Friday, October 12, 2012

Baler, Dreaming

"Punta tayong Baler!!"

"Kelan?" The kid across the table asked without even looking at my direction. He continued cutting the Spicy Garlic Calamares to bite-size pieces still steaming on his plate.

"Umm... sa 15 sana eh..." I had hoped my suggestion would brighten his face and reanimate our conversation. But knowing he had seen the place twice - in less than a year - a return trip for him would seem casual.

But not for me.

Baler, a rustic little town opposite the Casiguran sound has enamored me for ages. I read a lifestyle article a long time ago describing the place. The provincial capitol used to be an off the beaten track with unpaved roads and a single bus company connecting the city. The mental picture of unspoiled beaches off the edges of the Sierra Madre, unlit roads next to deep ravines, and lush rain forests overlooking the Pacific has never left my mind. I had my chance last year, but I chose to set course to far distant shores instead where I would be closer to my ex-boyfriend.

"Anu ka!! Monday kaya ang 15!?" When I checked my phone's calendar, my companion, who was smiling at me turned out to be speaking the truth.

"Edi Saturday and Sunday na lang. Magfi-file ako ng leave sa trabaho."

"Siguraduhin mo lang ha! At maghanda ka na rin ng budget na P3500."

"Oo ba. You sure you want to go back? Nanggaling ka na dun eh?"

"Diba, balak nga namin bumalik dun every month?" Ever since he was prodded by his colleagues to discover the joys of surfing, returning to Baler became a regular pilgrimage.

I do not know if my date was truly unaware of the occasion - the reason I would defy my aversion to countryside trips to spend some quality time with him, or he merely chose to put it behind the piles of other thoughts. But that night, on our last dinner together, I felt a rather nippy reception.

For if the portents of that evening reveal the events of the future, such journey to the eastern fringes would never take place.

And as if life decides to play a cruel joke, my rest days have been moved to weekends this week. My salary also got a kick up the pay scale and the weather forecasts herald a sunshiny weekend. 

What isn't there however, and will no longer be around is my travel companion.

Gone, along with the idea of celebrating a milestone, the Baler trip has to be ditched. I have no desire of taking solitary sojourns, only to be haunted by a painful memory once I reach my destination.