Note: This is a continuation of The Art of Letting Go 19.
That evening, Richard and Maya were seated inside the living room, talking about their supposed return to Manila over a cup of coffee. “Angel, sa makalawa na ang balik natin ng Manila right?” asked Richard. “Yup! Sunday evening.” “Hmm..” “O bakit?” she asked, wanting to know what’s running on his mind. “Wala naman. Naiisip ko lang na babalik na tayo sa totoong mundo,” he smiled. Maya simply laughed at Richard’s words. “Seriously, nag-enjoy ako ng sobra sa stay natin dito sa San Nicholas. I was able to try a lot of things that I’ve never done my whole life.” “Gaya ng paghawak sa mga bulate??” grinned Maya which just made Richard chuckle. “Ok, yes. Even that! I never thought there’ll come a time where I’ll be forced to hold an earthworm!” explained Richard and the both of them laughed, reminiscing the fishing activity they did the other day.
“Why don’t we come up with something that will make this vacation extra special and memorable? It’s already memorable as it is but I want to make the most out of the two remaining days we have left before our return to Manila,” suggested Richard. “Hmm.. You know what, maganda nga yang idea mo na yan wormy!” Richard shaking his head, “You really aren’t going to drop that wormy thing are you?” he asked. Maya simply laughed at his question. “Wormy, can’t you see, it’s one of the things that made this vacation memorable and extra special for the both of us!” grinned Maya. Letting out a sigh, “Fine! But please angel, think of something sweet naman for me. Nakakahiya kaya yung may tatawag sayong wormy in public,” he said. “I’ll try my sweet wormy!” laughed Maya.
“Ikaw talaga! Anyway, going back to what we’re discussing, anything you have in mind para ma-maximize natin yung remaining two days natin here in San Nicholas?” he asked. Maya thought for a moment, trying to think of an activity that they could do in San Nicholas. “Hmm.. Ano nga ba? Gusto mo swimming? Sa beach.” “Hmm.. Ok lang pero we used to do that regularly when I was a kid. Gusto ko sana something na kakaiba,” he said.
The two were deep in their thoughts when Kute suddenly emerged from her room. “O bakit hindi pa kayo natutulog na dalawa? Gabi na ah? Wag niyong sabihing nagmo-moment kayo?” teased Kute. “Kute!” reprimanded Maya as she tries to save herself from further embarrassment while Richard simply shook his head. Letting out a chuckle, “Eh bakit nga ba kasi gising pa kayong dalawa at parang ang lalim pa ng mga iniisip niyo? May problema ba?” asked Kute. “Eh kasi Kute, di ba sa makalawa babalik na kami ng Manila? Ngayon, nag-iisip kami ng magandang gawin para mas lalong maging memorable kay Richard ang bakasyon niya dito sa San Nicholas,” explained Maya.
Kute sat herself on the empty chair to join Richard and Maya in their musing. They were all in deep thoughts when all of a sudden, “Alam ko na!” exclaimed Kute. Maya, startled by Kute’s actions, “Nakakagulat ka naman Kute! Ano ba yun?” Chuckling, she answered Maya, “Naalala ko lang bunso. Tanda mo nung mga bata pa tayo, madalas tayong magpunta sa may burol? Nagca-camping pa nga tayo dun di ba?” “Oo nga! Naalala ko yun!” beamed Maya, “Nakasama pa nga natin sila Nanay at Mamang minsan eh!” “O eh di bakit hindi nalang yun ang gawin natin di ba?” suggested Kute. “Magandang idea yan! Ano wo- Richard? Ok lang sayo?” grinned Maya. “Camping sa burol sounds fun. I’ve had a fair share of camping experience when I was a kid. Part of boy’s scout training. So I guess camping it is. Sino mga kasama natin?” he asked. “Kaming tatlo nila Jeff at Cho tingin ko pwede. Sila Mamang at Nanay, tanungin nalang siguro natin bukas. Nako paniguradong matutuwa ng husto si Cho nito pag nalamang magca-camping tayo sa burol,” replied Kute, chuckling at the thought.
“Eh teka Kute.. Pano nga pala yung mga gamit natin? Yung mga tent?” asked Maya. “Oo nga pala noh! Matagal tagal narin nga pala ng huli tayong mag-camping. Hmm.. Parang natapon na nga ata yung mga tent dahil nasira na sa kalumaan,” explained Kute. “Why don’t we just buy sa bayan tomorrow? Meron naman sigurong shop sa bayan who sells camping materials,” said Richard. “Meron naman. Sige, gagawa nalang din ako ng lista ng mga gagamitin natin. Ok lang ba sa inyo na kayo nalang ni Maya ang bumili ng mga gamit bukas ng umaga? Magbantay pa kasi kami ni Pards sa Chibugan bukas. Bunso, alam mo pa naman yung shop di ba?” asked Kute. “Umm. Oo, tanda ko pa naman. Sige kami nalang ni Richard ang bahala. So ayan at ayos na ang problema natin. Mabuti pa, matulog na tayo at mukhang madami-dami pa tayong preparasyon na gagawin para sa camping natin,” said Maya, then they all went off to bed shortly after.
The next morning, Richard, Maya, and Kute shared their camping idea to the rest of the family over breakfast. Just like what Kute foresaw, Cho was all hyped and excited about the idea, that he can’t seem to control his excitement. “Masayang masaya ang apo ko ah,” commented Nanay Teresita. “Opo Lola Nanay! Ngayon lang kami makakapag-camping nila Nanay eh. Tapos kasama pa sila Tita Ninang at Tito Richard! Na-e-excite na po akong talaga!” explained by an all-excited Cho. Shaking her head in amusement, “Ang anak ko talaga. Eh kayo ba Nay? Sasama ba kayo ni Mamang?” asked Kute. “Naku Nak. Hindi na siguro. Bukod sa baka mapagod lang kami ni Nanay, wala ding magbabantay sa Chibugan. Maiwan nalang kami ni Nanay dito,” answered Nanay Teresita.
“Sigurado kayo?” asked Kute. “Oo naman apo. Alam mo, gustuhin ko man na sumama at bantayan itong si Richard, baka kasi mainitan siya dun o lamukin di ba. Walang magpaypay sa kanya o magbugaw ng lamok. Pero mukhang hindi ko narin kakayanin ang mga ganyang aktibidades. Kaya pass na muna kami nitong si Teresita,” explained Mamang then turned to Richard and started caressing his arm, “Eh Richard pasensya ka na kung hindi kita masasamahan ha. Babawi nalang ako sa’yo sa susunod.” “Ok lang po Mamang. I understand po,” smiled Richard.
“Talaga itong si Mamang o! Pag kay Richard sobra sobra ang concern! Samantalang kaming mga apo niya hindi manlang naalala!” said Kute, shaking her head in disappointment. “Asus! Ito namang apo kong si Cristina Rose! At nagselos ka naman agad dito kay Richard! Siyempre, bisita natin itong si Richard kaya’t hangga’t maaari, kailangang maging komportable siya para hindi naman siya madala sa pagpunta niya dito sa atin. Pangalawa, Cristina Rose apo, hindi na ako nag-aalala pa sa’yo dahil alam ko namang hindi ka pababayaan ni Jeff,” replied Mamang, giving her a knowing smile.
“Hay nako Mang! Ako na naman ang hiniritan niyo. At kung sa pag-aalala lang, lalong hindi na kayo dapat pang mag-alala kay Richard. Andyan naman si bunso para alagaan ang nagpapasaya este ang best friend pala niya!” chuckled Kute. Maya simply stared at Kute, apparently taken by surprise. “Nagpapasaya? Anong nagpapasaya?” asked Mamang. “Naku Mang. Huwag niyo na pong pansinin pa itong si Kute! Ang gusto lang po niyang sabihin ay nag-eenjoy po si Richard sa bakasyon niya dito sa atin kaya hindi niyo na po kailangan pang mag-alala,” said Maya. “Eh mabuti naman pala kung ganon,” replied Mamang.
After breakfast, Richard, Maya, together with Cho, proceeded to town to buy the necessary equipment and stuff that they will be needing for their camping activity. It was already 2pm when they finished their shopping. As soon as they reached home, they immediately freshened up and prepared some food. By 4:30pm, they decided to leave and proceed to their camping site.
As soon as they reached their camping site, both Cho and Richard were amazed and in awe of the beautiful scenery that beheld their eyes. “Wow!” exclaimed Cho, “Ang ganda naman po dito Nay! Kita po ang ganda ng kapatagan at ang mga bukirin!” “O di ba nak? Maganda talaga dito. Nung mga bata pa kami ng tita ninang mo, madalas din kaming magpunta dito. Mag-camping, kung minsan naman papasyal lang para magpalipas ng oras,” said Kute.
Moments later, they set up the tents that they brought. They only brought two tents, one to be shared by Jeff, Richard, and Cho, the other to be shared by Maya and Kute. As soon as the tents were already set-up, Richard and Jeff decided to look for some wood for their bonfire while Maya and Kute arranged their things and placed them in their respective tents, and also prepared their dinner. By 7pm, not only is the bonfire set but dinner’s also served. The 5 gathered around the bonfire and started having their dinner. The air was filled with their stories and laughter. Soon after dinner, Jeff and Kute brought out their guitars and started playing songs. All five sang songs and shared different stories. By 10pm, Cho felt sleepy and started to yawn.
“O Cho nak, inaantok ka na? Gusto mo ng matulog?” asked Kute. “Ok lang po ako nay,” he said. “Asus! Si junior pards. Baka naman natatakot ka lang kaya ayaw mo pang matulog?” teased Jeff. “Hindi naman po papa pards! Ok lang po talaga ako. Hindi pa po ako inaatok.” “Sigurado ka? Eh tignan mo nga yang itsura mo o? Bagsak na bagsak na mata mo at kanina ka pa hikab ng hikab,” chuckled Jeff, “Sige na junior pards. Tutal inaantok narin naman ako. Halika na at matulog na tayo.” Scratching his head, “Sige na nga po,” said Cho. “Itong junior pards ko talaga,” said Jeff as he ruffled Cho’s hair. “O sige at matutulog narin ako. Inaantok narin ako eh,” said Kute. “O ayan junior pards. Sasamahan naman pala tayo ng nanay mo eh,” said Jeff. “Alam mo pards panira ka talaga kahit kailan eh! Kayo ni Cho jan kayo sa tent niyo. Ako dito ako sa tent naming ni bunso. Mga banat mo talaga eh!” answered Kute irritably which simply earned a laugh from Jeff.
“Ikaw naman pards para binibiro ka lang. Sige na good night,” he said. “Mga biro mo kasi panay sablay! O sige na sige na. Good night. O Maya, Richard, matulog na kami ha. Good night sa inyo,” said Kute. “Good night din sa inyo,” replied Maya and Richard. Kute noticed that Jeff was still looking at her expectantly. “O ano pards? Kala ko ba matutulog na kayo? May kailangan ka pa ba?” she asked. “Good night kiss ba wala?” asked Jeff. “Ah good night kiss gusto mo,” said Kute sarcastically, “eh kung good night punch kaya ibigay ko sayo!” she said, showing Jeff her fist. “Sabi ko nga, papasok na ako sa tent para matulog. Night pards,” grinned Jeff then entered their tent together with Cho. Kute simply scratched her head in annoyance before proceeding to her tent.
“Ang cute talaga nilang magkulitan,” chuckled Richard. “Ay nako, sinabi mo pa. Para nga lang ding aso’t pusa yang dalawa na yan. May pagka pikunin nga lang din kasi si Kute kaya ayan, gustong gustong inaasar niyang si Jeff,” said Maya. “Oy bunso nadinig ko yun!” shouted Kute from the tent which made Richard and Maya laugh. “Now I know kung kanino ka nagmana,” said Richard in a low voice. “Ah so pikunin pala ako?” Richard simply grinned in response.
Moments later, they both sat themselves on the side of the hill overlooking the fields and the stars in the sky. As the fire slowly died out, Richard noticed Maya shiver. He immediately went inside his tent and took hold of the extra blanket that he brought. He then offered it to Maya, which the latter gladly accepted. Seeing that they only have one extra blanket to be used, she then decided to share it with Richard. As the evening progressed, the cool breeze got colder and the warmth provided by the blanket didn’t seem to suffice Maya.
“Mukhang nilalamig ka parin ah,” said Richard. “Hindi. Ok lang ako.” “I can feel you shaking,” chuckled Richard. He then moved closer to Maya and placed his arm on her shoulders. “Richard! Ok lang talaga ako!” she said defiantly. “Angel, you’re shaking which means nilalamig ka. And what’s the matter if I move closer to you and try to help keep you warm? Mahihiya ka pa ba sa akin eh di ba nga bestfriends tayo?” smiled Richard. Feeling defeated by Richard’s reasoning, Maya simply let out a sigh, “Sabi ko nga. Thanks wormy!” she said as she finally relaxed herself and leaned her head on Richard’s shoulder.
“Ang ganda talaga dito noh. Saka napaka tahimik at payapa,” said Maya. “Yes. It’s indeed beautiful. Thanks my angel.” “Huh? For what?” “For this. For bringing me here in your hometown. Since day one, I’ve never felt out of place. Hindi niyo pinaramdam sa akin na bisita lang ako. You treated me like family. And I enjoyed all the activities we had. Thanks for the best vacation I’ve ever had,” said Richard sincerely. “Sus! Eh ang si-simple lang kaya ng mga ginawa natin. Namasyal lang dito sa amin, nangisda, naglaro ng basketball, at ngayon naman camping. Madalas pa nga nasa Chibugan ka at tumutulong dun,” chuckled Maya.
“Siguro nga simple siya. It may be different and not as extravagant as the vacations that I usually have. I may have been to places that most people dream of going. But those experiences were nothing compared to the week I spent here in San Nicholas. It is only here where I truly felt at home, at peace, and appreciate the beauty of nature more,” he said, then turned to look at Maya, “and most of all, I truly enjoyed everyone’s company. Most specially your company. This wouldn’t be as special and memorable if not for you. So thank you,” said Richard, smiling warmly at Maya.
“At talaga namang hindi lang nagd-drama ang wormy ko, nambobola pa!” replied Maya while pinching Richard’s cheek causing the both of them to laugh. “Pero totoo ang sinabi mo Richard. Kahit gaano pa kaganda o kasikat ang isang lugar, kung hindi ka naman at home, at kung hindi mo rin naman kasama yung mga taong gusto mong makasama, o mga taong mahal mo, balewala din. Kaya ako, kahit anong lugar o bansa pa ang marating ko, hinding hindi ko ipagpapalit ang probinsya namin. Para sa akin, ito parin ang the best na lugar sa buong mundo!” said Maya proudly.
“So has this vacation been extra special and memorable to you as well?” asked Richard. “Oo naman! One of the best I’ve ever had!” replied Maya. “One of the best lang? Not ranked as the best?” Maya giggled, then said, “Ok. The best vacation I’ve ever had.” Richard smiled at her and said, “And am I one of the reasons why it became extra special and memorable?” “Ang yabang mo talaga wormy! Alam mo hindi ka lang ma-drama at bolero, mayabang pa! Inaantok ka na yata eh kaya kung anu-ano ng naiisip mo,” she said. Richard chuckled then said, “Alam mo angel there’s no harm admitting I’m one of the reasons why this vacation’s extra special and memorable. Syempre kahit ano namang vacation basta kasama mo ang bestfriend mo, it really is going to be extra special and memorable.” “Hay wormy. Wala na akong nasabi. Sige na, sige na. Isa ka na sa mga dahilan kung bakit naging extra special and memorable ang bakasyon na ito,” smiled Maya. Richard simply smiled back and gazed at the stars, leaning his head on top of Maya’s head. “I really wish we could do this again,” said Richard. “I’m pretty sure we will,” answered Maya, both of them smiling at the thought. They both stayed that way for about an hour or so before finally calling it a night.