I woke up that day with a single thought in my head: I wanted to see the ocean.
It was a three-day weekend and everyone was busy preparing for the Halloween parties in Manila including the annual Cream Ball and the Black Party in Malate.
Fuck, my friend Jason even had a Hellcats cheerleader costume made. He was hoping to snag a quarterback.
But I wanted something different.
"Come on Brian, let's go to Ilocos," I said, trying to convince my friend to come with me. "Cobbled streets, lighthouses, windmills, beaches, and bagnet; what more can you ask for?"
"Hmmm... Why do you want to go out of town ba?"
"I want to go to the beach. I want to swim, I want to travel. Besides, if I stay here, it's the same old thing. Parties and boys na naman."
"Hahaha. You make it sound like it's such a bad thing. Pero sige sige, punta tayo. (But okay okay, let's go.)
The bus left Manila Thursday evening and by dawn the next day, we were standing on top of the 400-year old San Agustin belfry watching as the sun's rays slowly crept up on the nearby town of Burgos.
The sun rises and sets every day, but not all sunrises are the same. There was a golden light, streaked with blood and purple, as if the end of the world had come without intruding on everyday-life.
In the afternoon, we stopped by the town of Burgos to see the Kapurpurawan rock formation. The rock was carved out from the surrounding sandstone through the centuries by wind and waves erosion. It was huge, imposing and white, very white.
Brian and I headed towards the rock for a closer look. We were walking on dead corals that dotted the landscape when suddenly a wave hit us. I fell into the sea.
I struggled to reach the surface to breathe but the current was too strong. I was tossed under the ocean, scraped my hands, arms, legs, feet and back against the corals. Then I crashed into a rock, hit my head and everything went dark.
When I was alive, I often wondered why there are no happy ghosts, but now that I am one, I understand why.
The universe of knowledge opens up to you in death. Every word, every detail now has weight and meaning: the smile thoughtlessly given, the promises made.
You begin to understand each moment of your life clearly, identify all the things you should have done, and shouldn't have. But what's the use, when it's all too late?
When you're mortal, you only have so much information at hand. You never know what other people really think; their desires, wishes, impulses. You never know what is hidden.
All these are revealed in death. The lover who waited in the rain for two hours, hoping you'll come back, the dad who can never tell his son how proud he is of him, the friend who betrayed you.
The people closest to us suddenly become strangers, and all their motivations are suddenly laid bare.