By eleven in the morning, we have landed on the Honolulu Airport.
We were early by 30 minutes, with the summer sun in these parts welcoming us with its brazen rays.
The pilot announces our arrival, the plane on a touchdown mode negotiating the air and then the runway with speed and subtle grace, the plane's rubber tire connecting with suave motion with the hot cement.
We were told by the pilot that Honolulu International is a special airport because it has been designed as an alternative landing site for the country's space shuttles. The pilot becomes a tourist guide, telling us of all the islands, the volcanoes erupting, the history of the Hawaiian monarchs, the blessings of the surf, the benedictions from the valleys.
This is how important Hawaii is, at it always has been in two of the country's fundamental interests: military power and tourism economy.
With the plantations all gone and the housing subdivisions sprouting in the countrysides in all the islands as if these were mushrooms after the August rains, Hawai`i as a state survives, and it does still, because of unabated coming over of tourists from all over and the continuing presence of the U. S. in the Pacific and, by extension, all over the world.
Even with the nuclear and missile ambitions of North Korea that went pfft, Hawaii takes centerstage in this military drama. Hawaii, veritably, is not immune from possible aggression, as in the second world war. So the NK missile had to be tagged as such. As a future Hawai`i man, I take all these to heart.
I land here, come over.
I declare: Have come, am here--but I have come, and I am here in the midst of all these concerns.
I am another statistic, one of those Filipinos looking for a land of the heart outside my heartland, a land of the soul outside my soul-land, a home outside my homeland.
These are the ugly ironies of exile.
The ironies hit me hard as I step out of the plane, put all this memory of Flight HA 1M away, and take that long walk to Baggage Claim B several thousand steps away from where the belly of the huge plane vomited us all, we seekers of fortune or fun or both, passengers all on one morning on July 11 when the summer heat of Redondo Beach in California was both balming and nostalgic.
Balming because the warmth of the California summer sun warmed the brown skin seeking some healing from all the memories of a brown land.
Nostalgic because I knew, I knew, life would not be the same again as I try to find something in Honolulu, in these islands, in the dizzying midst of sand and sea and sunshine.
I can only heave a deep sigh now, and I remember this sigh for always.
I gather all my memories of California, the Mainland U. S., the first three years of struggling it out as an exile, the three years that made me bolder and braver.
My eyes get misty as I face the almost noonday sun.
I write all these things in my mind, only in my mind.
A. S. Agcaoili
July 12, 2006