Remembering Tacloban is not really pleasant thing to me: I accompanied the Dork, who had to cover his face and body with an old blanket all the way from Cebu, because he had the chicken pox all over his body. He couldn’t bear the treatment at the boarding house, perhaps, he felt a little betrayed and aghast at all his friends avoiding him; so, he decided to go home to Tacloban. But running a high fever and with such a bad headache, he decided he might find it hard to take the trip alone so he asked me to go with him. Yes, I was the last remaining friend of the Dork at his moment of distress. One of the most valuable lessons I learned from my student activist years, still very recent at this time on my first trip to Tacloban, was never to leave a friend in distress; though, I wrongly applied it on the Dork. He appeared grateful at that time, of course! Who would not be? He should have thanked the students’ movement, instead! We traveled all the way from Cebu to Tacloban, the Dork, wearing a jacket; and eventually wrapping his head and face with a blanket, while strangers on the boat, and at the bus line, stared at him, turning away in disgust when they caught a glimpse of all the blisters on his face. Yet, we managed to find our way and reached the gate in Tacloban.
A seasoned writer usually knew she had to stop writing exactly at the point where she was supposed to stop. I did not have this wisdom at that time. I should have left the Dork at his doorstep, hurried back to Cebu as fast as I can, and went on with my life as usual.
But I did not. The Dork made a speech about gratitude, respect, and such abstract and motherhood things, persuaded me to stay when what I really wanted was to run away. I was too boneless to say no, however.
The moment they opened the gate, and took both of us inside, everything went wrong. Very wrong, indeed!