Even as you prepare to leave, many things bog you down.
You talk in your sleep, the dream of other times getting into this time of your life, this time for renewal, this time for putting an end to disconnect.
The country is not yet A-ok and friends tell you so.
Just this afternoon, you had a full tank of a gas for your old and rickety car that needed mending for all you care, with much of the balikbayan money you brought all going to the overhaul, radiator, contact point, the aircon system, tires and what have you.
That was a decision to be made: to repair or not to repair.
In short, to be at the mercy of taxis or jeepney and both--or to be at the mercy of your own misery.
You decided to go through the repair option.
The mechanic tells you: P25T is all it takes.
You count how much resources you have got.
You count how much credit card money you can withdraw.
You count how much time you would need to be able to get to normalcy again after a month of absense from the land of some milk and some honey and much misery.
You count how much palugit you could have to pay off outstanding debts.
You say: sige, sige, have it done.
How long will it take? you ask the newfound mechanic.
One week, he says. But if you turn the car in on Sunday, you can have it back much earlier, on Thursday.
Look, I say, I need the car so bad. I am in the middle of coordinating an international conference and I need that car to go around. No hanky panky with me.
And so I start the ritual of withdrawing the much-needed scare financial resource.
Then, halfway through the repair process, I realized the cost has jumped to more than P30T. And there are some more parts to be junked, replaced.
And that that ritual of going to Banawe to look for the cheaper alternative from this chop-chop cras courtesy of smugglers and carnappers.
On a late Monday morning the following week, five days beyond the deadline, you get the old car still old and cranky you needed to call the mechanic again, with him going through the same process of figuring it out what happened.
Sa madaling salita, I had the car fixed at more than P40T, not P25T. God, where on earth would we have taken that amount if I worked in the da home countyr, teach at the state university and earn from there a net of P2500/week?
Enough of this sour graping. Well, I am sour graping. I am bitter. Because I taught for more than 20 years and here I am still wallowing in self-pity and misery and deprivation and want.
but then again, we all learn when the ruminatin begins.
A. S. Agcaoili
May 13, 2005