“Maya, you have to wake up. We’re already here.” A voice said as it gently shook my shoulder. “We need to help the students to their rooms.” It said again. I slowly opened up my eyes and saw Ma’am Ched sitting beside me. Her jacket is buttoned up and a scarf is around her neck. I suddenly felt so cold. I gave her a nod to let her know that I’m already up and she stood up to talk to the other teachers. I looked at the window and saw that the bus finally stopped outside a hotel. The windows are all fogged up and it feels really cold when I placed my hand.
“Good morning guys! Sana nakatulog kayo ng maayos kahit na nasa biyahe kayo.” Gerard’s voice, our bus’s tour guide, roamed the whole bus. With a mic on his hand, he craned his neck up to look if he did wake the students up. “Gising na ba lahat? So I personally welcome you to the City of Pines. Yes, that’s right. We’re already in Baguio. Matapos ang ilang oras na biyahe simula kagabi, nandito na rin tayo sa wakas.” He said and I couldn’t help but smile. It’s been a stressful evening for us teachers since the students were so noisy and would rather stay up all night instead of sleeping.
“Good morning po sa mga teachers. Lalo na kay Ma’am Ganda.” Gerard said and it was then that I realized that he was referring to me. I think he was flirting with me last night to the point that I would only answer by yes or no whenever he ask questions. Don’t get me wrong. He’s young, I think he’s just around my age but he’s not really my type. You could practically read the word ‘cocky’ all over him even from afar. I just gave him a polite smile and then I reached for my bag to get my scarf.
Ma’am Ched took over to give the key cards to the students. A room will have four students and so are the teachers. I’ll be sharing a room with Ma’am Ched and another professor since our number is not really even. The itinerary for today is a seminar on how organic crops here in Baguio are done. I bet that everyone would not be listening since they all lack sleep and it’s too early in the morning.
I followed Ma’am Ched in our room and saw that there’s a single bed and a queen size bed on the other size of the room. “Maya, kung pwede dun ka na sa dalawahan. Baka magselos asawa ko.” She said and gave a soft laugh.
“Sige po.” I answered. The space beside mine is still empty. “Ah, nasan po ‘yung makakasama natin dito sa room?” I asked.
“Parating pa lang eh. Hahabol siya kasi hindi niya naabutan ‘yung pag-alis ng bus natin kagabi.” She said as she closed her luggage and placed it on the corner beside her bed. “Tara na, Maya. Aayusin pa natin ‘yung accommodation sa hotel.” She said and walked to the door. “I’ll go ahead. You better fix your things. Paalis na agad tayo.” She said and left me.
I was left staring at the empty space of the bed. I wonder who I’m sharing the bed with. If I were that person, I would just join the next batch of students that would be having their trip after we leave. It’s really risky to be travelling from Manila to Baguio. I don’t even know if I could last long in a public transportation just to go here. After fixing my things and putting my necessary things in my bag, I left our room and went downstairs to look for Ma’am Ched.
The morning was filled with seminars and tours in the gardens in Baguio. As expected a lot of students fell asleep as the speaker explained different topics about plant culture. Good thing that he didn’t get mad or something. What our students did were a sign of disrespect. But I couldn’t really blame them. I’ve been on their chairs a few years back and I, too, felt that need to sleep whenever the topic is boring.
The day passed by quickly and right now, we’re having our dinner. The whole dining area is filled with the chattering of the students. I bet they were all happy with this trip. And to think that we’ll be here for days is already enough to make one student very excited.
“Ma’am, is this chair already taken?” Gerard, the tour guide asked. Even though he just asked if it is taken, he already pulled the chair and made himself comfortable.
“Ah, I don’t mean to be rude but yes, that chair is in fact taken.” Sir Mar said. I mouthed ‘Thank you’ at him in an instant.
Gerard’s mouth opened, and I think he’s going to talk his way in sitting beside me. But in the end, he just nodded, grabbed his plate and looked for another chair.
“I don’t really like the way he’s looking at you Maya.” Sir Ryan said.
“Me too, Maya. It’s kind of creepy.” Ma’am Ched seconded. “Don’t worry. We wouldn’t need to exchange tour guides with another bus. Our company is already here.” She added.
My brows automatically furrowed. Company? Another teacher is coming? Oh, the teacher I am sharing my bed with is already here? Then as if right on cue, a familiar voice filled the air.
“Good thing they’re serving Filipino dishes tonight. I missed eating these.” The voice said. I heard the same chair beside me being pulled and another man sat on it. “Good evening everyone.” He added. My mouth dropped. He’s here. After weeks of being away, he’s back. The teachers in our table said their greeting except for me. Which is why I’m not really surprised when he looked at me and gave me his famous smirk. “Good evening, Ms. Dela Rosa.” He greeted.
“G-Good evening po Sir Dean.” I stammered and I went back to eating. I don’t really understand why my heart was beating so fast. From the corner of my eyes, I watched him as he exchange conversation with other teachers, especially with Sir Ryan. The same smile reached his eyes, making his eyes turn into slits.
“So how was the flight Sir?” Sir Mar asked. Oh, they knew?
“Long. After the plane arrived in Manila. I need to ride a helicopter so I can be here as fast as I can. My father’s properties are really useful at times like this.” He said making them laugh.
“How was the seminar Sir?” Ma’am Ched asked. “Was the speaker good?”
I don’t know why but it seemed like the grin on Sir Dean’s face god wider. “Yeah, he’s really good. I could easily say that the attendees of the seminar really learned a lot from him.” Sir Dean said. The night continued on with him answering different questions from the teachers. I could really see that he’s in such a good mood. Maybe that seminar in Japan was a really good experience for him.
“Sir, bakit pa po kayo sumunod dito sa Baguio? Pwede naman pong sa next batch kayo?” One of the teachers asked.
“That’s a good question.” He answered. “I need to repay a debt from our Chancellor since I bet he attended one of our meetings to stand in my position. And I also have a lot of pending paper works since I’ve been away for a month. If I attended the next batch’s trip, I would delay myself further.” He answered.
“Bakit naman po parang biglaan ‘yung alis niyo Sir? Nalaman na lang ho naming nung nakaalis na kayo.” The other teacher asked and was nudged by the teacher beside him.
“Ah, well, biglaan lang talaga siya. It was more of a favor from a .. from a friend. Hindi ko lang matanggihan.” He answered. A friend? I thought it was his father that made him attend the seminar. “How was the school while I was away?” He asked.
The teachers started talking about the things that he missed. It was quite a comic actually. These two young teachers were so talkative. You could easily tell that they are trying to impress Sir Dean. I remained quiet and I just enjoyed the stories that they are telling, nodding at times when they include me in it.
“So how was my last exam?” Sir Dean asked and it took me a second before I realized that he was talking to me. The teachers were so caught up in a story that they don’t care if Sir Dean’s paying attention. “Perfect ba?” He added.’
“H-Hindi naman Sir. Ang hirap pa rin po eh!” I answered. “Pero ang laking tulong po nung notes niyo. Mas malapit-lapit na naman po ako sa perfect score.” I added making him smile.
“Is that so? Sa susunod, ang ibibigay ko na sa’yo ‘yung mismong key to correction.” He said and the two of us laughed. I really missed laughing hard like this. The past few weeks were all stressful that I don’t even have time to have fun. “So what are the itineraries for tomorrow and for the next day?”
“Ay Sir ano, strawberry farm, tapos yung ano, yung park po.” On of the two teachers butted in, then she rolled her eyes at me. What the hell? The dinner carried on and when we’re done, we went to our rooms.
Oh crap. If the person we’re going to share the room with is Sir Dean, then .. then ..
I’m going to sleep beside him.
“Maya, is something wrong? Hindi mo ba mabuksan?” Ma’am Ched asked. She probably fetched her key card from her pocket and opened the room. The three of us entered and without word, Sir Dean sat on the single bed.
“Tita, tabi na ho kayo ni Maya dyan. I’ll sleep here.” Sir Dean said and relief flooded me. That was close.
Ma’am Ched looked at me then to Sir Dean. “Sure thing Richard. I’m guessing Maya’s your new trusted person.” She said.
“Yeah. Well, she doesn’t know everything yet.” Sir Dean answered. “I hope you don’t mind but I really need to sleep. The seminar was so stressful. Ang daming mali dun sa event. The program started an hour late just because they couldn’t set my laptop.”
“Pero nakabawi ka naman ata sa talk mo. I bet your audience was really enlightened about your research.” Ma’am Ched replied.
“I do hope so. Magaling naman speaker nila eh.” Sir Dean said and the two of them laughed. What are they talking about?
“Si Sir Dean ‘yung speaker?” I blurted out as a whisper but unfortunately they heard it.
“Ah, yes.” Ma’am Ched answered. “Masyado lang matago tong si Richard. Kahit mga ganong achievement niya ayaw niyang ipaalam kahit kanino.”
“I just don’t like people looking at me in a different angle.” Sir Dean said with a humble smile and went inside the bathroom.
“Yung bata talaga na ‘yon oh.” Ma’am Ched said. “Pagpasensyahan mo na lang Maya. Mas gusto niya na ang image niya sa tao suplado at masungit. Ayaw niyang nagpapapasok ng tao sa buhay niya.”
I nodded slowly. “Bakit naman po?”
Ma’am Ched sighed. “Siya na lang ‘yung tanungin mo. Baka sabihin pa niyan nanghihimasok ako sa buhay niya. Sige na. We need to sleep.”
A/N: Pasensya na po. Kinakalawang. Hahaha.