I was by the window seat on the plane. Watching the pavement move quickly until it only becomes a little gray blur in the background. Nothing new with traveling on a plane. But that day was different. I was alone.
Through glassy eyes, I saw outlines of cities and towns down below. And then after an hour, there it was. They say it’s the heart of the Philippines. Little did I know that this place will be that place where I can wander about freely, carelessly like a little girl lost in a park. Like nothing hurts as much. A place where nothing is impossible. Now that I look back, I knew that that place - that place where I can breathe and recuperate - it’ll always be Iloilo to me.
People fall in love for so many reasons and these are reasons which cannot be explained.
People fall in love for the first time. And that first one - it’ll always be memorable. The first cut is deepest, said some tearjerker song. People might think traveling alone was unusual, and might even be whimsical. But both can make you feel excited, out of your wits or just plain happy and content. The first travel on my own felt similarly. Deep, exhilarating . And just like being in love I lost a lot of sleep just thinking about it.
But love is a little more risqué. Logic is worthless as long as you are happy. As long as you wake up at night beside him. Or when you hear him say your name.
But unlike travel, some love affairs do not always end well.
After traveling, reminiscing every little milestone and beautiful landmarks or temples and churches you documented is heartwarming. Makes you feel excited to travel again. With love, all you have are wonderful memories that could bring a smile on your face if only it didn’t hurt too much.
After my plane ride, I went straight to the cheapest hotel in town. It was cheap yet efficient, one thing I can recommend - the Ong Bun pension house. I rode jeepneys and cabs. I went all out about town. Iloilo is a bustling city. A major city where business and commerce has been ingrained to the city’s history. And yet presently, business keeps growing every day. Vibrant, moving and active. People move on. People walk and pass by me as if telling me to take that step and move.
The next day in Iloilo, I did an Elizabeth Gilbert and ate, prayed love my way around town. Downing one too many of them cheap but oh-so-good oysters for fifty pesos a bucket, and eating authentic Inasals and putting an end to Ted’s and Deco’s competition for the best batchoy in town (Deco’s for me).
I went to various churches. But the one that stood out, majestically around the bend is this church which stood out like a queen. Santo Tomas Villanueva, that church which is more commonly known as Miag-Ao church. My heart skipped a beat. It was like a vision. So soft with its intricate carvings yet so tough with its impenetrable pillars. If I were with him I’ll show this.
Whether I say it straight out that I traveled here after a heartbreak or I should just let it subtly unfold feels immaterial to me now. He and I were over. Time to take that step forward to the unknown.
Ours is over. And traveling alone for the first time here in Iloilo, another love affair