There is no greater nation on earth than our Motherland. No greater people than our own. Serve them with all your heart, with all your might and with all your strength.
What baloney! Why should I owe my loyalty to a clump of soil, some blades of grass, a decrepit house that will not even be my own?
Maybe next month, my papers will be finalized, I will have my visa. So good riddance to every cockroach that has ever tried to crawl up my arms, good riddance to leaking roofs and water-stained walls and peeling linoleum floors. Goodbye rotting roads and bridges that lead to nowhere, and pot-holed streets that get flooded every monsoon rain. Farewell to long senseless queues and sidewalk vendors and traffic jams and buses that pick up passengers in the middle of the road.
Fuck off. I will never miss you.
When she was younger, she studied at the State University where she met another young man who broke her heart.
Kim used to say, “You will be perfect for each other!”
She didn’t want to die a virgin so she agreed to Kim’s matchmaking and went on a blind date.
It was not exactly love at first sight.
But he was polite and gentle and could carry a decent conversation. And he smelled the way she imagined a man was supposed to smell.
One year, 2 months, 2 weeks and 1 day later:
They were fooling around in her apartment. She was crying.
He asked, “Did I hurt you?”
She said, “No. I’m just happy.”
Two years, 3 months, 1 week and 3 days later, he was saying: “I love you. We should get married.”
And she was saying: “What about my scholarship? What about Connecticut which I have never seen in my whole life?”
“What about us?”
“If you love me, you’ll wait.”
“Long distance stuff never works.”
Now it’s August 21. She is staring at the computer screen, cursor blinking. She has no idea how she got to the website with the letter of a long-dead man to his son.
Her research is finished. She is being hired by an international NGO based in New York.
Extending her visa will be a piece of cake. Her lawyer said she should do the paperwork right away.
Alice, Jonas is gone. They can’t find him. He was working in Palawan with Dr. Ortega.
She stares at her computer. On another tab are the lyrics to a Joey Ayala song; she is trying to translate it in her head:
Ang pag-ibig natin ay walang hanggang paalam. At habang magkalayo, papalapit pa rin ang puso kahit na magkahiwalay. Tayo’y magkasama sa magkabilang dulo ng mundo.
(Our love is a never-ending goodbye. As we move farther apart, our hearts draw closer. We embrace each other from two opposite ends of the world.)