I went home to La Union for my version of a long weekend. It’s nice to come back to an old familiar place. It calms me to know that some good things don’t really change. They just remain as before–just like unconditional love. I realized I’m still their “Naning” no matter how old I get, no matter how much I’ve changed.
Going home always makes me feel like a child again. I trail behind my aunt in the market like a kid eager to explore but afraid to get lost. I listen to my uncle’s old stories about me which always sound so fresh and vivid. I feel so grown-up and proud as my younger cousin looks up to me like I’m the most responsible and coolest Ate she could ever have. I shyly smile at familiar strangers whenever they say I look just exactly like my Nanay.
Being home brings lots of happy memories that as much as possible I always try to relive. I fetch water from the manual water pump to water the plants. I sleep early so I can wake up to the sound of the rooster’s alarm at dawn. I eat mangoes straight from the trees. I tend to the goats and feed the chickens. I frolic in the rain when there’s a chance and let it wash away the stress of the city and make me a kid once again.
This particular visit home made me remember an Ilocano song my Inang used to sing to lull me to sleep. This is really a funny song. I would want to sing it to my kid if I’ll ever have one. And I will make sure he or she knows it by heart just like I do. I remembered it as we were planting eggplants, and it goes something like this:
Nagmula ak ti tarong dyay tuktok ti bunton / Nadawel nga pag-ong napanna pinultung-pultong / Agal-alwad ka nga pag-ong / Puputdek dayta ulom / Aramidek nga kallugong, kallugong ni Lakay Santong
It pains me a little to leave and go back to the city. There’s a gnawing feeling, more like a fear, that if I leave, those familiar things might change and they would become strange to me.
But a part of me also wants to leave for a while to make room for some necessary changes. I left because I want to be part of this change. I want some things to change. Not change per se, but change for the better. I owe it to them.