Ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi raw makararating sa paroroonan.” Bata pa ako ay naririnig ko na ‘yan. Ano nga ba ang ibig sabihin nito? Tulad ng alinmang kasabihan, ito ay walang iisang kahulugan; dahil ang kahalagahan nito sa isang tao ay depende sa kanyang edad, kultura, pananaw, o mga pinagdaanan sa buhay. S’yempre naturál lang na magbago ang pagtanaw at pag-intindi sa buhay habang nadaragdagan ang karanasan at kaalaman.
Ako, madalas pa rin akong lumingon sa aking pinagmulan—sa aking pagkamusmos, pagkabinata, mga nakilala’t nakasalamuha, mga nabisita’t napuntahan, at bansang aking sinilangan. Nakatutuwang matanto na malaki na ang aking ipinagbago. Hindi na ako ang dating paslit na napakaliit ng mundo. Hindi na ako ang batang mababaw ang kaligayahan at makitid ang pag-iisip. Hindi na ako ang taong mangmang sa maraming bagay at nagpapapigil sa mga baluktot na pananampalataya’t paniniwala. Malayo na nga ang aking nalakbay. At kalahati pa lang iyan ng aking lalakbayin. Ngunit bago ako magpatuloy sa paglalakbay, halina’t samahan mo muna akong lumingon sa aking nakaraan.
I was six years old when Father first told me: “Palagi kang lilingon sa iyong pinanggalingan, para makarating ka sa ‘yong paroroonan.” As a child, I took this literally; so you can imagine me always craning my neck every time I was going somewhere. Mother used to laugh at this adoringly, saying: “Ikaw talaga, palagi mong iniintindi nang literál ang mga sinasabi ng Daddy mo. Ang totoo, hindi rin naman makabubuti kung maya’t maya tayong lilingon sa pinanggalingan natin. Babagal ang ating pag-abante. At ang mas masama pa n’yan, dahil abala tayo sa kalilingon, at hindi nakatutok ang pansin sa dinaraanan, e baka madapa o matapilok tayo. Lalo lang tayong hindi makararating sa ating paroroonan.”
Yes, Mother taught me that although remembering the past is good, doing this frequently tends to slow us in accomplishing our goals and in reaching our destination. Wallowing in the past or reminiscing it with regret, sadness, and longing will only prevent us from appreciating and enjoying our present achievements; detering us from experiencing new, happier moments. So, nowadays, I keep an open mind and straightforward perspective, always prepared for the day’s activities and eager to set new goals for the near future. I still look back to my past—but only to draw strength and inspiration from them and perhaps remember a few lessons; and not to brood and despair in my inability to turn back the clock. For, we can never turn back time.
Highschool and college days, my knowledge broadened and my perspective widened. A whole new horizon opened up for me. I carved my own style. I found my own person. I became wiser, knew myself better, and became more confident about myself. I forged friendships with people many of whom I still get in touch with to this day. I could still remember the likes of Mr. Adrian Jarder, Mr. Antonio Suarez, and Miss Lugtu, professors who had left indelible marks in my very impressionable youthful mind. Big chunks of knowledge and insights that I learned from these mentors I found useful in the years that followed—lessons that, to this day, continue to be potent and relevant.
I finished a four-year bachelor’s degree course and passed the board exam. I was now a professional! It was time to apply what I learned from my academic years; time to share all the knowledge, gifts, and skills that I had mustered through the years. I became a pharmaceutical representative, a document analyst, an encoding supervisor, a writer, an editor, an educator; a generous son and brother; a best friend. I had the chance to become a rockstar, a celebrity in my own little music world. I fell in love, fell out of it, fell in love again. Loved life, despised it. ’ been up, ’ been down. Revelled and despaired. Smiled and cried. Laughed and almost died. Oh, I remember them all! All the nitty-gritty details. The shapes, the colors; the scents, the textures; the taste, the melodies. I just close my eyes and memories come flooding back…names and faces, moments and places. All because I never fail to remember. I never forget. I look back in the past once in a while…with fondness and affection.
Mother’s father, who had long been living in Canada, needed someone to accompany him through his final days. I was the chosen one. So even though I had a good and comfortable life, I had to give this up…for good…for Grandfather, who was a great provider. I left my family, my friends, my career, my country—to embrace many things new, somewhere unfamiliar and strange. Months passed, I nearly gave up and almost went back home; but my family and friends gave me courage and inspiration. Books, poetry, and my literary pen were my consolation. Be brave and try to soldier on. Lumingon ka, pero babalik ka pa ba, e nand’yan ka na? Finally Grandfather left, never to come back. He gave me back the best things I ever owned in this world: My life, my freedom.
Now, I’m doing okay, always wishing for the better. I work in a hospital and write for this newspaper. Canada is my new home, but the Philippines will always be my first love. I always try to move on and steer my life forward, towards a more realistic and reachable direction. And how did I remember all these things from my past?
Hindi ako nakalilimot sa aking pinagmulan.