I had nine sisters and one brother. My father, a model of fathers, had given us an education in proportion to our modest means. By dint of frugality, he was able to build a stone house, to buy another, and to raise a small nipa hut in the midst of a grove we had, under the shade of banana and other trees.
At this place, various delicious fruits were on display. The delicate fruit of the atis tree hung low, seemingly saving me the effort of reaching out for them. The sweet santol, the fragrant and ripe tampoy, and the pink makopa competed for my favor. In the distance, the plum tree, the rough but flavorful casuy, and the beautiful tamarind pleased both the eyes and the taste buds. Here, the broad leaves of the papaya stretched out, tempting birds with its enormous fruit. On another side, the nangka, coffee, and orange trees filled the air with the scent of their flowers. On this side, the iba, balimbing, and pomegranate bewitched the senses with their abundant foliage and lovely flowers. Additionally, elegant and majestic trees towering with large nuts swayed proudly with their graceful branches, representing queens of the forest. It would be never-ending if I were to count all our trees and have fun identifying them.
In the dusky hours, countless birds flocked together from all directions. As a young child of merely three years, I found amusement in observing them with fascination and happiness. The yellow kuliawan, the various types of maya, the kulae, the Maria kapra, the martin, and all the different species of pipit united in a harmonious melody. Together, they sang a diverse farewell song to the setting sun as it disappeared behind the towering mountains of my hometown.
Then, the clouds, in a capricious display of nature, merged into countless forms that would swiftly vanish, mirroring the fleeting nature of those delightful days, leaving me only faint memories. Even now, as I gaze out the window of our home at the magnificent twilight panorama, long-forgotten thoughts resurface with nostalgic fervor.
And then it arrived.