.

The boy and the girl know they’re arguing with the right person, and in life, you don’t meet too many of those.

 

 The girl and the boy with their little girl. Photo by Shodensan

This is my entry to Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for February 2014, with the theme “The Joys and Woes of Couplehood on the Road,” hosted by Claire Madarang of Traveling Light.

Check out  the complete list of past carnivals.

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