“Asa ka muadto?”, the tricycle driver asked me. “Dyan lang po sa Sto. Rosario. Special trip na po.”, my nonchalant reply. I was kind of praying that he wouldn’t ask me a lot of questions as my Visaya has already been rusty. Years of working at a call center has limited my language to three: Filipino, English and call center English.
“Gikan kang Manila? Nganong naa man ka diri sa probinsya?”
“Taga-Cavite po ako. Magbabakasyon lang po saglit. May mga kukunin na ring gamit sa bahay ng lola ko.” I opened my bag and pretended to be busy but the do-not-disturb signal was apparently missed.
“Kinsa imong lola? Basin kaila ko.”
Resigning that I can never get the peace I wanted, I decided to entertain his questions.
“Si Lola Corazon po. Yung sa may lumang bahay sa kanto ng bukana. Namatay po 3 weeks ago.”
“Ah! Si Manang Cora! Kaila ko pud sya uy!”
The driver then proceeded to tell some stories he had about my lola. Apparently, she was well-known in the province as a kind hearted lady. She knew everyone as if they were her own sons and daughters. Through the driver, I learned more about my lola than I did with my parents.
I was of course proud and all but it made me sad as well. It was probably because I didn’t really know her that much as I grew up in the city. I thought of all the times or the stories we could have shared with each other. And with that, I felt incomplete.
But somehow, this completely stranger has bridged that gap. It was like I was finding some pieces of me. That I was partially complete. And I was comforted.
Soon, I reached the end of my ride. I thanked the driver not only for bringing me safe but also for sharing his wonderful stories. I thanked him because he reintroduced me to the person who I should have known all along. He shared with my my lola’s legacy.
And so, as I went inside the creaky ancestral home. As the warm air enveloped me in a tight embrace. I imagined that it was my lola welcoming me home. And then I softly whispered.
“Lola I’m home.”