Finally got time to take a walk on a sunny afternoon. It seemed strange at first trying to capture the surroundings with an eye of a traveler and pretending that this is the first time I’ve been to this place when I know that I have lived in this city for more than three decades. There are a lot of things we take no notice of, yet we know of their presence. I was in for a surprise. There has been so many changes in the familiar surroundings that I can really say that I am seeing this environment with a fresh pair of eyes.
It was a little late when I started out, and I won’t make it to the place I had in mind, so I stopped by an upholstery shop and stayed for a while looking at the craftsmen doing their work. Of all the photo walks I’ve done, the first question people ask me is whether I am from the news media. I could probably get away with telling them that I am and then they would probably jump if I asked them to, knowing that they could be featured on TV and become instant celebrities. But, that would be bad for my health considering that I will be walking this path many times and will see them often, and maybe get to know them by name after some time.
I wasn’t particularly trigger happy today after having noticed too late that I was wearing a bright green shirt that made me look like a walking neon sign. Walking faster than usual, I headed down to the port area and when I got there, I can’t help but feel nostalgic about the place. Years ago, this was a bustling port where many small watercraft come in and out, as well as bigger vessels that sail to Guiuan at 11:00 in the evening. M/V Stacey was the name of one of those ships, the other I forgot. I can remember stevedores hauling sacks of rice, corn, sugar and salt, as well as boxes of merchandise onto these ships through a foot-wide gangplank that sways from the ship’s movements and bends from the weight. It wasn’t easy just to balance on it, even without carrying anything but these workers are used to doing that every day. In the holds of these ships were more workers carefully stacking the goods, enduring the suffocating heat from the engine and copra. All the loading and stacking were done by manual labor. On the topside, passengers lie on beds that are basically wooden stretchers, and without privacy as these beds were laid side by side without any space between them. The rumble of the engine can be felt all throughout the ship. A couple of horn blasts at exactly eleven o’clock and then these ships sail away into the darkness. I have vivid memories, but unfortunately my description isn’t enough compared to just one photo of how it was. Some things just disappear without being seen.