It was May, 1994. All my things were packed and squeezed into the tiny compartment of my grandmother’s owner-type jeep. We drove into my grandmother’s place to say good-bye. My grandmother went out of her house to meet us. Tears were slowly building up to her eyes. She was the type of person who could hold a tear. I went out of the vehicle to hug her and kiss her. I knew that my grandmother preferred me to stay and study in a local school. I loved her so much but I just couldn’t afford to miss the opportunity to start a new chapter of my life away from home. She told me to take care of myself…ah, I was teary-eyed at this point.
It was my first time to live my life independently. It was my first time to go to Baguio. My youngest brother who was two years old at that time was seated beside me. It was deja vu last Saturday when Chariz waved good-bye to her young brothers. While we were driving up the Marcos Highway, I could feel the highland air greeting me. I was just so excited to see the city.
Forty-five minutes later, we were there at the heart of the city. Baguio did not fail my expectations. We went to the boarding house referred to by a neighbor. I proceeded to the balcony to see more of the place. The thick white fog welcomed me. My mother told me that it was fog and not smoke as I initially thought.
The whole family was with me during my enrollment. When it was time for my family to go back home, reality quickly settled in. I would be away from my family for the first time in my life. I would be sharing a room with five other strangers. I would terribly miss my family no matter how imperfect our relationship was.
I cried silently. My father saw me and tapped me on the shoulder. My mother cried, too.
“This is what you wanted eh,” she said.
I hugged everyone except my second brother and then they left. I was left alone in the room with no one to turn to. Occasionally, the caretaker would knock on my door to check on me. Since I was on a board and lodging scheme, I was burning time and hoped that the days would pass by quickly.
Kids today are luckier to have their own cellphone and computer for email and chatting; they can communicate with their families easily. During my time, I was relying on the landline for communication. There was even a time when I sent snail mails to my family and friends.
The biggest challenge was adapting to Northen Luzon’s culture and my boardmate’s peculiarity, as well. Nevertheless, I forged genuine friendships with some of them. Friendship that I treasure up to now.
How could I forget my dormmates who:
1. Lent me her necklace when I went out on a date with an ROTC officer during his Sponsorship Night.
2. Scolded me when I was being too childish.
3. Gave me sound advice about some infatuations.
4. Shared food with me.
5. Accompanied me at the Hangar Market to get my allowance.
6. Accompanied me at the bus station every time I would go home.
7. Helped me with my Technical Drawing subject.