"Something has been lost. It vanished years ago and no one can remember what it is. But still we search the skies and the shadows. Every mysterious light in the sky and each phantom in the camera lens is a glimpse of that nameless thing we lack."
Magapit: I walked toward the Magapit suspension bridge unsure of where I was heading. I have been reeling from the death of the old man. Alongside the bridge massive towers and cables, I stood and watched the Cagayan river below. I could feel the cold breeze on my face. There was calmness exuding from the river. I took a deep breath; I crossed the bridge.
Allacapan: The vehicle pulled over. The driver and some of the passengers relieved themselves by the roadside. The land is lush and teeming with life.
Ballesteros: The waiting shed was packed with people. Their heads bowed, their fingers twitched each time their cellphones glared. A different kind of pest is spreading like the plague in the countryside.
Libertad: When I was young but old enough to travel, there was an eatery in this part of Abulug. They kept their food in a glass-covered shelf to keep these from flies and other insects. The few flies that were trapped often got mired in the food. I remember choosing the dish with bell peppers, peas, meat and liver—sans flies. It was called igado.
Junction Luna: The place is bustling with commerce just like the old days. Women were peddling corn, peanuts, boiled eggs. They would chase every vehicle that stopped. Could these be the daughters of the same women who peddled many years ago? Along the junction, the campaign posters of politicians mounted on the walls were sending a message of change.
Curva, Pamplona: The barracks seemed deserted; the checkpoints were unmanned. In the early 80's, Cagayan Valley was the hotbed of communist insurgency.
Sanchez Mira: Most of the passengers had disembarked. I moved behind the driver's seat. He revved up the engine and drove off. Soon, we were back at 90 KPH. I am nearing my destination. And I knew exactly where I was.
Claveria: After Nagrangtayan, the road began to ascend. Claveria Bay was stunning as we slowly descended. The sea was waiting under the searing sun. The shoreline, long and dotted with wooden fishing boats, was leading me back to the place I knew from a long time ago. Seated between the mountain and the sea was the legendary Apo Lakay-lakay. I was overcome with nostalgia. But something has been lost. The Taggat power plant, where the old man and the boys took shifts in feeding its belly with logs to keep the fire burning, was nowhere to be found. The power plant which generated so much electricity, the one that made Taggat look like a swarm of fireflies at night, had finally dimmed in the memories of time. And then I understood why the old man chose not to go back.