The journey does not end here on Earth. But what’s left behind are memories worth cherishing and remembering forever.
What’s paradise like? Is it a garden of tulips surrounding a serene river with trees giving shade? Where honeybees hop from one flower to another? Where butterflies dance? Where birds sing? Where you can just lie down on a green grass and stare at the clouds forming different characters in the blue sky?
I can only guess. Everything is in harmony. And just like in the movie, the Lion King, Timon and Pumba sing “Hakuna Matata” (a problem-free world).
Everyday must be a vacation for you now. Ang saya di ba? No more stress in life. I know you’ve been longing to rest but it was so soon. God has given you the rest that you’ve wanted.
I would surely miss the travels that we’ve shared together. I would miss how you and Mama became my travel buddies in Coron, Leyte, Dumaguete, and in Vietnam.
I can still vividly remember our Coron adventures in 2010. On our first day in Coron, you were nervous on our way to Malcapuya Island. You told me, “Anak, anu ba itong mga adventure mo? Pang-survivor!” I know Pa that you’re afraid of the waves but I was glad that I was able to share with you the beauty of Malcapuya Island. I learned that we can’t reach our destination unless we surpass the challenges of the sea. And we did surpass it.
When we made it to Kayangan Lake, I remember how you shouted, “I survived Coron!” You were so happy that you were able to climb to the top and swim in the crystal clear waters of Kayangan Lake.
In Leyte, you carried my backpack and endured a three-hour public van ride from Bato, Southern Leyte to Tacloban City. We shouldn’t have left Southern Leyte yet but I insisted in going to Tacloban just to see the San Juanico Bridge in the morning. Opo, ang tigas ng ulo ko at gusto kong umalis mag-isa at gumawa ng sarili kong lakad. But you won’t let me travel alone. You always want to make sure that I’m safe and so you accompanied me.
The same thing happened when we went to Dumaguete. Casaroro Falls was not included in the group itinerary. But here comes my thirst for exploring new destinations out of the ordinary path. I again asked your permission that I’ll go on my own to get to Casaroro in Valencia. But still, you won’t allow me to be on my own. You accompanied me and even rode a habal-habal. It was not easy for you since the road was not paved and yet you endured it for me.
Our Vietnam trip was our first international trip together with Mama. I was happy that I was able to share the Mekong Delta experience with you and Mama. We also satisfied our taste buds at Quan An Ngon, where we had this group picture together.
Now, I realize why you won’t allow me to travel alone and insisted that you go with me. It’s your way of spending time with me because you only have a short time left on Earth.
God has blessed you in the last few years of your life. Pa, daig mo na ako kasi halos nalibot mo na ang buong mundo. It’s my dream to travel around the world. You did it! Your travels reminded me that nothing is impossible. Dreams do come true and I’ll realize my dream too when the right time comes.
I can still remember how enthusiastic you were on your first out of the country trip in Hong Kong. You happily shared your Disneyland adventure and hoped that we traveled together as a whole family.
Then you went to Bangkok, visited temples and tasted pad thai and tom yum.
After Asia, you conquered Europe in 2010 and 2011. You went to see the prehistoric monument, Stonehenge in Wiltshire. You had your share of adventure when you needed to extend your trip in London due to the volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. Hence, you can’t fly out of London to return to the Philippines.
During that time, a Filipina and her toddler son, Yasin welcomed you and Mama in their home in London. It became your temporary shelter while you waited for the skies to be cleared. This showed that a crisis can bring out the good in people.
The following year, you witnessed a victory party in the streets of Finland when the Suomi Hockey team won the world championship.
Together with Mama, you were able to cross the Baltic Sea to reach Sweden. You liked Sweden better than Finland because the cold weather in Finland got you coughing.
From Sweden, you flew to Milan where you met Tita Tale. You were able to feed pigeons like that of Piolo and Claudine in the movie Milan.
Then you took the Eurorail to get to Venice. Nakakainggit. I want to experience that kind of ride in a bullet train.
Para kayong honeymooners ni Mama in Venice while riding a gondola and eating gelato.
From Venice, you proceeded to Rome and visited the Sistine Chapel and the St. Peter’s Basilica. You heard mass celebrated by the Pope. It seemed surreal but everything was real for you and Mama.
Among your European trips, you told me that you liked Prague the most. It’s where you saw the Kutna Hora Bone Church.
It’s where you experienced a rolling tour and hopped from one bus to another. You even chased a bus because you forgot the time and wandered leisurely. Then you learned that a store in Prague has the same name as yours.
During Valentine’s of 2012, you and Mama were like Rose and Jack of Titanic as you boarded the Royal Caribbean Cruise ship and sailed in the waters of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
And in May 2012, you finally reached your dream destination, the Holy Land Jerusalem. You and Mama were fulfilled to have seen what you read in the Bible.
Mahaba man ang mga lakaran but you endured the exhausting side of travel. You swam in the Dead Sea and didn’t mind getting soaked in mud. In Jordan, you visited Petra and the Wadi Rum Desert. Along with Tito Varoy and Tito David, you had head scarfs like that of bedouins.
You even dared cross the border to Egypt even if there’s an unrest. Still, you enjoyed riding a camel, seeing a pyramid and dressing up like a pharaoah.
I was surprised when I saw your picture taken inside a pyramid.
God has been great and showered you with so many blessings. Within the last three years, you’ve been to the places that I dreamt of exploring.
It was your time to enjoy and cherish the wonders of the world. I’m grateful to the Lord for the experiences that you and Mama shared together.
Pa, we’re blessed to have you as our father. Your journey does not end there. You’re on your way to the real paradise where everything is free. It’s where only happiness resides.
You may not be physically with us anymore but in spirit, you will still be our travel buddy. You will still be there for us. You have given meaning to what I always say: Live Life to the fullest.
Indeed, what matters most in life is how you lived it. And you have lived your life well.
Thank you Papa. Thank you for the love and for the lessons that you taught us.
Huling Gimik with Papa at Lake Pandin
May you find peace and eternal happiness in the real paradise in Heaven.
Till we meet again. We love you.
Your travelholic daughter,