It is a sunny winter day in Los Angeles. As I write this, the sky is a canvass of soft blue; the sky is a nostalgia. It brings me back to the sky of my childhood, to a magical place – Cebu. As I sit on this decrepit chair, a bee buzzes over my head and a fly lands in my drink. I am here, yet, also elsewhere. I shift between here and there, between now and then. Every single thing I chance upon lends itself to a feeling, a memory, a place.
Long before Ferdinand Magellan first landed in Cebu, long before the Spaniards introduced Christianity, the locals had a life of their own. They had a flourishing trade and an organized social structure. They had their own beliefs. They believed in animism and magic and the spirit world. They believed that rocks, rivers, and trees were inhabited by spirits. God was the sky and the sea and the sun. Nature was sacred. They believed that a human being has a soul which was considered the essence of a person’s moral and intellectual power.
I think of home and this blue sky above me now becomes a feeling, a place, a large canvass of history. It becomes the story of my people who first inhabited the island. I see their veins, their blood, their souls passing down the teachings of the sacredness of every facet of life. I feel their strength, their sense of community, their perseverance against all odds. They inhabit my very core for their veins are in mine, their heart is my heart, their home is my home.
As I write this, I think of my beginnings. I smell the sea breeze of my magical island. I hear the sweet sound of my native language. Malipayon ko (I am happy). I see the way the sunlight falls on the old churches. I see a father, mother, and child laughing together, as if walking towards the light, a light that is intangible and yet is the source of hope and abundance and love. As if they and the light are one, as though light is the beginning and end, as though, when the gods said, “Let there be light,” and there it is.