hello stranger: tawi tawi

I’ve done this before.

It’s 5am. I went to the airport not expecting anything. It was too early for me to think.

All i know at this point is that i have a boarding pass on my way to Tawi-tawi.

I was wearing drawstring pants. I barely looked presentable. Fashion statement? I think not.

While queuing for my terminal fee, i noticed a Chinese looking gentleman in front of me.

It was interesting to see his chinky eyes amidst the people wearing traditional Muslim robes.

He was carrying a black duffel bag. Not very big, I wondered if he was a traveler like me.

Curiosity got the better of me so i poked his shoulder and blatantly asked.

“Why are you going to Tawi-tawi?”, and he said. “I live there” while looking ahead.

We both got our bags checked and went on to different sections of the departure area.

I thought that was it. But as i waited for the plane, bored and sleepy.

He sat beside me and in a chatty mood asked whether i had family there.

He looked like he was about my age. Maybe a bit older. I saw no point in lying, so i said

“I’m backpacking.”

This opened a Pandora’s box of questions– The usual ones that solo female travelers usually get.

When he finally realized that i wasn’t kidding, He offered, “You’re welcome to stay at my place”

At this point i just thought of free lodging. And with a local! I was excited. It’s an adventure.

We landed in Sanga-sanga 45 minutes later. He lives nearby and he got one big red—motorcycle.

I should think that it spelled trouble, but no it just makes him more exciting

With it he took me everywhere i wanted to go. And i felt very well taken care of.

How did it dawn on me, that i was with someone i just met. Worlds apart.

He is the only son of a Chinese merchant and a Muslim princess. He lives in the farthest corner of the country.

Stranded in his domain, i forgot who i am. Was i merely a designer craving for an adventure? A city girl looking for a paradox in the province?

It didn’t matter

We were walking by the grounds. It was very late but i wasn’t sleepy.

Because in some ways i felt like i had a. Should i say it? A boyfriend

I haven’t felt that way in such a long time. I didn’t know how much i miss it until now.

Funny how i had to go to Tawi-tawi to feel that way again.

The guy with the chinky eyes, the big red motorcycle. The guy who i was with in the middle of a troubled paradise. 

That night, my last night in his province…

I woke up before he did. He helped me pack my things. Neither of us talked.

He took me to the airport, the same time that we met 24 hours ago.

5am. And i was about to board my flight.

Everything ends here.

Here in the airport. Bound for a new place again.

There are no promises of me returning. Everything that should’ve happened already did. In 24 hours.

I’m bound for new places, more adventures and my 24hour clock will rewind until i meet another one again.

But I’ll remember that moment. And I’m sure he will remember me.

The Fashion Designer