Let me start with a confession. My little story “Tubod”—a story about water—won a Palanca (1st prize on Cebuano short story), and the awarding was held in Manila on September 1st. It was my first try to join a major literary contest. Yes, I did not expect a win. I just wanted my little story out which has been evolving and kept secret for the past five years. It won despite its flaws.
Now, what is the connection between the story and Davao Oriental. A lot. I chose the place over the ceremony. My aim was to have the story out. And it was out. I chose a new place that held promises of more stories to write (and more writing frustrations) instead. I chose a place that I knew I would be comfortable with its strangeness.
Minutes after I put my backpack down at Sachi’s new place, she invited me to go Aliwagwag, which would take around thirty minutes by motorbike. In spite of lack of sleep for the past three days at Dahican, Mati, I was lively and restless when I arrived at Cateel.
Sachi complained that traveling stressed her out, while it made me alive. I am in my element when I wander.
Her elder brother Archie drove us and eventually became the photographer of our craziness.
It is still ambiguous why I am obsessed with living rivers. I even attempted to pour this obsession into words on an unfinished essay “Writing the Muse.”
Anyway, we were kids once again at Aliwagwag. We did a bit of boldering and river-trekking and upstreamed up to the tallest tree on our right.
Instead of celebrating the win, I celebrated life.