Monday, May 29, 2006

Dumaguete mine

'Twas a wet and dismal morning, the sky a gloomy gray and tempestuously threatening rain with the few drops it sent my way. But I had gone two days without a long ride, so heedless of the weather, I broke out my bike and headed to Rizal Boulevard. Not too many folks out, either, except for the most dedicated morning joggers and strollers.

It's the first day of the week after the close of the 45th National Writers Workshop. The Fellows are back in their offices and schools, or enjoying the last vestiges of the summer. No more of the two-block walk to the CAP Building, no more thick green manuscripts to pore over and scrutinize, no more candies on a dish, and probably the saddest of all, no more panelists and Mom Edith to banter and spar with. Just the workaday ahead. And, of course, the memories.

I was almost afraid that Dad would turn the car left at Silliman Avenue instead of heading straight down Perdices. Fortunately, he did no such thing, and neither did I reflexively signal him to. The thought loomed large in my mind, though, and that was the reason I went jogging this morning. Workshop done, and it's time for me to reclaim my routine:

Bike in the mornings, alternating between the climb to Valencia and jogging in the boulevard. Open the store. Visit the construction site. Talk and plan out some kooky new plan that just might work with Danah and Jong. Write the weekly column for the Metro Post and the feature articles for PC Magazine. Go to Mass. Try to make this city a better place. This is my Dumaguete.

I don't know if I'm luckier than the other fellows or less so because I live and work here in this City of Gentle People. Am I fortunate because I am close to the memories? (Mom Edith is just a couple of blocks away!) Or am I not because of the same? (Empty seats and ghosts of familiar faces?) Ultimately, it won't matter, because...I live here, and I won't have it any other way. This is my Dumaguete.

And this is my Dumaguete, too: Lake Balinsasayo, Casaroro Falls, the caves of Mabinay and Bayawan, Apo Island and Malatapay, Valencia, Siquijor, Sibulan, Bais, Bato, Tambobo and Bonbonon. Conservative Chinese matrons and matrons-to-be and deceptively simple tycoons. Girls in tightfitting pedalpushers on motorbikes. Aggressive Indian businessmen. Friendly but hardworking Koreans. Beautiful and easygoing Persians. Life-changing sailors. And all the pretty mestiza Eurasians. The fellows have only seen a fraction of the Dumaguete that I know, and that's a little sad.

It's okay, though. Time enough for all of that. They'll come back. They always do. Because Dumaguete is theirs now, too.

Oh, look, the sun is shining again.