I’d choose an eight-hour trip to Bicol anytime over a one-hour plane ride. Aside from the fact that there’s too much hassle in checking-in at airports, the scenery on the way to Bicol is just too good to miss. In general I love long rides, may be it be on boats, on a motorcycle, in the open sea or even in rough roads. My eyes simply crave for sceneries and time to absorb them.
My love for road trips was greatly influenced by my late father. When I was around five or six, we just had a motorcycle but he would take me and my brothers as far as Buhi Lake, home to the smallest freshwater fish. There, we would make quick stops on the resorts around the lake. We never paid entrance fees because we barely stayed on each resort for an hour. My dad would simply talk to the owner that we were just visiting and off we go jumping from one resort to another.
When I was eight or nine, we could finally afford an owner type jeep. My dad would take us to all over the Bicol Region reaching as far as Sorsogon and the secluded towns of Camarines Sur. On not so busy weekends, we enjoyed watching the Mayon Volcano or simply appreciating the beautiful rice paddies of Milaor.
I was 10 years old when my dad had a kidney transplant. One of the things he was forbidden to do was long driving. But the doctor’s warning did not stop him. I guess he simply loved being behind the wheel and going to places. In fact, he sometimes drove all the way to Manila for his quarterly check ups at the National Kidney Institute. Sometimes, he would take me or one of my brothers to join him. We usually stopped by to eat lunch at the cool Quezon National Park or by the seaside at the town of Gumaca.
When was 12, I had to live in a dormitory because my high school was two hours away from home. Every Sunday, my dad would drive me all the way to school. And when he had time on Fridays, he would fetch me again. Even when there was already a carpool, he still made sure that he will be the one to send me off at the meeting place.
The first time he missed was on the first Sunday of November in 2004 and it was because he never woke up from his sleep. Starting then, I took the tricycle to the city proper to join my fellow school mates on a carpool that would take us to school. Road trips after that were never the same. In fact, there were hardly any road trips after he was gone. We had to sell his motorcycle (which was converted to a tricycle) and his jeepney to form part of the money required to finance our studies. Road trips and life were never the same without him.
It’s been almost nine years now yet I can still recall every single moment of the pain I felt when our family lost him. On days like this, Father’s day, the pain and longing is even heightened. However, I am very thankful that I have such fond and wonderful memories of my dad that I can always go back to. And every time I set foot in a new place, I owe it partly to my dad for teaching me how important it is to appreciate places and the experiences you take once you leave them.
Happy Father’s Day Papa. You are badly missed.