Pauline Hui

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Pauline Hui

Post  Pau Hui on Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:35 pm

Good ‘Ol McDonalds

“O, Tuguegarao, Tuguegarao na! Mga bababa sa Tuguegarao!”

I awake with a jolt upon hearing the conductor’s loud voice. I glimpse at my watch and see that it’s five thirty in the morning. I rub my neck and stretch my arms and legs, feeling the stiffness that I was resulted from 12 hours of sitting in a bus. I rub the sleep off my eyes and peer into a view that makes my heart thump and my spirit soar with anticipation. About 15 meters ahead was a sign that read, “Florida Bus Terminal- Tuguegarao.” Finally, I’m home. I fix myself, retrieve my baggages and prepare to unboard the bus. While descending the bus stairs, I’m welcomed by the familiar sight of tricycle drivers hovering around the bus, most of them shouting, “Tricy, ma’am?” while some offering to help me with my baggage. I pick a decent-looking driver and tell him, “Manong, Carig Sur, malapit sa may Plantation Villas, kwarenta.” He nods his approval and carries my baggage to his orange tricycle. I look at his tricycle and can’t help comparing it to tricycles in Manila. Here, tricycles are bigger and color-coded, depending on his route, unlike those in Metro Manila, which I assume are designed depending on the driver’s personal taste in sidecars.

I arrive home and inhale the fresh, musky and nature-y scent of the air, thinking how different it is from the thick smog surrounding the urban areas of the Philippines’s capital city. I shiver involuntarily and wrap my arms around myself. This is Tuguegarao, where the temperature can drop to as low as twenty degrees on the “cold” seasons and as high as forty-two degrees, the highest recorded temperature in the Philippines, in the summer. I get inside the house, take a shower, get dressed, and text my best friend to meet me at school. Although I’m still tired from the long trip, being away from home for two months makes me too excited to go to sleep. I miss the land where I had most of my happy memories and I want to explore the beauty of my city once again. I stroll to the highway to get myself a tricycle to bring me to centro, the heart of Tuguegarao.

I’m halfway to the highway when I catch a glimpse of the City Hall. The green and white five-floor structure stands proud on a vast chunk of land, a reminder of how the city aims for excellence in every field, like administration and citizen participation in education and the arts, hoping to stand out and be recognized for its great potential and contributions. A tricycle driver sees me and I say that I’m heading to centro and he nods.

While in the tricycle, I intently gaze on the surroundings that we pass. I see how urbanization is gradually taking its place in our city but without compromising the feel of a rural atmosphere. I see hardwares, house ware centers, and a variety of shops scattered around the area but also, there are still trees and plants surrounding these establishments. I glance to my left and see the Divine Mercy Parish, taking in its elongated dome-like features and the wooden double-doors, large enough to allow two fire trucks to enter side by side.

The tricycle driver drops me off in front of St. Paul, my old school. I stand there reminiscing my high school days, looking at the silver letterings welded on the white-washed wall near the rusty, metal gate which bear the words St. Paul University Philippines and imagining the brick-red, three-floor building of the High School Department which was as long but not as large as the Palma Hall building in my present school, UP Diliman when someone taps me on the shoulder. I turn around and squeal as Mayyeng and I hug.

We walk from St. Paul to the area where City Mall, Mart One and Paseo Reale, some of the “malls” in the city, are located while arguing whether we should eat Pancit Batil-Patung or Pancit Cabagan, the specialties of the city and planning where to go next. We decide to visit the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral and the other universities and to eat both kinds of Pancit at Dok’s Panciteria, a renowned Panciteria in the vicinity for merienda instead. We end up in front of good ‘ol McDonalds and order ourselves a cheeseburger and float meal each and talk about how Manila is nothing like Tuguegarao City.
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Pau Hui

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