July 21, 2024

Our birthday month is always our strongest time of the year. It has the force of our being; we are renewed of our introduction to this world and we are reminded of our purpose and vitality. However, my birthday month always feels like it’s too late for me. After surpassing the torrential rains and experiencing the heavy semestral schooling comes the seasonal flue that challenges of physicality. November has never failed to remind us of the persistence of death and our wanting to live and dream again in this life.
November has the best sunsets of the year.It has darker evenings, longer nights, and brings in monstrous dreams. My mom who is a senior citizen had a lot of terrible dreams about my father. So even when I am barely healed from my trangkaso, I needed to visit my hometown province in Sadanga. It’s an annual pilgrimage of paying tribute to my father. I set off to ride the Rising Sun bus by 6:30 a.m. and its occasional stops along Halsema Highway brings memories of people as if their faces are carved in the terrains of the mountains we pass along. The air begins to feel warm upon descending to Sabangan and it peaks in Bontoc with its silvery skyscape of tall buildings. The marketplace is relocated along the small roads in between establishments because there is an ongoing renovation in the Bontoc market. I threaded my way in the poultry section and a broiler for pinikpikan would cost as much as P700. Buy some legumes, Sagada etag and Lias oranges and it would make our annual visit extra special to our relatives in our hometown.
I took the 2 p.m. trip going to Sadanga. It’s the last trip you have to take otherwise you spend the night in Samoki. It’s always near evening when I reached our house in Sakasakan. The ‘sleeping beauty’ of Tinglayan is seen from our place and when you stood in the small caves that serves as ancestral tombs in our place you can perfectly see the aquiline nose and its hairs are like waves of mountains.
I did the occasional cleaning and pruning at our ancestral house. Together with my aunty and relatives, we lighted a candle in my father’s tomb and then I decided to go down to the Poblacion and took a warm bath naked in our public hot spring there. By afternoon, we patted and burned the chicken. We also read the position of its bile – ‘twas hidden underneath the liver, it could have been better if it appeared a little bit in the left side. The chicken was very fatty too, we needed to throw the excess. It wasn’t the best year for me after all, many challenges came along this year and surviving it is always a blessing.
It rained slowly in the afternoon of my birthday, I was having my last class to our nursing students and I had a renewed energy of teaching and inspiring my students. The sunset came with orange and pink clouds like water paint in the backdrop of a dark blue sky. Our nights are quiet now and mom prepares for Christmas already. This birthday month is never been late after all, it was like an extension and a barrowed moment of life.