I'm in the city of stone carabaos. I realized this as soon as I saw the beautiful creatures lining here in front of me, black as charcoal, not the muddy black of real carabaos we passed by the rice fields in Kialeg, but dark-night black, the whole clan of them, from baby carabaos to mother carabaos, artistically rendered, slim and shapely and in style in a garden fronting the bookstore, where I walked a good seven kilometers to find. Walking for me here is an art of reclaiming the space I have lost, and the sight of stone carabaos reminds me of the flock I once had a glimpse of, as I was passing by Liguasan Marsh on my way home from a coverage. I saw a flock of 10 to 20 of them, all working carabaos and all of the same size, looking small against the expanse of the Marsh landscape. It was the peak of the planting season and the scene was something that Ja would have described as a David Lean's rendition of a landscape. I was in a bus. I haven't seen a flock of carabaos that many occupying the same landscape before, that's why, it fascinated me.
In the rice fields of Kialeg, only one or two carabaos can be seen at a given time, no matter how the town boasts of itself as the province's rice granary. But we, too, do not live in Kialeg. We are just passing by, no matter how much I call it my home.
As a journalist, the Marsh has fascinated me in both its scale and its vastness; and although it may not have known me, I feel the Marsh is part of me because it is part of the entire landscape I call my home. I will always be attuned to its ramblings.
Here, the stone carabaos stand un-moving for hours, even as the gardener turns on the sprinklers to water the rosemary, the tarragons and the grasses around their unfeeling hooves. I remember the herbs I planted at home and the angle of light by the window which always made me want to read. I think of the cats, and the space I left behind. I think of you.