Always a Traveler

I always loved to travel. I used to travel with my mother to the far-flung barrios in the interior part of Bohol, when I was in grade school. I remember keeping tab of the kilometer posts on the road and wondering how those people ended up in those far and God-forsaken places.

What decision did their parents or forefathers make that brought them there. And I would put myself in their shoes and think of the decisions my forefathers made that brought me to where I was, in a tiny island of Bohol. Why Bohol, of all places!

On many occasions, I would see a nipa hut in the middle of a rice field and wondered how it was to live life in such a lonely place. A solitary figure would stare out from a window, watching us pass by, and I would wonder how life was to this person and how life would be in the future. My thoughts would bring me to that nipa house and I would wonder how things would be if I were the one sitting there, wondering how life would be for that little boy inside the vehicle watching out through the car's window. I would imagine where it came from and where it would be going.

As I grew older, traveled long distances, and sometimes lived for a while in distant places, I came to realize that distance is relative. A place you deem far away can be near to another place.

I have former colleagues who work and live in Quezon City that I haven't seen since I left that organization in 1993. On the other hand, I get to meet former classmates in high school when I visit Bohol almost every year.

When I left to enter the Jesuit novitiate in May 1985, my sisters, Virgie and Estela, saw me off at the Mactan International Airport. And since the novitiate was cloistered, communication with the outside world was going to be limited. I was bound for a distant place, we were all aware. That’s why it was difficult for me to turn my back and leave them outside the terminal. That image has remained in my mind. In fact, the place I was going to was so far away. I would only be seeing my sister Estela only 3 times after that, before she would die of leukemia in 2002 at the age of 42.

I have lived in different places since that time in 1985, places that I thought in college to be so far away. Even now that I have settled down with my own family, I still feel that I am a traveler. And I bring them with me wherever I go. I do not know where this wandering will eventually take me and my family. But I know that I will always be a traveler. (msa)