I was welcomed with the usual familiar air that has been my companion for the years that I lived here. There’s really no place like home. As I strode through the airport, I kept my eyes busy, taking in every corner of the airport. People often say I have a true talent capturing things that only my eyes can see. Maybe that’s the reason why I photography really suited me. After spending two years in America, I could say that I’m finally home.
The trip to America was not really my plan but it sort of happened. I’m originally routed to Japan but for some reason, I was robbed. I could never forget that while I was walking down the road, someone grabbed my luggage and my camera bag and rode on a motorcycle. I ran fast and I got a hold of my bag but I got dragged along with them. The strap of my camera bag got torn and I’m pretty sure that I hit my head on the ground and .. I can’t remember anything after that.
The only thing I can recall was that I was inside a hotel room, wearing a beautiful white dress. The lady with me inside the room said that I was getting married. Crazy, right? I don’t even know who she is. But when she mentioned this guy’s name, I felt something inside of me that I couldn’t describe. I found it very weird because it never happened to me before. But I couldn’t remember what the guy’s name was. I guess two years is just a very long time.
When I got home, I learned that roughly seven months had passed since I left. My older sister, Kute, was happy that I got home because that only thing she knew was that I went to Japan. It was really hard to explain what happened to me since I can’t remember anything. I tried to kept everything light. I just told her that I got home from Japan but I got robbed on the way home. After the months passed, I started revising what I said until I got to the truth – that I can’t remember anything that happened. She was so furious that day. She even insisted that I should go to the hospital to have a full body check up in case something happened to me. The result of the tests where all normal and there’s no complications. I found it really weird because I was expecting something wrong with me. Who would not be? I’ve been gone for months and I can’t remember anything!
One of the doctors told me that I might’ve suffered from amnesia, based from the story that I’ve told her. She said that it’s what would likely happen when I hit my head on the ground and the reason why I couldn’t remember anything is because I might’ve hit my head too. When I asked if there’s a medicine for it and she said that time is the most effective one. I don’t have to force it because it will all come back gradually but the events will not go back in order.
My trip to America happened shortly after that. I begged my sister so that I could learn more on photography. That reminds me. I brought a camera with me when I got home. It was quite a revelation when I turned on that camera to see the photos in it. I could say that the memory card was newly reformatted. It only has 20 photos, mostly me and some with the lady I was with when I woke up. It seemed as though we were friends but I can’t really remember her. I want to see her but I got occupied with my move to America for one and a half years. And a day before my birthday, I decided to go home.
“Bunso!” Someone shouted and I knew for sure that it was my sister. I turned around and saw her a few meters before me, she was running and I ran too. She engulfed me in a tight hug that I missed so much. “Bunso! Sa wakas nakauwi ka na rin!” She said. “Ano na? Kamusta? Grabe, amoy ibang bansa ka ah!”
“Kute naman eh!” I said and laughed. “Ang dami kong pasalubong! Tara na, uwi na tayo please? Namimiss ko na yung bahay eh. Ay wait!” I said and quickly took my camera from my bag and took a photo of us. “Souvenir!”
“O, galing ka nang America at lahat, ‘yan pa rin ang camera na gamit mo? Bunso, luma na ‘yan ah. Alam kong malaki ang kita mo dun, bakit ayaw mo pang bumili ng bago?” My sister asked when she saw the familiar camera I was using. I gave her a smile as I kept the camera back into my bag.
“Nagana pa naman Kute eh. Saka marami na kong mga lens dito. Marami pa namang pakinabang yung DSLR na yun.” I said.
“Eh ‘di ba, ang dami nang maganda ngayon? Ang dami nang features nung iba na alam kong mas magagamit mo sa mga photoshoot mo.” Kute suggested.
I shrugged. “Ang hirap ng masyadong advanced, Kute. Nakakalito nang gamitin. Okay na yung camera ko, kahit late model. Simple pa gamitin, saka matibay.” I explained. But I know that the truth is way beyond that. The camera that I’ve been using is the one that I brought with me when I returned home. I don’t know why but I can’t seem to abandon it as what my sister is suggesting. I don’t want to buy a new one, and I will never replace this camera.
I kept telling my sister stories as she drove us home. Most of it was my adventures in America. I just missed my sister so much. She’s the best friend and the best sister-slash-brother in the whole wide world. We’ve been together through thick and thin. She’s the reason why I finished Architecture in college but when I started loving photography, she insisted that I should take a course in it too. She’s very supportive to me even though she’s busy running our restaurant.
“Bunso, uhm, k-kamusta si Nanay ‘don?” She asked. I gave her bittersweet smile. “Okay naman. Mukha naman siyang masaya. Si Tito Theo, ayos lang din. Nararamdaman kong hindi naman niya sasaktan si Nanay.” I answered.
My sister sighed. “Siguro kung hindi tayo iniwan ni Tatay, buo pa tayo no?” She said.
“Kute, hayaan mo na. Kung iba yung nangyari, baka iba rin tayo ngayon. Baka hindi tayo ganito katatag.” I just said.
Sometimes, I also think about that if our family didn’t fell apart, I wonder what we’ll be like today. Our parents were never married. We live in our small house. My father was an employee in a company while my mother was a teacher. When I was in 6th grade, my father left us. My mom was so depressed. After a year, she decided to work abroad since her salary here is not enough for me and my sister’s educational fees. When my sister graduated, she opened up a restaurant and it was a big hit. But our mom never came back from the states. Later on, we found out that she married another man and she’s living with him, with their own family.
That’s when my and my sister’s lives changed. We lived without asking my mom for financial support. Every month, my mom would give us money but Kute will just return it. I know that it’s her pride that’s kicking in but I couldn’t blame her. I know that she felt abandoned, just like me.
It was already eight in the evening by the time we got home. I received a few texts from my friends, asking if I am really home. As I was fixing my things, my phone rang.
“Hi girl! Nakauwi ka na daw sabi ni Ate Cris?” The voice said as I put my phone near my ear. It’s Emman, my gay best friend. “I missed youuuuu.”
“Oo Emman! Punta ka dito bukas, may binili ako para sa’yo!” I replied and heard the usual squeal he lets go whenever he’s excited. “Ay Emman, ano na? Kamusta na ang business?”
“Wait! Bago ang lahat, thank you sa pasalubong. Ayos naman. Maraming nang nakabook na sched. Ay Maya! Naalala ko. Kasi nakita ko si Eds kanina. Edi ayun, kwentuhan kame. Ito kasing si Eds eh, masaydong busy sa trabaho alam mo naman journalist, busy buhay. Anyway, naghahanap daw siya ng photographer para sa business column niya edi nag-offer naman ako para sumikat ang Limelight. Eh ang kaso mo, booked pala tayo bukas eh bukas din yung photoshoot nung kay Eds. Kaya I’m asking, actually begging na kahit alam kong kakarating mo palang ng bansa, pwede ka ba bukas?!” Emman stated.
“Ha? Agad-agad? Emman naman. Isang taon akong nagkukuha ng picture sa America. Hindi ba pwedeng bakasyon muna ako?” I said. I was really hoping for some vacation where I will be stress free. Photography in the US is really different here in the Philippines. They have their similarities in some ways but there’s more umph in the States. Being a Filipino photographer, it took a while before I fully adjusted to the whole thing. They always want something extra but here back home, simplicity is already enough. That’s why I love it here.
“Dali na girl! 20 shots lang naman eh. Promise, sasamahan kita. Sasabihin ko na lang kay Ruby na lalagnatin ako bukas.” Emman said. “Pleaaase? Bilang partner ko sa Limelight Photography, oo dapat ang sagot. Sayang ang grasya Maya!”
“Emman naman eh. Ang dami ko na ngang naitulong dyan. Magbabakasyon pa kami ni Kute –“
“Maya, busy si Kute. Alam ko ‘yun. Pumunta ako kahapon sa Pocholo’s eh. Saka feeling ko, may balak si Kute na magbukas ng isa pang branch. Dali na Maya.” Emman continued.
I sighed and rubbed my forehead. “Anong schedule bukas?”
“YES! Sabi na nga ba hindi mo ko matitiis eh! Itetext ko na lang sa’yo yung venue. Nasa notes ko kasi, hindi ko matandaan. Basta 2PM. Ako na ang bahala sa lights, sa camera –“
“Ako na bahala sa camera.” I interrupted. Like I said, I only use the one I have and I can’t even make myself to use any cameras other than mine. “Sige sige. Sure ba yan? Tinawagan ka na ba ni Eds? Mamaya, hindi pala totoo –“
“Maya, calm down. Nagtext na si Eds kanina lang kaya ko nga nasabi sa’yo eh. Ayan na naman tayo sa trust issues mo eh.” Emman said in his as-a-matter-of-fact tone.
“Sige na. Itext mo na lang ako. Ay Emman! Birthday ko bukas! Hindi ba pwedeng pass na lang talaga ako? Dali na oh, pa-birthday mo na sa’kin.” I pleaded. For the first time in 25 years, I can’t really remember what happened with my 23rd birthday.
“Wala nang bawian! Umoo ka na eh. Magte-text na lang ako sa’yo. Ay nako, Maya, magtatampo ako kapag hindi ka sumipot bukas. Sige na. Tata!” Emman said and before I could even reply, he hung up.
I went out of my room and saw Kute watching basketball. I sat beside the couch and leaned back. “Kute, aalis ako bukas. May trabaho agad ako.”
“Oh? Eh birthday mo bukas ‘di ba?” She replied but didn’t lift her eyes from the screen.
“Si Emman kasi eh. Uuwi na lang ako ng maaga. Bibilisan ko lang yung photoshoot.” I said.
“Okay. Sa Pocholo’s ka pumunta ha? Tapos dalhin mo si Emman, libre ko chibog.” She said.
I chuckled. “Sige Kute. Tutulog na ko, pagod pa ko sa byahe eh. Good night!”
“Good night bunso.” She replied and I went back to my room and lied on my bed. I closed my eyes and tried to dig deep in my memory. I want to go back two years ago. I want to go back to that gap in my memory where I can’t remember anything. I wonder what happened to me. I’m sure someone took care of me, and I didn’t even thank them.
Emman once told me that he saw me once inside Starbucks. I was having coffee with a woman and when he talked to me, I asked him who he is. But why can’t I remember it? If only there’s a time machine so that I could go back at that moment, shake my two-years-ago self and shout on her face that I should not forget what happened on that blank spot in my memory.
My phone beeped, distracting me from all my thoughts. It was from Emman.
2PM. Shangrila Hotel. Bagong CEO ng Lim Visionary Vanguard yung may photo shoot. May interview pala muna pero ang sabi ni Eds, gamitin daw natin yung five shots para sa candid photos. See Ya! Advance Happy Birthday Mayabels! ❤
I groaned. I really have to do this thing. I read the text message again and my brows furrowed when I read the words Lim Visionary Vanguard. I can sense that I know this name from somewhere. I don’t know why but it really felt familiar.
I guess I have to find out tomorrow.
A/N : Sorry po, ginabi. 🙂 Sobrang thank you po sa mainit na pagtanggap sa Clarity! ❤