OFW: Billionaire's Life Story
"Okay, stay there for a while; I'll check the surroundings first." I headed to move slowly at first, inspecting the nearby place if it was safe for us. The scorching sun bit my flesh like a scorpion's sting. I went back to where Ayah's waiting told her to move fast and held her left hand towards the rocky side of the beach. We took off our clothes totally, our naked bodies shone in the light of the sun like gems. We washed our clothes and underwear, tightly squeezed them, and spread them open on the boulder. We remained in the water for a few minutes, waited for our clothes to dry, and dressed up. Ayah and I looked for any resident along the shore or anybody who can help us. But, nothing...no one...it's a remote area. I looked at Ayah Isabel and said sarcastically, "Ayah, you're wearing heels? We're going to walk for a few kilometers away...look at you?"
"Yes, my feet hurt while running in the fields....," while grimacing her face.
"Give it to me." She handed her heels, I looked for a stone and broke the heels making them comfortable for her. "See! It's flat now...fit for you to walk comfortably!"
We walked in the dense coconut plantation along the beach, looking for the main road, and continued walking with the hope that somebody could help us, could point the right way. Thirst visited us, hungry too, hungrier while aiming for positive results.
I thanked God that my wallet was with me, in the back pocket of my pants.
We reached the main road, and slumped on the rock beside the dusty bushes, clasping our hands together. An hour later, a truck loaded with sugar cane appeared in our view approaching us. I made a sign that we want a ride. I extend my hand with joy, at the same time gave signs to the driver to stop.
"Good afternoon Mister, we need your help....we're going to...?" I looked at Ayah because I forgot the name of the place.
"Barrio Isio...but where are you heading for...Dacongcogon Sugar Central?" Ayah asked the driver.
"Yes, in Dacongcogon...I can drop you in the town of Kabankalan if you have money for the diesel," said the driver.
"Yes, yes my friend I'll give you the money," I said to the driver. "Here are the three hundred pesos, take it."
We traveled around three kilometers without saying any word to each other. Even the driver said nothing or asked anything about us. My mind kept on assessing our situation right now, about Ayah's family, the gunman, and about our future. Now that I decided to be with Ayah; I have an obligation and responsibility for her well-being. Tomorrow's the day I have to meet Governor Gustilo. Should I be in a hurry for that meeting? And, get the money and run?
"Boss, we're here at the junction of Kabankalan road...I'll stop it here for diesel refilling at the gas station nearby," the driver said to me."Okay, we'll find a restaurant to eat at. Come with us?" I said to the driver.
"Thank you, Boss, it's getting dark, driving during the night is very dangerous going to Dacongcogon Sugar Mill."
"Okay then, take this hundred pesos for your food instead. Come on...." The driver took the money and drove away without saying a word.
We walked a few meters and found a restaurant at the corner of the street, got inside, and seated. I looked around to get acquainted with the place. I saw a telephone at the counter, while the lady was busy writing. There were a jukebox music counter, pale blue curtains, and table covers. The restaurant was not fully maintained in terms of cleanliness. I called the male server and ordered two plates of "pancit canton noodles, a family-size soft drink, and white sliced bread.
"Ayah, is this the town of Kabankalan?" I asked without thinking right.
"Yes, part of...this is the Kabankalan crossing. The town proper is thirty meters away," I stood up and said to Ayah, "I'll call Edward for a moment; just finish your food here, okay?"
I telephoned Edward Ramirez in Bacolod City and told them about what happened in Barrio Tuyom and my decision to start a new life in Manila together with Ayah Isabel. I asked him to purchase two tickets going to Manila through passenger shipping lines. Edward told me, that two men asked about my whereabouts and asked some personal questions too, They said, they are relatives of Ayah Isabel.
"Who are they? Are you sure they're relatives of Ayah? Did you check their identification...through ID cards, driving licenses, or social security cards? You fool Edward! Can you describe them to me?"
"They're quite professionals, clean cut...well, wearing T-shirts...jeans...and rubber shoes. Hmmm....."
"Okay! Okay then, just do what I told you and we'll meet there... at our favorite disco house. Got it friend?"
"Okay, got it. Marco, how about your meeting with...you know...tomorrow?"
"Just leave it to me, and don't ask me again about it, okay?"
"Yes, Boss...you're the Boss...your Highness..."
"You foolish bull...I'm not joking! This is not the time to joke! We'll meet there, okay? Bye for now...bye, take care always my friend."
"Yes, Marco my friend... take care too, and Ayah Isabel."
"Bye!" I went back to my seat, Ayah's crying again, "Ayah, stop it, I can't bear to see you like this. Are you coming with me to Manila, or you'll stay here?" Ayah continued crying and said, "I'm with you, Marc."
I asked for some information about the bus terminal from the waiter, and we went ahead to the bus terminal station. It's past seven in the evening but the people on the streets were scarce. Ayah told me some news about this town while going to the bus terminal; business establishments too, some closed early as their usual trading hours because of rampant violence and robberies. The leaders of the town were trying to propose curfew hours for non-residents, and some political groups opposed this decree. Political leaders have their own private army to support their leadership, followers, businesses, and other personal interests.
"That's our way of life here in the south of the island. Only rich families have the power, money, and fame. They controlled the lives of ordinary, poor, and illiterate people. Isn't it we learned this from high school?" Ayah asked me.
"Yes my dear, but I'm absent at that time when those topics were being discussed."
"Ahhhhhh, I see," Ayah said and punched me in the arm.
"Come on, let's get our tickets and rest inside the bus.