CALAMBA TO BARCELONA -- 1 MAY to 16 JUNE 1882

[Aboard the Salvadora] 3 May -- Wednesday

I woke up at five o'clock in the morning. I dressed and heard Mass in Sto. Domingo church. Perhaps the last one that I would hear in my country. Oh, what memories of my childhood and of my early youth!

Upon returning to my house, I took breakfast; I'm mistaken, I tried to eat, but I could not. I was somewhat lethargic. After a while my compadre came and took breakfast. The gifts of the good Capitana Sánday were served at the breakfast. I was sorry I could not take them along, not even a tiny piece.

We went down afterward: My uncle Antonio, Gella, my compadre, Chengoy, and I. Chengoy bade me farewell at the door. He could not go with us. I embraced this good and faithful friend. I felt I was going to collapse on account of sadness. We went in the direction of Magallanes where we found the Salvadora. We boarded it, and as my companions wanted to go away, I begged them not to leave me so soon. They gladly agreed to stay and they accompanied me until the bay.

There I tried to take advantage of the few moments left to talk and enjoy looking at them -- the last friends that I would see and to me represented my whole country and my family. How many services they rendered me, what solicitude!

Finally came the hour of separation. I couldn't speak. I embraced them twice and I would have liked to hold them embraced. How would it have been if they were my own family!

They moved away. I saw them walking away and I couldn't take my eyes off them until they turned around the Malecón. A thousand and one times they waved their handkerchiefs to me; I wanted to hold them with my eyes. Friends, who have been like my second family, who have worked indefatigably for my welfare, how can I pay you? I still remember what you said, "Be a man!" Well then, I'm a man, and that is why I weep. I weep on departing from my country, the seat of all my affection.

Tears are welling in my eyes but the cursed sense of honor holds them.

The ship weighs anchor at last: Its propeller moves sweeping the water and leaving behind it a lengthening wake. My motherland, my town, I leave you; you will disappear and I'll lose sight of you.

I take a pencil and though imperfectly, I like to fix on paper the shore of Manila.

My hand runs nimbly in obedience to my heart, and I draw.

But, in the meantime and little by little, the buildings were becoming smaller, their outlines were becoming confused, though their shadows acquired intensity forming a contrasting chiaoscuro. Later, only a forest of poles and numberless vague figures gilded by a most brilliant sun. That was my motherland, my dear motherland. There I left love and glory, parents who adore me, solicitous sisters, a brother who watches over my family and me, and friends. Oh, yes! How many loves, how many hearts, which could have made me happy, and nevertheless I'm abandoning them! Will I find them on my return free, just as I have left them?

Leonores,1 Dolores,2 Ursulas, Felipas, Vicentas, Margaritas, and others: Other loves will hold your attention and soon you will forget the traveler. I'll return, but I'll find myself alone, because those who used to smile at me will save their charms for others more fortunate. And in the meantime I fly after my vain idea, a false illusion perhaps. May I find my family intact and afterward die of happiness!

Lunch time came. We are sixteen passengers: five or six ladies, many children, and the rest are gentlemen. I'm the only Indio.3 We have also some unfortunate ones: Indian Negroes and Englishmen prisoners from Port Breton. No incident occurred during the luncheon.

The luncheon finished, I saw that we are opposite Mariveles. I took a look at it and continued writing. After sometime we saw Corregidor. These two mountains are nearly opposite each other. The Mariveles Mountain is beautiful and looks like the Makiling of my province which brought back to me vivid memories of that poetic country.

Since this morning the weather has been beautiful; the sea, calm and fair, more than my dear Laguna. I sight other mountains whose names I don't know and should like to know. They are on the left of Corregidor. I inquire about their names and nobody can tell me. They say it is the Island of Luzón.

In sailing from Manila we pass between Mariveles and Corregidor. They pointed to me the Fraile and Monja islands, the Fraile at the right and the Monja on the left of Corregidor, looking westward. The water of the sea has a dark-blue color which fresh water does not have.

The passengers, who are all Europeans, are of various kinds. I have been talking a long while with one from Salamanca, a soldier in the Civil War who described to me some of the actions he had witnessed.

We have in front of us the Island of Mindoro.

An Englishman is traveling with us. He speaks Castilian well but he pronounces very badly. It seems that he has something in his mouth that is holding his tongue. He is tall and slender.

The sun is setting; its disk is scattering a vivid flame which is reflected on the rippled surface of the sea. The fanciful clouds tinted with vivid red, seemed like the dome of an incandescent grotto. Shadows are invading the East, lengthening themselves but losing in intensity as they neared the West.

We are sailing through an immense desert. Not a playing fish can be seen.

I've changed my suit. The one I'm wearing is the only woolen one I have which my good sister María made me. This reminds me that last year, at this time, we were traveling in a casco4 in Laguna Lake -- my sisters Néneng, María, and Trining with Ursula, Victoria, and others -- en route to Páquil. How much time has already elapsed! At that time I was admiring the poetic places and highways in my country. Now I admire only the immensity of the sea.

The moon has risen from the water. Reflections of the sun in the West and a round and most beautiful disk in the East. The gentle and cool breeze caresses my brow, bringing me aroma and freshness and makes the paper tremble. In my town perhaps they are looking at the same moon as I do. Perhaps my mother and my sisters, looking at it, are thinking of me as I'm thinking of them. If instead of looking at a point, our gazes would meet...

It is quite dark and I can't continue writing.

Let's meditate.

They have brought a lantern suspended from a rope. In its light I write these lines. Seated in my lounging chair, facing the moon, I see it rising slowly, glistening on the waves.

I remember the verse my mother used to recite:

Cuando en las ondas
De los vastos mares
Corría a sepultar
Sus rayos bellos
El Rubio Apolo, etc.
5

Through the word ondas (waves) numerous thoughts assail my mind, all concerning my family and my hometown.

A lady is singing and dandling her son. Perhaps that was the way my mother dandled me.

I got sleepy.

1Leonor Rivera and Leonor Valenzuela.

2Dolores Habaña.

3Indio was the name given by the Spaniards to an inhabitant of the islands in Oceania. In the Philippines it had a derogatory connotation.

4Casco is a Philippine river craft, made of wood, used for passengers and freight.

5Free translation:

When in the waves
Of the vast seas
Golden Apollo
Would run to bury
His beautiful rays, etc.

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