Road Trip

By Carmen Denia, Yale-NUS ’17 – See bio

We drove to my gran’s home town recently, Sta. Cruz and later, through a small part of Davao del Sur.

a little bit of the Pacific Ocean

There are frightfully beautiful things to see in the old places, especially when you’ve been surrounded by only what’s new for a while.  There are flowers here that I have never seen elsewhere and the trees seem to touch the sky.  The horizon, whether it features a coconut plantation or the Pacific Ocean, is wonderfully far away.

Hacienda Soledad

Cows graze together, like in an old country song, and cemeteries are cut into the hillsides like uneven marble steps to heaven.  My old, Spanish name is not unusual in the midst of the tombstones with their Lucianas, Pablos, and Anastasias.

A curious intrusion comes in the form of a radio on top of one inhabited mausoleum that blasts Top 40 hits like Nicki Minaj’s Fly and Coldplay’s Paradise, but elsewhere, the most beautiful sound is over fifty birds taking flight from an empty field and the high tide claiming the shore.

coconuts drying

You can feel it, without anyone saying anything, that the ground goes deep here.  I wonder if blood has been spilled here in battles forgotten centuries over or maybe it has always been this placid; I wonder if government officials in Manila know about these places.  Some people in the mountain farms will never see the main roads in their lives. Some women still wear malongs and young boys carry huge burdens in giant woven baskets on their heads.  I am not sure if those are good things or bad things.

a lake with ducks that we drove by

In the shade of Mt. Apo, hemmed in on the other side by the sea, the valley’s children sleep.  They don’t have internet access and the cellphone signal is near non-existent, but they don’t need it.  I don’t think they need our world.

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