Prologue

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Prologue

We were driving in fast speed. I could smell the salty breeze as we drove on the seaside road. It didn't matter that the sun was striking up in the sky and the weather was scorching hot. The wind blowing hard towards my direction was enough to make me feel fresh and cool.

But in all honesty, even if I was covered in sweat, I couldn't care less. I was in a very great mood. I was on my way closer into turning my dreams to reality after all the hurdles I had to jump over and advance on the track.

Ngiting-ngiti kong nilingon si Gian. Opposite to my mood, he was frowning while his eyes were focused the road. Kahit na nagtatampo ang aking matalik na kaibigan ay hindi ko maiwasan ang mapangiti. Alam kong kahit hindi siya masaya sa aking gagawing pag-alis, susuportahan niya pa rin ako. He would try his best to make me happy―just like how he didn't want me leave, but he still offered to drive me to the airport so that I wouldn't have to trouble myself in commuting.

Nang mapansin niya ang aking tingin sa kanya, mabilis niya akong sinulyapan. Mas lalo siyang sumimangot at medyo binagalan ang takbo ng sasakyan.

"You look so happy..."

Humupa ang lakas ng pag-ihip ng hangin nang bumagal ang takbo ng Wrangler. Kasabay noon ay niliitan ko ang aking ngiti upang hindi siya lalong mainis.

"Huwag ka na magtampo, Gian," malambing kong sabi sa kanya. "Alam mo naman kung gaano ko pinangarap 'to."

Malalim na paghinga ang kanyang ginawa. "Alam ko..." sabi niya. "I was just pointing it out."

I looked fondly at my best friend. Even though I don't look like it now, I know I'll surely miss him once I'm in Manila. He's always been there for me since we were kids. Nasanay akong lagi siyang nasa tabi ko kaya alam kong mahihirapan akong mag-adjust nang wala siya.

Trying to shrug those negative feelings off my shoulders, I turned away and averted my gaze back on nature. Kaya nga lang ay mabilis na pinisil ni Gian ang aking pisngi at ibinalik sa kanya ang aking tingin. Nang makita niyang ako ang nakasimangot ay siya naman ang natawa. Kalaunan ay nahawa na rin ako ng kanyang tawa at nakisabay.

Once the atmosphere in between us got lighter, Gian picked up the speed. Ilang sandali pa ay nakarating na kami sa bayan ng Puerto Princesa. Muli niyang binagalan ang pagtakbo ng Wrangler. Nasimulan ko na ring maramdaman ang init dahil sa kaunting traffic sa bayan.

Kahit na malapit nang magpaalam ang panahon ng tag-init ay madami pa ring turista na nagbabakasyon. Karamihan pa ng mga turista ay galing sa ibang bansa.

Every summer, every time I would need to travel to Puerto Princesa or El Nido, it was always the same sight. I know it's good for the tourism and economy of our province, but I don't really like it when it's crowded. It's like the beauty our precious paradise is getting spoiled, especially because most of the tourists have no sense of responsibility to protect nature.

Mabuti na lang at hindi nagtagal ang pagkaipit namin sa trapiko. Pagkarating sa paliparan, naunang bumaba ng sasakyan si Gian. He unloaded the huge suitcase I brought. Agad din akong sumunod sa kanya. Isinukbit ko ang crossbody travel bag sa aking leeg at pati na rin ang strap ng guitar case sa aking balikat.

"Akin na 'yan!" Inabot ko mula kay Gian ang aking luggage dahil mukhang wala siyang balak na ibigay sa akin.

Gian pursed his lips. "Sigurado ka na ba talaga sa pag-alis?"

I exhaled a deep breath and crossed my arms. "Giancarlo..."

"I know, I know..." He raised both his hands like he already gave up trying to make me stay.

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