Vigan and Wheelchairs

On a humid and sleepy Saturday morning sometime in March, I realized that my two-year relationship with my then boyfriend had come to an end, much to my chagrin. The second thing I did after crying out ugly was to call one of my best friends and plan an out-of-town trip. Our destination? Vigan.

So two months forward, our sneakered feet stepped on the beautiful, beautiful streets of Vigan. We hadn't had enough sleep after a nine-hour bus ride from Manila, but we were too excited to even care about how tired we were. From the first thing in the morning till late at night, we were touring around Vigan: the cobbled streets of Calle Crisologo, the myriads of heritage homes and museums, the breathtaking view from the Bantay Church Bell Tower, and all other tourist spots there is.

It was therapeutic, you see, going to a place where no one knows you, two best friends on their twenties, with only our backpacks and a folded map, on to the greatest adventure of our lives. We were both single, free, independent. We were still young, so ripe to the world.

And while we were resting our tired feet on one of the benches in Calle Crisologo, it was then where I saw the most heartbreaking yet touching scene I've ever seen in my whole twenty-four years of life—more heartbreaking than my own breaking heart:

A family vacationing together: the dad and mom with their young children, and the eldest son, a teenager, pushing their grandma on a wheelchair, while the grandma's wrinkled eyes were twinkling with delight as she gazed around the beautiful streetlights and the well-preserved heritage homes.

They looked so happy, so together. What struck me the most was the grandma, because I remembered my own dad and mom, both grandparents already to my sisters' children. Papa has always wanted to visit Vigan—my old man who loved old things and anything historical and vintage.

And I asked myself, when will they visit Vigan? When they're old and wheelchair-bound and not walking? When will our family bond together like the family we saw vacationing in Vigan? Until our parents are already too old to travel? When will we ever live the life we wanted?

I gazed back at the happy family, and I saw my own parents in the wheelchaired grandma—how happy Papa would have been if he were here, how Mama would have gone camera crazy with all the beautiful sceneries. I vowed to myself that the next time I travel, I'll travel with my parents, the two most amazing people who gave me a wonderful life.

Looking back to that epic vacation to Vigan, I realized how much I've grown to appreciate life better. My life was shitty a few months before the breakup that led to that "where do broken hearts go" trip: I had a personal crisis, my family went through a lot of challenges, and my lovelife was in tatters that I refused to let go of it until he finally let it go.

All my life, I lived according to how other people wanted me to live: be a valedictorian, be a cum laude, be a bad-ass smart girl, be obedient, be kind to everyone, be perfect.

And you know what? I may have grown up to be a really good person, but this isn't exactly how I wanted to live my life.

I want to be a writer (and now I am). I want to work for something I feel passionate about. I want to make my parents happy instead of them making me happy. I want to travel, be free, spontaneous, be stupid and careless sometimes. Be imperfect.

How about you, when will you start to live?


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