I don’t know where to start so I’m seeing your face, right now, covered by dark brown jacket and blue hat you always wear to get warm. This picture moves like puzzles in my mind, Randy, I remember that night you found me in such a mess condition. There was a slight spark in your eyes finding your guest arrived safely at the inn. It’s late, too late at night and the cold was such a sting. I was shaking.
“I know you’re going to make it. I emailed you few times today but no response. But somehow I know you’re on your way, that’s why I asked my brother to wait and pick you up on the street. I know you’re not going to give up.”
Oh, you’re such a father. No wonder all citizen of Banaue knows your existence. There was always a huge smile when I told them, “I’m staying at Randy’s Brookside Inn.”
Banaue, Philippines. A tiny, laid back town with one of the best landscape I ever see: world’s oldest rice terraces. The next day, I remember you made me a full plate of toast, eggs, and freshly cut tomatoes. You said it’s gonna be a tiring day.
A trip to Batad Rice Terraces took the whole day. My feet got stiff because it was raining all day. At the end of the day I found you standing at the door, a little panicky.
“Thank God you made it. It’s Haiyan typhoon!”
I became a lazy, lazy Cinderella the next day. It was raining all day and all I can do is doing nothing. We spent hours and hours watching TV, having conversations while the rain pours heavily, sipping cups and cups of hot tea. We found Philippinos and Indonesian pretty much had a lot of common.
Twenty five, I said, when you asked about my age. It was my first time in Philippines and traveled alone. You’re about 50-s and a father of four. You started showing pictures of your wife, sons and daughter. Your children were studying in Manila. You love them, and you miss them so much. I could hear it from your tone.
“But you, your presence just like my own daughter, Sastri. Please keep in touch, and come back here.”
You said that on my last day in Banaue. I said yes.
“Someday, with my husband. We’ll come back for you.”