OFW: Billionaire's Life Story
I bought two tickets going to Bacolod City and asked Ayah to come along to the opened shop, trading some ready-made lady's dresses and shoes.
"Which one do you like? I think that one with a flowery design, do you like it?"
"Yes Marc, I love that one. By the way, where did you get this money?"
"Remember the money your parents gave to us, I put some in my wallet. Okay then, get it and change your dress at the fitting room, over there and I'll select shoes that suit you."
We finished buying things for Ayah; bought some food delicacies and went onto the bus. I selected the rear seats for us both. I embraced Ayah to rest on my left arm and she falls asleep. A few minutes later, sleep kept on bugging my nerves that I started to close my eyes. But suddenly, my vision focused on a man standing near the ticket booth. He's the man from the chapel! I closed my eyes again, and spotted him, to be sure. Yes, it's him!
I hastily edged down the seat with Ayah to cover us from a man's view. I woke her up slowly, whispered about the man, and waited for almost an hour in a reclining position. In my mind, I am sure that I was his target, not Ayah Isabel or her family. I kept track of my past, questioning who had done such horrible acts killing innocent people?
Passengers started to come in, one by one, some in groups, and the air-conditioned bus was half-full, rearing to go, for a scheduled time. The bus helper began to shout, 'Bacolod, Bacolod, Bacolod City, last chance to get your ticket...there's still more seats... more seats...Bacolod..." Just a minute had passed, and the bus moved from the bus terminal up to the crossroad where we ate our supper. It went to the right side of the crossing going north, where I glanced outside and saw the vastness of the sugar cane plantation even though it was dark. I closed my eyes to reminisce the story of my mother to me when I was young.
"It was the 30th day of September 1954...my birth date...and my grandfather's place...It was at the center of the sugar cane plantation where I was born at the small barrio named Tabu, in the town of Ilog, province of Negros Occidental. At that time, my pregnant mother and father were there for vacation, and to ask my grandparents for a parcel of land, to be cultivated for our use. The reason why my grandfather built that way was that he could see at once who was coming from his house and who the robbers of his most precious wealth are; sugar cane, mangoes, jackfruit, and other fruit-bearing trees.
The house had a second-level section wherein my grandfather used to stay when he was not on the field. The lower portion of the house was made of wood, a concrete floor, where the kitchen and dining area were separated by the wooden partition intricately designed with the old carvings - a large area where nobody knew why my grandfather modeled this way. The upper portion's roof was made of coconut wood with a knee-leveled wooden wall, and things that were close to his heart; shotgun, deer-skin leather carpet, tobacco pipe, and vernacular. It was he who ran the family business wherein my grandmother was supporting him by keeping records of his transactions. They lived happily with their four children; three boys and the youngest, a girl. It was my father – a second child - who dreamed of becoming a soldier.
He wanted to be released from the usual way of farming and breeding animals. He decided to be a soldier was the only way to fulfill that dream. He was brought to Manila for Army Training. The Philippine Army division in Quezon City – the capital of the Philippines – assigned him to another area, near Manila, where he met my mother. They loved each other very much and young to know what's the real meaning of life. They eloped, lived together, and my father gets sacked for absences without leave (AWOL).
They lived in the poverty-stricken place in Manila on their own accord to face the realities of life. My father could not sustain the rigors of living in an unsustainable basic way of family life. They moved to Bacolod City, found a job as a driver of a soft drink Company through the recommendation of his newfound friend, and stayed for more than a year. He was transferred to the town of Hinigaran for the Company's newly opened warehouse. It was in this place that he spent his family life, spending time with his three children; until I came to life as his fourth child..."
"Marco, Marco wakes up!" I opened my eyes instantly when I felt Ayah's hand and her call.
"Why, what happened?" I asked with bewilderment.
"You're snoring loudly like a boar. All the passengers are clamoring for it. Look at them.....look!"
I straightened up and looked at them; some faces were smiling, some were angry, and I noticed two passengers were just sitting still in their seats. I whispered to Ayah, "Forget them, they're all ugly wild cow," while mimicking with my face. Ayah wryly smiled at me, but ashamed to the passengers, "You slept for an hour I think and it seems that you're dreaming something?"
"No, Ayah, it's just...I'm tired," I lied to Ayah. "Where are we now... town of Binalbagan?"
"We are approaching the town of Hinigaran. Do you want to visit your family?"
"No Ayah, this is not the time. We have to go on with our plans. When we arrived in Bacolod City, we have to buy The Daily News, so that we have some knowledge about your family in Barrio Tuyom. Besides, Edward bought two tickets for us. We have to leave at once."
"Okay, Marc you're the Boss...."
The stillness of riding this passenger bus during nighttime muted my thoughts while holding Ayah in my arms. The new feeling that I found protecting Ayah from any dangers gave me much thought to being a responsible man. A married man, married for the love of Ayah, married for her future.
It was past ten in the evening when we arrived at the South Negros Bus Terminal in Bacolod City. All the bus passengers were preparing to disembark. We hurriedly went down from the bus, while I was holding Ayah's hand. The bus terminal was quite peaceful for this hour of the day. We pushed ourselves to hail a taxi cab when two men grabbed us from behind; dragged us towards the open door of a red car and a man pulled us inside the car. I stamped my right fist to a man's face, but he clamped Ayah's body while aiming a gun at her head where I halted.
"Okay! Okay! Relax friend..." I said suddenly. "Release her!"
A man released Ayah, and I embraced her while the man pointed his gun at us. There were three of them; a driver, the man in the front seat, and a man with a gun at the back. I observed that we were heading outside of the city. After some kilometers of traveling at full speed, the car stopped.
The man told us to calm down, out of the car, pushed us inside the house, and seated us at the dining table face to face. Two more men appeared to watch us. Governor Gustilo showed up and I realized instantly the whole picture.
"You know Marco; I offered you the best opportunity that I could give you... because I loved my daughter very much. But, you're a disgrace!," pointing his clenched fist at me. The Governor walked slowly towards Ayah and suddenly held her shoulders, "Lady I am sure that you knew about Marco? That we have an agreement? That he wanted to marry Danielle and not you!!!"
Ayah's looking at me crying. The governor turned to me shouting with fire in his eyes.
"But you ruined it Marco by marrying this girl!! That, that you want me, looks like a fool to you? Huh, Marco Fernando?? You can't fool me!"
The governor left the place instructing his men to watch us very carefully. Two men brought us to a room and locked the door. I held Ayah's tired body but she was still crying.
"You have to take a rest. Come on I will put you in bed."
"How can I Marco!! You lied to me!!" She shouted at me in despair.
"My heart is not lying to you, I love you, not Danielle, please believe me?"
"The Governor's voice still lingers in my heart Marc, but I love you too."
"You want to take a bath with me?" I asked Ayah while I kissed her lips.